Where to Go Apple Picking in Michigan This Fall
'Tis the season.
Fall is coming, bringing with it all the things we love (or hate) about autumn: pumpkin spice, sweater weather, decorative gourd season. It also means apples in all their glory, whether in their pure state, in beverage form, or in the shape of a donut. Apples are a big deal in Michigan, which ranks third in the US for apple production. This year’s spring chill put a damper on this year’s harvest (the Great Lakes State is expected to produce 18.25 million bushels of apples, down from 22 million in 2020), but no worries, there’s still plenty to go around. Many of Michiganders’ beloved spots for apple picking and other fall traditions are back this year, with orchards and farms implementing COVID-19 safety protocols to ensure a safe and healthy experience. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure in a corn maze or just want to fill up on cider and donuts, here’s where to find the cream of the crop when it comes to apples in Michigan.
Since 1863, the same family has been the stewards of these South Haven orchards, which boast an impressive array of cherries, pears, plums, and apricots available for U-pick. Come fall, it’s all about apples, pumpkins (beginning October 1), hayrides, and cider. They also offer online ordering and curbside pickup. Every third Saturday in October, the kiddos can partake in the annual In Search of the Great Pumpkin event and enjoy hot apple cider, pumpkin picking, and a scavenger hunt. Adults can show off their cornhole prowess through regular tournaments. Plus, you can explore six generations of farming during a personal barn tour, take in the farm experience on a wagon ride, and more.
Hours:10 am - 5 pm daily, from July 1 - October 31
This popular Metro Detroit staple has been serving up ciders, all manner of apple-based goodies, and access to its U-pick orchards for 75 years. The family-operated farm features more than 40 varieties of apples and lots of kiddo-friendly activities ahead of Halloween; cost for U-pick is a minimum of $20 per car, so make sure to stock up. Some locations may have different offerings so be sure to check availability online. Blake Farms has become an entertainment destination, with events like the Cider Dayze festival featuring craft cider and beer as well as the Lovey’s Lavender Farmhouse, located behind Blake’s Cider Mill & Orchard Café. During the pandemic it has survived and thrived by adding products such as top-notch hard cider and subscription boxes.
Hours: U-pick 8 am - 5 pm daily, from mid-July to early November
This Up North blueberry haven also doubles as a destination for peaches in the summer, and apples during the autumn months. The hundred-plus-year-old farm is also known for producing a variety of jams, pastries, and ice cream -- and come fall, the fifth-generation farm turns to cider-making as well. Check the U-pick schedule on the farm’s Facebook page, and be sure to call ahead to avoid showing up when picking is closed.
Hours: Call 231-223-4846 for exact hours
From June to October, these orchards offer the best of Michigan’s summer fruit bounty, from cherries and peaches in the summer to apples and pumpkins in the fall. In addition to 15+ varieties of apples, these orchards also feature pumpkins, hayrides, a corn maze, a "cow train" for the kids, and full-service dining at Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant. U-pick apples commence Labor Day weekend; pumpkin picking usually starts in October.
Hours: 10 am - 6 pm daily when apples are in season
Billed as the oldest continually operating mill in the Mitten State, Dexter uses a combination of several varieties of apples in its cider, making for an optimal, unique flavor. For the adult version, hard cider is available in three versions: traditional, bourbon barrel aged, and IPC. There's also an on-site bakery that turns out donuts, apple nut bread, apple pie, strudel, turnovers, and other freshly-baked treats, if you're after something a bit more indulgent than cider.
Hours: 8 am - 5 pm Wednesday - Saturday, August - November
Donuts are made fresh at Diehl's every weekend, though you'll want to call ahead during the week to reserve a fresh batch for yourself; there's also plenty of space for the family to stretch their legs and, of course, lots of apples (there is no U-pick but you can snag pecks of many different varies starting mid-August through October). Groups can also sign up for the mill’s Dinner and a Hayride special, featuring a menu of apple-centric comfort foods. Diehl’s is also hosting the annual Ciderfest September 25 - 26, featuring award-winning barbecue, pony rides, a pumpkin patch, and other traditional fall fun activities. Keeping safety in mind, Diehl’s added an outdoor walk-up window.
Hours: 9 am - 6 pm daily, August 15 - October 31
This classic destination is a favorite of Metro Detroit families, offering beyond the requisite apples and cider and doughnuts. Regular hot dogs and cider-marinated dogs (don’t knock it until you try it) are back. Franklin Cider Mill is also bringing back the popular Franklin Tent featuring homemade jams, maple syrup, honey, salsas, and many other Michigan-made treats. Buy seasonal apples by the peck or bushel (follow them on Instagram and Facebook to get the intel on what’s available). Groove to the soothing sounds of mellow jazz behind the mill at the Franklin Cider Mill Community Spot where musicians perform on the weekends.
Hours: 8 am - 6 pm weekdays, Monday through Sunday, from the Saturday before Labor Day to the Sunday after Thanksgiving
These family-run orchards have been a mainstay since 1938, with nearly 20 varieties of apples to choose from (yes, including Honeycrisp). Or if you’d rather leave it to the pros, make sure to ask about the signature “Rennie Mix,” a proprietary selection of the orchard’s 19 varieties that when mixed and baked together result in the perfect apple pie. If you’re putting in the work yourself, you'll get strapped with a bucket and special harness, and then set loose to pick as much fruit as you care to, and if you're not the pickin' sort, you'll also find the obligatory scenic wagon hay rides and hay bale maze that you'd expect from any self-respecting orchard. Large groups are encouraged to call ahead to schedule a visit.
Hours: 9 am - 8 pm daily, July through October
Established in 1911, this sweet family-run operation in Grand Rapids brings together fresh fruit and wine, so after an intense morning of picking, guests can unwind with some vino. Robinette’s grows a variety of fruit, including apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, and blackberries, as well as 35 varieties of apples. You can also indulge in homemade baked goods (prepared on-site each day), grab some lunch at the Apple Haus, sample a wide array of wine and cider, and then hop on a hayride pulled by the orchard’s fleet of Belgian horses. Hiking and bike riding are also available on the site’s scenic trails, as well.
Hours: 8 am - 5:30 pm Tuesday through Saturday
Apples aren’t the only attraction at this family-run farm in northern Michigan; depending on when you visit throughout the year, cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums are also available for the picking. As a bonus, if you don’t feel like harvesting the apples yourself, you can have the crew here pick ‘em for you. This local destination has a few other perks to appeal to guests, including an onsite bakery with seasonal lunch options like farm charcuterie and homemade pasties, wine tasting in the garden, traditional and hard ciders, and a gift shop to stock up on treats like maple syrup, Michigan cheeses, and more for the folks who stayed home.
Hours: Call 231-599-3222 for exact hours
Whether it’s finding your way out of a corn maze, picking apples, cherries or plums, or tasting wine, this seasonal destination has plenty of activities to keep you and your friends occupied. If you’re looking to work off all those apples and doughnuts, sign up for the Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run on September 18. Also that weekend is the annual Harvest Festival with an arts and crafts fair, homestyle BBQ, train rides, and more.
Hours: 9 am - 7 pm daily (Farm Market Hours)
This circa-1860s mill is one of the oldest continuously operating that has seen generations of guests who started visiting with they were kids and now they’re bringing their little ones in tow to enjoy fresh-pressed cider and donuts, as well as its apple tent, ice cream, fudge shop, apple tent, pony rides, farm animals, and a ¾-mile trail along the Clinton River. The mill has also instituted several safety protocols in response to COVID-19, with daily health screening for staff, plenty of hand sanitizer, required mask wearing indoors, and more.
Hours: 11 am - 9 pm Monday-Sunday
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