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Nothing beats that first bite into a juicy, locally-grown apple as the leaves turn and the crisp autumn weather returns.

Within less than an hour’s drive of Milwaukee — and, for some, maybe even on your work-commute route — there are plenty of apple orchards with pick-your-own options. Be sure to snap up a jug of just-pressed apple cider or decadent treats like apple donuts, which most orchards sell.

Because each year’s harvest schedule can vary, it’s a good idea to call the orchards before hopping in the car. Weather conditions can make an orchard unsafe for picking, too, so that’s another reason to phone first. And, as temping as it might be, orchard owners advise you to leave your dog at home, to help keep the orchards clean.

Barthel Fruit Farm

12246 N. Farmdale Road, Mequon
This year-round fruit farm in the North Shore shifts from picking strawberries during the early summer months to apples in late August. This year, according to the farm’s website, picking starts in early September. Check the “Now Picking” tab at the top of the farm’s website for up-to-date info. Barthel has been in business for nearly 180 years.

Patterson Orchards

4607 S. 124th St., New Berlin
Despite not having a website, Patterson Orchards keeps an active Facebook page. Just this week, the farm posted bags of just-picked Ginger Golds, Paulareds and Zestars. Apple picking started in mid-August this year. Gallons of pressed-apple cider are sold at the farm, too.

Rim’s Edge Orchard

W220N10550 Amy Belle Rd., Colgate
Opening for the season this Friday, Rim’s Edge Orchard grows 20-some apple varieties. During September and October, the store is open daily, with pick-your-own dates and times posted on its website. Sweet-tooths, take note: caramel apples are also sold at the store (along with apple cider).

Awe’s Apple Orchard

8081 S. Lovers Lane Rd., Franklin
Located only 17 miles from downtown Milwaukee, Awe’s Apple Orchard maintains a Facebook page to keep customers aware of what’s ripe (including Honeycrisp apples)—and when. Apple donuts and individual-sized containers of apple juice are also sold at the orchard.

Appleland Farm Market

4177 Highway 57, Fredonia
The first full weekend for apple picking this fall at Appleland Farm Market is Sept. 9-10 this year, with info updated on the orchard’s website. So far, Ginger Gold and Zestar apples will be ripe and available for picking. Other varieties grown at the farm include Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Cortland and Gala.

Harvest Time Orchards

36116 128th St., Twin Lakes
While you-pick info on the Harvest Time Orchards website is up to date, orchard staff suggest monitoring the Facebook page. The season for picking started in August, (with Zestar apples already ripe) and is open every Friday through Monday this fall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you like to cook with apples or pull together a meat-and-cheese plate with sliced apples, then drop by the store for smoked meats and a really great cheese selection. Don’t leave without visiting the Donut Shop.

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