Apple season is upon us: Pick-your-own orchards within 2 hours of Charlotte

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I love fall as much as the next boot-wearing, hot latte-sipping fangirl, but let’s get to it when we get to it. By December we’ll be crying out for summer’s sweaty embrace and yet here we are in August listening to clever marketing messages that tell us it’s time to wrap up in our chunky sweaters and drink our pumpkin lattes instead of listening to our trusty meteorologists who tell us it’s definitely still 90 degrees out there.

What I’m saying is I am anti-fall until the true last day of summer, which this year falls on September 23. But there is one exception to this seasonal rule: apples.

Maybe it’s for the fresh-off-the-branch apples. Maybe it’s for the hot-out-of-the-fryer apple doughnuts. Either way, it’s a Levans family tradition toward which I now gladly rush unseasonably early.

apple doughnut

Because I grew up in northern Illinois where the temperatures start to drop considerably by September, I tend to miss apple season here in North Carolina because I’m quite literally waiting for the weather to chill out. I hold out through the end of summer and then through most of fall for a crisp, cool, grey, apple-worthy day only to find that by that time most of the harvests have been picked clean.

Lest I miss my favorite fall activity again, I’ve preemptively pulled together a list of where to pick apples near Charlotte and when they’re available. A lot of them are earlier than you might think. In fact, for some varieties of apples, the season has already come and gone here in North Carolina.

Sky Top Orchard

If you wait until October (as I routinely do), you will miss most of the apples. So hurry up. It’s fall… sort of.

Charlotte Area Apple Orchards

NOTE: Many orchards are cash only. Apple availability updated as of August 28. Call ahead to confirm availability.

Sky Top Orchard

  • Location: Flat Rock, NC
  • Distance from Charlotte: 2-hour drive
  • Picking Schedule: Click here
  • Currently available: Asian pear (in-store season opened 8/1), Gala (U-pick season opened 8/3), Candy Crisp (in-store season opened 8/20), early Fuji (in-store season opened 8/20), McIntosh (U-pick season opened 8/22)
  • Available soon: Golden Delicious (late August – late October), Macoun (early September), Cortland (September), Red Delicious (mid September – mid October), Mutsu (mid September – mid October), Jonathan (September – mid October), Jonagold (late August – early October), Ida Red (mid September – mid October), Blushing Gold (late September – late October), Granny Smith (late September – late October), Cameo (October), Rome (October), Fuji (October), Pink Lady (mid October), Gold Rush (October)
  • 2015 season already closed: Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp (U-pick closed, still available in store), early Mac

Sky Top Orchard

Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill

  • Location: York, SC
  • Distance from Charlotte: < 1 hour-drive
  • Picking Schedule: Click here
  • Currently available: Stayman Winesap (U-pick season opened 8/24)

Windy Hill Orchard

Carrigan Farms

  • Location: Mooresville, NC
  • Distance from Charlotte: 45-minute drive
  • Picking schedule: Click here
  • Availability: Apple season opens September 4; Red and Gold Delicious are available for picking throughout the month of September

Carrigan Farms

Apple Hill Orchard

  • Location: Morganton, NC
  • Distance from Charlotte: 1.5-hour drive
  • Picking Schedule: Click here
  • Currently available: Gala (U-pick season opened 8/15), Arlet (U-pick season opened 8/15),
  • Coming soon: Golden Delicious (U-pick season opening 8/28), Red Delicious (U-pick season opening 8/29), Jonagold (U-pick season opening 9/4), Cameo (early October), Stayman Winesap (early October), Fuji (mid October), Goldrush (mid October), Granny Smith (mid October), Pink Lady (late October)
  • Already gone: Ginger Gold (available in store only)

Apple Hill Orchard

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard

  • Location: Hendersonville, NC
  • Distance from Charlotte: 2-hour drive
  • Picking Schedule: Click here 
  • Currently available: Gala, Honeycrisp, early Fuji
  • Coming soon: Jonagold (early September), Mutsu (early September), Golden Delicious (mid September), Red Delicious (mid September), Jonathan (mid September), Ultra Gold (mid September), Cameo (mid-late September), Blushing Gold (mid-late September), Fuji (late September), Stayman (late September), Taylor Rome (late September), Law Rome (late September), York (early October), Arkansas Black (mid-late October), Pink Lady (mid-late October), Granny Smith (mid-late October)

Note! Blueberry Thrill Farm, located 1 hour from Charlotte, is CLOSED FOR THE 2015 SEASON due to a fire blight outbreak. They’ll be back next year though.

Photo credits: Sky Top via Facebook, Carrigan via Facebook, Apple Hill via Facebook, Windy Hill via Facebook

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Katie Levans Loveluck
| @katie_levans |
Co-Founder and Creative Director