It’s that time of year again; the leaves are changing color, the air is crisper, and apple trees are being picked for their delicious fruit.
A tradition for my family is to go apple picking. We have gone almost every year since I can remember. When I get that first hint of autumn air, I start thinking about organizing a trip to Afton Apple Orchard in Hastings.
The orchard is a little ways out into the country but easy to find, with big, apple-shaped signs directing the way. After parking in the dusty field, there are several options for a good time. A twisty 15-acre corn maze is always popular, but so is the apple taste-testing booth at the front where little slices of apples from the orchard are served so you can get an idea of the type you want to pick. Then you grab your big plastic bag and go.
Hayrides are the main option for getting around (but only on the weekends). When you see the sign for the apples you want, just hop off (and dust off) at the next stop. Depending on the time of season, different kinds of apples are available. The website will tell you what’s in season during the week you plan on going, but it never hurts to call either. The types of apples that Afton grows includes Paula Red, Zestar, Red Baron, Estival, McIntosh, Sweet 16, Cortland, Spartan, Haralson, Honey Gold, Regent, Honeycrisp, and Connell Red. My personal favorite is the Honeycrisp—in season from now until mid-October— because they are so sweet and juicy.
Strawberries are also an option for picking, but only during the summer. Raspberries are in season from August until October, unless there’s a bad freeze. You can also pick pumpkins; in season from late September through October. Make sure you have the perfect pumpkin for your Halloween jack-o-lantern.
Once you’re done picking, make sure to take a look around the store for all kinds of goodies. Frozen apple pies and apple crisps, homemade jams, honey, maple syrup, and different fruit butters are offered as tempting add-ons to your handpicked purchases.
It’s an afternoon of fun for the whole family, and—for me—an unforgettable, and very delectable, fall tradition!
Admission: $4 ages 5 and older, $3 ages 4 and younger.