Baseball season is winding down and Boston’s many college dorms are full again, which means it’s officially fall. Autumn also brings apple season, meaning it’s time to fill up on apple cider, apple pie, apple donuts and more. Here are five of the best apple orchards to visit — all under an hour’s drive from downtown Boston — that are sure to result in a great day of fall fun.
Cider Hill Farm
Located just under an hour’s drive from Boston in Amesbury, Cider Hill presses fresh cider every week from August to December. The farm is alsoa place where families are welcome to spend some quality time together, so be sure to try a hayride, pick your own apples or just have a relaxing stroll through the orchards while you’re there.
8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, 45 Fern Ave., Amesbury, ciderhill.com
Make the quick half-hour drive to Danvers and visit Connors Farm. After downing some fresh cider, head to the bakery to try their most popular item: a hot apple cider donut. Afterwards, get lost in Connors’ huge corn maze, one of the biggest in the country. The maze is open until Oct. 31.
8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, 30 Valley Road, Danvers, connorsfarm.com
Head west to Harvard to check out this sprawling, primarily wholesale farm: They’ll be ready with a batch of their hot-spiced cider. Aside from the typical apple picking activities, Carlson offers blueberries, raspberries, peaches and pumpkins. After you harvest, feel free to relax, sitting by the frog pond.
9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, 115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard, carlsonorchards.com
Stow’s Shelburne Farm is the oldest pick-your-own apple orchard in eastern Massachusetts. In addition to freshly made, sweet cider, pick up some honey from the farm’s in-house beehives. Kids can play at the nifty tractor playground (think tiny pedal tractors for little ones to roll around on) while grownups canget lunch at the Applewood Grill. Burgers, hot dogs and sausages are served daily.
9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 106 W Acton Road, Stow, shelburnefarm.com
Smolak Farms, in North Andover, claims to combine agriculture, education and entertainment. They have harvest festivals every weekend in September and October, complete with pumpkin picking, hayrides, farm animals and, of course, cider and cider donuts. Initial admission to the festival is free. Stop by the ice cream stand for a treat, which they make fresh every day.
7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, 315 S Bradford St., North Andover, smolakfarms.com