Get picking -- 7 suburban apple orchards to frequent this fall

  • With 15,000 trees, All Seasons Orchard in Woodstock draws families looking to pick their own apples.

    With 15,000 trees, All Seasons Orchard in Woodstock draws families looking to pick their own apples. Courtesy of All Seasons Orchard

 
By Isabella Murray
Daily Herald Correspondent

Not even the Chicago area's record rainfall in May and June can dampen apple-picking expectations for this fall. Eddie Hong, orchard manager at All Seasons Orchard in Woodstock, said the heavy rain posed a challenge for his family's orchard, but apple quality was salvaged by a mild winter, heavy bloom, and good pollination in the spring.

"We have a very large crop this year," Hong said. "Excluding the rain in the summer, we had favorable growing conditions."

Honeycrisp apples, a popular cultivar among orchard-goers, will be especially abundant this fall. Expected to be ready for picking in mid-September, the Honeycrisp yield should excite new and returning visitors, Hong said.

"In the history of the farm, this is probably our largest Honeycrisp crop," he said.

Here are seven places to pick apples in the area:

1. All Seasons Orchard

For all around fall fun, All Seasons Orchard offers apple picking, a barnyard, corn maze and pumpkin patch. Open daily in September and October. Other festivities include pig races on Saturdays, Sundays, and Columbus Day at 11 a.m., 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Features 15,000 trees and two orchards. A wagon ride will take customers to one or both depending on varieties available.

Info: 14510 Route 176, Woodstock, (815) 338-5637, allseasonsorchard.com.

2. Heinz Orchard

For a more intimate apple-picking experience, Heinz Orchard is a small, family owned orchard near Libertyville. Hosting five apple varieties, Heinz opens in mid-September. Orchard officials suggest customers check heinzorchard.com/home for hours and dates of operation. The orchard accepts only cash as payment.

Info: 1050 Crest Road, Green Oaks, (847) 770-3449.

3. Royal Oak Farm Orchard

Family fun and entertainment in a 120-acre setting through mid-November. Royal Oak Farm Orchard boasts the country's first apple tree maze, Amaze 'N Apples, featuring 1 miles of trails with nine varieties of apples. The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. From Nov. 1-12: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

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Info: 15908 Hebron Road, Harvard, (815) 648-4141, royaloakfarmorchard.com.

4. Apples On Oak

The orchard offers more than 700 trees comprising 90 to 100 varieties spanning approximately four acres. Offering varieties with names such as Edward VII, Katjia, Caville Blanch'hiver and Shamrock, a trip to Apples On Oak provides a contemporary apple-picking experience. Hours are: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Info: 16146 W. Oak Ave, Lockport, (815) 726-0386, www.applesonoak.com/applesonoak.html.

5. Jonamac Orchard

This 105-acre farm is home to more than 20,000 apple trees. Jonamac also has a cider house with apple wines and hard ciders for some adult fun. The orchard is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily until Nov. 5, when hours switch to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until the season ends Nov. 21.

Info: 19412 Shabbona Road, Malta, (815) 825-2158, jonamacorchard.com.

6. Kuipers Family Farm

This 230-acre farm offers more than 20 varieties of apples through Sunday, Oct. 28. Pick your own from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Columbus Day, Oct. 8. Not sure what kind of apple to pick? No problem. Visit the Orchard Bakery for samples and, while you're there, check out the selection of apple cider doughnuts and other baked goods, bagged apples, fresh cider, specialty foods and more. Pumpkin Patch opens Saturday, Sept. 15.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Info: Admission is $10.99 per person, which includes a quarter-peck of apples. Children under 2 admitted free but do not get free apples. 1N318 Watson Road, Maple Park, (815) 827-5200, kuipersfamilyfarm.com.

7. Prairie Sky Orchard

A little more than a dozen varieties of apples from 2,000 dwarf trees. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays during September and October. Get fresh doughnuts while they last in the store, as well as pies, jams and jellies, raw honey, mums and bagged apples. The Koffee Kiosk serves hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, doughnuts, apple cider, coffee, hot chocolate, pop and water. The Autumn Drive event, with booths featuring antiques, produce, arts and crafts, runs Friday through Sunday, Oct. 19-21.

Info: Free admission. 4914 N. Union Road, Union, (815) 923-4834, Prairieskyorchard.com.

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