Matt and I had been wanting to take a trip this fall, but we were having trouble figuring out where to go. Initially, we were thinking of heading up to Hudson, NY but we weren’t finding Airbnbs that were both affordable and (I say this knowing how basic I sound) asthetically pleasing. We were about to give up when Matt suddenly mentioned we check out Saratoga Springs. I – having been a huge horse-freak for most of my life – was totally down. We booked a really cute little hotel right across from the racetrack (more on that later) and counted down the days until our fall adventure.
Because we couldn’t check into the hotel until 4PM but were both taking off work for the day, Matt and I wanted to find somewhere fun to stop on the drive up. One of Matt’s coworkers mentioned to him that an Angry Orchard orchard was located in Walden, NY and could be a cool place to go. We did some research and, after seeing some super fall-festive Instagram posts of hard cider + apple cider doughnuts, we were sold.
In truth, I had been under the impression that this location was THE Angry Orchard – aka, where all of the hard cider is produced, bottled, shipped, etc. However, upon arrival we learned that this was actually the Innovation Cider House, which is basically a research and development location to experiment with new flavors. None of the cider made at this location is bottled to sell in mass to the public, as their orchards do not have the capacity for that kind of production.
The Innovation Cider House, instead, offers a self-guided tour that highlights the roots of cider in America and explores different types of apple varieties. Visitors can also get a sneak peek of the apple processing room and stainless steel fermenters.
Heading downstairs past the fermentors takes you to the tasting room (complete with floor to ceiling windows and rustic long, wooden tables) and gift shop. The flights of cider are complementary for each visitor, and you are given the option of sweet or dry.
Naturally, Matt and I wanted to try both flights, so he got a dry and I got a sweet. Unfortunately, the dries were not our favorite, but two of the sweets we really liked – Crisp Apple (aka the regular Angry Orchard flavor) and Knotty Pear (which is apparently pretty well known as well but we had never tried it before). The third sweet, the rosé, wasn’t great in our opinion either – but then again, cider rosé? A little weird anyway.
After completing our tasting, we headed to the outdoor area behind the tasting room. Like me preface this by saying it was INCREDIBLY WINDY so our time out there was pretty short-lived. (When we left Jersey it was sweater/light jacket weather, but upon arriving in Walden realized we probably could have benefitted from a few extra layers – and the wind didn’t help. Even though you can’t really tell from the photos, my hat flew off my head a few times and tried to escape… shout out to Matt for chasing after it on several occasions.)
One of the main attractions at the Walden location is the treehouse tasting room. They hold tours at 12PM, 4PM, and 6PM on weekdays so we made sure to get there in time for the first one at noon.
The treehouse was built by Pete Nelson from Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters and is supported by one white pine tree (who they repeatedly informed us was named “Wendy”). For $10 each, you are taken on a brief tour of the grounds on the way to the treehouse, then allowed up into the tasting room and given a few additional ciders to try.
Now remember how earlier I said it was super windy? Well, wind only gets worse the higher up you go, so you can only imagine how FREAKING COLD AND WINDY IT WAS up in that treehouse. My hat and sweater poncho were flying off and my hair was all over my face. For some reason, no one else seemed to be struggling as hard as Matt and I were, but it still made for some cool photos and a really unique tasting experience (disclaimer: I was actually too cold to really taste whatever cider we were given to try – it could have been water, I am unsure).
Overall, the experience at Angry Orchard was really cool (despite the wind). After our treehouse tour, we headed back to the tasting room and gift shop and purchased a growler (which for some reason I keep thinking is called a guzzler) of Knotty Pear to keep at home to enjoy all fall long.
From there, it was off to Saratoga Springs!