Apples are a quintessential fall treat. Whether baked into pies, dipped in caramel, transformed into spiced cider or eaten fresh off the tree, these fruits signal the start of cooler weather.
Colorado has its fair share of apple growers — and, if you’d like to support them, below are some of the best ways to celebrate the season and get your hands on some fresh apples this time of year.
Visit Ya Ya Farm & Orchard
Ya Ya Farm & Orchard grows more than 100 different varieties of apples, including McIntosh, Cameo, Winesap, Red Delicious, Fuji, Liberty and many others. Located on Highway 66 just west of Longmont, this 8-acre farm is not only a stunning place to visit, but also offers a wide array of treats. Visit the farmstand to buy fresh apples, apple cider, apple cider donuts, caramel apples and other delicious sweets. You can also pick your own flowers whenever the farmstand is open (unfortunately, the “u-pick” apples are already sold out!).
Right now, the farmstand is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, but be sure to check Ya Ya’s website and social media pages for the most up to date hours and information.
Shop the Boulder County Farmers Markets
The Boulder County Farmers Markets aren’t just a summer thing — on the contrary, they also offer up all of fall’s bounties, including apples. The Saturday markets in Boulder and Longmont run through November, while the Wednesday Boulder market lasts through October.
You can also shop online, then pick up your fruits and veggies at four convenient pickup locations throughout the county. Right now when you shop online, you can snag Honeycrisps from Topp Fruits, as well as Gala and Akane apples from First Fruits Organic Family Farm.
Take a Road Trip to the Western Slope
With its warm days and cool nights, the Western Slope is an ideal climate for growing fruits, including apples. If it’s been a while since you last visited, consider planning a road trip for a long weekend this fall. When you do, you’ll find orchards and farms waiting to welcome you with open arms.
Attend a Festival
There’s no shortage of fall festivals to keep you busy this autumn. But if you’re in the mood for all things apples, consider adding one of the state’s apple festivals to your calendar.
Applefest — Cedaredge
Back for its 46th year, Applefest in Cedaredge is a three-day celebration of this scrumptious fruit. Schedule for Oct. 6-8, the festival lineup includes tons of fun events, including a 5K run, a chili cook-off, a golf tournament, a pinup contest, a car, tractor and motorcycle show, and lots of live music. Plus, you can get a head start on your holiday shopping by perusing the wares of arts and crafts vendors.
The history of fruit growing in this region dates back to at least 1909, when settlers entered their apples into the National Apple Show and won tons of awards — more than anyone else in the country. Ever since, the Surface Creek Valley has proudly maintained its apple heritage. The festival has been going on since 1977, and more than 30,000 people usually attend.
Cider Days — Lakewood
Each autumn, the city of Lakewood hosts its annual Cider Days, which features a whopping 50 different apple-themed foods. Don’t eat breakfast, because you’ll want to save room for a bacon apple grilled cheese, an apple onion cheesesteak, an apple pie funnel cake and so much more. You can also enjoy historical demonstrations, a tractor pull, kids’ activities, an apple pie eating contest, cider pressing and lots of other past times. This year’s festivities are scheduled for Oct. 7-8 at Heritage Lakewood.
Apple Days Festival — Durango
Venture down to Durango for the Apple Days Festival, which is now in its 15th year. The main event runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 7 at the Durango Farmers Market and includes a pie eating contest, fresh cider and family-friendly activities. There’s also an after-party at Esoterra Ciderworks later that day from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (and if you wear red, you can get a free slushie or hot mulled cider). One of the goals of this unique festival is to help harvest apples from backyard trees and orchards to help prevent dangerous human-bear interactions.