I grew up a city kid. So, for the most part, my pick-your-own adventures were limited to the two small-ish golden delicious apple trees we had growing in our postage stamp of a backyard and, occasionally, the neighbor’s pear tree, which would sometimes bear fruit on the branches that drooped over the fence and onto our property. Now that I live in relative suburbia, I am still tickled by the notion that I can zip up the street to a nearby farm, pick a peck of whatever’s in season, and be home again in less time than it took me as a child to scour my backyard apple trees for enough fruit to put together one decent pie.
We’ve been on quite a few pick-your-own adventures already (read about them here). But when our friend, Amy, mentioned that her favorite spot for picking peaches is Belltown Hill Orchards in Glastonbury, Connecticut, I was ready for another one.
Belltown Hill Orchards is just up the road from another one of our PYO favorites, Rose’s Berry Farm. The entrance to the parking lot is marked by that sign above, so it’s very easy to find. This is where you park if you want to go to the store (we’ll come back to that later).
However, if you want to pick fruit, DO NOT park here (like we did, only to realize once we had unloaded Boo and our gear that we had to get BACK into the car and drive up to the picking fields). Instead, drive straight back past the parking spaces and you will see a sign marking the road up to the picking areas. Then, follow the smaller signs along the road.
After a short, scenic drive, you’ll arrive at a field that functions as a parking area for the PYO. It looks like people do try to make rows, but it is a little bit of a free-for-all. Just make sure you leave enough room for people to drive by, and whatever spot you choose is probably fine.
That wood structure is referred to as “the shed,” and that’s where you will get your bags, buckets, or flats for picking, as well as pay for your fruity loot afterwards.
This is also where you catch the tractor-pulled wagon if you are picking fruit, like blueberries for example, that is farther out.
Despite what that sign says, the peaches are just a short walk up this road (head left away from the shed and look for the rows designated “Peaches”) and there’s no need to wait for the shuttle–we were instructed to walk by a staff member, so I promise it’s legit.
But I did notice that the wagon looks very kid-friendly, with the benches all facing inward and plenty of room to hold a kiddo on your lap and a diaper bag at your feet if necessary.
There is a staff member near the peach tree rows who will tell you where to pick. There are so many beautiful peach trees!
We found some trees with low branches so Boo could help us pick. He was a really good helper!
Although for the most part, the peaches you pick are still firm and need to ripen up for a day or so before you eat them, occasionally you might find a juicy ripe peach. In that case, we were told it’s okay to have a little sample 🙂
Of course, then we couldn’t get Boo to let go of that peach for anything. Even a rare photo opp with mommy.
As we walked back up the row, I noticed this family had brought along their stroller. It would be very easy to bring a stroller with you down to the peach trees since you don’t need to take the wagon or walk very far. I think that’s a great idea if you have a very little one who might be happier sleeping (or more than one toddler whom you need to transport out to the picking area without one going AWOL). There is even some shade from the trees, so you can park the stroller in a cool spot while you pick nearby.
When we were through picking, we headed back to the shed to weigh and pay for our peaches. Just outside is this fun photo opp. I love these kinds of things. What a fun family tradition (and addition to the scrapbook) to take an annual picture at the orchard.
Inside at the register, I was shocked to discover that we’d picked more than 10 lbs of peaches. They sure add up fast! (Keep reading for some yummy peach recipes.) You can also get a cold drink in here and pick up some of Belltown Hill’s own yummy mixes.
In the fall, there is also a snack bar out here called the Hungry Harvester with lots of outdoor seating. According to the information I got from a staff member, it serves snack bar favorites like hot dogs and also their renowned apple fitters, which are so popular, apparently people have to wait in line for them (“go early” is the advice I got).
We also found some cute cut-outs for more photo opportunities.
If you need to use the restroom while you’re out here, there is a porta-potty in the parking area.
At this point, we had two options: head home or stop in the main store to sample the famous cider donuts (like that’s even a choice, right?!). So we drove back and parked near the main store and went in to explore.
By the way, there is also a porta-potty up here around the side of the building past the patio. There is a portable sink too.
In the store, there are all kinds of yummy treats. Coffees (hot and iced):
Fresh fruits and vegetables:
All kinds of packaged goodies:
Cold drinks and delicious homemade-here-at-the-orchard baked goods (including the cider donuts).
We couldn’t resist purchasing a couple of the canned goods, plus a cider donut “for Boo” (which hubby and I ate half of).
We sat out on the patio for a bit. It’s lovely out here, but do be watchful with the little ones because there is a bit of a drop off the side.
But look at that view!
It was a gorgeous morning at the orchard. Perfect weather. Perfect peaches. And when we got home, my whole house smelled like this:
Have you been to Belltown Hill Orchards? What did you think?
Belltown Hill Orchards
483 Matson Hill Road, South Glastonbury, Connecticut
Get directions here:
Peach picking: Saturday & Sunday ONLY from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Farm Market & Bakery Hours
June – October: Monday-Friday: 9:00 am-6:00 pm; Saturday & Sunday 8:00 am-6:00 pm
November – December: Daily: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
January: Friday-Sunday:10:00 am-4:00 pm
(Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25th & 26th, January 1st)
Click here for the most up-to-date schedule.
The Hungry Harvester concession stand will reopen on Labor Day weekend and stay open every weekend through the end of October–Stay tuned! We will definitely be checking that out 🙂
Tips & Things to Bring
- Picking times and crops vary; Be sure to check their Facebook page for the most up-to-date picking schedules.
- FREE picking containers are provided. However, if you would like to bring your own container, be sure to get it approved by a staff member before you start picking.
- Peaches that you pick will be firm and will ripen in a day or two.
- The Stroller 411: The peach trees are stroller accessible because you can walk to them. Other PYO fruit requires a wagon ride, which would make bringing a stroller difficult. Another good option would be a wearable baby carrier for your littlest one.
- What to wear: There are no plants to climb around in since peaches grow on trees, so for your peach-picking adventure feel free to wear whatever wardrobe and footwear you choose. I might recommend sneakers for the little ones though, just because the footing can be a little uneven, and there is a bit of walking involved. Plus, there are some squishy peaches on the ground that might make a sticky mess of little flip-flopped feet 🙂
- Credit cards are accepted both up at the picking shed and back at the store. I asked if there was a minimum charge and although the nice lady at the checkout said there was not, she also said that they don’t like to run a credit card for a small purchase of only a few dollars. Now, whether that is a prohibition or just a preference, I don’t know. So my advice would be to bring a little cash–maybe $10–just in case.
- Looking for a unique gift idea? Gift certificates for Farm Market and Bakery merchandise are available at the store.
- Gift baskets are also available.
- So you’ve picked 10 lbs of peaches. Now what? See below for my own adventures in peach cuisine PLUS a link to our Pinterest page with over two dozen peach recipes!
With 10 lbs of peaches sitting on the table, ripening FAST in the summer heat of my unairconditioned kitchen, I went on a virtual quest to find delicious, EASY recipes for my fruity loot. Here’s a quick review of my post-picking culinary adventures in case you, too, need some peachy inspiration.
Day 1: Peach Pie & Peach-and-Bourbon BBQ Sauce
I made this AMAZING Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peach Pie recipe. It’s one of my absolute favorites. In fact, this is the THIRD time in 4 weeks that I have made this pie (first time with PYO peaches). I don’t bother making my own crust anymore. Who has the time to clean up that mess? Plus, it hardly makes sense when Pillsbury does such a great job already 🙂 I use the refrigerated, rolled crusts. Perfect.
Then I tried this Peach-and-Bourbon BBQ Sauce recipe for the first time. To make it super easy, I just substituted plain, tomato-based, store-bought BBQ sauce (I like Original Flavor Sweet Baby Rays) where the recipe calls for a homemade version. Worked like a charm. And you don’t even need to peel the peaches!
Day 2: Peach Ice Cream & Bourbon-and-Peach BBQ Pulled Pork
I originally questioned the wisdom of keeping an ice cream maker in my tiny kitchen, but now that I have Boo, it is such a fun treat to be able to make homemade ice cream in any flavor we can dream up. So I tried this Summertime Peach Ice Cream recipe. I was a little thrown by the inclusion of vanilla instant pudding mix among the ingredients, but man, it turned out so good, I wanted to drink the mixture with a straw rather than wait for it to freeze in the ice cream maker! Heavenly.
Then, I used my fancy Bourbon-and-Peach BBQ Sauce (from Day 1) and made some slow cooker Burbon-and-Peach BBQ Pulled Pork. I love to make pulled pork this way. I just toss 5-6 boneless pork chops into the slow cooker, turn it to low heat, dump in a couple cups of my favorite BBQ sauce (today it was my Bourbon-and-Peach BBQ Sauce), and let ’em simmer. When the meat is falling apart easily (usually 5-6 hours), shred it with two forks right there in the pot. Let it simmer for another hour or so, then mix in a little more BBQ sauce if you like, or just top it with more sauce when you serve it. If you want to make it super easy, use one of these slow cooker liners and you won’t even have any clean-up!
Day 3: Peach and Brie Quesadillas
For dinner last night, we sampled these Peach and Brie Quesadillas. Delicious. And super easy as well. What a great flavor combination! Who knew?!
Looking for more? Check out our Pinterest page with over two dozen delicious peach recipes!
July did fly! It’s time for our roundup of all the fun places we’ve visited this month. Then on Thursday, get a jump on the back-to-school to-do list AND support a great cause at the same time. We love multi-tasking!
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