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Top Picks: Seven PYO Apple Orchards Worth the Drive

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Scott Farm Orchard apple picking - COURTESY OF SCOTT FARM ORCHARD
  • Courtesy of Scott Farm Orchard
  • Scott Farm Orchard apple picking

Allenholm Farm

South Hero, allenholm.com

Seven generations of the Allen family have tended Allenholm Farm since 1870, making it the state's oldest commercial apple orchard. Over those 151 years, the place has grown to offer a little of everything. Visitors can expect weekend wagon rides and more than a dozen pick-your-own varieties. The farm store sells Papa Ray's homemade pies and maple creemees made with Vermont syrup. (There are maple sprinkles, too!)

Burtt's Apple Orchard

Cabot, burttsappleorchard.com

Started by a young Vermonter as a high school project in 2005, Burtt's Apple Orchard grows 40 pick-your-own varieties on a compact 10-acre plot amid hillside farms and the Green Mountains. Visitors come for the apples, doughnuts and cider slushies — available daily at the farmstand — and stay to forge family traditions at the corn maze and pumpkin patch.

Champlain Orchards

Shoreham, champlainorchards.com

From Akane to Zestar — and everything in between, including good ol' Cortland and Empire — Champlain Orchards boasts 146 apple varieties, and counting. September and October also bring Asian pears, European plums and fall raspberries. Good thing there's a PYO tracker on the website to keep tabs on what's ripe. After all that picking, reward yourself with a crisp, easy-drinking hard cider, pressed and fermented right on-site.

Mad Tom Orchard

East Dorset, madtomorchard.com

Sansa is "a good lunch box apple," while Macouns make "great pink apple sauce, if you leave the skin on." These are the kinds of delicious details in Mad Tom Orchard's handy Apple Calendar, which notes the best uses and ripening schedule for its 14 varieties. Sylvia and Tom Smith's orchard promises mountain views and a "safe picking policy," including one-way traffic flow. Also, weekend doughnuts.

Scott Farm Orchard

Dummerston, scottfarmvermont.com

With a history dating back to 1791, Scott Farm is on the National Register of Historic Places and has an exciting array of heirloom apples — think Knobbed Russet, a lumpy variety hailing from England, and reddish-orange Esopus Spitzenburg, which Thomas Jefferson grew at Monticello. Other "fine fruits" available in autumn include plums, pears and quinces. Check the website for pie workshops and monthly Crêpe Nights.

Shelburne Orchards

Shelburne, shelburneorchards.com

A 60-acre orchard with hillside glimpses of Lake Champlain, Shelburne Orchards is a scenic stop for all things apple. (Take a tour of the grounds on a wagon ride, if pandemic restrictions permit.) In addition to pick-your-own, visitors can find the fruits in fresh-pressed cider and the flagship Dead Bird Brandy, with notes of caramel, apple and butter. The cider doughnuts, coated in sugar, keep locals coming back.

Yates Family Orchard

Dreamee at Yates Family Orchard - COURTESY OF YATES FAMILY ORCHARD
  • Courtesy Of Yates Family Orchard
  • Dreamee at Yates Family Orchard
Monkton, yatesfamilyorchard.com

You're familiar with cider doughnuts and creemees, but how about Dreamees? The signature dessert at Yates Family Orchard is a fresh, hot cider doughnut topped with Vermont maple soft-serve. Come and get it — along with 28 pick-your-own apple varieties — at this family-owned orchard on Monkton Ridge, with Adirondack and valley vistas. Catch live music on Sunday afternoons, mid-September through mid-October.

Correction, September 2, 2021: An earlier version of this story included the mailing address for Yates Family Orchard instead of the physical address. The orchard is located in Monkton.