Pick your pleasure
Take a break from city life with some good, old-fashioned apple and pumpkin picking.
Apple picking and strolling through the pumpkin patch: two fall traditions that are both sentimental and nostalgic. But nothing can ruin that feeling faster than a commercialized, crowded fall festival. We decided to avoid places with byzantine corn mazes and giant jack-o’-lantern statues to focus on quaint, quiet spots ripe for some picking.
Kuipers Family Farm
1N318 Watson Rd, Maple Park (815-827-5200, kuipersfamilyfarm.com). Open daily Sept 4– late Nov. Take a hayride to the orchard, where visitors fill bushel baskets with more than 20 varieties of apples, including McIntosh, Jonathan and Granny Smith. The return trip leaves you at the general store stocked with pies, caramel apples and cider doughnuts.
Cost Hayride, including a quarter-peck (three pounds) of apples, $7.50 per person
1050 Crest Rd, Green Oaks (847-770-3449, heinzorchard.com). Open weekends early Sept–late Nov. Heinz bills itself as a “no frills” pick-your-own orchard. It’s a small, family-run operation with a dozen varieties of apples, but no corn maze, concessions or hayrides. The orchard does sell organic honey harvested from its own beehives.
Cost Half-peck (six pounds), $8; full peck (12 pounds), $15
Royal Oak Farm
15908 Hebron Rd, Harvard (815-648-4141, royaloakfarmorchard.com). Open daily late Aug– late Nov. Closed Sundays. Royal Oak has more than 12,000 trees and 26 varieties of apples, plus late-summer raspberries. The orchard provides containers for pick-your-own types, and the store features doughnuts, caramel apples, pies, and a Royal Oak specialty: apple-cider slushees.
Cost Full peck (12 pounds), $14
All Seasons Apple Orchard
14510 Rte 176, Woodstock (815-338-5637, allseasonsorchard.com). Open daily Sept 4– late Nov. Visitors are greeted by chickens, billy goats and llamas at the free petting zoo. Take a hayride to the orchard for picking, then treat the kids to pony rides ($3), a horse-drawn wagon ride ($3) and cider and doughnuts in the market.
Cost Hayride, including a quarter peck (three pounds) of apples, $7 per person
Abbey Farms of Marmion Abbey
850 Butterfield Rd, Aurora (630-897-7215, abbeyfarms.org). Open daily Sept 19–Oct 30. The monks of Marmion Abbey operate this patch, using the proceeds to fund their charitable endeavors. The emphasis is on affordable fun: Think hayrides, a corn maze, inflatable rides and face painting.
Cost A $15 wristband gets kids unlimited access to all attractions, plus a pumpkin.
Stade’s Farm and Market
3709 Miller Rd, McHenry (815-675-6396, stadedairyfarm.com). Open Sept 11–Oct 31. The annual Shades of Autumn festival features free hayrides to a pick-your-own patch, musical entertainment and some free children’s attractions, including a hay-bale mountain and a row of vintage tractors. The market sells a large variety of farm-grown fruits and vegetables, doughnuts, cider, brats and pumpkin pie slices.
Cost $3–$10 per pumpkin
Forest View Farms
5300 167th St, Tinley Park (708-560-0306, fvfarms.com). Open Fridays and Saturdays, Oct 8– 30. This equestrian center is converted into a haunting hot spot for an annual fall festival. Visitors get a hayride to a pumpkin patch and entry to a petting zoo for $5. Groups can arrange a private “haunted” hayride for $9 a person. There also are pony rides and inflatables.
Cost $3–$10 per pumpkin