While the world seems turned upside down right now in many ways, one thing remains consistent – and that’s the opportunity for family fun that awaits you at Carter Mountain Orchard. Every summer, visitors flock to Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, Virginia for the scenic views, specialty foods, fun activities, and best of all, fresh, juicy peaches that you can pick straight from the tree.
This year, of course, will require some safety precautions (see the COVID-19 Vistor Guidelines here), but the friendly, educated staff at Carter Mountain Orchard is there to help you and your family enjoy the best of summer – from kids’ activities to music series to fresh-picked peaches – all while staying safe. And because Carter Mountain Orchard is family-owned and-operated, their orchard is a nationally recognized agritourism destination where friends and family can gather together to make memories, even when six feet apart!
Find Fun For Everyone at Carter Mountain Orchard
Cultivate Your Kids’ Curiosity
If you’re making summer plans and find that many of your kids’ favorite activities have been curtailed due to COVID-19, don’t worry! There’s still plenty of fun to be had at Carter Mountain Orchard. Cultivating Curiosity is Carter Mountain Orchard’s weekly summer children’s program, running every Monday and Tuesday through August. Both weekly sessions will include the same activities, but the themes will vary from week to week.
This summer, the seasonal themes include apples, peaches, pumpkins, flowers, bees, and much more. The program is geared towards ages 3-8, but all ages are welcome. Activities include:
- A craft of cooking project
- Fruit picking (when available)
Explore and Play Anytime
If you can’t make the scheduled programming, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy fun, educational activities at the orchard.
For five generations, the Chiles family has relied on Mother Nature to keep their orchards thriving and open for all to enjoy. To make the most of all that nature provides, they use solar power to keep their operations running. Throughout the grounds of Carter Mountain Orchard, you’ll find sustainability signage and stations that will help you learn about solar energy.
Want to know more about how Carter Mountain Orchard grows their sweet, juicy fruits? Be on the lookout for agriculture educational signage and interactive displays as you explore the orchard. Not only are they a great way to learn more about where our food comes from, you’ll find some prime photo opportunities, as well.
Educational Puzzles and Games
We all know that one of the best ways to get kids interested in learning is to throw in a little fun. At Carter Mountain Orchard’s Country Store, you’ll find a wide variety of puzzles and gamess that are perfect for playing and learning while you’re at the orchard, and when you get home.
Unwind With Summer Music Series
Need a break in the middle of the week? Carter Mountain orchard has you covered with Wind Down Wednesdays and the Thursday Evening Sunset Series, their ever-popular summer music series. Sit back and relax with the whole family while enjoying great live music and a view of one of Central Virginia’s most stunning sunsets.
Both events run from 5pm-9pm, but you’ll want to get your tickets early because limited quantities are available to ensure that social distancing is practiced at all time. Be sure to bring lawn chairs and blankets, or come early for a picnic table on the terrace or decks.
Find all of Carter Mountain Orchard’s events or purchase tickets by visiting their Event Calendar here.
Enjoy Great Eats and Sweet Treats
Whether you’re bringing the kids out for a day of activities and peach picking or you’re relaxing with a summer music series, Carter Mountain Orchard will keep you well-fed. The Country Store and Bakery offers a wide selection of homemade jams, preserves, local art, and, of course, the orchard’s famous Apple Cider Doughnuts and peach pies. Or you can head to the Mountain Grill for fresh farm-to-table lunch, dinner, or snacks, complete with a kid’s menu and ice cream window. Finally, just for you parents, let the kids play while you sample craft hard ciders from the Bold Rock Tap Room, featuring refreshing ciders that are locally produced using Carter Mountain apples.
And Now for the Main Event: Peach Picking!
If summer had a taste, for many of us it would be the sweet, juicy flavor of a fresh peach. No matter how you serve them – straight from the tree, churned into homemade ice cream, or baked into a cobbler or pie – peaches are a symbol of summer. And for generations now, Carter Mountain Orchard has been a go-to spot for the freshest, sweetest, and most plentiful varieties of peaches in the state.
How To Find the Best Peaches
From now until mid-September, you’ll find a wide variety of pick-your-own and ready-picked peaches at Carter Mountain Orchard. If you’re planning to pick your own, be sure to see what’s available before you go and remember these tips for finding the best peaches on the tree:
- When selecting peaches, smell the fruit.The peach is a member of the rose family and should have a pleasingly sweet fragrance.
- Look for a creamy gold to yellow under color. The red or “blush” of a peach is an indication of variety, not ripeness.
- Peaches should be soft to the touch but not mushy.Don’t squeeze peaches; they bruise easily.
For even more tips, watch Henry Chiles, a fifth generation farmer from the family that started the orchard’s legacy more than 100 years ago, explain in his own words how to find the perfect peach. Or click here to learn more.
Enjoy Family Fun Even After You Get Home
Your entire family will enjoy the day at Carter Mountain Orchard picking your own peaches or choosing the best pre-picked peaches, but don’t forget that you can keep the family fun going after you get home. Cooking or preparing peaches at home can be a great way to spend some time together and enjoy the “fruits” of your labor. Be sure to pick up items like Carter Mountain Orchard’s Crisp Mix while you’re at the orchard to make a mouthwatering peach cobbler when you get home or click here to find some great tips for storing, canning, or freezing peaches, as well as a list of other ways to prepare and enjoy your peach harvest.
A Must-Do Summer Activity for Richmond and Beyond
No matter how you choose to enjoy Carter Mountain Orchard, one thing is certain, not only will you always find the sweetest, juiciest peaches, you’ll find fun for the whole family, making Carter Mountain Orchard the perfect choice for your summer bucket list.
Learn more about Carter Mountain Orchard, plan your visit, and read about the Chiles’ family legacy at https://chilesfamilyorchards.com/orchards/carter-mountain-orchard/.
About Carter Mountain Orchard and the Chiles Family
For more than one hundred years, the Chiles Family has been carefully tending its orchards. Beginning with a card table, cigar box, and roadside stand, the first generation of the Chiles Family sold the fruit of their labors to neighbors and folks passing through. Since that time, the orchards have grown to become a community favorite and a destination for visitors far and wide.
Today, at one time or another, the third, fourth, and fifth generations of the Chiles Family can be found planting, pruning, picking, or otherwise providing fresh produce to Central Virginia and beyond. When you visit, be sure to say hello!