The Best Apple-Picking Trips You Can Take From Chicago

An apple a day keeps the winter at bay…

This time last year, many of us weren’t too thrilled that summer was coming to a close, leaving the sweater box hidden beneath the bed well into the winter months as an act of collective resistance. And who could blame us? This year, however, keeping up with the calendar hasn’t been much easier, but nature’s clock keeps on tickin’, and harvest time is upon us once again. Year-round outdoor activities remain a global godsend, so dust off your boots, kiss your Crocs goodbye, and enjoy one of autumn’s staple events: good old-fashioned apple-picking.

While you’re at it, no orchard sojourn is complete without indulging in some apple cider donuts, apple cider, apple fritters, apple compote, apple pie, apple butter, apple wine, apple brandy… you get the picture. Thankfully, these standout area farms have you covered on all things apple, in addition to non-apple offerings like petting zoos, tricky corn mazes, and more. Press pause on your work-from-home routine for a day and head out to one of these top pick-your-own palaces, all located a short drive from Sweet Home Chicago.

Door Creek Orchard
Door Creek Orchard

Door Creek

Cottage Grove, Wisconsin
How far is it: 2.5 hour-drive
Making the trek out to the Dairy state will be worth it as soon as you catch sight of this quaint orchard’s vast selection of modern and heirloom varieties. That’s 90 different types of apples to be exact, and you’d be hard-pressed to find that much diversity elsewhere. Although small, this delightful farm is extremely meticulous about integrating sustainability practices, including beehives for pollination and rare Chocolate Welsh Mountain Sheep for keeping the soil rich and fertile. After you get your picking fix, take a moment to soak up the scenery by meandering through the rolling fields, serene prairie, and lush woodlands. Also, check out their fellow orchardist Eliza Greenmans’s ugly apple blog if you want to educate yourself on the wonders of blemished fruit.
Cost: Admission is free; U-pick starts at ~$12 per 1/2 peck bag

Edwards Apple Orchard

Poplar Grove, Illinois
How far is it: 90-minute drive
Along with 50,000 apple trees, this family-run and environmentally conscious operation also grows raspberries and pumpkins (u-pick available), and has been perfecting their stellar apple cider donut recipe over the last 30 years. After you've picked your bounty of autumn beauties and ginger golds, head over to the Cider Cellar for pulled pork sandwiches and sweet treats like homemade fudge and warm apple pie. They also hawk a variety of specialty food items like spicy jams and sweet salsas.
Cost: Admission is free; U-pick prices vary

Goebbert's Farm - Pingree Grove
Goebbert's Farm - Pingree Grove

Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard

Pine Grove, Illinois
How far is it: 70-minute drive
This lively all-season farm thinks of everything when it comes to providing an eclectic and exciting harvest experience, with pig races, pumpkins slides, magic shows, and a carousel. Oh—and singing chickens (?). All the perks, including apple picking, of course, are included in their Fall Festival price. In addition to the curious list of attractions, the Farm Stand provides a cornucopia of autumn’s best, including crunchy green beans, squash, and sun-ripened berries.
Cost: Admission runs $17 - $20 per person; U-pick prices vary

Honey Hill Orchard

Waterman, Illinois
How far is it: 90-minute drive
This pastoral Dekalb County destination is chock full of seasonal attractions, tasty treats like pies and cider donuts, and, of course, plenty of farm-fresh apples. Depending on the time of year, visitors can (literally) pick from 25 different varieties including coveted heirlooms like Winesap and Cortland. The charming country store, wagon rides, and picturesque 1880’s converted apple barn only add to the allure. Check out the harvest schedule to keep tabs on what deliciousness awaits.
Cost: Admission is free; U-pick runs $9 per 1/4 peck bag

Apple Holler
Apple Holler

Apple Holler

Sturtevant, Wisconsin
How far is it: 75-minute drive
This sprawling fruit-filled oasis sits just over the Wisconsin border near Racine and is well worth the drive up to Cheesehead territory. Lush apple and peach trees dot the verdant landscape, offering pickers an incentive to load up from early July through late October (peep the full bounty, including 30+ apple varieties, here). If you venture up, make sure to clear your calendar for the day—it’s all but impossible to resist a restorative, post-pick nature walk through the 78-acre orchard and hardwood forest.
Cost: Admission runs $20 per person (includes 1/4 peck bag)

Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard
Photo courtesy of Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard

Royal Oak Farm

Harvard, Illinois
How far is it: 95-minute drive
Lose yourself in the country’s only apple tree maze, a breezy one and a half mile stretch of trails bursting with nine varieties of u-pick apples, a climbing tower, games, and other open-air curiosities. Afterward, hit the Country Kitchen’s sunny porch for some good old-fashioned home cooking (AKA chicken pot pies, homemade egg salad sandwiches, Chicago dogs) and make sure to save room for the ideal sugary finish: a square of fresh, velvety fudge and an ooey-gooey hand-dipped caramel apple.
Cost: Admission runs $10 per person (includes 1/4 peck bag)

Jonamac Orchard

Malta, Illinois
How far is it: 75-minute drive
Head due west out of Chicago and a little over an hour later you’ll pull up on this 105-acre family-owned beauty, home to over 20,000 blossoming apple trees and 30+ apple varieties plus a corn maze and bustling cider house (yes, that means there’s hard stuff, too). Grab a sixer of bright, effervescent JonaSMACK dry hopped cider to fuel your apple-hunting expedition and set out to discover mother nature’s riches. Looking for something in particular? Sign up for text alerts on Jonamac’s markedly impressive website and they’ll ping you whenever your prized fruit is ripe for the picking.
Cost: Weekday admission is free ($6 per person on weekends and holidays); U-pick runs $15 per 1/2 peck bag

Kuipers Family Farm

Maple Park, Illinois
How far is it: 65-minute drive
Pumpkins, sunflowers, Christmas trees, and, most importantly, apples, abound at Wade and Kim Kuipers’s year-round family-friendly fun fest, stationed just a stone’s throw from Chicago’s western suburbs. Over a dozen varieties of the beloved autumnal cruncher takes center stage from mid-August until late-October and availability is updated weekly via a handy hotline (815-827-5200 Ext. 1). An onsite eatery provides sustenance in the form of hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, and the like while the orchard’s bakery beckons with a steady stream of cider donuts, fruit pies, caramel apples, homemade fudge, and more. Come hungry.
Cost: Admission runs $12.99 per person (includes 1/4 peck bag)

All Seasons Apple Orchard
All Seasons Apple Orchard

All Seasons Orchard

Woodstock, Illinois
How far is it: 70-minute drive
Upwards of 15,000 fruit trees, heavy with different types of shiny apples and luscious pears from late August to mid-October, welcome fall day-trippers to this upbeat Woodstock escape. All that picking got your stomach grumbling? The Country Kitchen has your chicken tenders and cheeseburger needs covered and for a quick fix, a concession stand hawks kettle corn, donuts, and sweet apple cider slushies. Cornhole boards, giant mazes, a petting zoo, and a 10-acre pumpkin patch are on hand to keep things interesting.
Cost: Admission starts at $11 per person (includes 1/4 peck bag)

Stade's Farm & Market

McHenry, Illinois
How far is it: 80-minute drive
There’s much more to this northwestern Illinois favorite than apples. Depending on the season, enterprising pickers can diversify their loads by piling on a whole slew of other freshly harvested produce from raspberries and strawberries to pumpkins, tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. Throw in an entire “Farmtractions” theme park—carousel, kiddie train, water wheel, tractor lift, swing ride, corn maze, and so much more—and you’ve got yourself one heck of a Saturday afternoon. Pro tip: Follow Stade’s on Facebook for the latest on what’s popping.
Cost: Admission starts at $10 per person (includes 1/4 peck bag)

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Meredith Heil is a Senior Cities Editor at Thrillist.
Elanor Bock is a contributor for Thrillist.