Fall in Asheville means… it’s time for apples! A perfect Fall day in Asheville isn’t complete without a visit to one of the many apple orchards near Asheville, NC. Last week we made a visit to Justus Farms with the intention of getting a pumpkin and ended up so sidetracked by the apples that we completely forgot about the pumpkin! Now we have a peck of fresh picked apples in our fridge and we can’t decide what to do with all of them. Apple sauce or apple pie? Apple pancakes or apple tart? These are hard decisions.
Did you know North Carolina is one of the largest producers of apples in the United States? The areas surrounding Asheville grow over forty varieties of apples. The apple season in Asheville runs from late August through October, with the height of the apple festivals happening in September and October. Throughout the harvest season, many local farmers open up their farms and let you pick apples from their orchard. In addition to apples, you can often pick pumpkins, berries, and peaches when they are in season. While apple picking is the main draw for visiting these Western North Carolina farms, it also offers the opportunity to reconnect with nature in a peaceful environment overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a feast for the senses to walk along rows of elegant apple trees and the rolling mountains cradling you in the distance.
Apple picking is a family-friendly activity in Asheville that the whole family can enjoy. If you’re visiting on Labor Day weekend, be sure to visit the annual Apple Festival in Hendersonville.
Apple Picking in Asheville, NC - Justus Orchard
While there are several apple orchards to pick from within a close drive from Asheville NC, we chose to visit Justus Orchard in nearby Hendersonville. Justus Orchard is a family-owned farm spanning five generations and has been in the family for over 100 years. While at one time they were selling their apples to big-name companies like Gerber and White House, in 2006 they shifted their focus from selling their apples to companies to a focus on agrotourism. It’s evident that they’ve created an experience for families to enjoy their time there. In addition to rows and rows of dwarfed apple trees teeming with apples, there’s also a huge jumping pillow for kids to play on (sadly the adults can’t jump on it), an apple canon where you can shoot at bigfoot, a petting zoo, a cow train that loops the property, horse-drawn hayrides, and a jungle gym set for kids to burn off the sugar rush from all the apples.
You can bring your own food and are welcome to eat at the picnic benches they have supplied. If you don’t bring your own food, there are plenty of apple inspired dishes to nosh on in their bakery, including apple fritters, apple cider donuts, apple slushies, and of course fresh apple pie. On the weekends, you can also get some delicious BBQ supplied by Good To The Bone BBQ.
In addition to the bakery, there’s a country store called the Apple House where you can buy apples already picked as well as other fun fall products like sweet potatoes, mountain cabbage, and apple preserves.
The day we visited was First Responders Day and the local fire and rescue team were there to show the little ones their tools and the inside of the fire truck. Our little one was most impressed with the “jaws of life” tool. They were all eager to share what they do and what each instrument does. It was a nice addition to the day.
Tips for Visiting the Apple Orchard
When you arrive at the orchard you’ll pick out a basket from the open-air market and a map that outlines where each variety of apple is located as well as the peak time for each apple. Each row has a wooden sign to help identify the apple. With 17 varieties grown on the farm, you can choose from Fujis, Candy Crisps, Red Sweeties and more. To be honest, we tried to pay attention to which variety we were getting, but at a certain point we ditched that effort and happily frolicked along letting ourselves wander from row to row, picking apples whenever we felt inclined.
Justus Orchard is open to visit 7 days a week from July to early November. Their hours are 8:30 AM-6:00 PM. You can check their website for updated info, but I found the most up to date information is on their Facebook page.
We visited on the weekend and there were a good amount of people there. The place is big enough that it never felt too crowded though, but if you visit on the weekday, the crowds will no doubt be less.
- There is no admission fee to the orchard, rather you pay for what you pick. There is a charge for using the apple cannon, the jumping pillow, and the cow train.
- The terrain is easy to walk, but you will be walking on small hills and gravel walkways, so you’ll want comfortable shoes for the day.
- While there are shady sections, most of the orchard is exposed to direct sunlight so sunblock and a sunhat are a good idea.
- Borrow a wagon from the open-air mart! Even if you don’t have a wee one to tote around, you’ll still have apples to lug around so having a wagon will go a long way towards enjoying your time there.
- The apples are all dwarfed varieties so they are easy to pick, but it’s fun to grab an apple picker pole and get apples at the very top of the trees.
- If it’s a busy day and you don’t see any wagons or apple pickers available, I would ask someone who is walking back to the market and most likely done with their wagon. That’s how we scored our sweet wagon!
- Since it’s an apple orchard, there are quite naturally bees flying around and happily doing their pollination part of the apple making process. If you or your child are allergic to bees, don’t forget to bring your EpiPen.
- We spent about 3 hours there, but if you plan to eat there you might want to allow 3-4 hours for your time there.
- Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy your apples!
Apple Orchards Near Asheville, NC
Justus Orchard is an easy 30-40 minute drive from Asheville. There are ample farms in the Hendersonville and Chimney Rock area and most offer the same activities where you can pick your own apples along with a country store and family-focused activities. We did notice a few had fun corn mazes as well!
Here are some other nearby apple orchards close to Asheville.
Have you gone apple picking this fall? Share with us your best tips and recipes! Also, if you liked this article, please share the love and pin it on Pinterest! You can the use the pin it button below.