Only about an hour’s drive from New York City, apple picking at Masker Orchard is a popular fall-time activity- plus it’s pet friendly!
One of the things that I like about this orchard is that it doesn’t actually have to be an expensive day out. Both parking and admission are free, and visitors are free to pick and eat all the apples they like while on the property- you’re only charged for your apples upon exiting!
While I know that cynics can tear these orchards apart over their pricing compared to a supermarket, at just about $34 per half bushel (or two bags), I find the apple haul to be more than enough to split amongst friends to bring the price down to a more reasonable level. It’s more about the experience! It may also be worth checking their website for deals- this year they’re offering free cider and a mid-week discount.
Since it’s a pet friendly orchard, we brought Goose for his very first apple picking experience. He was a little confused about how to eat an apple, but he was definitely determined!
When entering the orchard, visitors are provided with free bags with which to carry their bounty, and directed to available parking, right up against the apple trees! I was delighted to see a map of the orchard printed on the bags, and used those to hunt down my preferred apple varieties- though the lanes are marked for convenience.
Masker also has its own radio station that continually broadcasts the most up to date apple picking information- tune into FM 87.9 to best strategize your apple picking plan. The ripening schedule is also available on their website.
We spent quite some time tromping through the different lanes, taste testing different apples before we piled them into our bags. The outsides of the trees tend to get picked clean first, but if you’re willing to squirm in between the branches, there are usually still quite a few hiding deeper or higher in the trees.
While the orchard workers do a great job of keeping the lanes clear, the ground usually has quite a few apples scattered about that have either fallen naturally or been rejected by other visitors. Don’t eat these- there are plenty of fresh apples to go around!
Once we had our bags stuffed to bursting, we stored them safely in the car before heading over to the Family Fun Area in search of less healthy snacks. This orchard is famous for its apple cider, so of course we stocked up! I also really enjoyed snacking on some delicious apple cider donuts- all in the spirit of Fall, of course!
During the weekends, there are often events such as pony rides, mazes, and haunted houses to keep families entertained for the whole day.
Masker Orchards is one of my personal favorite apple picking experiences. The short drive makes it a perfect day trip from the city and I like that there was no real pressure to make a purchase. If visitors just want to have a picnic with some freshly picked apples, it was perfectly acceptable!
For those looking for a slightly less family friendly Fall outing, Angry Orchard’s Cider House is less than an hour away from Masker Orchards.