Al fresco farm visits are a great way to get outdoors with the fam or the bae this fall. We polled our readers a few weeks ago to ask their recommendations for the best U-pick apple farms in the Hudson Valley. Here's what the polls said, plus a few staff picks in the mix.
DuBois Farms | Highland
DuBois was a crowd favorite among readers, with one fan writing, "They have the best family farm. Tiny Town for the kids to play, a petting zoo, the Tavern for excellent food, and the barn with homemade jams, salsa, jewelry, etc." 'Tis true, DuBois seems to have it all from pastries to fresh pressed local cider to locally made preserves, condiments, and body care products. In October, U-pick is open for apples, grapes, and pumpkins with no reservations required. Open daily, 10am-5pm on weekdays and 9am-6pm on weekends.
Twin Star Orchard | New PaltzThe 200-acre Twin Star Orchard in New Paltz is the home based and tasting room for Brooklyn Cider House, which makes Basque-style ciders with minimal intervention, using no added flavorings or additional sugars. Mant of the ciders are raw and wild-fermented. The orchard has 50 acres growing over 8,000 hard cider varieties and another 50 acres of ancient orchards now open for U-picking. Even as the season wraps up with Golden Delicious, there you can still head to the farm for wood-fired pizza and burgers, house ciders, and local beer and wine enjoyed al fresco, pondside. Open Friday through Sunday, 11am-7pm. Leashed dogs are welcome.
Clarke's Family Farm | ModenaOne reader wrote about Clarke's, "Organic and low-spray apples, HUGE variety, amazing cider doughnuts, and the nicest people. And it’s not crowded." In the time of corona, we LOVE not crowded. Organic apple varieties include Red Delicious, Fuji, Gold Rush, Cameo and Braeburn, plus a whole bunch more conventional (IPM) apples. You can also harvest your own pumpkin straight off the vine and browse the preserves made with farm-fresh fruit. On your way back from the corn maze, taste their sunshine-distilled apple spirits and nom homemade donut. But hurry up and get their fast because they're only open weekends through October 17/18.
Masker Orchards | WarwickIf you're looking for an extra-safe apple-picking experience, at Masker Orchards in Warwick, you can stay in your car and drive right up to any one of their 10,000 trees to minimize contact with other guests. In a non-COVID year, Masker would have a Family Fun Area with pony rides, a corn maze, music, a haunted house, and a food stand, but alas in 2020, it's all shut down. But you are invited to BYO picnic. Their farm store is closed as well, but you can pre-order provisions, pies, pastries, and Masker merch online for curbside pick-up when you visit. Hurry there, though, because October 17/18 is the last open weekend of the year.
Majestic Farm | Mountain DaleThis Sullivan County farm does a little bit of everything—pastured pork, poultry, and beef, and organic U-pick apples in the fall. Majestic Farm is open to the publics on weekends from 10-4pm for apple picking. Pickers must purchase at least one bag per three people ($12 for a three- to four-pound bag). Leashed dogs are allowed. BYO picnic and stop at the farm store on the way out to pick up some heritage pork, free-roaming chicken, grass-fed beef, eggs, and housemade products like bacon and sausage.
Lawrence Farm Orchards | Newburgh
Rose Hill Farm | Red Hook
One of the state’s oldest fruit farms, Rose Hill changed hands in November 2015. Under new owners, farm manager Kevin Clark has shifted the entire operation toward holistic orchard management practices, which means no herbicides and little to no spraying—especially in the lead up to harvest. It seems the changes are bearing fruit, so to say. One reader said Rose Hill said Rose Hill has "best-tasting Honeycrisp apples." The 144-acre farm has epic views of the Catskills, a taproom where you can try the farm's unfiltered hard ciders and natural wines, and a farm stand with honey from the hives, mulled hot cider, warm apple crips, and cider doughnuts. U-pick is open Friday-Sunday, 9am-5pm and the taproom is open Thursdays 2-8pm, and Friday-Sunday 11am-8pm.