As soon as the fall leaves start to hit the ground, the apples are ready to be picked. There are few places better for apple picking than Ellijay, Georgia, a small town in the North Georgia Mountains. Plenty of orchards dot the landscape of the area and each is known for something different.
Ellijay is known as the Apple Capital of Georgia and you can understand why, especially during the Georgia Apple Festival, which brings in visitors and farmers from all over the nation. When visiting Ellijay, be prepared to work for your keep out in the orchards. There’s generally a fee to pick as much as you can up to a certain amount.
The nearby towns also have apple orchards, including Blue Ridge, Lakemont, Alto, and McCaysville. These orchards sell all manners of apple products, including apple hot sauce, apple cider, apple juice, and apple pie, among many others. You can buy all varieties of apples and see where they’re sorted.
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Apple Orchards in North Georgia
BJ Reece Orchards has been family-owned and operated since the 1960s. Set on 120 acres, the farm grows over 20 varieties of apple that can be picked from August to October. Kids can take part in wagon rides, the petting zoo, and pony rides. Don’t miss the market, which sells fried apple pies and apple cider doughnuts.
Hillcrest Orchards is another family-friendly spot with a petting zoo and cafe with apple fritters and other goodies. Open since 1946, it’s also a popular spot for field trips. Pick your own apples in the fall or milk the farm’s cow. They also have a moonshine museum and host frequent events.
R&A Orchards dates back to 1947 and spreads across 60 acres. The orchard offers apple picking and wagon rides throughout the fall. While the apples are a big part of the draw, the farm also grows peaches and nectarines and has U-Pick flowers. There’s also a market for taking apples and baked goods home.
Red Apple Barn is named for its building that beckons travelers to pull over for the fruit. Admission into the farm includes tractor rides, apples, apple cider, doughnuts, and more. There’s a playground for little visitors, along with a market selling candied apples, cider, jellies, and more.
Other Georgia Orchards
Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge is another giant apple picking operation and the largest in the state. The family-run facility opened in 1943 and grows 50 varieties of apples, along with other berries and fruits. The market has apple cider, including alcoholic versions, and a cafe with Southern-style dishes.
Deep Roots Orchard in McCaysville is right near the Georgia border with Tennessee and has apple picking in the orchard as well as apple-related products like fried pies in the mercantile. You might also find vegetables and local goods. The orchard offers outdoor movie nights, wagon rides, and yoga classes.
Hillside Orchard Farms in Lakemont has been operating for three decades. They started offering apple picking in 2015 and it’s become a popular activity. There’s also a donkey that visitors can meet, along with a gem mine and a seasonal corn maze.
Jaemor Farms in Alto spreads across 350-acres and started as a roadside market in 1912. Visitors can pick apples on certain days in the fall, along with flowers, strawberries, and peaches. The market has ice cream and pies.
Apple Markets and Stores in North Georgia
If you’re not interested in apple picking but still want your fill of the fruit, you can also find them at farm stands. Aaron Family Orchards, Mack Aaron’s Apple House, and Penland’s Apple House have dozens of varieties and apple treats.
Tips for Going Apple Picking in Ellijay
From Atlanta, take 575 North to Ellijay, take the Hwy 52 exit toward Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge. This will be a right turn off of Hwy 515. Go to the bottom of the hill and turn left onto Hwy 52 East. Most of the orchards are on this stretch of highway.
If you’re looking for a place to eat near the apple orchards, try Bigun’s Barbecue for pulled pork with all the fixings and Cantaberry Restaurant for soups and salads. Looking for a place to stay in Ellijay? Elatse’Yi has unique options like Airstreams, geodesic domes, and glamping tents. Ellijay Inn has budget-friendly rooms.