Libby & Son U-Picks orchard in Limerick is not open yet for picking apples, but has blueberries, raspberries and peaches.
Apple-picking is about more than stocking up on healthy snacks and pie supplies.
For many it’s about bundling up in flannel and loading up the family car, winding through roads lined with colored leaves and overdoing it on apple cider. But at some orchards, even that’s not all.
There are orchards with corn mazes, and others with farm animals. Some sell hard cider, and at least one hosts live music. Here’s a closer look at some of the spots with unique offerings, so this fall you can pick a place that’s suited for just the kind of outing you want to have.
FOR THE FOODIE
Zucchini bread baked at Snell Family Farm in Buxton. Photo by Abby Snell
Snell Family Farm1000 River Road, Buxton; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Apple cider doughnuts are just the start of the sweet treats you’ll find at Snell Family Farm. Why not try something a little harder to find, like apple raspberry ginger pie? The long list of goodies also includes blueberry bread pudding, strawberry hand pies and breads, all handmade in the farm’s confectionary kitchen. The farm has had an apple orchard since 1926 and is open mid-September through mid-October for picking. Can’t make it to Buxton? The farm stand sets up at the Portland Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
FOR A DATE
Apple-picking is the quintessential fall date, but at Boothby’s Orchard you can top it off with wine. Boothby’s started making wine with its fruit after selling its dairy herd and replacing its milk tank with wine-making equipment. Apple-picking is offered September through October with hayrides among the foliage. Follow that with a wine tasting at the farm stand or buy a bottle for later. Prices range from $12 to $20. If that’s not enough, turn it into a romantic getaway with an overnight stay in one of the orchard’s farm houses, which date to the 1850s. And if that goes well, the orchard also hosts weddings.
FOR FAMILY FUN
While children get lost in the corn maze, the adults can make their way over to the hard cider shack. Ricker Hill Orchard makes hard cider from its apples and offers an assortment of flavors. Once they leave the corn maze, kids can take a tour of the cider plant, where the non-alcoholic apple cider is made. The orchard has a playground, farm animals to pet, jump houses to bounce in and tractors to climb on. All of this is in addition to 16 types of apples for picking, and a country store with homemade chocolate and apple cider doughnuts. Closer to Halloween, Ricker Hill Orchard offers haunted hayrides for the older kids to enjoy.
FOR THE FOLIAGE
Greeted with rows of apple trees and surrounded by mountains, Brackett’s Orchard is so picturesque it seems unreal. In the fall, trees that look like they go on forever light up the horizon with their red, yellow and orange leaves, and Brackett’s feels like the only place in the world. In addition to the scenery, there are mini-train rides for children and goats to pet. Inside the farmhouse, if it’s cold enough, there is a wood fire stove to warm up beside. Pies and apple cider are available for purchase, and the apple-picking comes complete with the sticks to help grab the high ones.
FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT
While you’re sipping on blueberry smoothies and eating a strawberry doughnut, sit and enjoy some music. It’s mostly acoustic acts that take the stage at Libby, which sits among rows of blueberry bushes and has a number of picnic tables set around in front. The apple season started in mid-August and carries on until early November. Check hours through the website; they change depending on weather and harvest levels.
Violet Hall, 4, left, and Ellie Austin O’Toole, 7, both from Saco, dance to the live music by Doubleplay at Libby & Son U-Picks orchard in Limerick. Michele McDonald/Portland Press Herald
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