By Sara Jacobi and Chris Orchard
Apple-picking season begins in earnest on Labor Day weekend, it will last until the end of the crop, which is usually around early October.
There are several great apple orchards within an hour of Somerville where you can spend a lovely late-summer or fall afternoon. Here are five places to go. If you've got a favorite place to pick apples, let us know in the comments section.
Make sure to check with each farm to get the most recent hours, prices and updates about the harvest.
1) Belkin Family Lookout Farm - (89 Pleasant St. South Natick, MA)
- Hours: Monday - Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Price: Admisison is $8 weekdays, $14 weekends.
Winning for its close proximity to the Boston area, Lookout Farm offers "U-pick" apple picking, where you can select the apples you want yourself, and an array of family and children's activities like pony rides and a farm-animal zoo. Check out their apple guide to see which apples you'll find in season when you go.
2) Shelburne Farm - (106 West Acton Rd., Stow, MA)
- Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Price: No admission fee. Half-bushel, approx. 20 lbs., $26, One peck, approx. 10 lbs., $18.
Twenty miles west of Boston sits Shelburne Farm. It has 50 acres of apples and pumpkins you can pick yourself. For kids, there's a moon bounce, hay maze, hay mountain, pedal tractors, tractor play area, and pony rides, which costs $5. See the farm's schedule for weekly events and more.
3) Smolak Farms (315 South Bradford Street, North Andover, MA)
- Hours: Apple picking is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Price: Call (978) 682-6332 for current pricing
One of the best farm experiences in the area, Smolak Farms has dozens of varieties of apples in addition to pumpkins, tomatoes and tons of other crops. There are also hay rides, farm animals, wagon rides and more. It has a farm stand, too.
4) Westward Orchards (178 Massachusetts Ave., Harvard, MA)
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but call for information about specific days and activities.
- Price: Call (978) 456-8363 for current pricing
About 25 miles from Somerville, at Westward Orchards you can pick your own apples, pumpkins and blueberries (when they're in season). They also have cider donuts and a store where you can buy sandwiches to eat on the porch or lawn. Every Sunday they have live bluegrass music.
5) Russell Orchards and Farm (143 Argilla Rd., Ipswich, MA)
- Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Price: $3 weekdays, no admission on weekends. Cost is about $15 for a 10 lb. bag of apples, but check with the farm for the most recent prices.
To the north of Somerville is Russell Orchards, which is a bit longer of a drive, but worth it if you're interested in apple wine, more than 25 varieties of apples and 120 acres of other farm-raised fresh fruits and vegetables.
Where is your go-to apple picking farm close to Somerville? Tell us in the comments!