Apple picking is a favorite fall activity with kids and Connecticut has dozens of wonderful apple picking orchards and farms that make a great day trip. If you’d like to stay in Fairfield County, you have only a small selection to choose from, which may be why all of the orchards get busy on the weekends. My kids and I like to head out first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. For even more orchards, be sure to check out our Apple and Pumpkin Picking Guide. No matter where you go, you'll find that apple picking is a great outing for toddlers especially when you combine it with cool activities like corn mazes, hay rides, petting zoos, and farm markets with fresh pressed cider, donuts and pies.
Keep in mind that crop conditions change from day-to-day, so it’s always a good idea to call a location or check the website before you head out. You'll have to help your little one pick according to the rules of the farm, but you'll always find helpful, friendly farm workers willing to lend a hand and demonstrate the proper picking technique. Be prepared for a port-o-potty, since most locations don't have bathroom facilities out in the orchards. Make sure to dress in warm layers and wear comfortable shoes. And bring your appetites!
Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard is a great choice for families with toddlers! The apple trees for pick-your-own are dwarf varieties that only grow to a maximum of 10 to 12 feet for easy picking. They have the standard variety of apples everyone is familiar with such as Macoun, Red Delicious and McIntosh, but also offer several rare antique varieties such as Spitzenberg, Baldwin, Golden Russet and Winesap bringing their total apple varieties to over twenty. PYO apples is only on weekends and holidays in September and October from 10 am to 5 pm. Cash or check only. Beardsley’s also offers delicious treats in their farm shop including local, raw honey from hives that are located on Shelton, CT farms as well as freshly pressed cider and fresh baked pies.
Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard, 278 Leavenworth Road (Rt. 110), Shelton CT, (203) 926-1098. OPEN: September 10 - October. 10am-5pm on weekends.
Blue Jay Orchards grow thirty varieties of apples and picking starts mid-September. There’s a 20 minute, scenic hayride and warm apple cider donuts to fill you up. The farm stand offers apples, pies, baked goods, jams and jellies, and fresh apple cider donuts.
Blue Jay Orchards, 125 Plumtrees Rd., Bethel CT, (203) 748-0119. OPEN: September 10th through October, Saturday & Sunday only 9-5.
Silverman’s Farm's apples and other pick-your-own fruit are very easy to reach. The farm runs a hayride around the orchard and sometimes you can score a big red wagon to haul your stash of fruit (and kids) in. A word of warning though, the weekend crowds are so enormous during the fall that they need police officers to direct traffic. It's popular for a reason, so if you and your little ones can handle the crowds, then you'll still have a great time.
Not only can you pick apples, peaches and plums, but you can also enjoy strolling through the pumpkin patch, full of twenty different varieties of colorful fall squashes, gourds, straw bales, cornstalks, scarecrows and colorful mums. Guess the weight of your pumpkin within two ounces and it's free! Across the street, visit their farm, which has bunnies, buffalo, llamas, sheep, goats, fallow deer, emus, long-horn cattle, and exotic birds. Some weekends you'll find live music and fresh kettle corn made to order. Picnic tables are available in the park area as well as washing stations and outdoor port-a-potty facilities. Check their website for coupons.
Silverman’s Farm, 451 Sport Hill Road (Rt. 59), Easton CT, (203) 261-3306. OPEN: Pick-your-own, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily.
Bishop’s Orchards is not in Fairfield County, but it's definitely worth the trip up to Guilford. Their pick-your-own season starts in June with strawberries and goes through October with apples and pumpkins. The fields are open every day, weather permitting, and all of their picking is easy for toddlers. The Corn Maze is open on weekends, through October. The Hay Maze will open in October, next to the Farm Market and Pumpkin Patch, and will be available 7 days a week. The Farm Market is huge and you can get fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods, cheeses, meats, eggs, honey, and fresh cut flowers. (be prepared for high prices!) Call their info line anytime for an up to the minute report on which crops are available for picking, as well as information on events, weather, and directions to the fields.
Bishop’s Orchards, 1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford CT, (203) 458-7425. OPEN: Pick-your-own, 10 am - 5 pm.
When you get home with all of those apples, I bet you'll think, "What on earth am I going to do with all of these?" Don't despair! Check our our Boston editor's post full of great simple recipes.
For full coverage of apple picking, pumpkin picking, strawberry picking and farm fun info in the tri state area, check out our Pick Your Own Guide.
Originally posted on 9/6/2011. Photo Credit Allison Noel.