A Perfect Fall Day Trip in York, SC
With the leaves changing and the air getting cooler, we are loving filling our day with fall fun. The fall season usually splits everyone into two groups… Apple Cider or Pumpkin? The good news is we have planned a perfect fall day that includes BOTH! ? ? If you live in or are visiting Charlotte, NC this day trip is less than an hour south of the city in York, SC, and is definitely worth the short trip!
Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill
The first stop on this fall journey in York, SC is to Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill. Windy Hill is family-owned and a small boutique orchard that opened in the late 1980s. The Cider Bar is open seasonally for the Spring season during May and June on the weekends and then for the Fall season from Mid-August until Christmas on the weekends. The orchard is also open for apple picking typically during September and October, dependent on the growing season.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m
Friday: 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.*
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.*
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.*
*Last Call 15 Minutes Prior to Closing*
The cider bar has a great open Biergarten to enjoy your cider, however, since it is only open on weekends it is PACKED during September and October. They suggest heading in November & December if you want it a little less crowded. We headed in the last weekend of September and it was very busy but we were able to find a seat after a short hunt. The lines were a little long, but moved quickly as well! Parking can also be a little chaotic but they do have overflow parking in the back, just follow the signs, and you should be able to find a spot.
So what all can you do at Windy Hill? Of course, the most popular thing to do is enjoy some hard apple cider at the Cider Bar. However, there is a lot more you can enjoy as well. The farm stand sells regular apple cider, to-go hard apple cider, apple cider slushies, bushels of apples, some smaller pumpkins, and their very delicious apple cider donuts. You can also make reservations to go apple picking as well in the orchard. Apple picking is typically available in September and early October, dependent on the season that year. You can make reservations here: http://windyhillorchard.ticketleap.com/pick-your-own-apples-2021/ If you can’t find a reservation you can grab bushels pre-picked at the farm stand.
What apples can you pick at Windy Hill? “They offer Stayman Winesap for pick your own. The Stayman Winesap is an heirloom southern variety that has a multitude of uses. The Stayman Winesap is a sweet aromatic apple that has a slight hint of tartness. They are equally good for cooking and eating and retain their flavor when baked or used to make apple sauce. Because of their unique flavor and attributes, the Stayman Winesap is an excellent choice for Cider, both Hard Cider and Sweet Cider.”
How much are most products at the Farm Stand?
Apple Cider is $11/gallon or $6/half gallon
Hard Cider To-Go is $10/bottle
Apple Cider Donuts (plain or cinnamon sugar) $6/half dozen or $10/dozen
Apple Pies $18
They also sold fruit butter, apple cider slushies, candy apples, and bushels of apples, prices of these items varied.
The hard cider bar is a separate line from the farm stand, though most of the cider lines sold donuts as well, so you can just hop in this line if you are just wanting hard cider + donuts! You can either get a sample flight of all 6 flavors of hard cider they have to offer for $14.02 + tax (this is what we did) or you can just grab a 16oz glass of your favorite flavor for $6.54 + tax. The lines can get long so definitely grab all you are wanting to drink before you find a seat!
Windy Hill has 5 flavors of Apple Cider that are always on tap, plus one rotating tap.
? #1 Ginger Gold – The Original! This cider has been being produced at Windy Hill since 1996 with apples from their orchard. It’s an English Draught Cider, fermented with ginger for a refreshing finish.
? Our Thoughts: We aren’t big fans of ginger, but this one was still really good. If you like ginger, this is probably the perfect choice for you!
? #2 Gala Peach – A salute to the local peach industry, this slightly sweet Cider is a blend of our Hard Cider and local peach juice. Back-sweetened to bring out the fresh peach flavor, this Cider is also excellent served over ice.
? Our Thoughts: This was one of our favorites, we weren’t sure how the peach would be with it, but is was delicious!
? #3 Jersey Blues Berry – Every Summer marks the harvest of the famous blueberries of New Jersey, known by the locals as “Jersey Blues”. Once a seasonal limited release, this is off-dry Cider is now year-round.
? Our Thoughts: This cider was really good but we didn’t love the blueberry mixed with cider as much as we did the peach.
? #4 Hoppin Johnny – The first commercially produced Dry-Hopped Hard Cider made on the East Coast. With floral aromas and citrus flavors, this is one of our favorite Hard Ciders. Hop varietals include Perle, Saaz, and Cascade.
? Our Thoughts: We agree with Windy Hill that this is a favorite, we both said we will probably get the 16oz of this one or the peach when we go back. This was the most classic tasting cider & a safe bet if you are beer drinker.
? #5 Rusty Gold – This spiced Cider with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peel is one of our most popular styles. Made with the same blend of spices that we have used to make our Wassail for over 20 years. Tastes like Christmas in a glass.
? Our Thoughts: This is the only one neither of us liked, it was a bit too spice-heavy. However, if you like the Christmas-spice taste of Cider, this one is probably for you!
? #6 Rotating Tap – This tap rotates all the time and we never could figure out the name of the tap we got. We wish they listed it somewhere on a sign!
? Our Thoughts: Whatever the rotating tap was this time, was amazing! If you want to try something new definitely get the sampler to try them all.
So what goes perfectly with the Hard Apple Cider? An Apple Cider donut of course. They have two options at the farm stand and the Cider Bar: Plain Apple Cider or Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cider. Our suggestion: The Cinnamon Sugar! ? It’s the plain donut coated in deliciously sweet cinnamon sugar. These donuts were a 10/10 for taste. We both agreed they were some of the best donuts we have ever had. They were soft, deliciously flavored, and tasted like fall in a donut. Plus, they make them fresh so they will most likely be warm when you get them, especially if you go through the farm stand line.
It is free to visit Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill, but if you will need to purchase something to be able to really enjoy the farm. There isn’t much to see apart from that. To go in the apple orchard, every person (2+) does have to have a ticket for apple picking which is about $8/person and includes a1/4 peck of apples. You can get reservations here & they are required: https://windyhillorchard.ticketleap.com/pick-your-own-apples-2021/dates
No reservations are required for the farm stand or Cider Bar. Most Saturdays & Sundays there is live music to enjoy while you enjoy your treats as well. We suggest being considerate and make sure you are purchasing items when you enjoy the bands, there isn’t a lot of seating for those who have. We spent less than $25 for a cider flight + 1/2 dozen donuts to enjoy during our time. It was very reasonable for the quality & experience. They do take Credit & Debit Cards as well if you don’t have cash.
Make sure you make it out to Windy Hill before the fall season closes because it is a “must-do” for fall around Charlotte. Plus, on many weekends they have extra fun like hayrides, fire pits, live music, and more. Check out the calendar for everything they have to offer: http://windyhillorchard.com/events/. After you finish up filling up with yummy donuts & lots of hard cider it’s time to drive 5 minutes down the road to finish the fall fun at Bush-N-Vine Farm.
The next stop on this fall fun is Bush-N-Vine Farm. It’s just 5 minutes away from Windy Hill Orchard and still in York, SC. Bush-N-Vine Farm is family-owned and opened in 1979, converting an old peach packing shed from the 1930s into the retail market stand that is here now. They are open year-round with different activities for every season.
Monday-Friday: 8 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 8 am to 5 pm
If you know Heather, you know she loves sunflowers so when we heard Bush-N-Vine had sunflowers & pumpkins it was an easy choice to head in ? The sunflower fields do cost $2/person to go into, but this $2 does include 1 sunflower/person you get to cut to take home. If you want additional sunflowers, you can get them for $2/stem or $18/dozen. It’s a very fun experience to walk through and take photos so it’s definitely worth the price. There isn’t a time limit so you can browse as long as you want.
The sunflower field is perfect for taking photos for personal use. The fields are open the same hours as the farm for photos & pick-your-own. Are you a professional looking for a place to take photos for clients or after hours? They allow that too & you can get all the info on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442493413005738/
The day we were there, some planes were doing a mini airshow, we aren’t sure why, but it was really neat to see. We spent about 30 minutes wandering around the fields taking photos and looking for the perfect sunflower to take home. It is a very large field and wasn’t too crowded so there was a lot of room to explore. We also saw the raspberry fields growing beside the sunflower fields as well on the way back. The sunflowers bloom from July to early October.
Bush-N-Vine doesn’t just have sunflowers, they have different crops year-round for you to pick your own! Plus they have other in-season crops for you to purchase in the farm stand. So if you can’t make it in the fall there is more to do!
What to do by season:
Spring: Crops in Season
Strawberries are the pick-your-own crop in the Spring. It opens in mid-April and closes in mid-May.
Summer: Crops in Season
There is a lot available for pick-your-own in the summer:
Blueberries: May to late July.
Peaches: Mid-May to early September.
Blackberries: Early June to early July
They have sunflower fields as well as a cut-your-own flower patch with zinnias, dahlias, black-eyed susans, and more. Cut your own flowers are $12/dozen.
Sunflowers: July – Early October
Zinnias: Mid June – Mid October
Events: During the summer, they do Slices of Summer from 10 am – 3 pm every Saturday with free fruit tastings.
Fall: Crops in Season
The flower picking extends from summer into fall and they also add pumpkin picking as well:
Sunflowers: July – Early October
Zinnias: Mid June – Mid October
Pumpkins: September 25th to October 30th
During the fall they do Fall Farm Fun Saturdays with pumpkin picking, hayrides, and sunflowers.
Winter: Crops in Season
After you find your perfect sunflower to cut to take home, you can head back into the Farm Stand. There is a large picnic area to relax after walking through the fields and you can grab some fresh strawberry ice cream, strawberry donuts, or other goodies to snack on. We were too full from Windy Hill to try any, but definitely will next time we go in! The Farm Stand also has a kid’s area with swings, a tunnel slide, a sandbox, and a playhouse. The farm does take Credit and Debit Card, along with cash for all the purchases, even the pick-your-own fields.
There are two options for getting some pumpkins to take home at Bush-N-Vine. You can either grab one of the many pumpkins they have sitting at the Farm Stand or you can pick-your-own in the pumpkin patch. There were so many beautiful pumpkins at the Farm Stand, we just grabbed a few there. The price is the same for either:
< 5 lbs. $0.95/lb
5+ lbs – $0.59/lb
We were able to get 1 medium pumpkin (like the one I am holding), 1 small pumpkin, a medium white pumpkin, plus 2 mini pumpkins for a little less than $17. There is a scale inside if you want to check prices. If you do want to pick your own, you can Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm. The pumpkin season runs from September 25th – October 30th. They do not require reservations to go pumpkin picking.
We think it’s great to go to a local farm and get the pumpkins directly from the source. The pumpkins were of much better quality and cheaper than local big box stores around the area. There was a MASSIVE selection of all kinds of pumpkins. We think they look perfect with our fall decor and we will be back yearly to grab our pumpkins to start our Halloween decor each year.
We hope this guide helps you have a very fun fall day just a short distance from Charlotte, NC. If you are wanting to visit both Windy Hill Orchard & Bush-N-Vine Farm, remember the only days both are open at the same time are on Fridays and Saturdays during September & October. However, they are open separately with a lot of fun activities many others times of the year. So go head, put on your favorite flannel, your fall boots, and go celebrate fall with these two awesome farms! Happy Fall ?
If you are visiting Charlotte and looking for some more things to do, check out more of our Charlotte area guides here: