Can you capture autumn in a single memory? When I catch a whiff of apple-cinnamon spice, it takes me back to the apple orchard we went to every year. It was never quite fall until we had spent an afternoon picking apples, racing through the corn maze, and petting and feeding the goats. Then, we would go in the little country store for some apple cider and apple fritters before heading home with our apples, a pumpkin or two and a gallon of cider. A lot has changed since then, but one thing that’s the same is the allure of the apple orchard. This fall, take some time to make some memories with your family at these five farms in northern Indiana.
Garwood Orchards — LaPorte
Not only is Garwood’s one of the oldest orchards in the state, it’s also the largest. To go U-picking, take the horse-drawn wagon out to the orchard. And when you get back, satisfy your munchies on some American favorites —burgers, brats, hot dogs and farm-raised corn on the cob (when available) — at Garwood Grille. Or, for a taste of the old country, stop by the Bake Shoppe and Gelato Bar for baked goods, gelato and sorbetto!
Garwood Orchards (appleupick.com) is located at 5911 W. 50 S., LaPorte, IN. They can be reached at 219-362-4385. There is a $5/person entry fee on the weekends.
Kerchers Sunrise Orchard and Farm Market — Goshen
This family-owned and operated orchard has been around for 97 years. Beyond apples and pumpkins, they have a corn maze and hayrides — free of charge! Kerchers is also known for their farm market, which sells in-season produce plus every kind of fun goodie you could imagine, from cider to popcorn, from gift baskets to soy candles and so much more. Their bakery also has many wonderful, tempting treats.
Kerchers (kerchersorchard.com) is located at 19498 Co. Rd. 38, Goshen, IN and can be reached at 574-533-6311. They are open for school tours during the week and to the public on weekends.
McClure’s Orchard — Peru
Located between Rochester and Peru, McClure’s is fantastic for a day with the family. They have an area for the kiddos complete with a playground, animal barn, horse rides (on the weekends), and a concession trailer. For U-picking, hop on the handicapped-accessible trolley for a trip into the orchard. Or if you prefer, purchase ready-picked produce in the Apple Barn. Speaking of the Apple Barn, step inside before you leave. On top of orchard-grown produce, they sell mums, apple cider and more. In the loft is their Christmas Room, which is well worth checking out. If you don’t walk downstairs humming carols, don’t blame the staff!
If you get hungry, stop by the Café for a light meal or a delicious treat. And mom and dad, check out their award-winning adult beverages. Enjoy a glass or opt for a few samples.
McClure’s (mccluresorchard.com) is located at 5054 N. US HWY 31, Peru, IN. They can be reached at 765-985-9000.
Thistleberry Farm — South Bend
Imagine a farm that’s masquerading as an amusement park, and you have a good description of Thistleberry. They have a wide variety of activities, from a corn box (it’s like a massive sandbox that’s filled with corn) to a jungle gym made of tractor tires. They also have activities your teenagers will love, like a couple of corn mazes and so much more. General admission is $8.50 a person Monday-Friday and $12.50 on the weekends. Group discounts are available.
Thistleberry Farm (thistleberryfarm.com) is located at 61391 Mayflower Rd., South Bend. They can be reached at 574-289-0164.
Yellow River Farms — Knox
This farm, known for the giant pumpkin on top of their barn silo, is open to the public on the weekends. Check out the play area with an 80-foot slide, tube swing, straw bale maze and a kiddie tunnel. For the older members of the family, there’s a corn maze and a pumpkin cannon as well. When you’re ready to pick a pumpkin, enjoy a free ride on the horse or tractor-drawn wagon out to the field. Before you leave, check out their gift shop, full of fall regalia and homemade goodies like jams and jellies.
Yellow River Farms (yellowriverfarms.com) is located 4 miles east of Knox on Rt. 8. They can be reached at 574-772-2581.