One of our favorite yearly traditions is apple picking. Georgia has some wonderful U-pick apple orchards less than two hours from Atlanta in the North Georgia Mountains, and no matter how busy we are, the boys always make time for a trip to the Apple Capital of Georgia – Gilmer County for some delicious Ellijay apples and a BBQ lunch.
To pick the right apple orchard in Georgia for your family, you need to know the inside scoop. Some apple farms are perfect for kids and have lots of activities. We like the farms with only a few things to do. I know a lot of readers are interested in where to pick organic apples.
Some don’t want to go into the orchard at all, they just want to grab a peck and go. Some folks just want to know where is the best apple picking near me. Whatever your questions, we have the answers.
When to Go Apple Picking
John W. Clayton is credited with introducing the first apples to Gilmer County in 1903. Over a hundred years later, this north Georgia area produces more than 250,000 bushels of apples annually in over 30 varieties.
Wondering with is the best time to go apple picking? Georgia ‘s season runs late August through October, however not all varieties are available at the same time. We have a handy guide to the types of apples in Georgia and when to pick them.
Apple Orchards with Family Friendly Activities
Hillcrest Orchards and Farms
9696 GA-52 | Ellijay | 706-273-3838
Hillcrest Orchard and Farm is family-owned and operated, and filled with fun for the everyone. Pick your own apples during the Apple Pickin’ Jubilee each weekend. There are tons of activities included in general admission. We love the playground, especially the giant slide through the mountain. They also have the only apple tree maze in the state!
For the adults, there is live country and bluegrass music, as well as clogging on the stage. Pick up some fresh produce with your apples at the farm market.
I wish they allowed U Pick during the week, but alas, it is only on the weekend. Still, if you are in the area, the slide on the side of the hill is worth the stop alone, not to mention the farm animals! Grab a bag of apples and juice in an apple cup.
BJ Reece Orchards
9131 Georgia 52 East | Ellijay| 706-276-3048
Beginning August 25 and lasting through Halloween, U-Pick will be available every day at BJ Reece Orchards. They are the only orchards that offer U-Pick during the week. They also have their petting farm open during the week as well.
On the weekends they offer other great activities such as zipline, cow milking, corn maze, pig races, apple cannons, pony rides and much more. Leashed dogs are welcome in the orchards, but not the apple house.
This has been our go-to apple house for years. If you aren’t sure what kind of apple you’d like, taste them in the apple house, where you can also watch them make the fried pies.
Just the Apples – U-Pick Orchards without the fanfare
5505 GA-52 | Ellijay | 706-273-3821
At R&A Orchard, enjoy a tractor tour and apple picking on weekends beginning in late August. This is the best U Pick location if you don’t want the fuss of lots of activities and simply want to pick apples. The website has a great tool for determining approx. harvest dates of your favorite varieties too.
Plan to eat lunch here. They have a delicious restaurant with daily specials, hamburgers, BBQ and other sandwiches. And do yourself a huge favor – get the apple cider doughnuts. You won’t be disappointed.
Red Apple Barn
3379 Tails Creek Rd | Ellijay | 706-635-5898
U pick begins at Red Apple Barn in September, and all weekends through October. They even have a pumpkin patch! I love using their website tool that shows, by variety, the harvest time, eating scale, texture and storage rating, and info for cooking such as whether the variety is good for applesauce, a pie, or eating baked.
This apple house is not located on Hwy 52 aka Apple Alley, so it’s a great place to visit during the peak apple picking weekends because traffic is not as heavy on 282 where they are located.
8660 Blue Ridge Dr | Blue Ridge | 706-632-3411
Mercier Orchards is a family business in its 4th generation, celebrating over 70 years of Georgia grown apples. You’ll experience u-pick apple opportunities, a Bakery and Deli, the Market Store and a Farm Winery. Don’t miss the Georgia Grown Hard Cider. U-Pick starts in early August, including the popular Honey Crisp variety. Note: For those looking for organics Mercier isn’t an organic orchard, but it does uses all-natural products on their fruits, even encouraging a bite in the field.
5340 Cornelia Hwy | Alto | 770-869-3999
Jaemor Farms has been family run since 1912, you can find a myriad fruit here. Apples start in August, and other fruits include watermelons, pumpkins, peaches and more. Jaemor only does U-pick apples on certain weekends. U-pick info is here, but they recommend checking Facebook for the most up-to-date info. We also love the cooking classes, and farm-to-table dinners.
Lane Southern Orchard
50 Lane Rd | Fort Valley | 800-277-3224
When I think of apple picking, I think north Georgia and Ellijay, but Lane Southern Orchard is trying a new variety of U-pick apples in middle Georgia.
No Pick, but Lots of Pecks
Panorama Orchards & Farm Market
63 Talona Mountain Rd | Ellijay | 706-276-3813
Established in the 20s, Panorama Orchards & Farm Market offers more than 20 varieties of apples. You pick is not available, but this house has easy access to Hwy 515 making it a great quick stop to grab local apples and other favorite fall treats, so stop in for fresh picked apples and homemade baked goods. Kids will love the ice cream area with an old fashioned soda fountain.
Aaron’s Apple House
8350 Hwy 52 | East Ellijay | 706-273-3180
Aaron’s Apple House is another fabulous apple house that is perfect to pull off and pick up locally grown apples, fresh eggs and be sure to see the goats!
Penland’s Apple House
41 Talona Mountain Rd | Ellijay | 706-635-5110
Penland’s Apple House is all about convenience. They offer two locations, one located with easy access from Hwy 515 near Panorama Farm Market and the second located on Hwy 282 near Red Apple Barn. Both locations offer locally grown apples and other apple treats.
Mack Aaron’s Apple House
8955 GA-52 | Ellijay | 706-273-3600
Although they do not offer U Pick at Mack Aaron Apple House, they are a favorite location on apple alley if you want to get your apples and other apple treats without all the fuss of other activities. They are your true stand-alone apple house. Aaron Family Orchards also sells other produce and fresh eggs.
Organic Apple Picking in Georgia
Stover Mountain Orchard Organic Apple Farm
3709 Big Creek Rd. | Ellijay | 706-276-2512
Stover Mountain Orchard is the one organic apple picking farm we have found in Georgia. They are open by appointment, so be sure to call before you go.
Don’t Miss Apple Events
Ellijay Apple Queen Pageant
Saturday, September 29
For more information: 706-273-6485
Georgia Apple Festival
October 13-14 and October 20-21, 2018
Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds | 1729 South Main Street, Ellijay, GA 30540 | 706-636-4500
Adults are $5 and kids 10 and under are FREE. Parking is done by local civic and school groups and donation amounts may vary. Limited handicap parking is available at the main fairgrounds entrance.
Apple Arts on the Square
October 13-14 and October 20-21, 2018
This is a smaller version of the Apple Festival and is set up on Ellijay’s square.
Apple Classic Auto Show
Oct. 13, 2018
9 am – 5 pm
Apple Festival 5K Road Race
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018
5K @ 8:00 A.M. – 1 mile @ 8:45 A.M.
Starts and ends at Ellijay Elementary School in Downtown Ellijay
Apple Festival Parade
Oct. 20, 2018
Gilmer County Civic Center, Old Hwy 5 (next to Lions Club Fairgrounds)
More Fall Fun:
Corn Mazes| Haunted Corn Mazes | Pumpkin Patches | Apple Festival | Haunted Houses | Fall Festivals | Ghost Tours | Halloween Events | Fall Bucket List | Fall Color at the State Parks | Scary Escape Rooms
Disclosure: We are happy to partner with the Gilmer Chamber of Commerce on this post. Apple picking is one of our favorite family traditions and we know you’ll love it too.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.