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Readers vote R&A Orchards as best in the U.S.

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Georgia orchard wins with pick-your-own program

The first apple orchard in the U.S. was planted in 1625 near Boston's Beacon Hill. Today, more than 7,500 growers are producing apples in all 50 states (according to the U.S. Apple Association). That's 240 million bushels of apples each year. Since each individual apple must be hand-picked during the autumn harvest season, many orchards open their gates for visitors to come and pick their own, often with added autumn entertainment.

  • R&A Orchards
    Ellijay, Ga.

    Situated in the scenic mountains of North Georgia’s apple country, R&A Orchards grows nine varieties of apples, ready for picking every weekend in September. Orchard visitors also enjoy a farm tour during their picking experience.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Marcus Lindstrom

  • 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. 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

  • Mercier Orchards
    Blue Ridge, Ga.

    Started in 1943 by Bill and Adele Mercier, Mercier Orchards has been a family farm ever since. Showcasing 52 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

  • Spicer Orchards
    Fenton, Mich.

    At Spicer Orchards, wagons take visitors into the orchards to pick apples and berries. The fall season also means hot apple cider and cider donuts, wine tastings and a children’s playground. A Harvest Festival in mid-September features a craft fair and antique tractors.
    Photo courtesy of Spicer Orchards

  • The Apple Shed
    Newark, N.Y.

    Apple season at The Apple Shed kicks off in late August. Besides apple picking, other family friendly activities include a playground, corn slide, picnic area, orchard hayrides, craft activities and the Farmyard Friends animal area.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / kitchakron

  • Historic Weston Orchard & Vineyard
    Weston, Mo.

    This historic 50-acre Missouri farm combines an apple orchard, vineyard and pumpkin patch into one. Come fall, Weston Orchard offers one of the largest U-pick experiences in the Kansas City metro area, complete with hayrides and a kitchen churning out fresh baked apple donuts.
    Photo courtesy of Historic Weston Orchard & Vineyard

  • Marker-Miller Orchards
    Winchester, Va.

    Marker-Miller Orchards offers a dozen types of apples during their pick-your-own season, along with pumpkins and winter squash. Visiting families can bring a picnic, burn off some energy on a playground, take a weekend wagon ride or much on treats from the sweet shop and bakery.
    Photo courtesy of Marker-Miller Orchards

  • Anderson Orchard
    Mooresville, Ind.

    Anderson Orchard, one of only a few orchards in Indiana to offer U-pick produce, celebrates 50 years in 2019. Visitors can pick or purchase some 30 varieties of apples, as well as raspberries, blue plums, pumpkins and chestnuts in season.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Olha Pashkovska

  • Carter Mountain Orchard
    Charlottesville, Va.

    This Charlottesville orchard welcomes visitors to pick their own fruit throughout the season. Their Thursday Evening Sunset Series, extending into the beginning of apple season, features live music, hayrides and sunset views.
    Photo courtesy of Carter Mountain Orchard

  • Ochs Orchard
    Warwick, N.Y.

    Ochs Orchard is a fourth generation family farm covering 100 acres overlooking New York’s Warwick Valley. Apples are ripe for picking in the fall, when visitors can also purchase cider from the onsite cider mill and fresh cider donuts.
    Photo courtesy of Ochs Orchard

The top 10 winners in the category Best Apple Orchard are as follows:

  1. R&A Orchards - Ellijay, Ga.
  2. Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard - LaFayette, N.Y.
  3. Mercier Orchards - Blue Ridge, Ga.
  4. Spicer Orchards - Fenton, Mich.
  5. The Apple Shed - Newark, N.Y.
  6. Historic Weston Orchard & Vineyard - Weston, Mo.
  7. Marker-Miller Orchards - Winchester, Va.
  8. Anderson Orchard - Mooresville, Ind.
  9. Carter Mountain Orchard - Charlottesville, Va.
  10. Ochs Orchard - Warwick, N.Y.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning orchards!

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