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#1
Posted September 23rd 2005, 8:43pm
Need a rec for a pick your own orchard not too far from Chicago - Anyone out there have a favorite (or at least know of one)? Thanks for the feedback!
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#2
Posted September 23rd 2005, 9:12pm
Hi,

You may want to avail yourself of the LTHforum search function. I used the keywords 'apple orchard' to find:

- Quig's Orchard, which is closing this year.

- Royal Oak Farms, which is in the far fringes of the Chicago area but unlike many closer in, is expanding.

- Same quest responded to last year and again and again.

If you are so lucky, there is a nifty apple press for cider here.

However due to the severe drought in this region I would phone first before ever leaving home.

Regards,
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Cathy2

"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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#3
Posted September 26th 2005, 8:22am
Edwards Orchards in Polar Grove Il (NW Burbs) is the best IMO..family run for many years...dont forget to have some of thier homemade cider and apple pie with a slice of sharp cheddar melted on top after picking
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#4
Posted October 2nd 2005, 12:37pm
We had a good time picking apples and pumpkins at Apple Holler yesterday -- just yonder our northern border.

Ramonita in the pumpkin patch
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http://www.appleholler.com/

-ramon
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#5
Posted October 3rd 2005, 4:26pm
I was going to go to Jonamac this upcoming weekend, but my co-worker complained that it was too commercialized and crowded. Now I am debating between Royal Oaks Farm and Appleholler. Are either of the two more low key? Thanks.
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#6
Posted October 3rd 2005, 5:06pm
I've never been to Royal Oaks and cannot do a comparison. Depending upon your definition, I don't think any apple picking place is going to be "low key" -- unless its raining. I can remember the last years of the Wauconda orchard's existence -- where the town was shut down by the amount of traffic.

I have been to Apple Holler twice now, both on beautiful weather days. While the crowds were quite large, the outing was eminently doable. This location is also right off 94 so you're not likely to get stuck in a traffic jam on some two lane road.

I could fire off a list of complaints, but I think that is the nature of the beast for this type of establishment. They quietly tend their orchards all year, when suddenly huge city-fied crowds descend upon their pastoral lands, to disappear after Halloween, leaving little but litter in their wake.

-ramon
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#7
Posted October 3rd 2005, 5:26pm
Royal Oak out in Hebron tends to be pretty mellow. Since it is out in the moddle of nowhere - literally - the crowd tends to trickle in and out and is spread all over the place.

Do realize, however, that Royal Oak is not open on Sundays. Since all my Saturdays during the fall are generally spent either out of town or at a football game, I generally don't get there until late October or early November.
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#8
Posted October 3rd 2005, 5:57pm
Hi all--

My wife and daughter went picking at Garwood orchards in Laporte, IN, last year and had a wonderful time. Garwood has tractor or horse-darwn carts to bring people out into the orchards, pony rides, etc. She said it felt very bucolic and not especially crowded or commercial. It is obviously more convenient to south siders and south suburbanites than it is to those up north.

We are heading back this Saturday with a busload of U of C students who live in the dorm where we serve as Resident Heads.

Garwood Orchard
5911 W. 50 South
LaPorte, IN 46350

1-800-588-0260

[url]http://www.garwoodorchard.com/

[/url]
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#9
Posted October 18th 2006, 6:58pm
(First apology for the lateness of the post for the season. Please call ahead for apple availability. Second apology for this should probably go in the "Beyond Chicago" category, but I'm trying to maintain some measure of cohesion.)

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Sunday, Oct 1st, we returned for apple picking at Apple Holler for the third year in a row -- they must be doing something right. We were honored to be accompanied by the grandparents and my sisters family and a good time was had by all. We arrived at 11:00, the crowd was even larger than the previous years, and immediately put our name on the list for lunch to start at 12:00. The grands hovered near the restaurant to make sure our position was preserved while we took the kids on the blow-up jumpy thing, corn maze, pony rides, etc. We were seated at 12:15.

VI has described the place very well here. I will only add that this year, the salad portion was gone -- replaced with better hot foods like turkey and ham. An interesting beverage was apple punch: apple juice, orange juice, and a splash of Sprite. For desert the apple pie was devine. Later we enjoyed the taffy apple bar, where I refraned from, after much debate, plunging my face into the tray of melted caramel.

Well, we're still gorging on apples today, and I bet we return next year.

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-ramon
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#10
Posted October 18th 2006, 7:24pm
We have been going for several years to the County Line Orchard in Hobart, IN. It doesn't seem to have been mentioned in any of the apple threads I saw.

It is a very commercialized operation, with a very large barn/gift shop where you can buy freshly made apple-cinnamon and pumpkin spice donuts, dumplings, pie, and of course apples and of course cutesy decorative trinkets. They have pumpkin patches and a corn "maize".

Commercialized or not, it's very convenient to Chicago, and they have a pretty good variety of apples, although it's actually kind of late in the year -- we usually went around now, but this year, we went in September and found that there were many more varieties to be found. In fact, I brought about half of what we picked to the LTH picnic.

I couldn't compare it to many other orchards; one year we went somewhere in Michigan, but it was much further away, and it was a pretty damp and cold day, so we didn't come away with a "let's go back there" kind of feeling. CLO has served us well.
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Joe G.

"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
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#11
Posted October 19th 2006, 9:05am
I don't think this is too "beyond" but we go to Kuipers Orchard in Maple Park which is just west of Elburn. They have several hundred acres and raise 20 varities of apples that are availible in their country store or for you to pick. They also have pumpkins for picking, hayrides, petting zoo and a 2 miles corn maze.

Kuipers Family Farm
4 miles west of Rte. 47 off Rte. 38
Maple Park
815-827-5200
www.kuipersfamilyfarm.com
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#12
Posted October 19th 2006, 9:41am
Ramon wrote:Sunday, Oct 1st, we returned for apple picking at Apple Holler for the third year in a row -- they must be doing something right. We were honored to be accompanied by the grandparents and my sisters family and a good time was had by all. We arrived at 11:00, the crowd was even larger than the previous years, and immediately put our name on the list for lunch to start at 12:00. The grands hovered near the restaurant to make sure our position was preserved while we took the kids on the blow-up jumpy thing, corn maze, pony rides, etc. We were seated at 12:15.
I tagged along w/my parents and sister's family on Sunday, 10/1 as well. We probably arrived around 10:30-11am too. I couldn't believe the masses that came on that gorgeous fall day. It was overwhelming and chaotic. I wish we would've had enough bodies to get into each line so that we could've purchased some baked goodies or eaten at the restaurant. There were lines everywhere! The lines to purchase bags to pick your own were like waiting for a ride at the amusement park. I was disappointed in the lack of selection/variety of the apples to be picked. If we were to go on a Saturday instead, I would've much preferred to go to Royal Oak Farms in Harvard. It's more rural, the size is more manageable, and I liked the variety.
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#13
Posted October 19th 2006, 10:23am
Two or three years back, we happened upon an apple orchard on the north side of Chicago, not more than a 30 minute drive from Evanston. It was spang in the middle of a subdivision, run by a little old couple who were just darling. They had several plots and several different kinds of apples. Anybody know where it was? We can't seem to find it.
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#14
Posted September 24th 2007, 9:44am
Does anyone have an update on the preference between Apple Hollar and Royal Oak Frams. We are taking our 3 little ones (under the age of 5) to pick apples and a pumpkin.

We are trying to determine which one is better.

Thanks.
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#15
Posted September 24th 2007, 2:24pm
KevinT wrote:Does anyone have an update on the preference between Apple Hollar and Royal Oak Frams. We are taking our 3 little ones (under the age of 5) to pick apples and a pumpkin.

We are trying to determine which one is better.

Thanks.


I have not been to Apple Hollar.

Royal Oak features the following:

1) Apple picking
2) A large petting farm.
3) A train and merry-go-round
4) A playground
5) A GREAT restaurant (some great food) - I have to confess that I slip up there for lunch a couple of Saturdays a season.
6) A good gift shop with fresh homemade donuts.

I also believe that they have a pumpkin patch. If not, there are many nearby.

I would combine the trip with a visit to the Illinois Railway Museum or Donley's Wild West, both in nearby Union, IL.
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#16
Posted September 24th 2007, 2:36pm
Seeing this and other apple threads bounce, we decided on an apple-picking trip this weekend. I did some scouting online, and we headed up I-90 towards Woodstock.

Our first stop was All Season Farm, just off of Rt. 176 in Woodstock - where we promptly turned around and got back in the car after seeing the crowds, petting zoo, moon-bounce, cafe and other non-apple entertainment. We moved on up the road to Woodstock County Orchard, which not only was more our speed, and offered U-Pick raspberries as well. Tastings of the apple varieties and orchard maps were offered at the front tent:
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Don't be dissuaded by the following sign
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It's really a reminder to keep a careful eye on your kids. Everyone was very, very friendly and they have wagons for the kids.

The orchard is lovely, with Redcorts, Empires, Jonagolds, Jonamacs, Red Delicious, Senchu, and Honeycrisp were ready to pick, and Galas at half-price as this was their last weekend. Not only were the apples less expensive than All Season, there were bushels, pecks and half-pecks available. We bought a peck of Galas for $5, and a peck of mixed for $10 - and picked a pint of raspberries for $4. They also have local honey for sale.

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Quote from the back of their map "'Agritainment" is the latest trend at apple orchards. It means combining agriculture with entertainment, like petting zoos, hayrides mazes, etc... This isn't for us. Our priority is the fruit. We like the peaceful Woodstock countryside, and we think picking apples & raspberries is entertaining in itself."

We all had a great time, and arrived at Mitsuwa for dinner tired, sunburnt and full of apples.
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#17
Posted September 24th 2007, 2:50pm
We went yesterday to Apple Holler for the first time ever after several years of Woodstock Country Orchard (which came after Quigs for a hundred years or so).

Our experiences at WCO had always been pleasant, though not especially abundant. It always seemed like they were almost out of whatever they said they had and after the hour drive from the NS, we wanted more.

Apple Holler is just up 294 in Kenosha. We arrived late in the day and had no trouble parking, though there was a cop who looked like he'd been directing traffic for some time. Lots of cars parked on the frontage road.

The place is huge, I can't believe I'd never been before. There was music and mazes and petting zoos....the typical stuff, and a huge, abundant, orchard. We didn't find the map all that helpful but were rewarded with some great apples anyway. The goldens were spectacular, as were the (I think) Jonathans. The Macs (or what I thought were macs) struck us as kind of mealy, not crispy. We didn't bring home any of those. I'm embarrassed by my lack of expertise as to varieties, btw, sorry.

Huge bakery/shop/restaurant was JAMPACKED with people and the waits were long. And they were out of cider donuts. :( Still, it was a very quick drive up from the north shore and though coming home was worse due to construction, I was pretty leased with how the day turned out.

Would go back there happily, maybe earlier in the day and/or during the week if possible. A nice alternative.
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#18
Posted September 30th 2007, 10:20pm
We went to Royal Oak Farms in Hebron this past Saturday and found it very enjoyable. We have 3 little ones and there was plenty of entertainment for them as mentioned before (as well as wooded structures - tractor, house, ship, train, fire engine- to climb for free). There is a tractor hayride that takes you to the orchard and the map was very easy to follow. We got there early and that is the time to get there....when we were leaving at about 1:30 it was starting to get pretty busy.

I can't report about the apples as I have not tried the fruits of our labor yet but we did pick the Ultragold and Fuji that were recommended to us. The apples were plentiful for picking. They also have a pick your own raspberry area now too - $5 for a pint. The pumpkin patch looked fun with plenty of choices but the kiddies started to melt down so we didn't get that far. The cider doughnuts were good.

The flyer they give as you go in says "no picnicing on the grounds"...we brought a picnic and ate it in our car and then returned for more.

Overall, what I liked was that it was not overally commercialized....just a nice family outing.
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#19
Posted October 1st 2007, 2:17pm
We went out to the Royal Oaks Orchards this Saturday for lunch ... just to find out that they were charging $3 for a parking fee. Rather than wait 15 minutes to pay for a parking spot, we turned around and went into Hebron for lunch. I know that for people in the city, what's $3? But for people that head out there when they are crying for business (think July and November), it is a major irritant.

We ended up having lunch at Kaitie's Restaurant in Hebron (at the light at IL47 and 173).
Last edited by jlawrence01 on October 3rd 2007, 12:31pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#20
Posted October 3rd 2007, 11:07am
live2eat wrote:Need a rec for a pick your own orchard not too far from Chicago - Anyone out there have a favorite (or at least know of one)? Thanks for the feedback!

Edwards Orchards in Polar Grove Il..bit of a drive but the best one Ive been to...if its light crowdwise you can drive out yourself to the orchard otherwise they bring you out in groups on a tractor..
they have a small kitchen on site where you can get homemade apple pie with cheese on top, apple cider, etc...
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#21
Posted October 3rd 2007, 12:27pm
deke rivers wrote:Edwards Orchards in Polar Grove Il...

Had to jump in with a correction - the city is Poplar Grove, IL.
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#22
Posted October 5th 2007, 1:13pm
I'm hitting this place this wknd. 45 min west. 88 west to 31. Donuts are supposed to be outta this world, and I think they currently have raspberries to pick along with apples. Hopefully, picture report to follow if I remember the camera.

http://www.honeyhillorchards.com/
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#23
Posted October 5th 2007, 10:20pm
Hey, seebee, what day are you going? I'm looking for a new place to go this Sunday, as this weekend it's just us 3. What's to eat along the way?

-ramon
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#24
Posted October 6th 2007, 3:36pm
I've been craving cider doughnuts with a vengeance... Now something out in my part of the world! I'll be eager to see how it goes, Seebee. I'll try to head out there myself next week.
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#25
Posted October 6th 2007, 7:39pm
This afternoon, we went to Lang's Orchard in Woodstock for apples. I think this is pretty much the last weekend anywhere for apple picking, given the weather has been so lovely these past weekends. This is our second year there. Fairly small orchard, but a nice selection of varieties. The big draw for me are their Granny Smith apples, since they're not often locally grown. My daughter loves the Blushing Gold (cross of Jonathan and Golden Delicious) and my husband just likes to hunt for the apples deep in the branches. We came away with three pecks of apples @8.00/peck, mostly the Grannies and Blushing, along with some Red/Golden Delicious and Braeburns. They also had Winesap.

Absolutely no agritainment here (unless your kidlet wants to ride the Red Ryder wagon)...although I was entertained by the very enthusiastic gentleman who was totally jazzed to find a little cache of nice Granny Smiths in one tree.

We had considered going to Royal Oaks, but once I heard they charged for parking, it changed my mind in a hurry. Maybe I'm cheap, but hey, I'm just here for the apples. And I'm getting them myself. You can't make enough money from the produce and petting zoo and bakery and God knows what else? (Although maybe it's because they close on Sundays? Still, they do that by choice.)

Looking forward to some applesauce and pie in my future !

Lang's Orchard
17411 Secor Rd
Woodstock, IL 60098
815 568-7547
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#26
Posted October 7th 2007, 8:05pm
A couple friends and I drove up to Apple Holler last weekend. Prob should have waited till this weekend for more varieties to be in season. Oh well...we got some good apples nonetheless. I would definitely go back to Apple Holler because of its convenience off I-94, even though it was geared VERY much toward families with young kids.

The best part about it, however, was that it was only 10 minutes from a Chick-Fil-A at the Regency Mall in Racine....I'll take a Chick-Fil-A sandwich over apples any day! We went East on Hwy 11 (Durand Ave) and on the way to the mall, saw a small, very uncrowded farm with a FREE 8 acre corn maze and lots of pumpkins. Definitely worth the stop there (I think it was called Land of Giants Pumpkin Farm). Not sure what the deal with the Goat Bridges at that place and Apple Holler were....but, given that the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs, I think me going there the day after they clinched the NL Central was a bad omen.
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#27
Posted October 7th 2007, 10:52pm
LikestoEatout wrote:I don't think this is too "beyond" but we go to Kuipers Orchard in Maple Park which is just west of Elburn


I went to Kuiper's today with a few friends. I was kind of disappointed. Of course, it was not a very autumnal day for wandering around an orchard, but what irked me more was their process. I thought County Line Orchard in Indiana was pretty commercial, but I had the feeling that Kuipers was looking for every opportunity possible to put a price on something. To pick apples, you pay a flat $6.50, which gets you a 1/4 peck bag, which only holds 6-7 good sized apples. For an additional $10, you can get a full-peck bag. Now, I wasn't looking to load up on apples, and I'd probably have way more than I need if we went to CLO where it's just fill your bags and pay by the pound, but... it just didn't seem right. We also ended up buying admission to some other area of the farm (they actually have a "any-two-attractions, save a couple of bucks" ticket) but we ended up spending a long time in the orchard (despite the small bags) because of staggered arrival times, and no one could really even figure out what we were missing at "Scarecrow Acres," and no one was very keen to wander in a corn maze in the hot sun, so we fell for that marketing strategy.

Additionally, although of course not their fault, the orchards were extremely picked over. Today is officially their last day for "u-pic" for the season, although the farm itself is open through mid-December, as they switch to selling Christmas trees.

The good news is that Kuiper's is about ten minutes away from Ream's Elburn Market, so I was able to convince my carpoolers to stop by on the way back to town. I didn't see the infamous bacon-stuffed-with-ground-meat, but I did pick up some frozen hot links and boerewors (South African style sausage) as well as a little bacon and some sausage "stix". My friends bought fresh brats, italian sausage, and these hawaiian sausages that had pineapple and soy sauce in the ingredients. We grilled all of those up when we got home. The brats (coarsely ground) were excellent (I'm not sure if they are the specifically award winning ones or not.) The italian sausage was pretty good; there was a pretty strong fennel note in the recipe: not annoying, but it seemed a little more like a mistake than a style. The hawaiian sausages seemed to remind everyone of kielbasa with a pretty sturdy casing, and were not unpleasant, but were the least interesting of the bunch.

I don't think I'd choose Kuiper's again for picking, but I'm glad I got the chance to go to Ream's.

(Kuipers did have an attractive array of gourds... or are these squashes...?)
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Ream's Elburn Market
128 N Main St
Elburn, IL 60119
(630) 365-6461
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Joe G.

"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
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#28
Posted October 8th 2007, 10:39am
Ramon wrote:Hey, seebee, what day are you going? I'm looking for a new place to go this Sunday, as this weekend it's just us 3. What's to eat along the way?

-ramon


Sorry I missed this, Ramon, but I wouldn't have been much of a help anyway. we stay with friends who have a place just down the road. We always end up grilling, or ordering pizza. As for food along the way, i have no clue at all. There is that Aurora outlet mall which prob has some restaurants. There are some little diners along the way once you get past Aurora, but I've never stopped in those. There are also some bar/grill "friday fish fry" type places in the town of Waterman which you pass if you take the I88 route.

The report:
It's a fun place.

They have a donut / pie shop -
Apple Cider doughnuts:
I'd give these a B. I have had better (Oak Park Farmer's Mkt) but these were good, don't get me wrong. Dozen $5.95. Worth it.
Rumor was the pies were very rich and delicious. Heard this from several people throughout the place. We didn't try one.

They also have a snack shop / country store / cider / apple shop -
The cider was REALLY good. $3.49 1/2 gallon. Drier and more crisp than the ones I've had before. LOVED this cider. They also sell gallons, not sure of price - perhaps on website? Country store had all of the Kitschy things you'd expect along with samples of dips, jams etc. Also sold several varieties of pre-picked apples in bags (pecks?) I opted for a small bag of Honeycrisps (one of my all time favs.) WOW. These were good apples. Cheaper than Jewel prices which isn't saying much, I know, but these were worth it. I figured I paid about 2.00 /lb for these, and they are borderline worth it. Biggest Honeycrisps I have ever seen, and they still retain the honeycrisp characteristics. SUPER crunchy, juicy, and tart. Just gave one to a co-worker who is a staunch Fuji fan as am I. He claimed this Honeycrisp was almost sexy it was so good.

They have the animal petting pen with a few ducks, and a tame goat, and lamb. (Don't hold your donut bag too close to the fence!!)

Apple trees were FULL, although I was not a fan of the apples currently ready for picking. The Honeycrisps were only being sold in the store, and the Fujis were not yet ready to pick. You buy a bag, and then get a hayride of sorts out to the picking site. It was a very busy day there on Sat, and we were told that the raspberries had already been well picked through. Next time we go, we will check on apple variety availability, since they will not let you pick just any apple - only the ones that they list as ready to be picked which is fine, and probably for the better. Pretty nice place all in all. And only about an hour away (if not less.)

http://www.honeyhillorchards.com/

Also, there is a winery just down the street from the place probably about a block. Also a nice stop to buy local wine. They mostly have sweeter wines, but do have three or four drier varieties. Two dry reds, and two dry whites. Worth a stop (free tastings.)
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We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
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#29
Posted October 13th 2007, 1:54pm
For the last three plus years we have gone to Apple Holler with my sister’s family and my mom and dad. This year it was only the three of us for apple picking, so I wanted to try someplace different – someplace perhaps less crowded and touristy. With little research, we opted for Honey Hill Orchard.
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B was very happy to find animals. There were pigs and donkeys and chickens and turkeys and goats. She greeted each with glee.
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We intended eat along the way at some out-of-the-way mom & pop place, but next thing you knew, we were there. There was little to choose from for lunch items. B got a hamburger which she barely tasted before claiming it inedible. In my book, a pork chop sandwich is a thing of great beauty, this was not.
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Well, we weren’t really expecting good food, we came for the apples, so off we went. Apples where $12/peck, which is quite expensive -- but they did not nickel and dime us in anyway, so worth it. The only varieties available were red and golden delicious and Fuji (this was Sunday, October 7). You hopped on a wagon pulled by a tractor that went around in a loop and got off where the apples are. B likes apple picking a real lot.
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It was blessedly uncrowded but unblessedly hot. I tried to dial down my OCD tendencies, every apple doesn’t have to the perfect paragon of apple-ness. Soon our bags were full and we hopped back on the wagon to the pumpkin patch.

I must state that everyone we encountered working was very pleasant and helpful. One time, the wagon stopped, and the driver took the apple bags from some struggling mom, saying they would be waiting for her in the office. She was very grateful.

It did not take B long to find her perfect pumpkin, and back on the wagon we were toward the parking lot.
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We had intended to buy some cider and pies, but completely forgot perhaps due to the heat, and next thing we knew we were headed home on I-88. It was only 1:00! So we stopped at the Morton Arboretum where we hugged some more trees. It was a good day.

(Thankfully seebee above was more detailed than I).

Honey Hill Orchards
11747 Waterman Rd.
Waterman, IL
815-264-3337

-ramon
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#30
Posted October 13th 2007, 3:39pm
Ramon -
If you do go back, I would highly suggest the donuts and the cider. You'll probably be MUCH happier with that as a snack than what you got at the snack counter. We were there on the Saturday before you, and the place was absolutely packed. Everybody had a bag of donuts with them, and everyone was complaining because they couldn't stop eating them.
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