Best Bets for Where to Pick Apples in the Carolinas

September is prime apple-picking season in the Carolinas. Plan a trip to pick apples and create a fall family tradition.

September is prime apple-picking season at Carolina orchards. The largest N.C. crops come from Henderson County, just outside of Asheville, and include Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and sweet Gala varieties. Hendersonville also hosts the annual N.C. Apple Festival each Labor Day weekend. Here are a few best bests for where to pick a peck of apples, sip on cider and sample homemade apple butter, apple-cider doughnuts and apple-cider slushes.

Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill

If you don't have an entire day to head to the mountains, Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill is just an hour southwest of Charlotte in York, S.C., and grows Stayman Winesap apples. The season opens Aug. 17 and estimated pick-your-own date is Sept. 6. Stay tuned to the calendar to see updated events. Everyone 2 years of age and older must have their own pre-purchased bag to enter the orchard. Bags can be purchased at the farm stand. Prices range from $5-$25. Also be sure to check out their hard-cider tastings and live music, and try an apple-cider doughnut or fried apple pie. 1860 Black Highway, York, S.C.


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Carrigan Farms

Carrigan Farms is located about 40 minutes from uptown Charlotte in Mooresville. The farm has apples ripe for the picking beginning in September and open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $11 per person, and includes a half-peck bag of apples, plus a hayride to the orchard. 1261 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy., Mooresville


Sky Top Orchard

Take a daytrip to Flat Rock, North Carolina to pick apples at Sky Top Orchard. This orchard is an hour and forty-five minutes from Charlotte and has 22 varieties of apples good for picking. Check out their ripening schedule to make sure you come at a time to pick your favorite types. You'll also find great mountain views at this orchard where you can enjoy apple-cider slushes, apple-cider doughnuts and hot caramel apples. There also are barnyard animals to visit, a playground for kids and picnic areas. You can also watch a cider press at work.

Open daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. August-October. Note GPS directions aren't always accurate, so use this address if using a GPS: 3403 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock


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The Orchard at Altapass

This orchard two hours from Charlotte is open from May until October. Apples are $10 a peck or $6 a half peck. The orchard even offers picking poles so your little ones can try to reach the apples on higher branches. 

Go on a story-telling hayride, a guided story-telling or nature walk, color or play checkers in the Kids’ Corner. Check the schedule for live music and other fun events. The orchard also offers children’s programs at Super Saturdays, a program of Appalachian Heritage Activities for children ages 6 to 12. 

Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 1025 Orchard Road, Spruce Pine


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Apple Hill Orchard

This day trip is only an hour and twenty minutes from Charlotte. Apple Hill Orchard is located just a few miles off of I-40 in Morganton (near Hickory). In addition to picking apples, explore the cider mill and country store. The apple picking season starts late summer for Gala and Arlet apples and continues until late October with twelve other apple varieties available.

Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. through Oct. 31. Closed Sundays. 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave., Morganton


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Millstone Creeks Orchard

There is no u-pick at this orchard this year due to weather conditions, but every weekend of September is AppleFest — an event with apple picking, hayrides, storytime with Johnny Appleseed, apple-pie-eating contests, apple bobbing and more! Admission is $8, and free for children under age 2. In October, the orchard switches to Oktoberfest, an event with pumpkin and gourd picking opposed to apples. Millstone Creeks Orchard is located about one hour and forty minutes from Charlotte near Asheboro. 

AppleFest happens all September weekends: Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., 1-5 p.m. 506 Parks Crossroad Church Road, Ramseur


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