Apple Picking – Admit It – You Don’t Like It, You Just Do It For The Fake Happy Family Pictures… Resist The FOMO! If Not: The Mint Chip Mama’s Unconventional Apple Picking Guide

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking at Lewin Farm

Apple picking is a wonderful annual family tradition. As soon as the summer tapers off and the temperature drops, someone in your family – or a friend – will no doubt suggest going apple picking. There’s cider donuts, fun things to stick your face in, freshly grown vegetable farm stands, the ability to wear a vest, and endless good family pictures ready to be snapped.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking Applewood 2005
Apple picking (prior to kids) at Applewood Orchard & Winery – Warwick, NY in 2005 – right before we got married.

But you know what? Apple picking sucks. I know I shouldn’t say that, but I am liberating us all and shouting it from the roof tops.

The Mint Chip Mama Apple Picking 2009, Warwick
Apple picking (kid 1 on board) at Applewood Orchard & Winery – Warwick, NY in 2009.

No One Really Likes Apple Picking

Let’s be honest – it’s a charade. You just go to take pictures so it looks like you’re having fun. Don’t tell me you want to make a pie. I made one once. A good old fashion “Little House on the Prairie” style one from scratch and it took me longer than doing the laundry I have piled up – that I didn’t get to fold – because I drove an hour away to take pictures. I mean pick apples.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking Stuart Farms 2010
Apple Picking (kid 1’s first time) at Stuart Farm – Granite Springs, NY in 2010.

You like apples? No, you don’t. I mean – maybe you do, but not so much that you need 50 of them all at once.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. OK, so that’s 30 a month. Family of 5? 150. SO technically this is the only loophole. If you commit to eating one apple a day and you put it in your calendar – so you don’t forget (Post-It notes also accepted) – you get a pass. But also, if I saw a unicorn – I’d be excited.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking 2011
Apple Picking at Masker Orchard – Warwick, NY in 2011.

I love spending exorbitant amounts of money on fruit. Ok – if this is you then apple picking is for you. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love supporting local businesses and especially farms – but I always seem to spend more on entrance fees and paying by apple weight – to pick my own apples – than a filet mignon dinner. That’s wrong. Also – mmm… filet mignon dinner.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking NY 2013
Apple Picking (kid 2 on board) at Melick’s Orchard – Oldwick, NJ in 2013.

Our Kids Love Apple Picking!

I love seeing how big my kids get each year, it’s an annual tradition. Here is my proposal. Fake it. Everything on the internet is fake anyway. Take the five apples you already have in your fridge, find a tree that doesn’t immediately identify your backyard, and fake it. Yell at your kids to smile and look at the camera and stop hitting their sibling to give them the authentic orchard feel.

The kids love it. Yeah, they do. But they don’t like sitting in the car for an hour, parking 10 miles away, and then seeing empty trees. Let’s be honest, by the time you got your act together to find an orchard – on the one day there aren’t ten activities going on – the trees were all empty. Oh – the kids are whining because they’re hungry the second you left the driveway? Why don’t you have them eat an apple. You no doubt have some in your fridge now. They don’t like apples—SEE! Ha. Gotcha.

I love all the varieties I can pick. Know who has lots of varieties of apples? Every store within a 5-mile radius of your house.

Apple Picking 2015 - Lewin Farm, Wading River
Apple Picking (kid 2’s first time) at Lewin Farm – Calverton, NY in 2015.

Where to Go Apple Picking

It’s so nice to go (out east, up north, down south) for the day. Yes, I agree but then you realize on the way home you will be stuck in traffic, and you still have to fold your laundry.

We love meeting up with our friends who live near an orchard. Us too. But their backyard is less crowded, they have a bathroom with toilet paper, and they have a sink with soap so I can actually wash my hands (while singing a song in my head for 20 seconds). Go on a hike with them instead.

It’s so much fun trying new places each year. Said no one ever who is the one actually trying to find a place to go. Ask them how much time they spent asking on FB mom groups, looking at mom blog calendars, and stalking their friend’s pictures.

We go to the same place every year. It’s a tradition. True. That takes away the googling part. But I bet prices went up this year so that bag of apples you don’t really want will cost you double. You can photoshop your kids looking a year older into last year’s pictures and photo shop yourself looking a few years younger into the same picture. Hopefully someone comments “The kids got so big! How do they get older while you look like you get younger!?”

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking 2016 F & W Schmitt Farm
Pumpkin Patch at F & W Schmitt Farm – Melville, NY in 2016.

Apple Orchard Bonuses 

I can also pick a pumpkin! Yeah, you can and for those prices you can also buy a diamond tiara. The diamond tiara is a better investment as you can wear it while doing dishes and wave to yourself in the mirror like the Queen when no one is looking.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking Cider Donuts at Stuart Farms
Apple Cider Donuts at Stuart Farm – Granite Springs, NY in 2012.

Apple cider donuts. OK, yeah, that’s the only reason to go. But I bet you ten bucks they sell them around the corner from your house. Also – mmm… apple cider donuts.

Hot apple cider. Same as above. Also – mmm… hot apple cider.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking Lewis Farms eating corn 2015
Roasted Corn at Lewin Farm – Calverton, NY in 2015.

Roasted Corn. Yes. This is worth it. Always a hit. But to be fair – for the $5 I spent on one ear I can go to Costco and buy enough corn for a family barbeque where I serve – roasted corn.

Oh no, I’m starting to convince myself that I want to go apple picking… NO NO stay strong.

Fake It

If there was an option where I could pay fifty percent and just take pictures or pick the apples and then leave them there – I’m in.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking Cider Donuts at Stuart Farms
Apple Picking at Stuart Farm – Granite Springs, NY in 2012.

I would barter picking and bagging the apples for the guy who comes to the orchard and just buys the pre-bagged apples (don’t you always think what’s the point of that?) if they let me come take some cute pictures.

Let’s get back to faking pictures. This is easy. You can even use your own step stool to impress your friends. They will be like – Wow! You are amazing! You thought to bring a step stool so your kids could reach the higher apples. I wanted to do that but was busy spending nine hours googling “apple orchards near me that still have apples October 2021”. Ha ha. They don’t know you’re across the street and stopped to eat a cider donut you bought at Dunkin between pictures.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking 2018
An apple picked from my refrigerator on a year we resisted – 2018.


Every year when September rolls around – and I suggest we go apple picking – my husband offers to go to Trader Joe’s and “pick” a bag of apples to save us the trouble of going.

Every year I roll my eyes at him.

Every year we fight about going apple picking because the truth is – he knows I just want those damn pictures.

Every year in December we throw out the apples.

We say next year we will stand our ground.

We won’t go.

Tradition. Tradition. Tradition.

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking at Lewin Farm 2019
Apple Picking (kid 3’s first time) at Lewin Farm – Caverton, NY in 2019.

In Closing

If you really want apples – and let’s be honest – none of us do, you can go find a wonderful orchard in the rolling bucolic hills. Any of the ones listed above would be fantastic options. In truth, we had a great time at all of them.

The Mint Chip Mama Apple Picking 2021
It looks real, right? She’s got the vest, the apple, the tree, the smile… ha ha she’s in our backyard.

But if you just want the pictures, bam. On it. Fake that sh*t.

With that said, we have plans to go apple picking with our friends on October 24th… in between religious school, baseball, a day at camp, and a baseball training clinic. FML.

BUT after going through a decade of these fake happy family pictures to populate this post, I REALLY want to go apple picking now. It looks like so much fun. Come on, it’s a TRADITION!

The Mint Chip Mama - Apple Picking a little boy on a pumpkin 2016
My little pumpkin – 2016.

Published by Stacey Wallenstein

Stacey Gish Wallenstein created The Mint Chip Mama blog in 2013 to share her love and passion for giving children meaningful life experiences and helping moms like her navigate the challenges and benefits of raising children in the New York metropolitan area. Before becoming a full-time mom in 2010, Stacey spent the better part of the preceding decade as a high-end customer relationship management (CRM) professional for some of the most well-known brands in the hotel, luxury, fashion, and beauty industries, such as Harrah’s Entertainment, Chanel and Christian Dior, Inc. She managed customer loyalty programs for thousands of clients around the country and created social media strategies for a span of industries including healthcare services, restaurants, consumer packaged goods, specialty foods, local attractions and retail locations. After 13 wonderful years in Manhattan (the last three of which spent as a city mom), Stacey and her husband moved to Long Island in 2014, where they now reside with their three children (11, 8, and 5). There, she is a founding member of her local Parenting Center, which provides classes and coordinates events designed to educate and inform parents while fostering an environment of support and friendship within the community. Stacey is also an active PTA member ((including a former & current PTA president) as well as a Girl Scout troop leader. Her musings on motherhood, Manhattan, the suburbs, and more can be found here and on Facebook at The Mint Chip Mama. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Stacey has been active in the New York area alumni organization for nearly twenty years, serving as a board member on the school’s University of Michigan Alumni Club of New York City. She also holds a Masters in Psychology from The New School in New York City. For more updates, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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