Once school starts and the vacation season ends, a lot of things compete for our attention. But some of the best local food all year hits fields in fall. It’s also cooler and less humid, the perfect time to make an excursion to a farm.
What can you get and where can you get it? Here are a few farms with special things to offer in fall. For the full lists of you-pick farms and farmers markets that stay open through October, including the markets that are open all winter, go to www.charlotteobserver.com/food.
Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill
• 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave., Morganton. 828-437-1224; www.applehillorchard.com.
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Picking apples until late October. Farm stand, bakery and country store until Dec. 24. Educational orchard tours available. Closed Sundays.
• 1193 Pinnacle Mountain Road, Zirconia. 828-692-7930; www.skytoporchard.com .
Up to 20 varieties of apples; picking through October. Also cider, cider doughnuts, honey, farm stand, petting zoo and hayrides.
• 1261 Oak Ridge Farm Highway, Mooresville. 704-664-1450; www.carriganfarms.com .
Apples start Monday, pumpkins in October. They also offer fall-harvest and pumpkin-patch tours, night hayrides with bonfires and haunted trail event at Halloween. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Carolina Sky Muscadine Vineyard
• 218 Burke Farm Loop, Union Grove. 704-592-2450; 704-929-3204.
Carlos, Noble and Magnolia muscadine grapes, also known as scuppernongs, usually start coming in mid-September and go through October. Farm is open daily until dark.
Hall Family Farm
• 10713 Providence Road W., Charlotte. 704-540-0367; 704-562-4021; www.hallfamilyfarm.com .
Reopens for the fall Sept. 19; open Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Sept. 28, then daily through Nov. 8. Includes corn mazes, musical hayrides, kids’ play area, bonfires, farm tours and tents with firepits for rent. Pumpkins available late September through October.
Patterson Farm Inc.
• 10390 Caldwell Road, Mount Ulla. 704-797-0013; pattersonfarminc.com .
Pumpkins mid-September through October, poinsettias Thanksgiving through Christmas, plus a farm stand. Weekend fall festivals include hayrides, a corn maze and activities like pumpkin bowling, Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 27-Nov. 2.
Wise Acres Organic Farm
• 4701 Hartis Road, Indian Trail. 704-628-6232; www.wiseacresorganic.com .
Organically grown pumpkins and fall festival Thursdays-Sundays from Sept. 26-Oct. 30. Includes a playground and obstacle course for children, snacks, refreshments and slushies.
Windy Hill Orchard
• 1860 Black Highway, York, S.C. 803-684-0690; windyhillorchard.com .
Picking Stayman Winesap apples starting about Sept. 13 and continuing until the Apple Harvest Festival on Oct. 18. Hard cider and cider doughnuts made on site. There’s also a cider “garden” (like a beer garden) that’s open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
• 1650 Filbert Highway, York, S.C. 803-684-2732; www.bushnvinefarm.com
Pumpkin patch, hayrides (Saturdays only) and a corn maze through October. Pumpkin festival Sept. 27. School tours by appointment. Farm stand with local produce year-round. Closed Sundays.