With roughly 80 commercial apple farms in operation, Massachusetts is an apple-picker’s paradise. You can pick your own apples near Boston, in the rolling hills of the Berkshires, and just a stone’s throw from one of the state’s most beautiful beaches. All of these Massachusetts apple orchards are terrific, but a handful stand out for their spectacular locations; their family-friendly offerings; their cider donuts, hard ciders, and other products; or for the range of apple varieties that they grow. I’m particularly fond of orchards that grow antique varieties like Roxbury Russet (America’s oldest apple still in cultivation), Ashmead’s Kernel (an 18th century British charmer) and Northern Spy (the best pie apple). But the following list truly has something for everyone. The apple harvest runs through early November, so don’t miss your chance to seize the season. And be aware:
Note: In 2023, many apple growers around New England experienced catastrophic crop loss from warm spring temperatures followed by a late frost. Others salvaged some of their crop but aren’t doing pick-your-own in order to better manage their inventory. Check with each orchard ahead of time to confirm availability. Also, many orchards new require you to make a reservation before arriving: those are noted below.
To appreciate the closest pick-your-own far to Boston, you have to think of it as part farm, part . There’s a fee to get in, and pick-your-own apples are pricier than in more rural areas. However, this suburban oasis is beloved for its easy access and diverse entertainments, from the mini train that brings you up to the orchards, to weekend entertainment for kids (clowns, magicians, pony rides, a petting zoo), a corn maze, bounce houses, and a taproom producing an impressive selection of hard ciders. The Belkin farm has been in continuous operation since 1651, making it one of the oldest in the United States. Reservations not required but recommended.
Since 1978, the Cook family has raised a mixture of apples, stone fruits, berries, flowers, veggies, pumpkins, bees, chickens, and goats on 145 solar-powered acres. Apple lovers can choose from more than 50 varieties in a season that runs from August through late October, while kids can enjoy hayrides, play areas, and a chance to meet the animals. Grownups should head to the hard cider barn for a pint and live music. And don’t miss the bakery’s excellent cider donuts. In 2021, Yelp named Cider Hill the best apple picking spot in the U.S. and Reservations are required, so check the website 72 hours before you plan to visit.
The Martin family has owned and operated Honey Pot Hill for nearly a century, and if you’re looking for a classic experience of apple picking, this is your spot. Sure, there are farm animals to greet and hedge mazes to wander, but the emphasis here is on the fruit and classic take-home products such as apple pie, cider, and doughnuts. Originally a dairy farm, this 180-acre spread is now covered in fruit trees; a hayride through the fields is an Edenic delight. Reservations aren’t usually required but are sometimes added for the busiest weekends, so call ahead.
This lovely farm in a classic New England village just off I-495 specializes in the full winery experience, complete with tastings, acres of vineyards, and an on-site restaurant. But it’s also home to one of our favorite apple orchards in New England. There’s a pick-your-own operation with plenty of Cortland, McIntosh, and Roxbury Russet trees, as well as a spectacular heirloom apple orchard stocked with rare finds like Pink Pearl, Ashmead’s Kernel, and Esopus Spitzenburg — more than 100 in all. Reservations are required to pick from the antique orchard, but all it takes is a phone call.
Four generations of the Rose family and their team keep operations humming at this diversified farm operation. Reserve a time to pick apples: More than 50 varieties flourish at this sun-and-wind-powered, ecologically managed, high-elevation farm. It’s easy to treat your crew to a full day of meeting animals, digging up potatoes, hiking forest and field trails, and picking pumpkins. The year-round country store in a mid-1700s barn will tempt you with made-on-site treats like fudge, peanut butter, glazed cider doughnuts, and apple dumplings. Fall weekends feature outdoor barbecues and live music outside the Brew Barn, where you can buy pints from local breweries. Notice all the ways this orchard both reveres its past and incessantly innovates: meticulously maintained stone walls and hard cider in cans, century-old apple trees and solar cells, and old-fashioned hospitality. Reservations not required.
Where else can you find one of New England’s most beautiful beaches within a five minute drive of an apple orchard? Take a walk on Crane Beach, then head down to the road to this idyllic farm where the Russell family has nurtured 120 acres of apples, pears, berries, stone fruits, grapes, and vegetables for more than forty years. There are more than 30 varieties of apple available, including Northern Spy, Gravenstein, and Baldwin, as well as modern favorites like Honeycrisp. Shop the sprawling farm stand and grab a from-scratch cider donut and cider slushy, say hello to the farm animals, and sample some of the Russell’s award-wining ice cider. Reservations not required.
The Smolak family, whose produce stands are a popular fixture at Boston-area farmers’ markets, knows that diversification is essential for modern farms, especially those located near large urban areas. So in addition to the fruits, vegetables, and baked goods on sale, this enterprising family offers wagon rides, face painting, batting cages, a bakery, and an ice cream stand. They even host weddings and a summer day camp. But this is a real farm, with several dozen apple varieties on offer, including antiques like Cox’s Orange Pippin, Rhode Island Greening, and Winter Banana. Reservations not required.
The view from the top of the hill at Apex Orchards is so dramatic, you’ll need a minute to take it in. It’s not just one of the most amazing orchard views in New England, it’s one of the best views, period. The fruit trees blanket the hills in neat rows, and the Green Mountains roll out before you. The farm has been active since 1828, through seven generations of the Peck and Smith families, who found success attracting visitors who come not just for the views, but also for apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, quinces, pears, blueberries, grapes, Christmas trees, and pumpkins. Reservations not required.
Tom and Ben Clark, the father-son team behind Clarkdale farm, are two of the most personable growers you’d ever hope to meet. But that is just one of the charms of this hilly parcel located just off the Mohawk Trail. True apple aficionados, the Clarks replant about five percent of their orchard every year, adding 19th-century heirlooms, along with popular modern cultivars like Honeycrisp and Suncrisp, to their collection. Currently, they offer about 60 different apple varieties (plus a dozen types of pear), but that number grows each year. At the farm’s barn store, you’re invited to taste unfamiliar cultivars and ask about their best uses (the pick-your-own operation is limited to McIntosh trees). And don’t forget to pick up a gallon of Clarkdale’s excellent pear and apple ciders. NOTE: Clarkdale will not offer pick-your-own apples in 2023, due to crop loss from the spring’s late frost.
On this beautiful hillside property, you’ll find orchards loaded with 27 varieties of apple (reserve a spot for pick-your-own); as well as Furnace Brook Winery, makers of red and white wines using new- and old-world grapes; and J Mash Cider, which produces some of the state’s best hard cider. The Vittori family also owns one of the Berkshires loveliest inns, The Garden Gables Inn in Lenox. All in all, this is the perfect destination for a romantic apple-, cider-, and wine-filled weekend. Reservations required.
Western Massachusetts was once home to a large community of Polish-American fruit farmers. That heritage lives on at Lakeview, where, in addition to growing apples, stone fruits, berries, and vegetables, they make Polish specialties such as golumpki, kapusta, and pierogies in their farmstand kitchen. NOTE: Lakeview was hard hit by the 2023 late frost and will not offer pick-your-own this season.
This nursery/garden center/fruit farm offers an impressive roster of 46 apple varieties, from Ambrosia to Zestar. Stop here to pick apples (reservations not required) and stock up on spring bulbs and any last-minute additions to your garden. The farm also grows a bounty of scarlet-hued winterberry that sells out by mid-December every year. NOTE: Windy Hill was hard hit by the 2023 late frost and will likely not offer pick-your-own this season.
Do you have a favorite Massachusetts apple orchard? Let us know in the comments below!