Fall is a wonderful time of year. The weather might be getting a little cooler and you might have to wrap up a little warmer and grab a coat and pair of gloves before heading outdoors, but there are still a million different reasons to go outside and appreciate the beauty of this special time of year. One of the best fall activities that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age, is apple picking. There’s nothing quite as special and enjoyable in September, October, and November as driving out to a nearby orchard or farm and spending some hours in a tranquil setting stocking up on your favorite fruit.

More ideas: Best Weekend Getaways, Best Day Trips

U-Pick apple orchards can be found all around the United States, with dozens of different varieties just waiting to be plucked like Gala, Empire, Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious. These apples all start to ripen at different times, so you have to act fast and grab them while you can. Stocking up on apples can be a great way to save cash and help your family eat more healthily, while also encouraging you to try out lots of fun new apple-based recipes from classic staples like apple pies and sauces, to original ideas you’ve never tasted before.

Best Apple Picking Spots in North Carolina

North Carolina has a lot of great apple picking orchards and farms. Many of the best NC apple picking spots also include additional activities like trying to find your way through a corn maze or enjoying an old-fashioned hayride, while some of North Carolina’s apple picking locations keep things simple, handing you a bag and a picking pole and letting you head out and enjoy the peace and quiet for a relaxing afternoon of apple picking. Read on for some info on the best apple picking spots in North Carolina.

- Sky Top Orchard - 1193 Pinnacle Mountain Rd, Flat Rock, NC 28731, Phone: 828-692-7930

Located near the little town of Flat Rock, Sky Top Orchard is open every single day through apple picking season, regardless of the weather, making it one of the most convenient and fun locations in the state. You can always rely on Sky Top Orchard to welcome you in for a fun day of apple picking and other activities, like group tours, hayrides, picnics, a petting zoo, cider tastings, a nature trail, and freshly made apple cider donut stand. This is most definitely one of the best apple picking locations in all of North Carolina, offering a friendly atmosphere and cheerful welcome to every guest.

- Apple Hill Orchard Cider Mill - 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave, Morganton, NC 28655, Phone: 828-437-1224

Established all the way back in 1955, this family owned farm has been growing apples for multiple generations and has grown and expanded over the years, adding new apple varieties and new services for visitors to enjoy. Apple Hill Orchard is now one of the most complete apple picking locations in the state, offering a bakery, picnic area, educational tours, cider mill, country store, and more. There really is something for everyone at this location, regardless of age. Some of the apple varieties you can pick at this location include Ginger Gold, Stayman Winesap, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Fuji.

- Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard - 170 Stepp Orchard Dr, Hendersonville, NC 28792, Phone: 828-685-9083

Located in Henderson County, Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard has been a beloved NC apple picking orchard for many years now. Also offering pumpkin picking in time for Halloween, this location is open every single day, rain or shine, and also features an appealing range of additional activities like a huge corn maze, apple cannons, wagon rides, nature trails, and freshly made treats like cider and donuts. The farm market at Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard is also worthy of a visit, selling all sorts of tasty goods to take home alongside your bags of apples. Varieties include Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Stayman Winesap.

- Devil Dog Orchard - 771 NC-150, Reidsville, NC 27320, Phone: 336-491-0382

This amusingly named North Carolina apple picking spot is found in Reidsville, Rockingham County and is one of the top rated orchards in the area, with a lot of positive reviews from previous visitors. Devil Dog Orchard was purchased and established by a Marine veteran who wanted to get back to his basics on his return to the States. The farm has passed through several generations now and offers a lovely range of apple varieties including Gala, McIntosh, Stayman Winesap, and Red Delicious.