The recent dip in temperature has my family dreaming of crisp apples, orange pumpkins, fall hay rides, and confusing corn mazes. Luckily for us, we get to turn these dreams into a reality each weekend here on Long Island. Where we live, we have easy access to an assortment of amazing fall family activities and we take advantage of them as often as we can.
This past weekend, we packed up our kids for our annual apple picking adventure at Harbes Orchard in Riverhead. We tend to be creatures of habit and always visit Harbes because it has endless activities for both children and adults. One of our favorite things to do there is to jump on the Apple Express which takes riders through the impressive 15-acre apple orchard. Since Harbes offers 24 different apple varieties throughout the season, you have the opportunity to pick your family’s favorite variety.
But if your children only like a particular apple variety like Galas, make sure you go sooner rather than later. Most people would imagine that the apples last all through the pumpkin picking season, but they do not. A few seasons back, we also made this assumption and were met by completely picked out apple orchards. Farm after farm was picked clean. As you can imagine, our kids were very upset with us!
Over the years, we’ve also learned that there are some pretty important rules to follow when apple picking. A lot of time and effort goes into growing apple trees and they need to be treated respectfully. Harbes has their apple picking rules posted right at the orchard entryway, which is quite helpful to newcomers. The rules include a few basics such as no climbing of the trees, no crawling through the trees and no pets.
But sometimes you get caught up in the excitement of getting into the orchard as fast as you can and you can miss some of the rules like I did on this recent adventure. As I placed the ticket wristbands on each of my children, I missed one of the rules. As I happily reached up into an apple tree and pulled off my first apple, I heard my daughter gasp. With eyes the size of saucers, she whispered, “Mommy, you didn’t twist and pull!” I looked at her a little dumbfounded and she quickly explained that we needed to follow the “twist and pull rule” in order to pick an apple without damaging the tree. Lesson learned.
Once we filled our little white bags to the brim, we spent the rest of the afternoon eating apple cider donuts and grilled corn while washing it down with freshly pressed apple cider. The kids also listened to live music, made candles, and pet the goats and sheep at the orchard. It was a picture perfect fall day.
During our drive home, my head filled with visions of apple pie, apple crisp, and steel cut apple oatmeal. I couldn’t wait to start whipping up delicious apple treats for my entire family. I love apple picking each year with our kids and I look forward to year after year.
Harbes Orchard is open from 9-6pm every weekend in September and October making it easy to plan a trip around nap times and soccer practices. Although apple picking season goes through October, if you wait too long you run the risk of being out picked by your fellow apple enthusiasts!