Time to Pick Apples in The Carolinas!!!10SEP
September brings the beginning of fall, but here in the Carolinas, we sometimes feel summer-like temperatures well into October. After a long, hot summer, I was ready for cooler temps, crisp air and something apple-flavored, so I headed north last Sunday.
I found a perfect day trip at Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, North Carolina, just a 1 ½-hour drive from the Charlotte area and less than an hour from Upstate South Carolina. It makes a great short weekend trip if you’re in the Triad or Triangle.
Sky Top Orchard welcomed me with cool mountain air and fresh apples. Open from August to December, the orchard is home to more than 20 varieties of apples, picked by the staff and by visitors. Each apple variety arrives in a different part of the season, so you can choose the perfect time to pick your favorites.
As you walk toward the orchard store, you can smell the fresh baked apple doughnuts (yes, doughnuts) and they ARE yummy. You’ll see folks stocking up before they head home, and I suggest you do the same. And be sure to try an apple cider slushy or hot apple cider.
Exploring the store, you’ll see pecks and bushels (don’t worry, the staff can explain) of every apple in season. You can purchase apples picked by the staff, and near the back of the store, you’ll see where they sort the apples to sell or use for cider or other products. The staff is happy to explain how this large machine works.
Ready to pick? Check in to receive your basket and wagon and head to the orchard. Not sure what kind of apple you want? Head over to the sample section to try the apples currently available.
As you make your way to the orchards, you’ll pass several play areas for kids, as well as a petting zoo. Soon, you’ll find rows and rows of apple trees, ready to be explored. Spend as long as you like gathering apples, then head back to the store to check out.
Don’t miss the live beehive in the store. It’s a treat to see the bees in action and purchase honey created by the same hive. And don’t miss the delicious jams, jellies and even barbeque sauces with an apple kick.
Looking to extend your trip? Flat Rock is near the Blue Ridge Parkway, home of great hikes and fantastic views. For a list of great hikes in the area, click here.
As fall settles in, take advantage of the North Carolina mountains – just a short drive away. Pull out the jackets and long sleeves, pick your own apples, and see the leaves change. And as we say in the South – Happy Fall Y’all!
Don’ Forget: The Lincoln County Apple Festival is held annually in downtown Lincolnton the third Saturday in September. In 2014 it will be September 20th.
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