Apples hanging on the tree bring to mind cool fall breezes and the sweet crisp crunch of fresh apples. Despite this spring’s wacky weather, our local orchards have apples left for the picking. Call or check online for the most current picking report.
The average price for a peck of apples (10 1/2 pounds) ranges at $14-$15, about $1.40 per pound. Several of these orchads also have free admission and no parking fees.
Whether you’re looking for an old-fashioned, “no-frills” orchard or one brimming with extras like cider donuts, pumpkins and hay rides, these orchards are sure to please and can offer a simple, good time that’s also a good value.
Check out the list of reccomended spots at the end of this article for places to stop by after your apple-picking adventure.
Apple Picking and Storage tips
Apple varieties information
If you have a few hours to spare this Friday or Saturday, zip over the Heinz Orchard, only 45 minutes from Arlington Heights. This welcoming family-run orchard has been in operation over 50 years and offers “just the apples, please” fun without the long drive.
1050 Crest Road, Green Oaks, (847) 770-3449 or heinzorchard.com.
Crop report: Call (847) 770-3449 for current crop availiability. As of Friday, September 30 there is a very limited crop of Empire and Golden Delicious, and a limited crop of Red Delicious.
Extras: The pure, raw natural honey is unfortunately sold out. Similar natural honey can be found at the Palatine, Arlington Heights, or Mt. Prospect Farmer’s markets.
Info: Half-peck bags (6 lbs) for $8, or one-peck bags (about 10 1/2 lbs) for $15. Cash only. No admission or parking fees. Open from Friday and Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through October 1, until the orchard is “picked out” for the season.
17411 Secor Road, Woodstock, (815) 568-7547 or langsorchard.com.
Lang’s Orchard is the old-fashioned, country-style orchard you may remember from your childhood. This small family-run, family/kid-friendly orchard offers no bells and whistles, only fresh, crisp apples and a simple (budget-friendly!) good time.
Apple report: The season opened September 10 and will continue through mid/late October, until the orchard is “picked out”. No heirlooms are grown, but Lang’s offers 13 popular varieties including Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire, Jona-Go-Red and pre-picked Honeycrisp (when availiable). Call, check Facebook or online or for the most up-to-date picking schedule.
Extras: Purchase all-natural, no-sugar-added fruit spreads, apple butter, jalapeno jellies, salsas and seasonal craft items at the store.
Info: Most varieties except Honeycrisp cost $14 a peck. U-pick and pre-picked are available. Cash or check only. No parking or admission fees. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday; orchard closed Thursday and Friday.
More Than Delicious Orchard
9905 W. Thompson Road, Woodstock, (815) 338-2309 or morethandelicious.com.
This charming family-run orchard owned by Mike and Velma Downes was chosen as Chicago Magazine’s “Best of 2010” apple orchard. What began as a hobby 30 years ago has now fruited into an orchard with over 80 varieties of apples, including heirloom varieties like Smokehouse and Snow. 60 are available through the season for picking.
Apple Report:The season opened 9/2/11 and will run through the end of October. Call or check online for weekly updates on the most accurate picking schedule.
Extras:A small shop sells locally-made honey, applesauce donuts, and pears (Asian and European) grown in the Downes’ pear orchard.
Info: Pecks cost $15 and a half-bushel costs $26. Cash or check only. No parking or admission fees. Open seasonally from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
11802 Charles Road, Woodstock, (815) 338-7443 or homesteadorchard.net.
Farming lies deep in the roots of this orchard; since 1839 this land has been continuously farmed and today bears crops of apples, pears, raspberries, and cherries. An authentic 1880s horse barn housing the orchard store adds an historic touch. The Burdas also produces local honey from their own bee hives.
Apple Report: 20 varieties are grown; Jonathan, McIntosh, Empire and Duchess are currently ready for picking. Pre-bagged heirlooms like Cox Orange Pippen and Wolf River are sold in the store. These two varieties, available during mid-to-late September are excellent dessert or pie apples. Call or check online for the latest updates and most accurate picking schedule.
Extras: Find locally-made wildflower honey, Amish jams and salsas, plus hand-crafted items, beeswax candles and perhaps some antiques at the store. Learn about World War II, pay tribute to WWII veterans, or see WWII memorabilia in the store’s commerative WWII room.
Info: Price is $1.40 per pound for apples, no minimum. Cash or check only. No parking or admission fees. U-pick hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; open noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
15908 Hebron Road, Harvard. Call (815) 648-4141 or visit royaloakfarmorchard.com.
With 120 acres of orchard, farmland and family-fun and entertainment spaces, Royal Oak could be the “king” of our local orchards. This large orchard seeks to be stewards of all that God has given them, while providing a great value for families.
There is no admission for the entertainment area and free activites include the play area, petting zoo, and occasional live music. Refreshments like apple cider donuts, caramel apples and cider are sold in the bakery/country store or have lunch at the Country Kitchen Restaurant.
Apple report: Open till 11/19 for the 2011 season. 29 varieties are grown; Gala, Jonamac, Cortland and Ozark Gold, McIntosh and more now available. Honeycrisp is still available pre-picked at the store. Biointensive Integrated Pest management helps the orchard to control pests without spraying chemicals.
Call or check the current crop report/picking schedule online for the most accurate information. Pumpkins, gourds, and squash are now available.
Extras: Besides the market/gift shop, bakery and restaurant, Royal oak offers pumpkins, train and hay rides, a free kids’ play area and fall activities and entertainment scheduled through October. Check the 2011 Activites Page.
Info: $16 per peck for U-pick varieties; with a minimum of one peck per family. Admission is $3 per vehicle on Saturdays ($1 for motorcycles); no admission during the week. Open until November 19 Mondays through Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed Sundays.
Pine Apple Acres
The pun may not be immediate, but Pine Apple Acres’ name quickly reveals its story—a farm that is half orchard, half Christmas tree farm. It’s located conveniently one mile from the IL Route 47 exit of the I-90 Northwest Tollway.
41651 Powers Road, Huntley. Call (847) 669-3251 or visit pineapple-acres.com.
Crop report: The season started Friday, Sept. 9, with six varieties available, including Gala, Granny Smith, Jonagold and Golden Delicious. Call for current crop conditions as this smaller orchard may be “picked out” soon.
Extras: Honey from its hives. Come back after November 25 to claim your pick of 1,400 Christmas Trees up to 15 feet in varieties like pines, White Spruce, Douglas and Fraser Firs.
Info: $5 entrance fee per car that counts as a credit if total apple purchase for the vehicle exceeds $37.50 (25 pounds of apples at $1.50 per pound). Cash or checks only. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Monday. Apple season may end the first weekend in October. Opens again 11/25 for Christmas trees.
Prairie Sky Orchard
4914 N. Union Road, Union. Call (815) 923-4834 or visit prairieskyorchard.com.
Prairie Sky started over 15 years ago with a healthy pumpkin crop and some bright signs that resembled apples more than pumpkins. After hearing people ask “Where’s the apples?” the Arndts planted 100 apple trees which has since grown into 1600 trees to choose from with Gala and Jonagold for picking. Pumpkins and U-pick raspberries are available as well.
Crop report: The season continues through October 30 and bagged varieties like Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Johnnathan and Jonagold are available for sale. Call for the most current picking report.
Extras: Fall raspberries and pumpkins for picking, plus U-bake pies and cider donuts (weekend only) salas, jams and other gourmet foods sold at the orchard store.
Info: Price is $15.50 per peck; $30 per half bushel, priced by the pound. Cash, check and credit/debit accepted. No parking or admission fees. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through October 30.
If time allows, take a quick stop at these recommended spots:
Route 120 in McHenry: Stop by the Riverside Chocolate Company and nosh on homemade chocolate-dipped goodies and fudge or classic candies at this old-fashioned style candy shop.
2102 W Il Route 120 (120/Chapell Hill Rd) | McHenry, IL 60051| (815) 344-6040
Woodstock/Harvard: Historic Downtown Woodstock with its charming shops and town square offers a relaxing spot to catch lunch or mill around.
Union/Huntley: Rail and train aficionados will want to stop by the Illinois Railway Museum, America’s largest railway museum.
Weekend Hours: 10:30AM – 5:00PM, grounds 9:00AM – 6:00PM
7000 Olson Road | Union, Illinois, 60180 | 1-800-BIG-RAIL
Grab a bite to eat at the classic Huntley greasy spoon Dairy Mart, located on Rte. 47which serves up burgers, hot dogs, sandwhiches, fried snacks and a slew of soft-serve ice cream treats for reasonable prices. Open till 9:30 p.m. daily.
10706 N Il Route 47| Huntley, IL 60142 | (847) 669-5737
Libertyville: Stroll through the Heritage Area of downtown Libertyville and explore the many shops and places to eat of this picturesque downtown area.