Picking apples straight from the tree. Finding the perfect pumpkin. Smelling the deliciousness of fresh apple cider doughnuts. Ahh, how I love fall!
For fellow fall enthusiasts, this time of year is hard to beat. But whether you want to live in your flannel or prefer to bundle up (Are you crazy???), you’ll find no shortage of fun on the farm in McHenry County. Here are four don’t-miss spots.
Where: 14510 Illinois Route 176, Woodstock
When: Sept. 2-Oct. 29
Fun things to do: Each September and October, the fall festival includes apple picking, a pumpkin patch, farm market, bakery, cider mill and restaurant. All the family fun happens at The Barnyard, with more than 30 activities. Get lost in the 10-acre corn maze, blast apples from cannons, watch pig races and zip down the mini zip line.
Don’t miss: Taste delicious seasonal treats made onsite, including yummy apple cider doughnuts, apple cider and caramel made the old-fashioned way—in a copper kettle.
Cost: There is an admission charge per person for apple picking and The Barnyard.
Local love: “There are no ‘gimmicks.’ It’s all about the farm and the U-pick apples. Their doughnuts are amazing. The littles can run and be free.” —Devan S.
Where: 15908 Hebron Road, Harvard
When: Aug. 18-Nov. 12
Fun things to do: With four generations of this family living and working on the farm, the farm is truly built with families in mind. Save time for essential fall activities like apple picking, carousel rides, kiddie train ride, wagon rides, orchard tours and a petting zoo. When hunger strikes, follow your nose to the bakery where you’ll smell apple cider doughnuts, fudge, caramel apples and pies.
Don’t miss: A run or walk through the world’s first apple maze shaped like a giant apple. Catch an orchard tour to learn about the history of the orchard and how trees are grown. Try the apple cider doughnuts (duh) or their famous chicken pot pie. Hot out? Cider slushees can’t be beat. Cost: There’s no admission cost. Just pay for the activities you want to do!
Local love: “Love this place! Very family friendly, easy and home-like feel about the whole place. Nice open fields and petting zoo, fantastic home-cooked meals, very large U-pick apple orchard.”—Lucy B.
Where: 3709 Miller Road, McHenry
When: Sept. 9-Oct. 29. Open Saturdays and Sundays in September; Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Columbus Day in October.
Fun things to do: Families flock here for Shades of Autumn Festival and classic farm fun. Watch pumpkin cannon demos blast at the top of every hour. Take a spin on the beautifully restored 1922 Carousel. Activities abound, including a mini-Ferris wheel, veggie cars, slide mountain, a unique cattle truck maze, hand-cut corn maze, outdoor concerts, ziplines, climbing bins, jumping pillow, corn box, barrel train and pedal cars.
Don’t miss: People have been known to drive great distances for a taste of the sweet corn. Apple cider doughnuts and pies are a must. And be sure to take a ride on Frank, the big purple combine.
Cost: Admission costs $15; kids 2 and under are admitted free.
Local love: “Stade’s is the best! I enjoy classic farm fun. Petting zoo, corn mazes, tractor rides, pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts. A place with friendly staff. And Stade’s has that all!” —Kerie G.
Where: 19502 River Road, Marengo
When: Sept. 9-Oct. 29
Fun on the farm: As a true working farm, all of the activities here are farm-related. Explore the five-acre corn maze, go apple picking or take a hayride into the giant pumpkin patch. More fun includes barrel rides, rubber duck races, corn box, pedal tractor track and the barrel roll.
Don’t miss: Sampling an apple cider doughnut or two, then picking apples from the new apple orchard.
Cost: There is no admission. A $6 wristband pays for activities.
Local love: “They have their own pumpkin patch you take a hayride, too. Awesome prices, cider and cider doughnuts.” —Candace H.
Where: 909 English Prairie Road, Spring Grove
When: Sept. 2-Oct. 29
Fun things to do: Calling all Cubs fans: This is one maze you don’t want to miss! The farm pays tribute to our World Champion Cubbies with its 30-acre maze. Families with littles will appreciate the designated kids’ maze because they can’t get lost! With more than 25 activities, families have a huge variety of things to do, including jumping pillows, pig races, a train and carousel rides. Make it a whole family affair by renting your own picnic/campfire space.
Don’t miss: Walk up the 50-tall observation tower to take in the view of the corn maze and the whole farm.
Cost: Admission is $16 for ages 13 and up, $13 for kids 4-12 and free for kids 3 and under.
Local love: “Richardson Farm is awesome! They have a huge corn maze and tons of things for the kids to do.” —Katie L.