A couple of weeks ago we went apple picking.
The weather was perfect- in the upper 60s, sunny, blue skies. We were joined by my cousins E and K, as well as E’s husband and son. They took the train up to Westechester and we drove all the way up Dutchess county to visit Fishkill Farms. While there were orchards we could have gone to closer by, many of them are overrun with people driving up from Manhattan and aren’t very nice.
So, while Fishkill Farms was more of trip, it was not very crowded, there were no gridlocked parking lots, they don’t charge an admission fee (you just pay for what you pick), and all the fruit is organic.
They actually have you drive your car right out into the orchard- which was great since we were traveling with a toddler and 9 month old, so we could leave diaper bags and other accoutrements in the car and still have them handy. When you pull up, they give you a bag and a map, telling you what’s in season and where it’s planted, then you drive right out. Since some of the varieties were pretty spread out, we did move the car once to cover the distance.
The other thing that was nice, was that because it wasn’t crowded and the orchards are nice and spread out, we could bring the dog! Some of the time we kept her on the leash (when we were near the driveway or other groups were nearby) and other times she could just run around and enjoy the open space.
I can’t even recall all the varieties of apples they have, but we picked some of every variety that was in season. We didn’t keep track, so every apple we eat is a surprise- and all are yummy.
After picking our apples, we headed back to the barn/shop area. There was a musician/storyteller that Mabel enjoyed. So, while we snacked on REALLY good apple cider doughnuts with cinnamon and sugar, Mabel danced, and clapped along. That is, until she saw the BOUNCE HOUSE! I was a little ticked that it was $3 for 5 minutes, but Mabel was really excited and the $3 was worth not having her upset. However, she didn’t really respect the 5 min time limit and Mac actually had to crawl in and retrieve her while a line of eager kids waited their turn!
They also had a tractor ride (also have to pay extra for that), which we skipped because everyone was hungry.
We definitely plan to go back again. Fishkill Farms was really nice. They had CLEAN porta-potties throughout the property with hand-washing stations stocked with actual soap and running water. The grounds were well-maintained. We didn’t spot any poison-ivy or ticks. There were no crowds, no rushing. The staff we encountered were friendly and helpful. The apples were very good. While I was a little irked that the bounce house and hayride were extra- I think that’s the tradeoff for not paying an admission fee to get in. All around it was a great experience and we’re looking forward to going back.
If you are thinking of visiting Fishkill Farms, I would advise going earlier in the season. They do a good job of keeping their Fac*book page updated with what varieties are picked-out, and which are still available. When we went, which was the second weekend of their Fall season, McIntosh apples were already getting a little picked-out.
What I would do different next time-check if it’s cheaper by the bag or by the pound. Fishkill Farms gives a ‘discount’ on the apples for a full bag- $20 for the whole bag. Afterwards, we realized that it probably would have been cheaper to pay by the pound- I don’t think our full bag was really a savings at $20.
The other thing I would do differently would be to bring a picnic lunch. While they do have a grill area selling burgers and such, we all wanted something more substantial and sit down. I think we would have stayed longer listening to the music, shopping in the store, and taking the hayride if we hadn’t been so hungry! The grounds are lovely for spreading out a blanket, and they also have picnic tables. So next time I think we’ll bring lunch, supplement it with items from the grill and from the store (hello apple cider doughnuts!), and stay longer enjoying the orchards.
It was so lovely to spend the day with my family. Growing up I was close with my cousins- always getting together for a holiday or someone’s communion/confirmation/graduation. So far I think my cousins and I are doing a great job of recreating/maintaining that closeness for our kids and it gives me the warm fuzzies. We always have a great time when we get together and I think it will get even more fun as the kids get bigger.