I just went apple picking for the first time! And when apple picking in Georgia, there’s no place better to go than to Ellijay, the Apple Capital of Georgia.
For fall and winter, I love being surrounded by apple things — warm apple cider, delicious baked apples, and apple scented air fresheners fill my house. But I had never been apple picking until this year. Kevin and I met up with a couple of friends and ventured up to North Georgia to Ellijay to pick apples at the B.J. Reece Orchards.
Ellijay — the Apple Capital of Georgia
Driving up to the mountains and seeing the foliage begin to change, it is easy to see why Ellijay is considered the Apple Capital of Georgia. The road to Ellijay is dotted left and right with signs for a new roadside apple stands, apple markets, and pick-your-own apple orchards. Ellijay and Gilmer County reportedly produce over 250,000 bushels of apples a year. And the biggest event of the season is the annual Georgia Apple Festival. Held during the second and third weekends of October, the Georgia Apple Festival is one of the state’s largest festivals with hundreds of vendors selling food, art, crafts, and of course apples.
B.J. Reece Orchards
A family owned and operated orchard, B.J. Reece Orchards has so much to enjoy over its 120 acres. The main highlight, the U-Pick orchards, lets you pick your own apples from 20 different varieties and fill whatever size peck bag you choose. Admission for the U-Pick is $5, and you’ll get to pick apples from both sides of the sprawling orchard. The bags come in sizes half-peck for $7, peck for $14, and half bushel for $24.
Included in your $5 admission to the orchards, you also get to take a wagon ride, milk cows, watch pig races, and go down the giant slide.
The petting farm, scavenger hunt, apple cannon, giant jumping pillow, cow train, pony rides, and zipline are all additional costs. But you can buy a package deal during the weekends to get some of these activities included for a cheaper price.
In the market, you’ll find a fresh bakery selling apple pies and pastries, along with other fruity baked goods, ciders, jams, salsas, and local crafts.
You’ll want to make sure you go apple picking early enough in the season that the apples aren’t all picked out! Going in mid-October, there were some slim pickin’s on the trees. If you didn’t find the apples you were looking for in the orchards, you can buy them by the peck or bushel from the market.
We made out with a half peck of apples each (some of which I have made into baked apples using my Granny’s recipe), a gallon of apple cider (all for me), fresh apple pies and tarts (devoured before we even got in the car), and a dozen apple cider donuts (great for breakfast).
What is your favorite fall activity? Let me know in the comments!