apple orchards - Boston Moms Blog

It’s officially fall in New England, and if you haven’t been hit with fall fever yet, you certainly will soon. With that fever comes the pumpkin spice cravings, the daydreams of leaf peeping, and, of course, the day trips to those adorable rural small-town orchards for apple picking. 

As a resident of “apple picking country,” as the locals call it, I’m going to guess that you and your family have probably, at some point in your lives, made the pilgrimage to pluck your bushel of apples off the trees at a place that seems more like an apple theme park than an orchard. And if I’m correct, I can guess that after spending the day at one of these oh-so-well-known Boston-area apple orchards, you left feeling a little worse for the wear than when you arrived with stars in your eyes earlier that day. 

After all, spending the day at the apple equivalent of Disneyland isn’t for everyone — the lines, the waits, the massive amounts of people, the complaining children… been there, done that. So after a couple years of mega orchard-ing, we started to seek out smaller, less-traveled orchards. There. Are. TONS! Some of you may love the bigger venues, but for those who want something a little less grandiose this apple picking season, these lesser-known gems are for you!  

Bolton Orchards

Nearly a century old, Bolton Orchards offers pick-your-own apples in one of the oldest and most scenic apple orchards in New England. 

Pick the perfect apples, take a hayride through the orchard, pick your own pumpkin(s), then stop by the farmstand and grab a cider donut. Word to the wise: This spot takes cash only!

Where: 159 Main St., Bolton

Carlson Orchards

Located in adorable Harvard, the apple trees of Carlson Orchards produce 60,000 bushels of apples and over 500,000 gallons of apple cider annually. They offer over 14 varieties of apples, as well as a pumpkin patch. 

Where: 115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard

Meadowbrook Orchards

Meadowbrook Orchards is located on 100 acres of rolling farmland in Sterling, where five generations of the same family have worked the land for over a century. Four kinds of apples are grown here, along with pumpkins and non-fall fruits. With a restaurant and bakery inside, Meadowbrook also bakes and serves up their own specialty food products and baked goods from the apples.

Given that there are no hayrides, mazes, or animals, this is definitely a place where you’ll want to sit on their deck after you’ve picked and enjoy the view. 

Where: 209 Chace Hill Rd., Sterling

Berlin Orchards

Berlin Orchards is set atop 200 acres of rolling hills and strives to carry on the tradition of providing customers with a “wonderful family experience of picking apples in a quiet and serene atmosphere.” The orchard offers 12 varieties of apples, hay wagon rides, a pumpkin patch, and, occasionally, face painting and pony rides.

Where: 310 Sawyer Hill Rd., Berlin

Carver Hill Orchards

Want to go way off the beaten path? Try Carver Hill Orchard in Stow. Pick some apples, spread out a blanket, and appreciate an authentic orchard experience. Pack a lunch (or buy one from their concession stand) and bask in rural New England at its finest.

Where: 101 Brookside Ave., Stow

Nicewicz Family Farm

A third-generation family farm, Nicewicz offers hayrides, pick-your-own apples, and an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the quintessential New England fall backdrop. This orchard gets rave reviews by locals. 

Where: 116 Sawyer Rd., Bolton

Hyland Orchard

Hyland Orchard in Sturbridge offers more than just apples. With live music, disc golf, animals, apple picking, pumpkins, a huge open area for kids to run around, and Rapscallion beers on tap for adults to have a round, there’s a little something for everyone.

Where: 3 Lake Rd., Fiskdale 

Parlee Farms

Tyngsboro’s Parlee Farms offers the standard fresh cider donuts, hayrides, animals to feed, apple and pumpkin picking, and a hay bale maze, but they also have a few rides for kids, a corn roasting station, and if you go late enough in the season, you can get an AMAZING deal on pumpkins!  

Where: 95 Farwell Road, Tyngsboro

Drew Farm

Drew Farm in Westford, while small, allows patrons a little room to breathe (read: not completely overrun with huge crowds). Like most of the other orchards, this farm offers a hayride up to the orchard as well as pony rides and, usually, a s’mores area.

Where: 31 Tadmuck Rd., Westford

Westward Orchards

Take a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch, PYO apples and pumpkins, and revel in the fact that you are accomplishing a low-maintenance apple picking day at Westward Orchards. Also, word on the street is they have dynamite cider donuts. 

Where: 178 Mass Ave., Harvard

Autumn Hill

In Groton, Autumn Hill is an authentic working orchard with 84 acres of scenic farmland with spectacular hilltop vistas including Wachusett, Monadnock, Pak Monadnock, and Nissitissit Hills. Take a picnic and make yourself at home at one of their picnic tables set up on the high ridge where you enjoy the view. If you come at the right time in the season, you’ll find PYO apples, pumpkins, AND concord grapes!

Where: 495 Chicopee Row, Groton

Doe’s Orchard

One of the “younger” orchards (and definitely one with no frills) Doe’s invites visitors to PYO apples, pumpkins, and gourds. If you’re looking for something sweet, pick up some of their local honey, cider, and maple syrup.  

Where: 327 Ayer Rd., Harvard


Jacquelyn (Jakki) is a Texas native who made the Greater Boston area her home several years ago. Jakki is the founder of Social Betty, a social media management and consulting agency, and runs the company with her husband, Chris. She loves the flexibility that being self-employed gives her, and truly appreciates that she is able to attend mid-day school events for her children, Caleb (11), and Kennedy (6). A lover of the written word, music, and makeup, Jakki enjoys a good book, concerts at small venues, and discount shopping. Though life is busy for her family (overcommitting to extracurricular activities regularly), Jakki and her husband make it a point to get to the city and enjoy a ride on the T, a craft beer, and dinner at Legal Harborside or Boston Burger Co.- both with the kids and without.