Fall in Chicago can be lovely, but getting out of the city can be a real treat. Especially since a short car ride can land you at one of the many surrounding apple orchards for a day of apple picking, fall games and delicious apple cider and donuts. Be forewarned: taking home too many apples may result in apple pie and jars of homemade apple sauce. Here are some of our favorite places to go pick apples near Chicago in the fall. Apple picking season varies year to year, so make sure to check their websites to see supply.
Come fall, families flock to this orchard just over the Wisconsin border. Dwarf trees—meaning your little ones can definitely reach to pick on their own—hold over 30 varietals, including the coveted Honeycrisp. There’s no shortage of family activities either, from a pony ride and small go-karts to a giant rocking chair and multiple play areas. Don’t leave without an apple cider slushy and a half dozen (or more, let’s be real) apple cider donuts.
County Line Orchard
One of the closest orchards to the city, this Indiana marvel is also one of the least expensive. While most make you shell out close to $100 for a day of fun, here it’s $1 for admission to the orchard and you pay for what you pick (games and activities are extra). The corn maze is a favorite, with a changing theme each year, and little kids will love the Moo-Choo train. A jug of apple cider and donuts are a must.
Head down to Woodstock for some good old fashioned fun where kids can pick apples, choose their Halloween pumpkin, and indulge in scratch-made caramel, local honey and of course, cider and donuts. Plentiful activities—a mini zip line, a giant pillow to jump on and duck races to gawk at—are sure to tire them out for the ride home.
With over 20,000 apple trees, this family-run orchard has expanded quite a bit since its start in 1984. Beyond apple picking, they also use apples to make their own cider, which parents can sample in the cider house. Don’t miss their country store, which in addition to cider and donuts, sells homemade apple butter, apple pies and caramel apples. Of course, that’s assuming you can grab your kids away from launching an apple cannon or getting lost in the corn maze.
If a true no-frills apple picking experience is what you’re looking for, head to Heinz. North of the city, this orchard grows a handful of different varieties to pick and allows strollers or wagons to cart the kids (and the apples). It doesn’t have games, which will equal less distractions from the fruity mission at hand. As for treats, they’ll supply you with the goods to create your own apple pie or caramel apples when you get back home—it’ll be more fun (albeit messy) that way.