Apples are easy to come by. Go to almost any grocery and you’ll find them piled up in the chilly produce section under a fluorescent glow.
But there is something about going straight to the bucolic source: plucking the fruit from the branch, picking up a bag of hot doughnuts, sipping cider, and taking selfies with a goat.
Brian Smith, owner of Solebury Orchards in New Hope, said the pick-your-own business took off 10 or 15 years ago.
“When I first started, I never really imagined it would get so popular,” he said.
Apple picking isn’t just about apples, it’s about having that fall experience, said Marcia Mondelli, general manager of Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford, N.J.
Apple picking and all that goes with it has become the quintessential fall outing. It is a chance for people to, as Mondelli said, “get their fall on.”
137 Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, linvilla.com
For just apples, disobey your GPS and turn onto Linvill Road a few hundred feet before you reach your “destination.” There you can pay for a box at the apple stand and fill it from the rows of apple trees marked with flags.
At the main entrance on Knowlton, check out the farm market, where you can find from-scratch caramel apples, or Pumpkinland, with a larger-than-life scarecrow and piles of orange pumpkins.
Tickets are available for hayride tours, corn and hay mazes, and fishing. Food and restrooms are located behind the farm market, near the petting zoo, face-painting station, and elaborate wooden playground.
Don’t miss: The apple slingshot. Apples that fall on the ground can’t be eaten, so the farm staff devised a plan to avoid total waste: Bungee cord slingshots where visitors can shoot apples off the hill.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Ripe now: Stayman Winesap, Gold Rush, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Fuji.
Prices: Sold by both size of box and number of pickers. For example: $5.99 per quart/1 person, $25.99 per peck/5 people.
Johnson’s Corner Farm
133 Church Road, Medford, 609-654-8643, johnsonsfarm.com
You can’t miss the red barn-like building on the corner and the red and yellow striped hay wagons hitched to tractors.
Hayrides go all over the farm, taking visitors to the apple orchards where they fill brown bags with apples. Back at the farm market, visitors can buy pies, breads, doughnuts, and other goodies made on site, or lunch items if they are making a day of it.
Tickets are sold in the farm market on weekdays, and at a greenhouse near the parking lot on weekends, with restrooms located near both.
Don’t miss: The miniature farm village play area, complete with pedal go-carts and a playground. Tickets including both the play area and petting zoo are half price during the week.
Hours: Market is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., hayrides are 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. Open seven days a week.
Ripe now: Gold Rush, Pink Lady, Cameo.
Prices: Hayrides to the apple orchard are $4.50; apples are $1.89 per pound.
3325 Creamery Road, New Hope, 215-297-8079, soleburyorchards.com
Solebury is a no-frills apple experience. Pick your own apples, or shop for apple chips, apple butter and more in the market.
On the weekends, a tractor pulls hay-less wagons out to the orchard and younger kids will love climbing all over a decorative wooden tractor out front, but that’s the extent of special activities.
Hidden away on the narrow roads of Bucks County, the orchard is a real escape from the city and is surrounded by other farms, antique stores, and New Hope sites such as Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
Don’t miss: Pick your own bouquet in the flower-cutting garden, where flowers are still blooming (at least until the first frost).
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
Ripe now: Stayman Winesap, Fuji, Keepsake, Braeburn.
Prices: Apples are $1.50 per pound; there are no entrance fees.
40 Fruit Lane, Morgantown, 610-856-7300, weaversorchard.com
On Saturdays through the end of October, the farm holds a fall festival complete with face painting, entertainment, hayrides, and a “mega slide.”
Although there is an extensive farm market with fresh produce, food and coffee, Saturday festival days have additional treats like apple fries — cut and fried like French fries then tossed in cinnamon sugar.
Pick-your-own isn’t limited to apples — there also are pumpkins, kiwis, and raspberries. Availability is regularly updated on the orchard’s website and Facebook page.
Don’t miss: The apple cannon. After the harvest, the remaining apples are cleared from the trees and, if they are too small, go in the apple cannon. Two tries are $1 and anyone who hit the target wins an apple-cider doughnut.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Ripe now: Fuji, Crispin, Cameo, Jonagold, Granny Smith. Samples are available on Saturdays.
Prices: $19 for a 10-pound bag and three wristbands or $27 for 20-pound bag and six wristbands. Wristbands only for adults, not children.
Philadelphia Orchard Project
There are even orchards in Philadelphia, although they are noncommercial, usually just a few fruit trees within a community.
The Philadelphia Orchard Project assists in planting and maintaining these orchards in low-wealth city neighborhoods where people lack access to fresh food.
Even if you don’t live in these communities, you can volunteer for POP’s gleaning program, picking excess fruit from street trees, abandoned orchards and commercial orchards to donate to local food banks.
As a bonus, volunteers can take up to half their harvest home with them. For volunteer opportunities, visit phillyorchards.org.
Here are some other pick-your-own orchards around Philadelphia.
Styer Orchard, 97 Styers Lane, Langhorne, 215-702-9633, styerorchard.com
The Market at DelVal, 2100 Lower State Rd., Doylestown, 215-230-7170, themarketatdelval.com
Highland Orchards, 1000 Marshallton-Thorndale Rd., West Chester, 610-269-3494, highlandorchards.net
Brecknock Orchard, 390 Orchard Rd., Mohnton, 717-445-5704, brecknockorchard.com