There’s a lot to love about a Wisconsin fall – crisp air, vibrant trees, a sweet slice of pumpkin pie (or a cranberry muffin, or a caramel apple…) peeking around almost every corner – but nothing rings in the arrival of autumn quite like a trip to the orchard.
What started as a tradition mostly for children has grown into a favorite fall activity for everyone, young and old; with more orchards than ever offering things like hayrides, pumpkin patches, cider tastings and fresh bakeries, they’re a one-stop shop for all the fall fun you’ve been excited about since last season.
And the wait is finally over! Here are five fantastic apple orchards worth the pick this fall.
Over 200 varieties of apples line the fields of charming Brightonwoods Orchard. Kids will love looking out over the bounty from their own special vantage point – through the window of a two-story treehouse – while the adults set their sights on nearby AeppelTreow Winery, located on-site at the orchard.
Sample specialty ciders and perries in AeppelTreow’s tasting room, or head back to the Apple Barn for homemade jams, treats and, of course, plenty of freshly-picked apples.
Pickin’ (or as they say at Eplegaarden, “plukkin’”) your own apples, raspberries and pumpkins is the main attraction at this old-fashioned family orchard, a quick drive from downtown Madison. For being within reach of the city, you wouldn’t know it: one look around at the old red barn and wide open fields makes it clear you’re at a place where the air’s a little fresher, and the clock moves a little slower.
Come out on Sundays to hear live folk and bluegrass music in the orchard, then hitch a ride on the horse-drawn hayride to get to plukkin’ (Just watch out for the trolls. Did we mention there’s trolls?)
If there’s one thing you can’t to pass up on a visit to Erickson Orchard it is, hands down, an apple cider doughnut These warm, fluffy delights have been homemade in the Erickson bakery for decades, earning a well-deserved reputation as being some of the best around. Enjoy one (or three, we’re not counting) with a cup of hot coffee or some fresh apple cider.
Pick your own apples and strawberries in season, and for an even bigger taste of a Northern Wisconsin autumn, plan your visit during the annual Bayfield Apple Festival.
Door County is beautiful all year around, but visit in fall and you’ll be treated to incredible color, storybook-level charm and a wealth of locally-grown fruits and veggies; and you can find it all at Wood Orchard Market. Wood Orchard specializes in Honeycrisp apples (though their newest variety, SweeTango, is also worth a try) and the free corn maze and cider pops for kids make it a great stop for families with little ones.
Inside the market, find just about anything you can think of made with Door County cherries: doughnuts, strudel, salsa, horseradish sauce, butter and much more.
The Elegant Farmer made a name for itself with its famous “Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag,” and if you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth the hype – it is. Fans may come for the flaky, one-of-a-kind pies, but they stay for all the fun happening around the orchard: pick-your-own apples, a corn maze, an impressive bakery and tractor-pulled hayrides, for starters.
And as for getting to the farm: why drive when you could take a train? The East Troy Railroad shuttles passengers to and from The Elegant Farmer aboard a restored turn-of-the-century electric train, and boasts some great fall color views in the process.