In Canada, we’re lucky enough that we can get apples all year round. But let’s face it: the mealy McIntoshes that you get in March can’t hold a candle to the tart, crisp, juicy joy of apples in season.
Since it’s apple season right now, we thought we’d give you the heads up on some of the great places to get your apple fix before the frost hits and fall is just a memory.
Carl Laidlaw Orchards, Brampton
Carl Laidlaw Orchards is close enough to the city to be convenient to Toronto-dwellers, but far enough away that it feels like the city’s been left behind. Located on 100 acres overlooking the Credit River Valley, Carl Laidlaw Orchards offers both apples and pears, as well as wagon rides, a hay barn, toy tractors to play with and barbecued hot dogs and corn on weekends. More info: www.carllaidlaworchards.ca
Chudleigh’s has been an apple-picking Mecca since 1957—that’s three generations of kids who remember field trips to the Milton orchard. Along with apple picking (of course), Chudleigh’s also has tractor rides, a nature trail complete with rope swings and First Nations history, giant slides and a straw maze. More info: www.chudleighs.com
Mountain Orchards, Ottawa
Mountain Orchards, located south of Ottawa, boasts apple trees that are direct descendants of the original McIntosh trees discovered in Dundela, Ontario in 1829. Apple cider doughnuts and fresh-pressed apple cider are musts, as are candy and caramel apples, and apple chips. When you need a break from picking apples, you can wander through the orchard’s corn maze. More info: www.mountainorchards.ca
Although Smith’s has apples—lots of apples—they also have pumpkins, so make the trip there before Halloween and pick out a potential Jack O’ Lantern. They also have an extensive corn maze, with a different theme each year (this year it’s The Wizard of Oz). More info: www.smithsapples.com
Apple Land Station, east of London
Apple Land Station is well named, because along with the apple trees, the farm boasts a half-scale replica of an 1850 L-train, which transports pickers into the orchard. The train runs on weekends, so make sure to stop by on Saturday or Sunday. Along with the train, Apple Land Station also has a gigantic sand mountain, complete with tunnels. More info: www.applelandstation.com
Myers Apples, west of Hamilton
Horses, sunflowers, a farm stand and, of course, rows and rows of apple trees all make Myers a nice break from the city without having to travel for hours. Located in Copetown, about 20 minutes west of Hamilton, Myers offers apples and pumpkins, as well as other fresh seasonal produce, baking and treats. Kids will have a ball hunting through the bins for the funniest-looking gourd. More info: www.myersapples.com
Apple Pie Trail, along the Niagara Escarpment, between Collingwood and Meaford
Finally, if you prefer your apples cooked and cuddled in pastry, check out the Blue Mountains Apple Pie Trail, which forms a triangle on the Niagara Escarpment between Collingwood, Meaford and along the Beaver Valley. Stop along the trail and sample apple pies, apple tarts, apple cider, apple salad — and when you get full, pick up some pork and apple sausage to take home. More info: www.applepietrail.ca
Where’s your favourite place to pick apples?