6 of the Best Midwest Apple Orchards to Explore This Fall
Delectable apples aren't the only draw at Midwest apple orchards. Super-scenic venues, on-tap cider, corn mazes, hayrides and barnyard animals are all part of the experience at these family-friendly favorites.
Cook's Orchard, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Immerse yourself in the bucolic green fields of Cook's Orchard and you'll almost forget you're still in the city. Aside from its pastoral beauty, locals know this orchard as the apple supplier for GK Baked Goods, a Fort Wayne-based bakery whose artisan apple hand pies are a beloved delicacy. If you plan to make your own apple pie this year, the orchard has 18 U-pick varieties to choose from. The shop also stocks local honey, apple butter, jams, jellies, fresh peaches, apples, pumpkins and other gourds. Fresh-squeezed cider is made on-site in a large press and available on tap or by the liter.
Related: Urban-Pop Art, a New Boutique Hotel and More—Here's What to See and Do in Fort Wayne Right Now
Ferguson's Orchard, Galesville, Wisconsin
The first commercial Honeycrisp planting in the world occurred at Ferguson's Orchard, the largest apple grower between the Rocky Mountains and Lake Michigan. And oh, to be a kid here, where fall brings festival fare with an exciting twist. "Instead of a bounce house, we have a giant, 65-foot inflatable pumpkin jumping pad," co-owner Andy Ferguson says. "Instead of a sandbox, we have thousands of bushels of corn kernels to play in—a sensory experience like no other." Refuel with the orchard's famous apple cider doughnuts before you hit the road—few visitors leave without them.
Apple Jack Orchards, Delano, Minnesota
Apple Jack Orchards is a fitting stop for those seeking hard-to-find apples in L'Étoile du Nord—and a delectable spread of seasonal comfort foods. U-pick varieties like Honeycrisp, SweeTango and Chestnut Crab are available, and the market's apple selection varies based on what's been picked that day. Grab a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, apple cinnamon doughnuts, hand-rolled pies and caramel apples at the cafe. Visiting with kids? Little ones will love the low ropes course made with their stature in mind, a farm animal petting zoo and jumping pillow.
County Line Orchard, Hobart, Indiana
From its U-pick apples, sunflowers and pumpkins to a one-acre soybean maze in the shape of an Albanese Gummi Bear, classic fall fun is never in short supply at County Line Orchard, an hour southeast of Chicago. "Every orchard has its charms and hidden gems," says Ryan Richardson, apple grower and owner. Hundreds of bees help pollinate the orchard's trees, and guests can pay $2 to visit the "bee yurts." Small children especially will enjoy the Moo Choo, barrel cars painted in milk-cow spots and pulled by a Farmall Cub tractor. And if you're in the market to rent a 30,000-square-foot timber-frame barn, you're in luck—they have one of those, too, and it's used for about 90 wedding receptions each year.
Center Grove Orchard, Cambridge, Iowa
Stock up on varieties like Jonagold, Snow Sweet, Cortland, Autumn Crisp, EverCrisp and Honeycrisp at Center Grove Orchard—and save room for their delectable apple-centric treats. "When guests visit, they are drawn to our signature apple cider doughnuts and apple cider slushies," says Jacquelyn Staudt, who oversees the operations of the country store. U-pick pumpkins and seasonal produce are also on offer at the orchard. Kids love feeding the baby goats, playing in the 3,000-bushel "Corn Pool" filled with kernels and racing down the three-lane Super Slide.
Stone's Apple Barn, East Moline, Illinois
With more than 15,000 trees and two beautiful lakes to explore, it's easy to get lost in the natural beauty of Stone's Apple Barn. Pick your own apples and pears in fall, plus enjoy free hayrides to and from the orchard. Fill your bag with distinctive apple varieties like Empire, Jonagold, Fireside, Ida Red and Winesap. The on-site petting farm—which includes turkeys, alpacas, rabbits and pygmy goats—is a favorite with kids. Three-pound bags of apples are available for purchase to feed your new barnyard friends.
Related: Quad Cities Trip Guide