by Linda (minnemom of Travels with Children)
Each year, I tell myself I’m not going to buy a lot of apples; in fact, maybe I’ll just pick them up at the grocery store instead of going to an orchard. But then fall comes around, with its painted leaves and soybean harvest and overnight frosts, and the bug hits me to take the kids to an orchard.
There are several orchards within a ninety-minute drive of our home, and each year we end up going to two or three. On a sunny fall Saturday, I love to take the kids to the orchards that have tractor-pulled wagon rides between the rows of trees, straw piles or corn boats to play in, and apple-y treats for sale. On the other hand, if I’m just looking to buy apples at a decent price, I go to the orchards that are sales outlets without the extra activities. And if I’m looking for a bargain on apples, especially for baking or for applesauce, I go to the ones that sell “seconds” at a discount.
These are some of the orchards we’ve visited in Southern Minnesota in the past several years:
- Holmberg Orchard, Vesta, MN: includes a wagon ride, gift shop, pumpkins and squash for sale as well as apples, corn boats and build-your-own scarecrows, snack bar, and special activities on certain weekends.
- Deardorff Orchards, Waconia, MN: has wagon rides to the pick-your-own area, beautiful views, straw pile to play in, farm animals, pumpkins, treats, and apples for sale in gift shop.
- Minnesota Harvest Orchard, Jordan, MN: wagon rides to pick-your-own, farm animals, corn maze, snack area, many varieties of apples for sale, gift shop.
- Jim’s Apple Barn, Jordan, MN: baked goods and apples for sale, including varieties not usually seen elsewhere, gift shop.
- Carlson Orchard, Silver Lake, MN: wagon rides to pick-your-own, straw pile, large restaurant, children’s play area.
- Dassel Hillside Farm, Dassel, MN: apple sales and gift shop, offers tours for school groups.
- Cedar Hill Orchard, Hutchinson, MN: apple sales.
- Apple Shack, Hutchinson, MN: apple sales.
- A-peeling Acres, New Ulm, MN: apple sales.
- Fireside Orchard, Northfield, MN: apple sales, including some early varieties, gift shop, flower gardens to enjoy.
- U of M Apple Barn, Chanhassen, MN: Home of the Honeycrisp! Apple sales, gift shop.
- Emma Krumbees, Belle Plaine, MN: large gift shop, weekend activities, cafe, apple sales.
Do you have a favorite orchard?