Blog Day Trips Apples, Pumpkins, and Trains Oh My

Apples, Pumpkins, and Trains Oh My

Updated: 10/17/2022 • Bernie Gilchrist

Day Trips

I always think about picking my own Apples and drinking Pumpkin Spiced coffee this time of year. It seems to be synonymous with the leaves changing and football. As soon as the air begins to cool, and I find myself wearing sweaters in the morning and striping to t-shirts in the afternoons and back to sweaters in the evening, my mind becomes fixated on fried apple pies and pumpkin spiced coffee. Yum!

Western North Carolina is famous for apple picking! 

It’s a great time for the family to load up the car and head for the Blue Ridge mountains where there’s plenty of pick your own apple orchards and farms. Most of the apple orchards are still family owned till this day.

The best place to discover these family apple orchards is in Hendersonville, NC where it’s been a family tradition to Pick Your Own since the mid-1960’s. Hendersonville is the Apple Capital of North Carolina and is one of the Top 20 apple-growing counties in the nation. The mountain plateau makes it perfect to grow apples with cool nights and warm days during the summer which helps the apples flourish throughout the growing season. It’s such a BIG deal in Hendersonville that they celebrate each year with the North Carolina’s Apple Festival in downtown Hendersonville over Labor Day weekend, a tradition since 1947. For more history of the N.C. Apple Festival check out this blog.

Apple Picking and Pumpkin Picking have now become family traditions in Western North Carolina and has evolved over time with the orchards learning how to attract and keep families engaged while visiting. Today’s family orchards like Grandad’s Apples ‘N Such in Hendersonville now entices families with a corn maze, cow train, barn and country store featuring a bakery showcasing hot cider donuts, apple pies, cookies, hot cider, and something I have never heard of, apple cider slushies. Oh yea, they have an apple cannon. What’s an apple cannon you ask? You get to place apples in the cannon and fire it at targets. Kid’s love it!

Other orchards offer these family fun activities as well, like Stepp Apples where you can also pick pumpkins and take a wagon ride and enjoy BBQ on Sundays from Big Al’s BBQ. They also have a corn maze, apple cannon, jump pad for the kids, apple cider and pumpkin donuts from The Farm Market and Apple House & Bakery. 

Are you getting hungry yet?  

All aboard! Take a ride on The Apple Express at the Mountain Fresh Orchards. This trackless train is fun for the whole family as it takes you through the orchard. This will keep the kids busy while you shop and enjoy a hot cider. This orchard is serious about their apples with 17 different varieties to choose from as well as pumpkins and cabbage. They also have an amazing Roadside Farm Market and Bakery championing the best of the best of Apple Fritters, Apple Cider Donuts, Apple Bread, and my favorite… Fried Apple Pies! They also have all the varieties of ciders you can think of and hot coffees to wash down all the apple goodies. You also can find all the fall decorations you’re searching for like Indian corn, gourds, pumpkins and even scare crows. Oh yea, and they’re even willing to share their family secret recipes for apple butter, cabbage casserole, apple twist, apple cake, and my favorite, fried apple pies!
And don’t forget to pick your own apples and pumpkins while visiting, and remember, it’s great time to begin a new family tradition.

All these family-owned apple orchards have some of the best Crimson Crisp, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, Ambrosia, Snapp Stayman Winesap, Mutsu, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Ida Red, Candy Crisp, Pink Lady, Arkansas Black, Macoun, Blushing Gold, Rome, Jersey Mac, Ginger Gold, Gold Rush and Jonathan apples in the entire country!

So, the next time you’re looking for adventure head to the orchards of Hendersonville, NC and explore these new themed orchards as these are not your fathers’ orchards. These family-owned apple orchards and pumpkin patches are a great way to spend the day with your family and create memories that will last a lifetime, and a new tradition you can pass down to the next generation.
Need a map to find your family-owned orchard? Go here:

For more info on agritourism go here:

(Photo Credit: Chuck Hill - The Apple Express at Mountain Fresh Orchards, Hendersonville, NC)
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