I grew up in Atlanta and never found the opportunity to head to Blue Ridge to enjoy some apple picking in Ellijay. Now that the bigs are more aware of food, farms, and where our meals come from, I figured this is a perfect opportunity to learn about apples and pick our own! First, I had to research which orchard would be best for us.
Choosing an Orchard for Apple Picking in Ellijay
There are several orchards to pick apples in Ellijay, GA. Some have festivals with games, mazes, petting zoos, and other fun to keep the family busy all day. I knew our time would be a bit limited since we were trying to squeeze this in between the babies nap times. It is about 1.5 hours from our home and I planned (hoped!!!) the littles would sleep on the way up there and back.
I chose Red Apple Barn as the orchard to visit. In addition to apple picking, they have a pick your own wild flower section, a growing pumpkin patch, smaller activities for the kids, and a shop to purchase apple products. It ended up being a perfect place for us!
Travel & Arrival Logistics
In the morning, we ate breakfast and let the kids burn off energy while we packed a picnic for us to eat when we arrived for apple picking. Luckily, we went very early in the season, so traffic was not too bad getting up to the orchards. It took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes and the littles napped almost the entire way. When we arrived to Red Apple Barn, we changed the littles clothes and ate our snack lunch right outside the car. The bigs were very excited so it was a quick meal and then we headed to the booth to pay! Red Apple Barn had a nice shaded area with little activities (corn hole, painting rocks, climbing structures for the kids, etc). The bigs picked which size baskets they wanted to put their hard earned produce in!
The baskets are optional – you can just use the plastic bags provided. The booth also showed which apples are in season and ready for picking. Next, we waited for the tractor to pull us to the orchards. Of course this was a fun adventure in and of itself to transport us for apple picking.
Time for Apple Picking!
It was a short ride to the orchards and we were set loose! My husband and I settled on mostly Gala apples which worked well because that was the first section available to us. I would not say this is stroller friendly (we had a hunch), so my husband carried the babies through the orchard (and pretty much the entire day – super dad!). Luckily it is recommended to pick the outside of the tree first since those are most ripe and then work your way inwards.
There are PLENTLY to choose from on the outside and perfect level for the bigs to pick themselves. Saying they had fun is an understatement!!! You would think we let them loose in a toy store. I enjoyed watching them pick what they deemed was the perfect apple, harvest it, and place it in their basket. They each had a system and it was super fun to observe. At this point, we let the littles crawl around in the aisles of the trees to let them explore too! There was enough shade to keep us from getting too hot out there during the first weekend of September. After our baskets were full and mom took some photos, we headed back to the tractor to get our ride back to the barn.
Exploring Red Apple Barn
The bigs had their sights set on rock painting after apple picking. They proudly painted a couple rocks and luckily I had grocery bags to transport the wet rocks home!
Once we were done with apple picking and the other activities, we headed up to the barn to get our apple cider donut and cup of apple cider. The donut and cider is included in the apple picking admission cost. Wow!!!! These are the best donuts we have ever eaten!!
We went home with 2 dozens donuts, 2 huge apple fritters, a gallon of cider, and 2 apple pies. A basket of apples are available to the kids at no cost – instant gratification for my bigs to taste the fruits of their labor! There are also several jams, butters, and other produce available for purchase as well. Coming home with fresh baked goodies is a must after apple picking in Ellijay!
Exploring Ellijay, GA
At this point, everyone was still in good spirits! Red Apple Barn is only a few miles from Ellijay Square, so we went that direction for a late lunch. We found a cute little bistro sandwich shop where we stopped to eat. Afterwards, the bigs wanted to see the fountain in the middle of the square. I wish I had time to stop in a few of the antique shops (I am still on the hunt for one more piece to include in baby boy’s nursery), but our time was dwindling with the countdown to second nap time looming. It is an adorable area if you want to extend your time in Ellijay, GA and shop around the square.
Once we hit the road to head home, all the girls crashed for a nap! It was a super successful day and fun for everyone! When planning trips out like this, no one is in charge but the littles. I do my best to plan around what would work best for them. If the babies are not happy – no one is! It just so happened the drive to and from the Blue Ridge area worked well for their naps. I intentionally chose a low-frills orchard like Red Apple Barn for apple picking in Ellijay. It did not detract from the purpose of apple picking or be overstimulating. It was truly a perfect little trip for us that included choosing apple baskets, tractor rides, rock painting, and donuts and cider as a treat at the end.