If you really want a taste of fall, there’s nothing quite like visiting a local Michigan apple orchard or farm on a crisp autumn day, snacking on a fresh homemade doughnut and washing it down with sweet apple cider.
Did you know that Michigan is a top apple-producing state? Michigan farmers produced about 28 million bushels in 2018, about 10 percent of the nation’s total. Michigan is also a leading producer of blueberries and cherries. Asparagus, celery and potatoes are just some of the vegetable crops that are part of Michigan’s agricultural industry. Combined, Michigan’s agriculture contributes over 104 billion dollars to the state economy each year. It makes sense that agritourism is also big in Michigan. Here are some of the best orchards and farms to visit in Michigan this fall.
Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill – Plymouth
A woman-owned operation for more than 40 years, Plymouth Orchard & Cider Mill raises apples using organic practices. While Plymouth Orchards isn’t a you pick’em farm, you’ll still have fun during your visit as the draw here is watching apple cider being made. From harvest to peeling to pressing, the process for making apple cider may not seem interesting, but when you watch peeling equipment strip the apple skin in seconds and move hundreds of apples through the cider process, you can become mesmerized. Toss in cinnamon donuts being baked in front of you, your appetite will drive your visit. While at the mill, take a hayride around the farm and enjoy the views of a working apple orchard and pumpkin farm. Don’t forget to take home some donuts, pies and cider, along with a bag or two of fresh apples. Non-organic apples are also available at the mill store.
Crane Orchards – Fennville
With its history dating back to the 1880s, Crane Orchards has seen its life move from a general farm to becoming an apple orchard. Today, the Fennville property produces 17 varieties of apples, along with other fruit. Known as one of the best “u pick ‘em” orchards in Michigan, Crane attracts visitors from all over. Beginning Labor Day weekend through the end of October, enjoy a walk through the orchards to pick the apples you want to take home. The farm offers family and children activities for a small fee, including the 20-acre corn maze, a cow barrel train ride and hayrides around the farm. Crane’s also has a wonderful restaurant where you can have lunch and finish it off with a delicious slice of pie! If you can’t decide between apple, blueberry, cherry or any of their other many pie flavors, order the Pie Flight. You’ll get a generous sample of four different pies to taste!
Blake Farms – Armada
With three locations in the Armada area, apple enthusiasts revel knowing they can easily get fresh apples. However, the main location is Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill. A “u pick ‘em” orchard, the cider mill location offers McIntosh harvesting in early September. The rest of apple season runs through the end of October. Open daily, visitors’ children can frolic at the orchard’s Funland play area, enjoying a petting farm, tricycle races and more (an admission fee is required). Farming since 1946, the family sells locally-sourced products at its on-site store, including apple cider, donuts, pies and apple butter.
Westview Orchards – Van Dyke
Westview Orchards in Van Dyke has been involved with farming for more than 200 years. Located about an hour north of Detroit, Westview Orchards’ apple picking season runs from mid-August to the end of October. With a variety of apples available, you may visit the orchard several times during the season. Open daily (10 a.m.-5 p.m.), you can opt for the Pay and Pick option, which includes picking apples and a children’s play area, with attractions such as an outdoor petting area, animal barn, giant slide, jumping pad and straw mountain.
Yates Cider Mill – Rochester
Yates Cider Mill is known for the fresh apple cider it produces before your very eyes. With more than 15 varieties available, the Rochester orchard picks the apples itself and has them available at the mill store. Watch as Yates produces up to 300 gallons of apple cider per hour, using a water-powered double-tap process. Children will have fun visiting the sheep, goats and llamas at the petting zoo. Pony rides are available on weekends in October for a small fee. The orchard has a half-mile-long trail that takes you to the edge of the Clinton River. During your visit, enjoy some of the treats at the mill store, and don’t forget to take some home, along with fresh apple cider.
Gull Meadow Farms – Richland
Gull Meadow Farms in Richland has something for everyone. Kids will love the many activities like wagon rides, a petting farm, and shooting apple cannons. The market serves up fresh, homemade doughnuts in a variety of flavors and you can wash them down with apple cider. You’ll also find a variety of seasonal produce, gifts and treats in the market. U Pick apples and pumpkins are also available. Special events like Princess Superhero weekend and Touch-a-truck add even more fun.
Robinette’s Apple Haus – Grand Rapids
Robinette’s offers U-pick apples and cider made on-site at their own mill. They also have a bakery that churns out 200 dozen fresh doughnuts every hour! You can crab lunch there too. Activities include a jumping pillow, hayrides and even a mountain biking trail through the orchard for the really adventurous. Activities are seasonal, but Robinette’s bakery and shop is open year round.
Lewis Farms and Petting Zoo – New Era
You can easily fill a whole day with all the activies at Lewis Farms and Petting Zoo. A barrel train, pedal cars and corn maze are just three of the 46 activities that are available. You can pick out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch and fill up a bushel with U Pick apples. The market offers doughnuts and other tasty seasonal treats. They have lunch options too. The large petting zoo features many animals such as prairie dogs, camels and fallow deer.
Bill’s Farm Market – Petoskey
Bill’s Farm Market in Petoskey has a history going back over one hundred years. You’ll find fresh seasonal produce, fruits and of course pumpkins homegrown in their 29 fields. Homemade jams, jellies and maple syrup are just a few of the other locally made products you’ll find at the market. Get the full Michigan autumn experience when you take their 30 minute hayride that concludes with donuts, apple cider and a pumpkin souvenir to take home.
Coveyou Scenic Farm Market in Petoskey
Coveyou Scenic Farm Market in Petoskey is a Michigan Centennial Farm owned by the same family for over 136 years. The farm grows their pumpkins and other fresh seasonal produce with a focus on providing quality, organic food using environmentally friendly techniques. You’ll also find locally produced syrups, jams and honey at the store.
Pond Hill Farm – Harbor Springs
Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs offers U-pick pumpkins and hayrides in the fall. Kids can feed and pet the animals in the livestock barn, smash pumpkins and use the Squash Rocket Slingshot to fire fruits and vegetables into the field. Families will also enjoy the views of Lake Michigan. If you’re hungry, grab a farm-to-table lunch at the Garden Cafe. At the farm store you’ll find fresh produce as well as canned goods made from scratch using family recipes.
King Orchards – Central Lake
King Orchards in Central Lake offers spectacular views that overlook Torch Lake and Grand Traverse Bay. Located halfway between Traverse City and Petoskey, the farm is a great place to stop on your fall color tour. At Kings, they prune their trees to make it easy for children and adults to reach the fruit and enjoy picking. In addition to modern varieties, they offer Heritage Apples, the kind Grandma and Grandpa ate as kids, including Northern Spy, a popular pie apple. King’s Farm Bakery will tempt your taste buds with homemade pies, jams, jellies, and butters. They also offer fresh, unpasteurized apple cider made on site using a rack-and-cloth apple press.
Friske Farm Market – Ellsworth
Friske Farm Market in Ellsworth began in 1962, and now three generations help run the farm. The orchard offers U-pick apples and views of Lake Michigan. Kids will love the petting zoo and playground that features a real farm tractor. You’ll also find vegetables, meats and cheeses in their market. Homemade jams, syrups and salsas are available as well. Stop at the Orchard Cafe for a home cooked gourmet breakfast or lunch. You’ll find pies, cakes, and doughnuts at the farm bakery. Shop for unique gifts at the nostalgic general store and their Country Haus Gift Shop.
Royal Farms Farm Market and Winery in Elsworth has a bakery brimming with homemade pies, cookies and donuts. At the farm market you’ll find apples, pumpkins, fresh produce and unique gifts. Take home some of their fresh pressed apple cider for a true taste of the season. After filling up on tasty treats, see if you can find your way through their five acre corn maze.
Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm – Rogers City
Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm in Rogers City calls itself a “Ma and Pa” apple farm and cider mill. They’ve already picked the apples for your convenience. Search their overflowing crates to find the very best to take home. Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy fresh apple cider and lunch at the hotdog stand too. Horse drawn wagon rides, pony rides and the barrel train will entertain the kids. Homemade baked goods and spicy apple butter are just a few of the delicious offering in their store. You’ll also find kitchen and bakeware to help turn those apples into a pie.
Historic Bowens Mills – Middleville
Historic Bowens Mills is a privately operated state historic site with a cider mill. Most of the year, the mill that dates back to 1864, serves as a wedding venue. But each fall the mill opens to the public every Sunday in October. Visitors can see the historic cider mill operate and visit the many historic outbuildings. Demonstrations are given by interpreters in historic costume. The fresh pressed cider is available for sale along with apple dumplings and other treats.
With a choice between “u pick ‘em” orchards, markets with prepick apples, cider mills and bakeries with doughnuts, pies and other treats, you’ll have no problem finding a taste of fall in Michigan. As you head out to enjoy autumn in the Mitten State, know that whichever orchard or farm you choose to visit, it’s likely you’re going to have a good time. So, enjoy the season and make a pie or two for the rest of us.