Harvest Family Fun at an Apple Orchard

Apple picking is a great activity to welcome the crisp autumn season. So gather the family for an outing to an apple orchard. Fruit farms can be found in many states from coast to coast, so there’s a good chance you have one nearby. Late summer to mid-fall is the typical picking season, depending on the varieties grown in your local area. And picking apples locally supports your small business community too.

Frolicking between rows of fruit trees allows for family time without the distraction of technology. The changing seasons are magical to young children, and the colorful apples hanging from trees will be too.

Apple harvesting is also an educational experience for kids. Get them excited for the adventure by finding apple-themed children’s books at your local library.

Call Ahead

Local orchards may post estimated picking schedules on their website, but fruit availability can change quickly if a crowd has stripped the trees of fruit. So before driving to the farm, contact the orchard to ask:

  • Which apple varieties are ready for picking. Have a good idea what you’ll do with your harvest and which apples are best for eating, baking, or sauces.
  • Which days and times are least busy to bring the gang. A less-crowded day may be best for younger children.
  • Whether you need to buy admission tickets. Some farms require tickets for busy times like weekends.

What to Wear

Since many orchards are located on higher ground, the weather may be breezier and cooler than in lower areas. So dressing in layers will provide warmth, while allowing you to remove a layer if the temperature rises. Wear shoes or boots for damp or muddy paths between trees and leave the open-toed shoes at home.

Apple trees are planted in direct sunshine, so sun safety is important. Protect everyone’s head, ears, and neck with wide brim hats or hoods. Select clothing that fully covers the arms and legs as well. UV Skinz offers a wide selection of UPF 50+ apparel and accessories to keep your family protected from UV rays.

Slather everyone’s exposed skin with sunscreen before leaving home so you don’t have to wrestle with squirmy kids eager to pick apples! Choose a full spectrum sunscreen containing SPF 30+ or higher. Bring extra sunscreen along to reapply as needed. Lastly, sunglasses with a 100% UVA/UVB rating will protect your peepers and minimize squinting when looking up at branches.

What to Pack

  • Small canvas bags or buckets for each child if your group includes younger kids. Have them gently empty their apples into your larger container.
  • Bug repellent for warmer days to keep those pesky insects away.
  • Container to store muddy shoes or boots and a change of footwear for the ride home.
  • Snacks for the drive back or a picnic at the farm. If there is a farm market on site, don’t miss out on fresh apple cider and classic apple cider donuts.

Picking Rules

While driving to the farm, talk to your kids about the basic rules of apple picking like carefully listening to instructions provided by the farm staff. This may include how to select only ripe apples, and how to gently remove apples (stem attached) from a branch.

Instruct your children not to shake tree branches or harshly yank apples from trees. Also remind them not to pick up apples from the ground. The damaged fruit might contain bees or wasps.

Be sure to supervise your kids and keep them close. It’s easy for kids to wander away when they’re gazing from tree to tree to find the perfect apple. Remember that smaller children will need your help to select and pick their special apples.

Other Activities

Some orchards may include children’s activities like corn mazes, pony rides, and face-painting. Others will offer scenic wagon rides around the farm. So you can make the apple orchard a day trip, or you can choose an orchard with a simpler experience without the extra frills and fees.

Enjoying Your Harvest

Family fun doesn’t need to end when you get home. Use your bounty to bake an apple crisp or make apple sauce together. Gather in the kitchen and assign everyone an age-appropriate task. As the apples simmer or bake, your home will fill with the sweet fragrance of autumn.

Apple harvesting is a delightful autumn experience to share with your children. Make it an annual family tradition that everyone looks forward to each year. Snap lots of family photos using the orchard scenery as a backdrop!