As the season’s change and summer memories (and tan lines) start to fade, some people go a little fall-crazy while others mourn the loss of the summer heat. It’s always a bit of a mixed emotions situation on our end. But over the years, it’s become easier to embrace the changes of the seasons and get excited for the traditions that each one brings.
Trying to soften the blow of the fact that summer was over, lake days were dwindling, and beach trips wouldn’t lead to as much fun in the sun, we began to search for a fun fall-themed activity close to Raleigh.
Apple picking always seems to bring about all of the best fall feels. It might sound stereotypical and a bit “basic” but we decided that we, too, wanted to partake in the fall festivities. After doing a few Google searches, we found that Millstone Creek Orchards seemed to have a lot of great reviews and it was more than just apple picking. They offered tasty treats and other apple-related activities such as bobbing for apples, an apple pie eating contest, or even apple slingshots.
We hopped in the car to start the hour-long drive to Millstone Creek Orchards and began chatting about all of the things we would make with our hand-picked apples. Apple pies were just the start…. there was also applesauce, salads with apples as toppings, or apple bread. But, in the end, once we’d picked our apples we settled on making this delicious pork and apple recipe. We even got the pork from the local butcher’s market, so we felt pretty happy to have a locally-sourced meal that weekend.
Once we arrived at the orchard, we decided to start our excursion with some tasty apple cider donuts and homemade cider slushies. Pro Tip: DON’T miss out on this part. The slushie is amazing. Truly.
After getting a taste of the local apples, we decided to line up for the hayride out to the apple trees so we could start picking. We were really glad that we got there early because the line quickly grew and by the time we got back it was WAY too long. Fortunately, we were able to sip on our slushie to pass the time and with the shorter line, it went by quickly. The hayride was a bit dusty and probably more fun for the little ones, but we decided to grin and bear it for the apples.
Millstone Creek Orchards offers several kinds of apples, but at the end of the season, the ones that had the most left were called ‘Arkansas Blacks’. We admit that we aren’t apple connoisseurs, but we’d never heard of this variety before. They were pretty tasty. We filled our bag with a few apples, then lined back up for the hayride.
Next stop: pumpkin picking. Honestly, we found that the pumpkins were a bit better quality than the apples (the apples were a bit slim pickin’s). Jessie could have chosen 5 pumpkins but narrowed it down to one small striped cutie. They had all colors and sizes (white pumpkins, green ones, pumpkins with warts, and some as big as your head).
Before hitting the road back to Raleigh, we made sure to purchase some fresh pressed apple cider. After tasting the slushies, we couldn’t head home without it. This was the best apple cider we’d ever tasted. It was seriously APPLE-y… which is how all cider should be, but somehow they aren’t all created equal.
So, would we recommend this place for a fall outing? Yes. But, we do have a few recommendations. First, head there early (both early in the morning and early in the season for the best apples). Second, be prepared to get dirty on the hayride. Bringing a scarf to cover your mouth wouldn’t be a bad idea. Finally, this is definitely a family-friendly activity so if you don’t like little ones, you should probably avoid the whole ordeal. Maybe you can get some friends to bring back cider for you because it’s really worth it!
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