School is back in session, I am sleeping the windows open at night….my favorite time of year is arriving. Time to bust out the skinny jeans, pumpkin spice lattes, and head to some wonderful local farms to go apple picking…and I know I’m not the only one with apples on my mind. I’ve narrowed down the absolute BEST apple picking spots for Chicagoans and given some tips on what kind of activities (and prices!) you can expect to make the most out of your yearly trek to the apple orchard.
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APPLE PICKING TIPS
- It is always a good idea to go EARLY in the season if you want to have the best selection of apples. Most of the orchards have an opening apple weekend Labor Day. However, if you are one of those “Honeycrisp snobs,” wait til late September.
- Check and see how the weather is before you leave the city limits. Because after all, Chicago weather can be a bit crazy and you don’t want to make the long trek just to find that the apple orchard is closed due to inclement weather.
- Dress in layers. Although the air may be cool, the sun can be hot, especially when sitting on a hay ride or picking in the orchards. Pack some sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses too.
- Have a baby? Ditch the stroller and baby wear instead. There aren’t many smooth paved trails at any orchards so your best bet is to strap baby on to you for fun and snuggles.
- Wear sensible shoes! Yes, I know everyone wants to post cute pictures to Instagram and Facebook…but wearing heeled shoes in the orchards is NOT a good idea. You will get stuck in the mud and your shoes will be ruined. No fun for anyone.
- Go early. And by early, I mean in the morning. Lots of these orchards tend to get very busy on weekend afternoons. And when the Bears AREN’T playing on a Sunday? Expect H U G E crowds.
- If you are a Macintosh lover like me, go picking SOON! The first two or three weeks in September is best for them.
- BRING CASH! Many of the more low key farms are cash only, so plan accordingly! I mean, are you going to find an ATM next to an apple tree? Probably not.
BEST APPLE ORCHARDS FOR CHICAGOANS
14510 IL Route 176
In addition to apple picking, there are barn yard activities including a corn maze, jumping pillow, petting zoo and more! My favorite element: a clean and air conditioned spot for eating a delicious lunch.
7061 Centerville Road, Poplar Grove, IL
You can get a full experience of apple picking and other Fall festivities for the lowest price at Edwards. Enjoy free admission to the orchard, as well as a variety of activities for kids old and young.
19412 Shabbona Road, Malta, IL
Apples, donuts….and WINE. Yes, you read that correctly. They have wine tastings! Another favorite part of Jonamac? The family pack for $32 that includes all activities and oh so much family Fall fun.
15908 Hebran Road, Howard, IL
Take advantage of their u pick orchards, as well as their country restaurant, bakery and market, carousel, and petting zoo. Not open on Sundays in November.
200 South County Line Road, Hobart, IN
In addition to apple picking, enjoy treats and the kid’s farm, which includes attractions such as a pumpkin eating dinosaur, train and much more! Oh, and it is officially against the law to go to County Line without enjoying one of their apple cider donuts.
500 South Sylvania Avenue, Racine, WI
Enjoy apple picking, home made treats, as well as a petting zoo and fun activities for the whole family. There is also a restaurant to enjoy some down home cooking. Go early and expect a crowd!
Finally, looking for the perfect way to end your day of apple picking fun? Then be sure to add this adorable and creative book to your family library. It is such a cute and creative way to explain to your little one what fun (and delicious) things can result from a day of apple picking. You can also whip up a caramel apple bar or these delicious apple breakfast nachos with the fruits of your labor!
Looking for some more Fall fun? Don’t miss out on these great activities!