Autumn in the orchard: Boston area you-pick farms
Just outside Boston in the scenic New England countryside, nature lovers can enjoy the classic autumn sightseeing adventure of looking at bright fall foliage. But to engage all the senses and go a bit off the beaten path, visit an area farm in the fall to pick crisp, juicy apples at the peak of ripeness. More than a dozen pick-your-own apple orchards are within 30 miles of Boston city limits. Here's how to find the best and enjoy the sweet, crunchy fruit harvested by your own hands.
Choosing the orchards to visit
Use the searchable MassGrown map provided by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources website. Select “apples” from the Crops or Activities drop-down menu and type in Boston as the location to find the orchards open for picking. Click the “pick-your-own” icon for a description and directions to each farm. Most orchards have websites that show the hours they're open, which apple varieties are ripe and ready to pick and whether there are activities, such as hayrides and corn mazes, for visitors to enjoy.
Transportation to get there
Because the farms are out in the country, away from public transportation, you'll need a car. Consider a one-day car rental deal – available from many convenient locations in the Boston and Cambridge area – or book a Zipcar for the few hours you'll need for an apple-picking outing.
If you're feeling particularly energetic, target farms close enough to commuter rail stations that you can rent a bike, ride the train to a nearby station and pedal from there. Coordinating the train schedules and farm hours is tricky, especially on weekends when trains run infrequently, but the possibility of a vigorous autumn adventure can make it worth the planning.
The best times to go
A day at the farm is a beloved autumn tradition for many Boston residents, so expect crowds on the weekends when neither work nor school interferes with outdoor fun. For the most leisurely apple picking, visit on a weekday. Check the website or call before you go, though. Most farms are family owned and operated, so the days and hours open to the public may be limited, and some activities like pony rides and cider making may happen only on weekends.
Make the most of your apple-picking outing
September and October, the peak apple-picking months, are typically mild-weather months with daytime temperatures in the 60 to 70 degree F range with occasional chilly winds and light rains. For comfort and fun, no matter what the weather:
- Dress in layers, bring a jacket and wear comfortable shoes that you don't mind getting muddy in a possibly damp orchard.
- Bring cash. You'll need it to pay not just for the apples, but for parking, snacks at the farm stand and souvenirs such as hats, baskets or handmade crafts that are available at some farms.
- Relax and play. Many of the pick-your-own farms near Boston offer a little something extra to enjoy while you're there. Trek through a maze, take a hayride out to a pumpkin patch, indulge in donuts and fresh-baked bread and, if there are homemade jams and preserves, take a jar home as a happy reminder of your day on the farm.
The hustle and bustle of big city life will still be there to welcome you when you return to Boston, so enjoy the sweet flavors and slower pace of the countryside when you venture out to an apple orchard in all its autumn glory.