Setting seasonal traditions for my family to enjoy has been on my to do list for quite some time now. I've never thought about going and self-picking apples before, but it truly is a great family building experience and awesome picture taking opportunity. We visited Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, GA, the first weekend of October and the weather was perfect. If you have ever had a fried apple pie from the Varsity or Chick-fil-A, then you've eaten apples from this orchard.
Now, this place was a zoo. Actually, all of the apple picking places that we passed on the way up were a zoo, causing lots of traffic on the one-way roads. We probably passed three or four apple ochards but I chose this particular orchard because some photos I saw showed beautiful rolling hills all over the orchard, which is what I was looking for for pictures. I also hoped that since it was way up in the middle of the mountains in north Georgia that it wouldn't be as packed as the places that were closer to Atlanta, but it was just as packed!
There were a few things that you could do there outside of apple picking, but it didn't seem as touristy as some of the other places we passed. From what I could see you could go to a very small petting zoo, shop in their store of bakery items and other delicious what-nots, but mostly it seem to be about the apple picking and walking around the pretty retaining ponds to hang out and take pictures. Although they were incredibly busy, we were able to find a parking space right up front but it did take about 10 minutes to get to it, so someone directing pedestrian traffic and cars would have been a great thing to speed up the process of getting in and getting out.
It wasn't obvious as to where we would go to sign up for the apple picking, but thankfully there was an information desk right inside the front door. Inside the store it was completely packed with no wiggle room, so unfortunately when I had the urge to go pee, it made me very grumpy. Bathrooms are all the way in the rear of the store meaning you had to fight your way through crowds of people browsing, eating, having general conversations and blocking walkways….But for the most part people were civil with the tight squeezes and I finally made it back to stand in line, probably about 20 people in front of me who needed to potty. It reminded me of the bathroom lines at clubs. But, thankfully the line moved fairly quickly as there were a lot more stalls then it seemed. The bathrooms were very tidy as well, considering the crowds.
Once I made it back to the car, my husband told me that Ava needed to go potty. She's in the middle of potty training and has been doing a great job, but in this case I was OK letting her go potty in her pull-up! Thankfully she didn't push the desire to go potty this one time.
After we packed up the crew, we made our way over to the tents on the side of the main store so that we could pay to get on the tractor and get a bag to collect apples with. They informed us that they had ran out of apples that you could reach and asked if we still wanted to commit, and considering the drive, we went ahead so we could at least get the experience and picture opportunities. The guide tells you some interesting bits about the farm, like how they grow 52 varieties of apples, and how the crabapple comes to life and is only found in the U.S. They drop you off at the bottom of two hills and let you go roam on your own! They tell you the areas of about 5 varieties that you can pick from, so we immediately set our sights to hike up the hill for pictures, with plans to pick apples on the way down.
The area was beautiful and the weather was perfect, minus the fact that we didn't think about sunscreen and got a little burnt. There is a picture perfect barn with amazing views at the crest of one of the hills, so make sure you hike up and visit it. There was no time restrictions to return to the wagon, so take advantage of it and enjoy the time with your family... and enjoy an apple or two as you explore around. I definitely will add this orchard to my plan to visit every year for fall apple-picking!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES PICKING APPLES OR OTHER FAMILY TRADITIONS? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!