2010 fresh apple production: 190 million pounds/$49 million
The rustic charm of Amish Country, the foliage in Bucks County, the German beers and brats of Western Pennsylvania and the copper and purple mountains of the Poconos are all fine this time of year, but Pennsylvania's apples give the state a flavor all its own.
Many of Pennsylvania's more than 100 apple varieties are imports. That's not so bad when you can go pick some Pink Lady, Gala, Crispin and Honeycrisp without straying too far from home, but it's even better when they're supplemented by a hometown favorite -- the Nittany. A hybrid of Golden Delicious and York apples created by horticultural staff at Pennsylvania State University and introduced in 1979, the Nittany is usually ready for picking around mid-March. Named for the school's Nittany Lion mascot, the Nittany is sweet with a nice, crisp bite and is a great eating-around-the-orchard or pie apple.
It's not exactly hard to find the Nittany or a Pennsylvania orchard, either. The state has almost 120 orchards scattered about, with the biggest clusters found in the southeast corner of the state below Interstate 80 and east of Penn State's home in State College.
If that's a little too broad and vague, just head to the area of Adams county south of Harrisburg and north of Gettysburg with Interstate 81 to the east and Route 15 to the west. There are no fewer that 50 orchards along that stretch to keep you busy between visits to the Gettysburg Battlefield and exploring a stretch of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.Michigan
2010 fresh apple production: 210 million pounds/$65.1 million
The scary part about Michigan apple production is that those 210 million pounds were actually low thanks to a nasty frost. Michigan produced 400 million pounds of apples and brought in $87 million from that haul just a year earlier. Its 900 apple farms on 37,000 acres have only increased their planting in recent years to more than double the state's 165 million-pound 2009 output. For apple lovers who find themselves daunted by those numbers and unsure where to start, don't worry. The state's growers have your back. Do you only want to visit a handful of orchards before seeing a movie and having a steak at a place with a view of Lake Michigan in Traverse City? There's an apple tour for that. Heard about the breweries near Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and want to pick some apples before grabbing a pint? There's an apple tour for that too. Have a kid going to the University of Michigan and just want to get out of Ann Arbor for a few hours before he or she calls you "dude" or "bro" again? You're getting the picture.