Get started apple picking!
It’s not autumn (or late summer) in the Northwest without a trip to pick your own apples! And are we ever in luck: Washington state produces about 60 percent of the nation's supply of apples, from super sweet to pucker-worthy tart varieties.
Most of the region's apples are plucked from orchards in the Wenatchee Valley, about two and a half hours away from the Seattle area. As the Wenatchee River snakes eastward from Leavenworth it is flanked on both sides by one pear or apple orchard after another.
Fruit trees in this part of Washington produce billions of apples annually, each one picked by hand. Varieties range from the ubiquitous Red Delicious to sought-after heirlooms like Maiden Blush and Golden Russet to wildly popular newer varieties such as Honeycrisp.
(Also check out these nearby apple and cider events for families this fall.)
Tips for apple-picking with kids:
- Find family-friendly spots. Many U-pick orchards are kid-friendly (click through to the pages that follow for recommendations). Some keep small trees that offer low-hanging fruit so that kids can reach the apples without assistance, and others have small step ladders (make sure you help little ones up onto them and stay close by).
- Time it right. Apples are usually ready for picking from September through the end of October, with the peak picking time varying from location to location, but some farms start as early as August.
- Call or check online to make sure the orchard you want to visit has U-pick open that day (hours and days can change based on the availability of crops). Facebook pages often give more up-to-date information than websites.
- Bring along your own bags, baskets or boxes in case the farm has run out of them.
- Pack rubber boots because the orchards may be muddy, and consider bringing a wagon to tote kids.
- Think about how many pounds of apples you want to end up with before you start picking. You might want a few pounds for the kids’ lunch boxes, and several more for baking and preserving.
- Check on the pet policy before bringing your pooch. Many farms have a no-pet policy for the safety and comfort of farm animals.
Scroll through to discover great places to pick (or taste) apples and celebrate the apple bounty in Washington State this fall. Head to Eastern Washington if you want to turn apple-picking into a fall weekend getaway, or stay close to home and make it an apple-picking day trip.
Are the apples organic? While few U-pick apple orchards in the region have gone through the process of having their orchards certified organic, many of them implement organic and natural growing practices in their orchards. If this is important to you, feel free to call ahead and ask about their practices.
Editor's note: This article was originally published a few years ago. Most places mentioned are open — with new safety protocols, but you'll want to double-check before heading out as open status can change day by day. Also, some kid-focused activities may not be available. Please mask up and be prepared to follow all safety rules for the health of your family and the wider community.