While the Midwest's apple season really begins in
September, my husband's family established an early October
tradition of apple picking. For more than 10 years, we've crossed
the border to Twin Lakes, Wis., to visit Oriole Springs Apple
Orchard. Some years the outing includes a caravan of cousins,
uncles and grandparents. Some years, it's just us. Either way, we
spend a day enjoying nature and each other without
Twin Lakes is just an hour's drive from the western
suburbs, making it an easy weekend morning trip. Our first stop is
Harvest Time Smokehouse. The kids can run around, climb haystacks
and feed the goats in the small zoo. My husband waits in line for
coffee and warm, delicious doughnuts. Consider bringing a small
cooler since the smokehouse also offers a wide variety of Wisconsin
meats and cheeses as well as fresh-pressed apple cider.
Then it's back in the car for the two-minute drive up the
lane and into the apple orchard. Not all apples ripen at the same
time. If you know what you like, Red Delicious vs. Macintosh, find
out the prime picking week. We chose early October because of the
selection of ripe apples, plus the availability of freshly cut
pumpkins. Employees will supply you with bushel bags and guide you
to various picking spots based on your preferences. Be sure to ask
for a couple of small bags since they get really heavy as they
The real fun is in the picking. Kids can climb trees for
good picks as well as great photo opportunities. Trust me when I
say that picked apples are far superior to anything you can buy in
the store. Even my fruit-finicky 9-year-old loves snacking on these
tasty treats. Once we've filled our bushel bags, we stop in a
pumpkin patch to find our perfect fall pumpkins. Small, large,
skinny or fat, there's a pumpkin for everyone early in
Before leaving the orchard, you'll pay for the amount
picked. Since you pay for a bag whether it's full or not, combine
your picks as much as possible for the best deal.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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