To get out under the orchards and see the area’s prized crop in all its deliciousness, try a tour from Washington Apple Country (866/459-9614, www.appleorchardtours.com , $24–59), which offers everything from orchard hay rides and “u-pick” tours to specialty dining tours that blend orchard and vineyard visits.
The Washington State Apple Commission Visitor Center (2900 Euclid Ave., 509/663-9600 or 509/662-3090 (weekends), 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun. May–Dec., 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri. the rest of the year) has a video and displays about the apple industry, along with apples and apple juice samples.
Take a Bite Out of Wenatchee
Washington Apples are famous throughout the world for their diversity and crispness. The city of Wenatchee calls itself “The Apple Capital of the World.” Dating back to 1872, this, the county seat of Chelan County, has been obsessed with apples. Apples are plastered across store signs, churches, sports teams, to say nothing of the thousands of trees bearing the genuine article.
- Braeburn — This crisp, juicy, red apple is a transplant from New Zealand. They start coming to market in mid-October.
- Cameo — A great cooking apple and a Washington state discovery, the cameo resists browning and works great in salads.
- Fuji — These reddish-pink apples store well and taste sweet. They grow in Washington between late September and early November.
- Gala — Red dappled with yellow, the gala is small but perfect for snacking. Look for them in early fall.
- Gingergold — A rare treat, the gingergold is a transplant from the east coast and grows just a few short weeks at the end of summer.
- Golden Delicious — Great for cooking or eating raw, the golden delicious is just the ticket for perfect cider.
- Granny Smith — The firm, slightly sour apple appears in mid-October and makes a bang-up pie. Try slicing these green gems and sprinkling them with a tiny bit of salt.
- Jonagold — These delicious, bright red apples are perfect for dessert. Enjoy them in the fall, since they are not available year-round in stores.
- Pink Lady — This blushing beauty is delightfully sweet and nuanced. A newer favorite, this apple is available from fall through early spring.
- Rome — These apples can taste a little mealy when eaten fresh but are absolutely ideal for cooking. Look for them from fall through early winter.
- Red Delicious — Who isn’t familiar with the Red Delicious? This firm, succulent apple is number one for a reason. Tasty and with undeniable eye-appeal, the Red Delicious tastes best when icy cold.