Three family friendly apple picking farms near Chicago

Take a tractor pulled wagon ride out among the apple trees. Stop in a café for apple cider and apple donuts. They may not make the drive home but it’s likely that an apple pie to-go, will.

It is apple picking time, but this year, instead of picking the apples from a grocer’s bin, exchange urban and suburban streets for country roads.

North into Wisconsin to Elegant Farmer

Turn apple season into a family event. Photo courtesy of Elegant Farmer

Turn apple season into a family event. Photo courtesy of Elegant Farmer

If looking for a way-off the beaten path north of Chicago, check out the Elegant Farmer in Mukwango, Wisc., south west of Milwaukee and north of Burlington, Wisc.

You can buy its apple pie baked in a paper bag from Sunset Foods grocery in Lake Forest. However, if you drive out to the farm during Autumn Harvest Festival, Sept. 10 to Oct. 29 you  can go out into the fields for those apples ready to pick,

Do the seven-mile track by electric train between the farm and East Troy,  make a caramel apple to your liking and purchase the famed apple pie at the farm’s huge deli.

Tip: visit apples to learn about the kinds grown on the farm and their characteristics. The site also talks about apple storage and which kinds stay fresh the longest. The farm is near US Highway 43. Visit directions for the best way to get there.

Elegant Farmer, 1545 N. Main Street at County Highways ES and J, Mukwango, WI 53149, 262-363-6770.

North in Illinois to Royal Oak Farm

If you care which apples are ripe then check the farm ahead of time. Photo courtesy of Royal Oak Farm

If you care which apples are ripe then check the farm ahead of time. Photo courtesy of Royal Oak Farm

Another favorite drive in the country to a special apple-picking destination is Royal Oak Farm north of Chicago in Harvard Ill. near the Wisconsin border.

Take a covered wagon tour pulled by an antique tractor or ride the Royal Oak Express or Carousel. Chow down in the Country Kitchen Restaurant, browse a country-style gift shop and stop at the animal enclosures to visit the peacocks, alpacas, lamps, calves and goats.

Tip see what apples are ripe when and which are best for eating, baking or salads so you can best plan your outing. Visit directions for your best way to get to the farm.

Royal Oak Farm, 15908 Hebron Rd., Harvard, IL 60033, 815-648-2084

South to County Line Orchard

South of Chicago, just into western Indiana is the family-friendly, you-pick  County Line Orchard. Go to pick apples but don’t leave without the bakery’s yummy apple-spiced and pumpkin-spiced donuts.

Work up an appetite walking the maze then reward yourself with fried chicken or a pork sandwich in the North Dairy Barn’s Orchard Country Kitchen.

While there, ride the Moo Choo of barrel cars pulled by a tractor and watch honey bees at work in the Bee Yurts.  See baby chicks hatch at Chickville and watch the Peter the Pumpkin eater Dino show.

Go to pick apples but stay for the donuts. Photo courtesy of County Line Orchard

Go to pick apples but stay for the donuts. Photo courtesy of County Line Orchard

Tip: Visit apple variety to see a cute map of where everything is on the property and when varieties are ready for picking. The site also mentions the varieties’ best usage.   Visit directions for best way to get here.

County Line Orchard, 200 S. County Line Road, Hobart, IN 46342 219-947-4477

 

 

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