Sep. 7—The end of summer stings a little bit less knowing that September brings with it a bounty of fruit that is ready to be eaten as is, baked into pies or dipped into caramel. Plus, what's not to love about an apple-picking excursion? Most orchards offer pick-your-own options, and it's a wonderful way to embrace autumn while also leaving with a bag of mother nature's finest.
The state loves apples so much that there's an entire day devoted to celebrating them. Maine Apple Sunday is on Sept. 18, and several orchards will offer special activities like wagon rides and free samples of apple products. According to maineapples.org, there are about 60 apple orchards in Maine, and more than 100 apple varieties, including natives Cortland, Macoun, Honeycrisp and the lesser-known Black Oxford and Brock. Find your favorites at these 10 apple-picking operations in southern Maine.
WHERE: 44 Sweetser Road, North Yarmouth
CONTACT INFO: 207-829-6136, hanselsorchard.com
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment
DETAILS: You can pick your own or choose from the freshly picked apples at Hansel's Orchard in North Yarmouth. It's big on the classics like Cortland, McIntosh and Macoun. Later in the season, you can reach apples that are higher up in the tree by using one of Hansel's handy picking poles.
ORCHARD RIDGE FARM
WHERE: 236 Sebago Lake Road, Gorham
CONTACT INFO: 207-239-0442, orchardridgefarm.com
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
DETAILS: Orchard Ridge Farm boasts 38 acres of hilly orchards and forest where you can pick apples and a perimeter trail where you can go exploring. Its many varieties of apples include Pristine, Honeycrisp, Chestnut, Sweet 16 and Enterprise. The orchard also hosts full moon happy hours, movie nights and orchard workshops. For more information, go to its Eventbrite page.
WHERE: 1 Randall Road, Standish
CONTACT INFO: 207-642-3500, randallorchards.com
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
DETAILS: Randall Orchards has been family run since 1906, so they know a thing or two about apples and grow more than 20 varieties including Connell Red, Empire, Ginger Cold and Gravenstein. While you're there, pick up some freshly-pressed cider and hit the farm stand for all sorts of goodies including maple syrup, honey, soap, vegetables and eggs.
SWEETSER'S APPLE BARREL ORCHARDS
WHERE: 19 Blanchard Road, Cumberland
CONTACT INFO: 207-829-6599, maineapple.com
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
DETAILS: Sweetser's has been in existence since 1812. It grows more than 50 types of apples including Wealthy, Priscilla, Spartan, Rolfe and Wolfe River. The market is well-stocked with honey, maple syrup, preserves, cut flowers, cheese, apple butter, cider doughnuts and other baked goods including pies, pastries and bread. You can also load up on several fruits and vegetables. From a historical standpoint, Sweetser's scores high marks as some of its trees are more than 150 years old and still producing fruit.
WHERE: 276 Gloucester Hill Road, New Gloucester
CONTACT INFO: 207-926-4738, maineappleorchard.com
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
DETAILS: Thompson's grows more 15 varieties including Red Delicious, Miltons, Cortlands, Red Spy, Ruby Reds, Jestar and Jersey Macs. The orchard and bakery has been family owned and operated since 1906. Pick your own apples or grab some already picked ones and then hit the shop for hot spiced cider, doughnuts and apple pie. You'll also find bread, jellies and jams and several country goods to choose from. Be sure to keep an eye on its Facebook page for announcements about special events, like live music from Jerry Foster & Heather Keast happening at the orchard at 10 a.m. on Sept. 17.
WHERE: 82 Sanborn Road, Acton
CONTACT INFO: 207-636-1601, kellyorchards.com
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
DETAILS: Kelly Orchards has been around for four decades and its apples are used by craft hard cider producer After Harvest Cider Company. Along with 17 varieties of apples, Kelly Orchards offers a limited quantity of antique and heritage varieties including the Cox Orange Pippin, Elstar and Esopus Spitzenberg, which is the favorite apple of Thomas Jefferson.
LIBBY & SON U-PICKS
WHERE: 86 Sawyer Mountain Road, Limerick
CONTACT INFO: 207-793-4749, libbysonupicks.com
HOURS: Opens at 9 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday; closing times vary
DETAILS: There's a whole lot going on at Libby & Son U-Picks including live music, homemade doughnuts, fresh fruit smoothies and kettle corn. If you swing by on the weekend, there's a balloon twisting magic show as well as wood-fired pizza, draft beer, wine and mimosas available from Rustic Taps and hot dogs and burgers from Millside Creations.
THE ORCHARD AT CHASE FARMS
WHERE: 1396 North Berwick Road, Wells
CONTACT INFO: 207-251-5700, theorchardatchasefarms.com
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
DETAILS: Chase Farms has been family owned and operated since the 1600s. Along with a whole bunch of apples, it specializes in homegrown meats and produce. You'll also find a bevy of baked goods and locally sourced products.
WHERE: 201 Hanson Ridge Road, Springvale
CONTACT INFO: 207-324-5054, mcdougalorchards.com
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday
DETAILS: McDougal Orchards grow about 40 types of apples. Be sure to swing by Capt Jack's Donut Shack for cider doughnuts, cider slushees and hot apple cider on Saturday and Sunday. The farm store also keeps the doughnuts in stock, along with apple butter, crabapple jelly, apple-peach ham and spiced apple syrup.
WHERE: 85 Spiller Farm Lane, Wells
CONTACT INFO: 207-985-2575, spillerfarm.com
HOURS: 1-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends
DETAILS: The Spiller Family has been farming since the late 1800s, and its property is spread out over 100 acres, four of which are dedicated to apples. In addition, you'll find raspberries, plums, peaches, pears, pumpkins and several types of vegetables. There's also a picnic and play area with a retired farm tractor, corn stalk teepee, goats, roosters and geese, along with a little red covered bridge and sand pile for kids to dig around in.