Apple Orchards On a Dime

It’s fall. The weather might not feel like it, but the calendar says we’re already halfway through September! Time for some apple picking right? Get the family out in the fresh air, learn a little bit about nature, burn off some calories, eat them right back on with cider and doughnuts, then get your charge card bill and cry. If this sounds like your family’s typical fall, then grab your hot cider and read my tips and tricks for keeping your wallet as full as a bushel basket without skipping all the apple orchard fun.

Basic Tips:

Stay focused! Apple orchards are much like department stores. They want you to come in, get dazzled by the selection, buy everything you see on impulse, and leave without your money. You can easily drop over a hundred dollars at an apple orchard if you pick apples, have lunch, buy doughnuts and cider there, buy more doughnuts and cider to take home, ride the train, play in the play park, and visit the gift shop for novelties you didn’t know you needed (like turkey shaped pasta and Halloween themed lawn gnomes).

When we go to the apple orchard it is for one purpose only: to pick apples. Each kid gets their 1/4-peck bag and when it’s full, we’re done. Then on the way home we buy cider, doughnuts, caramel apples, and extra apples for making pies and apple sauce at Walmart or Costco.

I have a zero-tolerance policy for the gift shop. I will not allow either myself or my kids in there because I KNOW we have no self-control once we walk through those doors. I also hate the whining.

As far as letting the kids play, I make them stick to the free activities. There’re usually oodles of photo ops so we have a lot of fun just having a fall photo shoot session. Often times there’s a playground or tractor for them to climb on and explore or an option to feed some goats or chickens for a quarter’s worth of alfalfa.

Terminology:

Apple orchards sell apples based on the system of a peck. Most of the orchards around here offer a 1/4-peck bag so that’s the pricing I have provided so you can easily compare ‘apples to apples’.

A 1/4-peck bag looks like this:

Photo courtesy of Rittman Orchards

By the time my kids (4 and 7 years) are done filling a 1/4-peck bag they are pretty much bored with the whole process. One bag will make either one apple pie or one small batch of apple sauce so if you are really big on baking with the apples, I suggest you drop by Costco on the way home to fluff out your apple supply.

Orchards Near the Western Chicago Suburbs:

If you live in my neck of the woods, I have provided the breakdown for the orchards that are within reasonable driving distance for a one-day trip (so 10 minutes to one hour of drive time).

This is by no means an exhaustive list and you can easily find orchards near you with a simple Google search or use the international link below to find orchards located anywhere from the United States to the Netherlands:

https://www.orangepippin.com/orchards

Abbey Farms: I’m excited to announce that one of our favorite pumpkin farms will soon be offering apple picking as well. Check out the Abbey Farms link below for info on their ‘you pick orchard’ coming soon in 2023! https://abbeyfarms.org/orchard/

All Season’s Orchard: This one’s a bit of a hike as it is located in Woodstock, Il.

Pricing Break Down:

$11 per 1/4-peck bag for kids, $17 for adults, 2 and under are free, but won’t get a bag to pick apples with. Activities (barn yard play area) are separate. Visit their website to buy online only combo tickets to save a little bit of cash.

https://allseasonsorchard.com/ (basic info and driving directions)

https://allseasonsorchard.com/pricing-tickets/ (pricing)

https://allseasonsorchard.ticketspice.com/fall-festival-2022 (combo tickets)

Windy Acres:

Just debuted their orchard last year and is convenient and close by. It is very small, and family owned, and unfortunately has already sold out of their apples for the year but do keep them in mind for next year when their orchard opens at the end of August.

Pricing Break Down:

$12.99/ person per 1/4-peck bag.

Play area: Monday to Friday $16.00/person.

Play area: Saturday, Sunday, holidays $19/person (2 and under are free). *Save money by going during the week*

https://windyacresfarmstand.com/u-pick-apple-orchard/ (apple picking info)

https://windyacresfarmstand.com/fall-fest/ (play area and ‘Fall Fest’ activity info)

Kuipers Family Farm:

Another really nice family-owned farm fairly close by. They boast a huge pumpkin farm right across the street.

Price Breakdown:

$10.99 per 1/4-peck bag of apples **weekend online rate**

$12.99 per 1/4-peck bag on weekends when purchased at gate

$10.99 per 1/4-peck bag of apples weekday rate

**Can also save money by bundling with admission to the pumpkin farm across the street**

https://www.kuipersfamilyfarm.com/upic-tickets/ (purchase tickets online or purchase bundled tickets)

https://www.kuipersfamilyfarm.com/coupons/ (save money with these coupons- senior discount Tuesday, good neighbor Monday, food pantry donation Wednesday, teacher appreciation discount)

Edwards Orchard West:

Again, a bit of a hike out to Winnebago County but they do offer a unique opportunity to save money. Up to 5 people can split a group apple bag for $40.00. I would not recommend this size for a small child but is definitely suitable for a group of older children.

Price Breakdown:

$7.00 per 1/4 peck.

https://www.edwardsorchardwest.com/ (directions, hours, general info)

https://www.edwardsorchardwest.com/applespick-ur-own.html (apple picking pricing)

Woody’s Orchard:

A medium hike out to Plano.

Price Breakdown:

$11 per person per 1/4-peck bag.

Play area weekend/holiday pricing $14.00 per person.

Play area weekday pricing $11.00 per person. *can save money by going during the week or purchasing a season pass for the play area if you live in the area.

https://woodysorchard.com/ (visit for more info hours, directions, pricing)

Keller’s Farmstand:

Another medium hike as the Oswego location is the only one that offers apple picking.

Price Breakdown:

$9/person for 1/4 peck. Kids 4 and under can enter for free, but do not get a bag to pick.

https://kellersfarmstand.com/fall/apples/ (apple picking info)

https://kellersfarmstand.com/locations/oswego-farmstand/ (directions and address)

Free Options:

Primrose Farm in St. Charles used to offer something called ‘an apple afternoon’ where you could come and pick apples in their orchard, but you didn’t get to bring them home. I cannot find any info on it being offered this year, but it never hurts to give them a call and see if they will let you help with the harvest just for the fun of picking apples on a fall afternoon.

https://www.primrosefarm.org/events/ (Primrose Farm contact info and events)

Go Apple Picking in a Neighbor’s Yard (With Permission, of Course):

Do you have a neighbor that has an apple tree and cannot possibly eat all the apples? Do they perhaps HATE cleaning up all the drop apples? You could always ask that neighbor if they would mind you coming over to clean up the apples. Then perhaps you could say thank you by baking them a nice pie? Just a thought.

Hopefully I have helped you and your family ‘pick’ the orchard that is right for your fall fun budget.

Cheers!

Love,

Marie

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