Many people will say the summer is the best season to do things, but we’d argue for Fall in the DeKalb County area. As the days are getting shorter and the temperature drops and the leaves change colors, everything starts to slow down. One of the best ways to experience the season is by seeking out apple picking at one of the local farms. A field trip where you can fill your car with fruit and get some fresh air, it is time to explore the local orchards. All of the orchards on our list double as easy short getaways, a nice compromise if you can’t jet off to a warmer destination this fall. Plus, with a short distance, you can plan multiple repeat trips for some of the best fall vegetables, corn and pumpkins. Travel the open road in search of the best pumpkin patches, corn maze, and apple picking right in your own back yard.
Honey Hill Orchard: This orchard is well worth the drive—and it’s not too far from Dekalb (IL). You can also add Shabbona Lake State Park and the Waterman Winery if you want to make a day of it. You’ll find more than a dozen types of apples available for U-Pick and in the country store. Youngsters will love the petting zoo and straw maze, while parents will enjoy the fact that the orchard doesn’t charge admission. Voted “Best Apple Donuts” by DeKalb County Online staff. Located at 11783 Waterman Rd in Waterman, Illinois. $$
Jonamac Orchard: This family-owned property boasts 105 acres and more than 20,000 apple trees. Check the interactive website to find out what’s ripe for the picking and how to use each apple variety. Make a day of it by checking out the corn maze or booking a private campfire site for your group. After visiting the various attractions, wander around the new Cider House, where you’ll find an impressive selection of apple wine and hard cider to take home.
Located at 19412 Shabbona Rd in Malta, Illinois. $$
Kuipers Family Farm: Back in the late1990s, the Kuiper Family opened their first pumpkin patch to the public with a simple mission—to share the pleasures of spending the day on their farm. Today, the farm has grown to include a variety of apples, horse-drawn hayrides and include a selection of apple pastries. They have added a large area for
Located at 1N318 Watson Rd in Maple Park, Illinois. $$$
BONUS: Yeager Fam Market: If you want a great farm market experience, Yeager is the place to visit. This farm market has always offered customers a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and has a tremendous reputation for its bi-color sweet corn. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, garlic, green beans, potatoes, squash (fall and summer), muskmelons, peppers, eggplant, gourds, and pumpkins are still available early fall. You will definitely be able to taste the difference between warehouse delivered and fresh-picked produce. Also try their jarred craft products: Homemade and Handcrafted jams, jellies, and salsas produced by Amish & Mennonites farms