Apples at Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Emily Selby
Where to Go Apple Picking in Georgia
Is it really even fall yet until you’ve gone apple picking? Here are the best orchards in Georgia to do just that. Don't forget about the pies, cider and donuts, too!
Going apple picking in Georgia is one of those fall traditions you just can't miss! This year, with COVID-19 precautions, it might look a little different, but the thrill of eating a juicy, crisp apple just picked off the tree will be just as delightful as ever.
Plan a trip to these orchards for a taste of fall combined with plenty of family fun. Be sure to review the orchards' websites and social media pages before your trip so you can be fully prepared for your visit.
BONUS: Scroll to the bottom of this page to find a delicious recipe to make with your apples from Chef Jennifer Hill Booker!
B.J. Reece Orchards in Ellijay
Tucked away in the North Georgia mountains, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking at B.J. Reece Orchards! Family-owned and operated since the early 1960s, their you-pick apple orchard is open late August through October in 2020.
B.J. Reece has a wide selection of apples in the market and available for you to pick in season. They grow 20 different varieties of apples on 120 acres! The orchards are also pet-friendly, so bring your four-legged best friend, too.
Visit on weekends for all the farm fun, including apple cannons, wagon rides (farm tours), petting farm, scavenger hunt, cow milking, jumping pillow, cow train rides, pig races, pony rides and racing ziplines. These activities operate every Saturday and Sunday while the you-pick orchards are open. The petting farm is the only experience open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Review the orchard's COVID-19 precautions before your visit.
Deep Roots Orchard in McCaysville
This Appalachian family-owned and operated old-fashioned apple orchard located on a North Georgia hillside offers u-pick apples, wagon rides, fried pies, and a mercantile. Located less than a half-hour drive from downtown Blue Ridge, Deep Roots Orchard is very near the Georgia-Tennessee border. Be sure to stop in downtown McCaysville to snap a picture right on the state line.
Hillcrest Orchards and Farms in Ellijay
Hillcrest Orchards is family-owned and operated, and has been growing apples and fun since 1946. The annual Apple Pickin Jubilee is held on the weekends during September and October. Not only do they have you-pick apples, they also have pig racing with swimming pigs, milking Buttercup - the sweet Jersey cow - mini golf, museums, cow train rides, pony rides, multiple playgrounds, a jumping pillow, pedal cart rides, a nature trail and wagon rides through the orchard.
Buy fresh produce and goodies from the market, and swing by the grill for lunch while you’re there. Don’t forget to stop by the bakery for their famous fresh apple fritters!
The orchard's COVID-19 precautions include: temperature checks prior to entry, masks required for indoor shopping, and masks required for cow milking. Additionally, visitors are asked to practice social distancing, wash hands often, and handle only the products you intend to purchase. Masks will be available for purchase at Hillcrest Orchards.
Jaemor Farms, Alto
A 350-acre farm has been in the Jaemor family since 1912, with a roadside market that has been open for 35 years. Jaemor Farms is one of the largest roadside markets in the country, specializing in a variety of homegrown produce and homemade treats, including — but not limited to — apples, fried pies, cider jelly, jams and vegetable seedlings. The you-pick apple orchards are on select days only. Check out their Facebook page for updates.
TIP: Come early on you-pick days because the orchards are first-come, first serve, and don't leave the farm without getting an apple cider donut, too!
Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge
This year, Mercier will be offering a “We-Pick” season, where the orchard staff will be picking the delicious apples for you. As the state's largest apple orchard, Mercier Orchards offers more than 50 varieties of apples, as well as peaches, nectarines, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, blackberries and more.
All customers must wear a face-covering in the building, and customers are asked to observe social distancing and stay at least 6 feet apart as much as possible. All of the bakery's delicious goods will be available in easy Grab-N-Go boxes.
The cafe at the farm is still serving up delicious food for carry-out only. You can place orders online or call ahead to place curbside pick-up orders.
Want a steady supply of orchard-fresh apples all season long? You can purchase an apple subscription and have a selection of premium apples, recipes and ingredients delivered to your home weekly in September and October!
R & A Orchards, Ellijay
Since 1947 when the first trees were planted, this orchard and family business has been growing. R & A Orchards has approximately 60 acres of apple trees and approximately 10 acres of peaches and nectarines. Make sure to stop by the R&A Market for lunch before or after you pick. Farm tours and apple picking are offered every weekend in September.
Red Apple Barn, Ellijay
Enjoy a visit with your family to the Red Apple Barn near Ellijay in the North Georgia mountains on weekends starting Aug. 21, 2020. Admission is $8.75 and includes a tractor ride to the orchard, an apple from the orchard, a cup of apple cider, an apple cider doughnut, two flowers, water, rock and pumpkin painting, games, picnic areas and playground for the kids. In the farm store, you have to try the apple pies, fritters, bread, caramel and candied apples, jams and jellies, honey and apple cider. The pumpkin patch opens in October. Review the barn's COVID-19 precautions before your visit.
These orchards are definitely 'Gram worthy! See below for some inspiration.
Need a new recipe to try with your apples? Make this galette from our from Chef Jennifer Hill Booker that will impress even your foodie friends!
Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Galette
This free-formed tart, also known as a French Galette, is as easy to make as it is elegant to serve. *Yields 8 servings
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3 tablespoon cold water
1 large egg, beaten + 1 tablespoon water
1 cup dark brown sugar
4-5 medium apples, like Honey Crisp, Gala, and Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375*F.
Sift together the flour, salt, and sugar.
Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and stir until the mixture comes together into a loose ball.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. This pie dough can also be made up to two days ahead, tightly wrapped and refrigerated.
In a large bowl, combine the apples and brown sugar; set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the dried cranberries and water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until cranberries are plump and tender.
Remove from heat, cool slightly, and drain; reserving ¼ cup of the liquid.
Mix the cooked cranberries to the apple mixture along with the reserved liquid.
Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to temper for 10 minutes.
Remove plastic wrap and roll out on lightly floured parchment paper, into a 12-inch round disc.
Brush excess flour from dough and parchment paper and transfer to a baking sheet.
Spoon apple mixture into the center of the tart round and fold dough edges up around the fruit mixture. You should have a 6 inch circle of fruit showing at the top of the tart.
Brush dough with the beaten egg mixture, sprinkle with sugar, and Bake for 30 minutes, or until the fruit mixture is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar and chopped pecans.
From Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent by Jennifer Hill Booker, © 2014 Jennifer Hill Booker, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.