It is autumn so that means it is apple picking time! This mama and little llama decided to head up to the foothills of North Carolina to hit up Sky Top Orchard. Learn all about our adventure in our Sky Top Orchard Review and 5 tips for a successful trip.
Sky Top Orchard Review
Let me start off by saying we had a wonderful time visiting Sky Top Orchard on our 2018 visit but we could have been a bit better prepared so be sure to check out the wrap up with our 5 Tips for a Great Time at the end of the review. 😉
My first piece of advice is double check where you GPS is sending you, we took an unexpected trip over the river and through the woods to get there. But, hey, at least it was a scenic detour! Sky Top Orchard is located in beautiful Flat Rock, NC and is easy to reach if your GPS cooperates with you. It is roughly 15 minutes off the I26 in western North Carolina and easy to reach from Interstates 40 and 85 as well.
When to go
Autumn, of course! Oh, wait, you want a better idea of when to go to get the best apples? Well, don’t be like us and not look at the picking schedule and miss out on your favorite apple, the Honeycrisp. Sky Top Orchard has a handy list of what apples are currently available, check the availability early and check it often to plan your trip to get your favorite apples.
They are open daily from 9 am until 6 pm, Monday-Sunday during the season. We opted to go on a Friday in 2018 to avoid the busy weekend time. During the week you might run into numerous small children since it is a great field trip destination.
For 2019 I was determined to get some Honey Crisps so we actually went the last weekend of August. For which I am thankful, there weren’t very many left on the trees! We also visited on a Sunday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised how efficient things were at the orchard.
What to bring and wear
Cash! There is an ATM on-site but they do not take credit or debit cards, only cash or check. Their website suggests that most guests only spend $20-30 but I do not think that is quite accurate. If you are only buying apples then that amount is sufficient. Plan on eating a hot dog, a few donuts, and taking home some tasty treats? Bring more money!
Additionally, prepare for the weather and environment. We went following a few days of rain and damp conditions, rainboots or galoshes should have been included in my prep-list. We left wet sneakers and socks! They advise sunscreen and a floppy hat and I agree, it is a bit breezing on the hilltop and there is ample sun, too.
One other item to pack, insect repellant and insect bite relief, I personally like and use Benedryl Itch Stick! On our trip, there were numerous bees. Most you could shoo-away but a few landed on some helpless souls.
What to do while there
Besides the obvious, pick apples, there are some fun, family-friendly activities. The Sky Top Orchard is very small-child oriented with animals to feed, bumblebee and hay wagon rides, and an impressive collection of playground equipment. While we were there with four school busloads of children it never felt crowded in any of the play or animal areas.
As for the apple picking, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. The gentleman that checked us in gave us the option for the kid-size 1/4 peck bag instead of the full basket since I knew the little llama wasn’t going to cooperate to collect 12 lbs of apples. He also gave a map that he wrote out directions and suggestions to pick the apples that we wanted as well as areas with low-hanging apples that my daughter could easily reach.
Make sure you stock up on some Granny Smith apples so you can try out my Apple Macaroon recipe which I’ll post
Where to eat
Sky Top Orchard has many sweet treats available in their fruit stand and an on-site hot dog stand, Top Dogs. I highly recommend the apple cider donuts to share since they are only available as 6-packs or 12-packs.
If you are coming from the south as we did, Saluda, NC, Tryon, NC and Landrum, SC have numerous sit-down and quick-serve restaurants. If you are coming from the north, Asheville, NC is a destination in itself and has many great dining options, too.
And if you are planning on staying in the area book early! During the weekends and prime
5 Tips for a Great Time
- Wear comfy clothes and shoes that can get dirty
- Be prepared for the weather (sunscreen, jacket)
- Have cash, they do not take plastic
- Sample the apples before heading to the pick ’em area to know what you are hunting for in the orchard
- Be in the moment, everything doesn’t have to be an Instagram worthy-picture
Whether you opt to go to Sky Top Orchard or any of their competitors, I highly recommend getting out and enjoying the best season of them all, Autumn! Looking for another day-trip autumn destination? Check out the Newberry Oktoberfest.
What are your favorite autumn activities? Drop me a line or comment below to let us know what to do next!