Finally! The weather is cooling off and, while we’re sad to see summer go, we love the cooler fall days and all the autumn activities during New England’s best season. And the best way to get into the fall spirit is not, contrary to popular belief, overdosing on pumpkin-spiced flavored treats.

It’s apple picking!

And Andover residents are in luck, as there are a number of orchards located a short drive away in the Merrimack Valley and on the North Shore. Here are five we’ve visited and loved in recent years.

Boston Hill Farm
1370 Turnpike St.
N. Andover, MA 01845
(978) 681-8556

There’s more than just orchards packed with Macintosh, Cortland or Macoun varieties at Boston Hill. You can also take a hay ride, visit the petting zoo and visit their bake shop.

Smolak Farms
315 South Bradford Street
North Andover, MA 01845

With over 20 heirloom varieties, this is the farm to visit if you’re looking for something unique to put in your pie or lunch bag. The pick-your-own pumpkin patch is open on weekends, and you can grab burgers, hot dogs, pizza, cider donuts and other treats at their food court. Don’t forget to cap your visit with a stop at the ice cream stand, where you can get homemade apple pie and apple crisp.

Brooksby Farm
54 Felton St.
Peabody, MA 01960
(978) 531-7456

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through mid-October, you can get a lot more than apples at Brooksby Farm. The farm store sells fresh produce and a wide range of baked goods and prepared foods. They also offer one of the best cider donuts around. You can also hang out with the llamas, pigs, goats and sheep that live at this working farm in Peabody.

Connors Farm
30 Valley Road
Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 777-1245

This popular activity spot has a bustling schedule of activities throughout the year, but fall is when things really get busy. On-site lunch options to hit before you fill your apple bags include Bob’s Barbecue Pit, Connors Country Kitchen and the Corn Crib.

Ingaldsby Farm
14 Washington St.
Boxford, MA 01921
(978) 352-2813

Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in nearby Boxford, Ingaldsby Farm is our pick for ducking some of the weekend crowds. There’s also an on-site farm stand with loads of fresh vegetables and a wide selection of fresh cut flowers.

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