As crazy as this may sound, we actually have an apple tree in the middle of our backyard in Chicago -- an 80+ year-old apple tree that grows honest-to-goodness apples every other year. It is so cool. We are picking our backyard produce as fast as we can. We've made apple pies to eat and applesauce to save and enjoy throughout the winter. We love our apples.
I can't invite you all over to my backyard, but if you've never visited a pick-your-own apple orchard, I highly recommend the experience -- from start to finish. This trip makes a great fall family outing. The kids will love participating in the picking. And the whole family will love munching the fruits of your labor.
We are lucky to live in an area that has a few different good pick-your-own apple options. Here are some good bets for your family outing:
- Apple Holler (Sturtevant, WI). This orchard boasts over 30 different varieties of apples -- plus the usual trapping like pony rides, a corn maze, and the not-so-usual pig races. They also have Asian pears (which are so good).
- All Seasons Apple Orchard (Woodstock, IL). All Seasons Apple Orchard of course offers u-pick apples - but also a petting zoo. horse-drawn wagon rides, and pony rides. End your visit by stuffing yourself with cider and doughnuts (You have to. It's part of the experience).
- Royal Oak Farm Orchard (Harvard, IL). You can pick your own apples and pumpkins here. Kids can enjoy a play area, petting zoo, and train rides. The picking options are pretty good -- they have over 12,000 trees and 26 different varieties of apples.
- Garden Patch Farms and Orchard
(Homer Glen, IL). This is another family-friendly spot. U-pick options includes apples and pears. They have a helpful online chart that shows you each type of fruit and veggie is ripe for the picking.
- Kuipers Family Farm (Maple Park, IL). Visitors take a hayride out to the orchard where over 20 varieties of apples await them. Then you can head right over across the road to their pumpkin farm and corn maze!
Happy picking (and then of course, baking and eating)!