Washington DC

Gorgeous Orchards for Apple Picking Outside of DC

Go on a fall adventure.

Driving through bucolic back roads to pluck Red Winesap, Ginger Gold, and Granny Smith apples is one of our favorite fall pastimes. And the day wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t stop to grab fresh baked pie, cider donuts and local produce from the farm markets. The orchards have implemented new procedures In the wake of COVID-19, including requiring customers to wear  masks indoors (and some outdoors). Many now require reservations and charge by the container size without weighing them to minimize interaction with staff. Luckily, the farms offer plenty of acreage to maintain some distance from fellow apple pickers. We’ve rounded up seven apple orchards in Maryland and Virginia where you can go apple picking this fall.

Catoctin Mountain Orchard

Thurmont, Maryland
Distance from DC: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Catoctin Mountain welcomes apple pickers every Saturday and Sunday in September and October. Guests need to wear a mask while in line and during the wagon ride to the pick-your-own orchard, with varieties including Cameo, Cortland, and the new Mountain Honey. Get some jarred jams and pickles, pies, and popcorn at the market. There’s also a field where you can cut your own flowers.

Butler’s Orchard

Germantown, Maryland
Distance from DC: 40 minutes 
Located on 300 acres, Butler’s Orchard offers plenty of space to maintain six feet between you and strangers. Reserve a 90-minute time slot on the website and don a face mask before filling the pre-paid bucket with apples, available from early September to mid-October. The Farm Market features seasonal fruit and vegetables, local meat and dairy, and apple cider donuts.

Larriland Farm

Woodbine, Maryland
Distance from DC: 1 hour
Drive through scenic Western Howard County to Larriland Farm, where you’ll find nearly two dozen varieties of apples -- including Braeburn, Golden Delicious, and Magnolia Gold from August to early November. The farm requires visitors wear face masks at all times and is limiting crowds in the Red Barn Farm Market, where you can pick up local free range eggs, cheeses, Larriland honey, and Fisher’s popcorn and peanuts.

Great Country Farms
Great Country Farms | John Sonderman/Flickr

Great Country Farms

Bluemont, Virginia
Distance from DC: 1 hour
Apple season begins late August and lasts through early October at Great Country Farms, featuring Honey Crisp, Gala, Jona Free, and other varieties. Maintain social distancing measures and don a mask inside in the market, where shoppers will find cider donuts, sandwiches, soups, and eggs -- which can be ordered online in advance for pickup. Grab some peach or rosé cider afterwards at the adjacent Henway Hard Cider.

Crooked Run Orchard & Farm

Purcellville, Virginia
Distance from DC: 1 hour
The no-frills farm in Western Loudoun County has been in the Brown family for more than 250 years. Fall at the farm brings pears, pumpkins, apple cider, and apples that are already picked, in addition to pick-your-own experience. This part of Virginia is in Phase 3 of reopening, which still requires wearing masks indoors and maintaining at least six feet of physical distance from other travelers.

Mackintosh Fruit Farm

Berryville, Virginia
Distance from DC: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Reserve a time slot online between 8am-3pm, but we recommend getting there early to ensure you get there before the apples run out. Stay for lunch at the market, which sells pizza, tamales, sandwiches, and groceries you can order online in advance.

Carter Mountain Orchard
Carter Mountain Orchard | Eli Christman/Flickr

Carter Mountain Orchard

Charlottesville, Virginia
Distance from DC: 3 hours
Located down the road from Monticello, the dog-friendly Carter Mountain Orchard offers Gala, Ginger Gold, and Lodi apples available for picking. The orchard requires guests to wear masks indoors and to sanitize their hands before and after picking. Make a day of it and visit Bold Rock Tap Room to taste the hard ciders made with local apples while drinking in the view. Swing by the country store and bakery to pick up the fresh-baked apple cider donuts, pies and ice cream.

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Julekha Dash is a Maryland writer who covers food, travel and design with bylines in USA Today, American Way, Architectural Digest, Eater, Fodor's, and others. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and check out her Contently portfolio.
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