The fall ushers in New England’s most colorful season with hues from bright red to blazing orange to mellow yellows and subtle browns. The crisp, clean air invites people to get out and experience the foliage, cooler temperatures and simple pleasures of immersing oneself in the beauty of the season while getting exercise, enjoying family time together and perhaps gathering some harvest to carry home and turn into delectable treats.
A favorite fall pastime is apple picking, something that can be enjoyed by every member of the family. Orchards throughout the region offer countless varieties of apples, upward of a hundred in some cases, ready to be harvested and eaten whole — “an apple a day…” and all that — or turned into cider, pies, sauces and “brown betties.” A day at an orchard might include, in addition to apple picking, a horse-drawn hay ride, cider pressing, a barnyard visit and petting zoo, a farm kitchen shop, hiking trails and corn maze.
On the Connecticut River in Walpole, N.H., Alyson’s Orchard offers spectacular views along with a variety of fruit including peaches, plums, nectarines and berries. But the specialty on the 450 acres is more than 50 varieties of apples. Many of these are Heirlooms, which are varieties that have been cultivated for more than 75 years. During apple picking season, Alyson’s offers wagon rides to move you around the orchard. Kids can visit the farm’s goats, play bocce or hang out at the playground as well as enjoy the pick-your-own fun. The farm store features many local products as well as everything apple.
For residents of Boston and surrounding areas, a great close-to-home choice is Lookout Farm, located in South Natick, just 20 miles from downtown Boston. The location, on 180 acres, boasts 50,000 fruit trees. Of course, in the fall apples come to the forefront. Environmentally friendly trains transport visitors throughout the orchard, stopping where the picking is best. You can get on and off as many times as you like. For the kids there’s a play area, hay pyramid to climb and a farm maze to negotiate. Adults can enjoy the Taproom, where they can indulge in hard cider and craft beer from the Lookout Farm Brewing and Cider Co., a new addition to the farm in 2017.