Best American Apple Orchard: Beak & Skiff!

Kiyokawa Family Orchards wins second place

Autumn means harvest season, and according to the U.S. Apple Association, more than 7,500 growers are producing apples in all 50 states. Since each individual apple must be hand-picked, many orchards open their gates for visitors to come and pick their own, often with added autumn entertainment.

Deardorff Orchards (Waconia, Minn.)
A family farm started in 1982, Deardorff Orchards offers the opportunity to pick 12 apple varieties, including McIntosh, Regent Fireside, Cortland, Honeycrisp and Sweet 16. Visitors can walk or be driven to the orchards on board a tractor wagon and children are provided little red wagons for transportation. A rustic Apple Barn – built in 1888 – sells jams, baked goods, cider and honey. Friendly farm animals and a haystack for kids provide more entertainment. Photo courtesy of Deardorff Orchards
Mercier Orchards (Blue Ridge, Ga.)
Started in 1943 by Bill and Adele Mercier, Mercier Orchards has been a family farm ever since. Showcasing 38 varieties of apples, the You-Pick Apple Event is the most popular event of the season, which runs from early August to late October. A bakery/deli, farm market and winery offer more to do and taste, while other events like cooking and baking classes, tours and tractor pulls are staged at various times throughout the year. Photo courtesy of Mercier Orchards
Stribling Orchard (Markham, Va.)
For six generations, the family-owned Stribling Orchard has been producing a bountiful apple crop. Thirty acres of trees turn out varieties such as Red Delicious, Gala, McIntosh, Ginger Gold, Rambo and Lodi, starting in early July through October. The on-site Harvest House and Bakery sells fresh breads, pies and cakes along with salsas, jams and jellies. The Bakery opens, starting on Labor Day and is open weekends only. Tours give insight into farm life and apple production from farm to kitchen. Photo courtesy of Meaghan O'Malley / Flickr
Sky Top Orchard (Flat Rock, N.C.)
What started as a curiosity in the late 1960s has blossomed into a thriving family business. Today Sky Top Orchards is a popular pick-your-own apple farm offering more than 22 varieties. Cortland, Gala, McIntosh, Asian Pear and Honey Crisp are just a few of the selections. Scenic mountain views, a duck pond and small barnyard provide a colorful backdrop to the experience. Other family-friendly features include hay rides, tractor pulls, a large playground and farm store. Photo courtesy of Sky Top Orchard
Nashoba Valley Winery (Bolton, Mass.)
Picking season at Nashoba Valley Winery in Massachusetts extends from early September through late October, with varieties like McIntosh, gala, liberty, cortland and golden delicious on offer. Hungry pickers can grab hot dogs, pulled pork and cider donuts from the Orchard Snack Shack. Photo courtesy of Liza / Flickr
Huber's Orchard & Winery (Starlight, Ind.)
Huber's was first established in 1843, and today visitors can come and explore its 600 acres of orchards and vineyards at Southern Indiana's largest farm. Pick-your-own apple varieties include golden delicious, gala, fuji, granny smith and goldrush, among others. Photo courtesy of Huber's Orchard & Winery
Solebury Orchards (New Hope, Penn.)
During the fall season, visitors to Solebury Orchards are welcome to pick their own apples and blueberries amid 80 acres of beautiful Bucks County scenery.  Photo courtesy of Solebury Orchards
Honey Pot Hill Orchards (Stow, Mass.)
Family owned and operated since 1926, Honey Pot Hill Orchards sits on 180 acres of farmland. Pick-your-own visitors can choose from many varieties of apples, in addition to pears and blueberries, or pick up some cider donuts or apple pie at the farm store. Farm animals, hedge mazes and hayrides keep families entertained throughout picking season. Photo courtesy of Honey Pot Hill Orchards
Kiyokawa Family Orchards (Parkdale, Ore.)
Kiyokawa Family Orchards has been operating since 1911 growing more than 80 varieties of apples, including Benoni, Braeburn, Cortland Fuji and Winter Banana. Award-winning pies, turnovers, honey, jams and fresh cider draw customers from throughout this scenic Oregon valley.  Photo courtesy of Kiyokawa Family Orchards
Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard (LaFayette, N.Y.)
This family-owned orchard has been growing apples since onion farmer George Skiff and dairy farmer Andrew Beak joined forces in 1911 to plant apples on a hillside along Rte. 20. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Gala, McIntosh, Ginger Gold and Paula Red are just a few of the varieties offered from late August through late October. Live music events, Cider Fests, Orchard Runs and a Kids' Magic Show add entertainment to the apple picking. Photo courtesy of Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards

We asked our readers to vote for their favorite pick-your-own orchards, and the results are in!

  1. Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard - LaFayette, N.Y.
  2. Kiyokawa Family Orchards - Parkdale, Ore.
  3. Honey Pot Hill Orchards - Stow, Mass.
  4. Solebury Orchards - New Hope, Penn.
  5. Huber's Orchard & Winery - Starlight, Ind.
  6. Nashoba Valley Winery - Bolton, Mass.
  7. Sky Top Orchard - Flat Rock, N.C.
  8. Stribling Orchard - Markham, Va.
  9. Mercier Orchards - Blue Ridge, Ga.
  10. Deardorff Orchards - Waconia, Minn.

Congratulations to all these fun and family friendly orchards!