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Maybe we’re biased but there’s just something special about fall in the South! The crisp air, changing leaves, bumpy hay rides and winding corn mazes. What’s not to love?

One of our favorite ways to welcome fall is by spending the day at a local orchard picking apples. (Filling up on cider and delicious apple donuts is just an added bonus.) It’s become a yearly tradition — or competition — to scour every branch looking for the biggest, juiciest, most perfectly ripe apple. Our mouths water just thinking about taking that first bite.

In North Carolina and South Carolina, picking season takes place from late August through early November. The varieties of apples available change throughout the season, so be sure to check each orchard’s harvesting schedule to make sure your favorite apples are ready to be picked.

Here are 10 orchards within two hours of Charlotte that we know you’re going to love!

North Carolina Apple Orchards

First signs of fall and apple picking season

Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill

2075 Pleasant Hill Ave., Morganton, NC 28655
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Closed Sunday
Open: Late August through October
More info: applehillorchard.com

The family-owned Apple Hill Orchard has been growing apples in Morganton since 1955. Through the years, the business has expanded into a cider mill, country store and even a bakery. Guests can grab their apples, a pastry and pressed apple cider all in one place.

North Carolina apple orchards, Apple Hill

Perfectly ripe and ready to be picked at Apple Hill. Image: Craig Distl

Carrigan Farms

1261 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy., Mooresville, NC 28115
Hours: Saturday & Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Open: September through October
More info: carriganfarms.com

Only 30 minutes from Charlotte, Carrigan Farms is just a short car ride away. Grab a basket from the farm stand and make your way through the rows of apple trees looking for your favorite varieties. Take a detour from picking to see the beautiful quarry on the property.

Coston Farm

3748 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville, NC 28792
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., from Labor Day weekend through the rest of the season
Open: Mid-August through December
More info: costonfarm.com

Save your appetite before heading to Coston Farms. Aside from picking your own apples, you can take your pick of apple-filled pastries, including fried apple pies, apple bread, homemade cookies and apple butter.

North Carolina Apple Orchards

Bet these would be mighty tasty in an apple tart.

Grandad’s Apples N’ Such

2951 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville, NC 28792
Hours: Every day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open: August through November
More info: grandadsapples.com

You could spend an entire day exploring Grandad’s Apples N’ Such! The 80-acre farm is full of activities for the whole family, including a corn maze and barnyard full of farm animals waiting to be fed.

Justus Orchard

187 Garren Road, Hendersonville, NC 28792
Hours: Every day, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Open: August through November
More info: justusorchard.com

For more than four generations, Justus Orchard has been a staple for apple picking in Western North Carolina. Along with your apples, you also can pick up local honey, jams, preserves and other homemade goodies. Best of all, kids can take the Cow Train for a ride through the orchard.

Millstone Creek Orchards

506 Parks Crossroad Church Road, Ramseur, NC  27316
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Open: June through December
More info: millstonecreekorchards.com

Stop by Millstone Creek Orchards for a peck, apple slushy and hayride. If you’ve got small kids, then this is the apple orchard for you. Millstone has plenty of land for running, hills for climbing — and even story time!

North Carolina apple orchards

North Carolina orchards are already brimming with ripe apples.

The Orchard at Altapass

1025 Orchard Road, Spruce Pine, NC 28777
Hours: April to September 10, Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; September 11 through October, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day
Open: April through October
More info: altapassorchard.org

Located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Orchard at Altapass is full of Southern charm. From the live band to cloggers, there’s always something going on. After picking apples, we suggest digging into one of their homemade apple pies from the general store.

Sky Top Orchard

3403 Greenville Hwy., Flat Rock, NC 28731
Hours: Every day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Open: August through November
More info: skytoporchard.com

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sky Top Orchard boasts stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and apple trees below. Guests can take a scenic hayride around the property and kids will enjoy seeing all the farm animals in the barnyard area.

Charlotte apple orchards, Sky Top Orchard

Family fun at Sky Top Orchard. Image: Sam Dean Photography

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard

170 Stepp Orchard Drive, Hendersonville, NC 28792
Hours: Every day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open: August through October
More info: steppapples.com

With more than 20 varieties of apples, Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard has something for everyone. The orchard is dog friendly and has an apple cannon, where guests can take their best shot launching apples at different targets. Packing a picnic is encouraged!

Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Works

1860 Black Hwy., York, SC 29745
Hours: Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Open: September through October
More info: windyhillorchard.com

Windy Hill Orchard is a triple threat. There’s apple picking, apple cinnamon donuts and hard cider on tap! What more could you need?

South Carolina Apple Orchard

Enjoy a delicious glass of Windy Hill’s hard cider after picking some apples this fall.

Embrace the onset of the fall season, and explore the best of Southern life!

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