Apple Picking Fun!

It’s not all about the pumpkins. Picking apples is a favorite autumn tradition, especially in the Charlottesville area. Bring a basket (or two or three!) and have fun selecting the best of the bunch at our local orchards, many of which host their own special festivals each harvest season.

TDB 8th Annual “Fall Into Fun” Festival
September 21­–22 in Crozet
Kick off autumn by helping cook old-fashioned apple butter (Sat.), playing games, savoring great food, taking wagon rides — and, of course, picking some apples! Be sure to enjoy the open pumpkin patch and face painting at this family-friendly fall festival.

TBD Apple Harvest at Carter Mountain Orchard
September–November, Weekends in Charlottesville
Join the Chiles family for food, hayrides, wine tastings, apple picking and all things apple —including apple butter, apple cider, apple cider donuts and apple pie! Pumpkins will come in mid to late September.

Graves Mountain Apple Harvest Festival
October 3–4, 10–11 & 17–18 in Syria
In celebration of 49 years, savor good food and homemade apple butter at this annual fest with bluegrass music, crafts fair, hay maze, hayrides, a moon bounce and pony rides, rain or shine. Kids can climb the hay mountain, visit the animals and pick apples.

HenleyFest 2020
Saturdays in October
Enjoy fresh cider and hay rides (and apple picking of course) at Henley’s Orchard just north of downtown Crozet. This fall festival will also feature live music, pumpkins and all kinds of family fun.

TBD 19th Annual Apple Harvest Festival at Albemarle CiderWorks
November 2 in North Garden
Go on a hayride, look at crafts, taste apples, watch old-fashioned apple butter and Brunswick stew cooking and cider pressing, partake in an apple pie contest, listen to live music, tour the cidery and learn about growing your own fruit.


Pick-Your-Own Apples
Now Through October

We’re lucky to have fresh produce available for picking at local farms from spring through fall. Always call ahead or check websites for times and harvest availability. Many orchards have pumpkin patches later in the fall, so you may want to return in a few weeks!

Carter Mountain Orchard
Look for hayrides and pumpkins in the fall, and enjoy baked goods, jams and hot apple cider donuts — a mouth-watering local tradition — year-round. This is also a great place to bring visitors, since the panoramic view of Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains is fantastic, and there is plenty of outdoor space to spread out. Parents may particularly enjoy an afternoon spent at Carter Mountain, as there are Bold Rock Hard Cider and Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery tasting rooms on site. New this year–scenic drive-thru tours will allow visitors to catch the views and stock up on their favorite items without having to leave the car! Tickets are required for entry to Carter Mountain this year, so check the website to reserve your spot.

Critzer Family Farm
Stemming from five generations of farmers, Critzer Family Farm offers a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, with apples this fall and blackberries throughout September. While you’re there, enjoy some ice cream made from their farm-grown fruit.

Dickie Bros. Orchard
This Nelson County orchard has been owned and operated by the same family for more than 268 years, ever since King George issued their land grant! The orchard — home to many apple varieties — is located near the scenic George Washington National Forest and Wintergreen Resort, and many families include a hike to Crabtree Falls while in the area.

Henley’s Orchard
Just north of downtown Crozet, Henley’s grows more than 25 varieties of apples with a low-spray method — including the regional darling: the Albemarle Pippin. Pick your apples then enjoy their freshly pressed cider.

The Market at Grelen
Located on the Grelen nursery, this market and nursery offers pick-your-own apples in the fall, along with a farm-to-table café, garden shop and picturesque scenic hiking trails. Pick-your-own is available Wednesday–Sunday 9am–4pm.

Saunders Brothers
Piney River
Founded by five brothers in 1915, Saunders Brothers is now owned by its third generation of siblings, along with their father. This orchard offers a variety of specialty apples to be picked by visitors. A farm market with fresh fruits and vegetables for sale is also available, along with events on each Saturday until the end of the season in December.

Seamans’ Orchard
Pick-your-own apples are only available one weekend a year, rain or shine — Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20 — and are sold by the half-bushel and bushel. Like Dickie Bros., Seamans’ is near Crabtree Falls (an easy-to-moderate hike for families) and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Families are encouraged to picnic on the property while visiting.

Silver Creek Orchard
Although the packing shed (farm stand) is open daily in Sept., this orchard’s PYO dates are limited to two dates, rain or shine: Sept. 12 & Oct. 10. Plan to peruse the local goodies at the packing shed after you pick your basketful.


Bushels of Tips for Picking Apples

  • Always call ahead for conditions, supplies and prices.
  • Get directions from the orchard’s website, or when you call, since mapping programs like GoogleMaps are not always accurate.
  • Pack a picnic and a picnic blanket.
  • Don’t forget to apply bug spray and sunscreen.
  • Dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Carry canvas shopping bags, which won’t rip when full of heavy fruit.
  • Bring a little wagon along to carry apples — or tired apple pickers.
  • Ask about discounted pre-picked seconds or blemished apples, which are fine for baking and cooking.
  • Check for worms.
  • Have cash on hand, since not all orchards will take credit or debit cards.
  • Visit the website to check which varieties are PYO and which are pre-picked.
  • Time your visit carefully if you're looking to pick a lot, because you may be joined by festival-goers on weekends.


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