America's Best Apple Picking Farms
Deardorff Orchards, Waconia, MN
Orchardist Lin Deardorff is a cold-weather apple specialist. The location of his farm (in USDA Zone 4a) means that each of his 4,000 apple trees must be able to withstand temperatures of up to 35 degrees below zero. His nine hybrid varieties were propagated by the University of Michigan Horticultural Research Center with that goal—plus tastiness—in mind.
What to Pick: Honeycrisps—crunchy, sweet, and perfect for snacking—are Deardorff’s most popular variety. This year he’s also offering PYO Sweet Tango apples, a brand-new cross between Honeycrisps and Zestars that’s ultra-juicy and a mix of sweet and tart.
Most Unusual Offering: The brand-new on-site Parley Lake Winery, which uses grapes grown on the property and offers regular wine tastings.
Bells & Whistles: Rides to the picking orchards on a tractor-pulled wagon; horses, rabbits, and miniature goats; a hot dog stand manned by Deardorff himself.