When the wind begins to blow and the leaves fall from their branches, our kids know it is the perfect time to visit an apple orchard. There are many apple orchards in the Midwest, but one of our favorites was always Apple Holler in Wisconsin. Our kids spent many hours scouring trees for the perfect apples to bring home. This post has the best u pick apples near Chicago as well as apple orchard tips for a memorable visit.
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U Pick Apples Near Me (Chicago)
Best Apple Picking Near Chicago
Thankfully, the Chicago area has an abundance of apple-picking destinations. Many farms open their orchards in late August and run through late September. These are some of the best places to pick apples near Chicago
1. Apple Holler
Located in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, just across the Wisconsin state line, Apple Holler offers a quintessential apple-picking experience for families. This expansive orchard boasts a wide variety of apple types. Apple season starts in August and they grow a large variety of fruit. From Honeycrisp to Gala, and Zestar to Gingergold, there’s a wealth of choices to sample.
Families visiting Apple Holler will find more than just apples. The orchard offers a range of family-friendly attractions, including farm animals, a giant slide, and corn maze.
There’s a charming country store stocked with apple-related products, pre-picked apples, and treats. (We highly recommend the apple cider donuts)! And don’t miss a chance to eat your favorite apple dishes at the Red Barn Restaurant.
2. Heinz Orchard
Located in the small town of Green Oaks, Heinz Orchard is another excellent choice for families. This family-owned orchard isn’t over-the-top, they simply offer quality apple picking. In 2023, Heinz Orchard will offer Empire, Jonathan, and McIntosh apples to choose from.
3. County Line Orchard
If you head south to Indiana, you’ll find County Line Orchard in Hobart. This orchard is known for its expansive apple-picking fields and an array of attractions for all ages.
There are U Pick apples, a challenging corn maze, a petting zoo, and even a Moo-Choo (cow themed train). Families are in for a day filled with excitement and adventure.
4. Kuipers Family Farm
Situated in Maple Park, west of the city, Kuipers Family Farm is a beloved fall destination for many Chicago families. While apple picking is undoubtedly the main attraction, this farm offers plenty of activities beyond the orchard rows.
Families can navigate a corn maze, take a scenic hayride, and even shoot apples from a pumpkin cannon. During the season they have food trucks on the weekends, and this year they are offering Apple Cider Donut Beer. Grab some to take home!
Kuipers Family Farm has many varieties of apples, from the classic Honeycrisp to Zestar. The farm’s market is stocked with fresh produce and baked goods. Don’t miss their apple cider, jams, and caramel apples.
5. All Seasons Orchard
Just an hour’s drive from downtown Chicago, families will find All Seasons Orchard in Woodstock. Families can pick favorites like Gala, Fuji, and Jonagold while enjoying the countryside.
All Seasons Orchard has hours of fun for families. There’s a petting zoo, pedal karts, ropes course, and giant corn box (just as it sounds, a wooden box filled with dried corn kernels, kids love it)!
The orchard’s Country Kitchen serves up pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, chicken tenders, and hot dogs. They also have concessions that include homemade apple cider donuts, apple cider slushies, and cheese curds.
6. Royal Oak Farm Orchard
For an unforgettable apple-picking experience, head to Royal Oak Farm Orchard in Harvard. This sprawling orchard features an extensive selection of apple varieties, including Red Free and Zestar.
The farm’s apple-picking adventures are just the beginning. Royal Oak Farm has a train, petting zoo, carousel, and even an apple tree maze. Don’t miss their fall festivities.
7. Prairie Sky Orchard
Prairie Sky Orchard in Union is a great weekend escape from the city. This small, family-run orchard focuses on sustainable farming practices. They have a selection of apples that are both delicious and environmentally friendly.
If you don’t want some of the crowds you find at larger orchards, head to Prairie Sky. They update what’s available through social media (their Facebook page is in bold letters above).
Their Koffee Kiosk has fresh apple cider, donuts, and coffee, and their farm market has Amish jams and apple butter, as well as U-bake pies.
8. Honey Hill Orchard
Located in Waterman, Honey Hill Orchard is a hidden gem that offers family fun for all ages. This u-pick orchard is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and welcoming staff. Honey Hill Orchard prides itself on growing different varieties, including Blondee, Snow Sweet, Pinata, and Winesap.
There is no admission fee, but everyone over the age of 2 needs to purchase a picking bag. The farm is cash only.
9. Jonamac Orchard
Jonamac Orchard is in Malta near DeKalb. It’s a favorite spot for families seeking a day of apple picking and autumn fun.
The orchard has a large variety of apples, including fan favorites like Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious. Families come for the apples, but they also come for the family-friendly activities, because there are quite a few to choose from!
Kids love the apple cannons, where they can launch apples through the air via compressed air cannons. There’s also a haunted corn maze, cider house after-hours (live music and food trucks), pumpkin patch, jumping pillow, and wagon rides.
Additionally, the farm’s bakery serves up a delectable selection of apple-themed treats, as well as fudge, jam, and preserves.
10. Lang’s Orchard
A short drive from Chicago in Woodstock, Lang’s Orchard offers a charming and authentic apple-picking experience for families. This family-owned orchard offers several varieties of u pick apples with the exception of Honeycrisp and Snowsweet which will be sold as pre-picked apples.
The orchard’s quaint market offers preserves, salsas, and butters. This is the perfect spot if your family is looking for a no-frills apple picking experience.
11. Kellers Farmstand
Kellers Farmstand, with locations in Naperville, Plainfield, and Oswego, is a convenient option for families looking to enjoy a day of apple picking close to the city. They have close to 20 options of u pick apples, including Cortland, Gala, and Ruby Mac.
The Oswego location offers Saturday and Sunday Fall Festivities that include a corn maze, farm animals, a play house, wagon rides, and more.
What is the best time to go apple picking?
In Illinois, apple picking season usually begins the last week of August just before Labor Day. The holiday is usually the beginning of families driving to the orchards to find the “best” apples. However, it can be VERY warm in early September, so we recommend waiting until mid-September to head to the orchards. The season usually lasts through the middle of October.
Note, each week usually brings a different type of apple availability. If you’re looking for a particular varietal, we recommend checking the orchard’s website or calling ahead to ensure they have what you want.
What do I need to know before picking apples?
Before you leave the house, be sure to clear out space for the apples. We find apples will last longer if they are stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Also, have a meeting place in case anyone becomes separated from the group while picking apples. It is fairly easy to get lost since most orchards are huge, and it’s impossible to see over and through the trees.
What should I wear to pick apples?
First of all, check the weather and dress accordingly. The best time to go to an apple orchard is when it is cool and dry.
Wear comfortable shoes (rain boots if it has recently rained), a jacket or long sleeve shirt, and long pants. The long pants help protect from insects and prevent scrapes and scratches if your kids like to climb trees. Do not wear sandals to pick apples.
If the ground is muddy, you may want to bring a change of clothes, towels, and dry shoes for later.
Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and bring sunglasses and hats.
What should I pack for apple picking?
We recommend bringing a small backpack with the following items –
- Hydrocortisone or Benadryl in case of bee stings
- Wipes to clean sticky hands
- Water on hot days as sometimes the orchards aren’t close to the facilities
- Speaking of facilities have everyone use the restroom before heading out and change diapers if needed
What is the best time of day to pick apples?
We recommend heading to the apple orchard first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive. This way you’ll have your choice of apples and cooler weather.
What to Make After Apple Picking
Once we’re home I often wonder what to do with all of the apples. First, we sort through the bag for any bruised apples. You know the saying “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch?” It’s actually true. A bad apple gives off ethylene which will spoil the other apples around it. So remove those and eat them first.
Be sure to store the apples in a cold dry place (I use the refrigerator) and don’t wash them until right before you are ready to use them because it can promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage. (I learned so many facts writing this article)!
Usually I make an apple pie and have the kids take apples to school for their snack for the next three weeks. However, if you’re looking for additional recipes, don’t miss our favorite apple orchard recipes (there are 55 of them)!