Just 25 miles south of downtown Asheville is one of the country's top apple growing areas - and you can visit the orchards and farms for free! North Carolina is the 7th largest apple-producing state in the nation, and Henderson County is the largest apple-producing county in North Carolina, growing 65% of them. Visit many orchards along US Highway 64 (we call it "Apple Alley"), just a few miles east of I-26 (between Hendersonville and Chimney Rock). The apple harvest season runs from late August to late October, and many of the orchards are open daily. Several of the orchards offer tours and many allow you to pick your own apples - and pick up pumpkins and other farm harvest. Here are our favorite orchards in Western North Carolina:
Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard
Open mid-August to Early-November, Stepp's is a fourth generation, 70-acre working farm with beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just 5.5 miles from I-26 (and a mile off US Highway 64). Pick you own apples (or grapes or pumpkins)andr shop in their Country Market with apples, pumpkins, apple cider, apple butter and apple gifts. Take a ride on the farm wagon on weekends through acres of orchard and Farmer Stepp’s pumpkin patch and grape vines. Drink a cup of delicious local fresh apple cider. Eat beside the orchard in the picnic area. 221 Stepp Orchard Dr., Hendersonville, 828-685-9083
Open August to mid-November, Grandad's Apples is just two miles from I-26 on US Highway 64. Find a huge selection of pre-picked apples or pick your own in the orchards. At Grandad’s Barn and Country Store, find a great selection of fall harvest decorations, apple peelers, apple bakers, and other apple gifts. Enjoy apple turnovers, apple bread, caramel apples, ice cream, cider and a whole lot more. Stroll through the orchards or explore the corn maze. In October, find pumpkins in every size. 2951 Chimney Rock Rd., Hendersonville, 828-685-1685
Open June-November. Buy crispy North Carolina apples straight from the orchard plus a large variety of pumpkins and winter squash (and other produce). Beginning in mid-August, early varieties of apples such as Fuji, Gala, Ozark, and Gingergold are available. By Labor Day, Red and Golden Delicious apple varieties are available. In early October, Rome Beauty, Granny Smith, Stayman Winesap and Fuji apples are available. Stroll through the farmyard where you'll see donkeys, goats, geese, ducks and chickens. 3465 Chimney Rock Rd, Hendersonville, NC 828-685-3459
Flat Rock Area: Sky Top Orchard is open August through mid December, with their famous apple cider doughnuts, barnyard animals, bamboo forest, picnic areas and a mountaintop of apple and fruit trees to explore. Read more.
Blue Ridge Parkway / Little Switzerland: Orchard at Altapass is a must stop on the Parkway all summer and fall with music music, food, hikes, and hayrides!
Waynesville / Sylva Area: Barber Orchards (2855 Old Balsam Rd, Waynesville) is open August-Christmas Eve. Buy a variety of fresh apples from their farm, along with other produce. Their bakery is a local's favorite - especially known for their apple turnovers, fritters, pies and more. Located along the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway (US 23 / 74).
Cideries: Sample hard cider at this Cideries near Hendersonville.
NC Apple Festival: Each Labor Day Weekend, downtown Hendersonville has the huge Festival that runs for four days! See our NC Apple Festival Guide.