Summer in Westchester can feel so … manufactured. Between splash pads, amusement parks, zoo trips, and indoor play places where the air conditioning is cranked up, come September we long for some unfiltered fresh air. There’s no better way to detox from chlorine and hot plastic play equipment than a trip to an orchard to pick apples the good old-fashioned way. Our favorite spot to get back to nature is on Hardscrabble Road in North Salem, home to Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard and its neighbor Outhouse Orchards.
Choose a vibe
Both spots offer apple picking and other fun farm activities seven days a week. Harvest Moon is a more sophisticated weekend destination with live entertainment, a large and busy outdoor food hall with legendary apple cider donuts, popcorn, and food truck fare. There are hayrides, pony rides, pumpkin picking, and their house brand hard cider available on tap.
Outhouse Orchards has a more rustic feel. There’s a farm stand with local honey, pies, and fresh produce as well as a corn maze, hayrides, and pumpkin picking.
Parents of younger children may like the peacefulness of picking at Outhouse, followed by a stop across the street for lunch, donuts, and a few bottles of hard cider to go. Parents with older kids will enjoy the liveliness of Harvest Moon, even if it means waiting in lines.
Apple season kickoff depends on each year’s crop, but it usually begins Labor Day weekend and runs to early November. Call ahead or check the orchard’s Facebook page for the latest updates on what’s available.
At Outhouse Orchards, you’ll pay $25 to fill up an apple bag. You can purchase as many or as few bags as you’d like, they do not charge per person. This is great for a family with small kids who don’t need to come home with 50 apples per person. Harvest Moon offers a half-bushel bag and admittance for five people into the orchard for $30.
These are real farms with hills, mud, tall grass, and uneven ground, so bring your jogging stroller or sturdy wagon and sneakers for all. Full bags can get heavy, so your wheels will do double-duty to transport the apples.
Most of the apple trees at Outhouse are pretty tall, but you can borrow a pole to help you pick. Little kids will have fun running around the property but they may not get the chance to grab apples themselves unless you hoist them into the air. The apple trees at Harvest Moon are lower to the ground so younger kids might be able to reach apples on their own.
Outhouse Orchards features a large corn maze for an extra fee. It’s self-guided, but you’ll get a map and some clues to help you escape. Both orchards offer hayrides at an additional cost. If you’re looking for more attractions, visit Harvest Moon’s Fall Festival, which takes places most Saturdays and Sundays in September and October. This very crowded event features food, drink, music, pony rides, bounce houses, and the chance to see chickens, goats, and other farm animals.
Both orchards boast large pumpkin patches, which are better described as cut-pumpkin lawns. It’s difficult to find a traditional pumpkin patch in Westchester as pumpkins grow in thick vine-filled remote areas that aren’t kid-accessible. Though these patches aren’t authentic, your littlest ones won’t notice, and you’ll appreciate that the pumpkins have been cut and cleaned before you take them home.
We like to visit both spots for a perfect mix of rustic and lively. Harvest Moon’s donuts are a must, and for adults, the hard cider goes down like smooth, sweet champagne.
Kids will love picking out pumpkins and visiting the farm animals. Hayrides are fun, but skip it if there’s a long line. Keep in mind the Fall Festival at Harvest Moon starts at 10 a.m., but their lunch food doesn’t roll out until closer to midday, so you may want to arrive later if you plan to try out the food stands.
Andrea Worthington owns BabyG
When You Go …
Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for pick-your-own. Fall Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most weekends in September and October.
Admission: Free admission and parking. $30 for a half-bushel apple bag and admittance for five into the orchard. Food and festival attractions are extra.
139 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem
Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Free Admission. Free weekday parking; $10 parking on weekends. $25 for an apple bag, which includes admittance into the orchard. Farm shop items, corn maze, and hayrides are extra.