Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Archive for apples

At the orchard

One of my favorite fall things to do with the kids is to go to an orchard.  Usually we’re in search of the Minnesota favorite Honeycrisp, and today we weren’t disappointed.  We stopped at Holmberg Orchard near Vesta/Marshall, Minnesota, where we’ve gone annually for the past four or five years.  I also realized that, although the kids and I have been on 10 or 11 orchard trips in the past five years or so, hubby has only been along on one of them, so it was a treat to have him accompany us today!

Since the kids still had their church clothes on, we didn’t allow a tromp in the corn-filled boats (yes, real corn in real boats, and it is fun for kids!) but we did take the tractor-pulled hayride through the orchard.  In previous years, the wagon took us out to the pumpkin-picking area, but this year it was just a tour of the orchard.  For some of their fall events weekends, the orchard has special activities going on as well.  In past years we’ve been treated to clowns and pony rides.

While hubby and the kids picked out a huge pumpkin to carve (a steal at $5), I went into the gift shop and made our apple purchase.  I had my heart set on both Honeycrisps and Zestars, but the price deterred me from buying more than one bag and Honeycrisp won out.  (Honeycrisps were $11 for 1/2 pk bag and $20 for a pk; Zestars were $10 1/2 pk and $19/pk.) 

Before we left, we stopped in the snack bar area where we each chose between apple crisp, ice cream, or cider (hot or cold).  Older son wanted a barbecue, but we had to remind him that we’d had lunch only an hour earlier.

A trip to the orchard is always a good way to celebrate fall.  I suspect that we’ll continue our orchard treats even when our own trees (hopefully soon!) bear enough fruit that I don’t have to buy apples.

 

What orchard memories do you have?  Do you have a favorite orchard to visit? 

If you’re in Minnesota and have seen Honeycrisp or Zestar apples at better prices than I mentioned above, please let me know, as I’d love to stock the fridge.  Honeycrisps easily keep into January or February if cared for properly!

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Holmberg Orchard

Holmberg Orchard

6 miles west of Vesta on County Road 30, 1 mile north on County Road 8, Vesta, MN.  507-762-3131.  www.holmbergorchard.com
Free admission.  Free parking.  Stroller accessible.  Restroom available.  Concessions available (dates/hours vary).

This ended up being our third annual trip to the Holmberg Orchard, and we weren’t disappointed.  We first went two years ago on a weekday, just for apples, and last year joined an ECFE field trip to the orchard.  This year we stopped because it was on our way to Walnut Grove and I was hoping to buy a few more Honeycrisp apples since we were driving by.

We arrived at the orchard just after it opened at 10 a.m. and were the first car in the parking lot.  The kids played in the boats filled with corn, and then we bought a few squash and found our apples.  The boys noticed the sign for hayrides to the pumpking patch, but I explained that the hayrides (per the sign) didn’t start until 11:00, and it was only 10:20.  The proprietor asked if the kids wanted rides and promptly found someone to take us, so we had a private ride through the orchard to the huge pumpkin patch.  The kids each chose a pumpkin and we headed back and paid for them.  By this time, the kids noticed that they were setting up for pony rides, and the lunch stand opened at 11 a.m., so we stuck around a while longer so we could have lunch and pony rides before leaving.

Bottom line:  the early hayride netted the orchard an additional $31 in sales (pumpkins, lunch, and pony rides) and made the day a lot more fun for the kids.  It’s nice to visit a business that is so accommodating to its customers!

Deardorff Orchards

Deardorff Orchards

8350 Parley Lake Rd., Waconia, MN.  www.deardorfforchards.com
Free.  Free parking (along gravel road).  Stroller accessible.  Restrooms (porta-potties) available.  Some foods available in apple store.

Fall in Minnesota wouldn’t be complete without a trip to an orchard to find some home-grown Honeycrisp apples.  Our orchard of choice this year was Deardorff Orchards, between Waconia and Victoria, Minnesota.  We arrived on a crisp September morning and parked along the road, then walked onto the farm site that is home to the orchard.  We played on the hay pile and saw a few farm animals, then boarded a flatbed, tractor-pulled wagon to pick our own apples.

When we visited Deardorff two years ago, I had three children, ages 4, 2, and 1, and I was nervous enough about the flatbed ride that we didn’t go to the pick-your-own area.  With the kids a little older, though, and the staff being willing to help me lift the stroller onto the cart (and me locking the wheels), I gave it a try, being sure we were sitting in the middle of the trailer.  The tractor deposited us in the orchard after describing where we could find various varieties of apples.  We picked some apples and then returned to the farm, where we walked through the store.  There, in refrigerators, were additional pre-picked apples, as well as pumpkins, jams and jellies, doughnuts, and other goods.  We paid for our apples and made our way back to the car.  Deardorff also has special activities, including cider and hotdogs, at certain times, and they have wagons for pulling apples or kids, and the site is picturesque enough that it served as our Christmas card picture a few years ago.  So, take the kids and your camera to Deardorff Orchards when you want some good, homegrown Minnesota apples!