The Essential Guide To Apple-Picking In D.C.

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If the endless tweets we're seeing about pumpkin-spiced lattes are any indication, fall flavors are officially in season — and while pumpkin might be autumn's most obvious ingredient of choice, a crisp, juicy apple makes a strong second-place showing. And, not that we need an excuse to pull out the flat boots, Barbour jackets, and plaid, but an apple-picking outing presents the perfect opportunity to debut our rustic-chic duds.
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Several farms within an easy drive of the District offer orchards full of plump, ripe fruit, ready for plucking from the branch. And since everybody loves local produce and farm-to-table eating, we highly recommend scooping a bushel to take home and make your own cider, apple butter, a flaky pie, you name it. Here are our picks for the best farms for DIY bushel-filling — but be sure to book that Zipcar soon, because there are only a few more weeks left in peak apple season.
Hollins Farms
This farm has been owned by the same family for four generations (and is open year-round, so remember that for peach season). In addition to apple orchards, you can dig for peanuts and potatoes, or buy cuts of pasture-raised beef and pork.
11324 Pearlstone Lane, Delaplane; 540-592-3701.
Rock Hill Orchard
Rock Hill Orchard grows 20 different varieties of apple — you'll find Melrose, Suncrisp, and Rome at their peak right about now — so you'lll get a bit of an apple education as you pick. Pumpkins, okra, and kale are among the other produce options you'll find in season right now.
28600 Ridge Road, Mount Airy; 301-831-7427.
Great Country Farms
Offering a market full of local produce and hand-crafted goods, barnyard personalities that include Elmer the potbelly pig and Clover the miniature cow, and some kind of festival almost every month, the pick-your-own area is just part of the full day's worth of farm activity here.
18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont; 540-554-2073.
Larriland Farm
Want the full (adorable) farm experience? In addition to apple orchards, Larriland offers tractor-pulled hayrides through the fields and along a charming creek, and you can even reserve an evening ride that ends around a cozy campfire. Sweetest fall date idea ever? We think so.
2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine; 410-442-2605.
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Butler's Orchard
This Montgomery County farm has been supplying fresh produce to Washingtonians for over 60 years, and currently offers pick-your-own apples, dig-your-own potatoes, and even cut-your-own flowers for the perfect centerpiece when you serve up your totally DIY feast. So Martha!
22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown; 301-972-3299.
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