Apples are the superheroes of the fruit world – they have the power to keep doctors away, butter up teachers and sweeten snack time. Good thing Chicago-area orchards are keeping up with the demand. Fill your bags with the juicy, ripe fruit at a kid-loved u-pick nearby — they’re entering prime season, which runs through the end of October or beginning of November. Flip through our list to see where to reap the harvest.
Kuipers Family Farm
Distance from city: 50 miles
Since their start in 1998 as a pumpkin farm, Kuipers has grown to a 230-acre apple-growing powerhouse committed to showing families kid-powered fun focused on running, climbing, adventure and fresh air. Visitors pay a $10 admission to enjoy a delightful hayride to the orchard where they gather 1/4 peck of apples. For an additional charge, kids can tire themselves out with the corn maze, tractor tire mountain, haunted forest suitable for tiny tots, humungous slide, pony rides, giant bouncy pillow, climbing web and much more. For a squealing good time, be sure to get a front row view of the pig races that occur every hour on the weekends. Before you hop in the car for the inevitable nap time that occurs after that much excitement, mosey into the Orchard Shop and Bakery for their crave-worthy homemade apple cider donuts, caramel apples, fudge and freshly squeezed apple cider.
Good to know: Be sure to call ahead to make sure the extra activities are open before making the drive. Also, strollers, wagons and backpacks are not allowed in the orchard.
1N318 Watson Road, Maple Park (815-827-5200 or online at kuipersfamilyfarm.com)
Where’s your favorite picking spot? Let us know in the Comments below!
— Maria Chambers