Picking the Best Apples in Our Region

Many people love autumn for the glorious weather that the season provides, since it leads to fun outdoor activities cropping up for just a short amount of time. Apple picking is a quintessential fall activity, and some of the best orchards out there are right in our backyards.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best places around to purchase apples. Some locations let you pick away, while others specialize in pre-picked options. You’ll notice all these locations offer other goodies, as well.

Curran’s Orchard

6385 Kilburn Ave., Rockford, (815) 963-7848, curransorchard.com

This family-run destination is known for using fewer chemicals to grow its apples, resulting in pure, delicious fruit. The store and bakery offer apple donuts, award-winning cider, freshly baked apple pie, caramel apples, honey, maple syrup, jams, salad dressings and craft items. In addition to treats, enjoy hay wagon rides, a farm animal corral, climbing bales, a straw bale mini-maze, apple launcher and more.

Valley Orchard

811 E. State St., Cherry Valley, (815) 332-9696, thevalleyorchard.com

This family-owned orchard offers approximately 30 varieties of apples. Pick your own or purchase pre-picked apples in the store. In addition, visitors can pick rhubarb, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, currants and blackberries at various times throughout the year. Cider, slushies, donuts, apple pies, cinnamon bread, caramel apples and fudge are also available in the store, plus a variety of jams, jellies, salsas, honey, squash, pumpkins, gourds and more.

Edwards Apple Orchard East

7061 Centerville Road, Poplar Grove, (815) 765-2234, edwardsorchard.farm

This fourth-generation family farm is famous for its apple cider donuts. Find crisp apples, freshly pressed apple cider, delicious baked goods and more. Pick your own apples from more than 30 varieties or purchase pre-picked apples by the half peck. You can also pick your own pumpkins and berries and find specialty foods and baked treats in the farm market.

Edwards Apple Orchard West

8218 Cemetery Road, Winnebago, (815) 963-2261, edwardsorchardwest.com

Highlights of this popular destination include apple cider donuts, 18 varieties of apples, freshly made apple cider, caramel apples, U-Pick apples and pumpkins, a free children’s play area, a petting farm, tractor rides and more.

DeMeester’s Greenhouse, Lawn Care & Appleland Orchard

1706 S. Baileyville Road, Freeport, (815) 235-2606, demeestersgreenhouse-applelandorchard.com

The apples at DeMeester’s Orchard won’t be ready for picking this year since it can take up to eight years for newly planted apple trees to start bearing fruit. However, the trees at DeMeester’s are coming along nicely, and this will likely be a prime destination for apple picking in just a couple of years. Meanwhile, DeMeester’s also boasts a large plant nursery with colorful blooms, annual and perennial plants, trees and shrubs, and seasonal plants such as pumpkins. The gift shop offers fresh fruit preserves, homemade BBQ sauce, local honey and syrups and more.

The Apple Hut

1718 W. Walters Road, Beloit, (608) 362-1961, facebook.com/The-Apple-Hut

A haven for fall treats, The Apple Hut offers 17 varieties of apples, apple pies (both baked and frozen), caramel apples, cider donuts, pumpkin bread, apple cinnamon bread, apple cider, jams, honey, squash and other goodies. Keep in mind, this location doesn’t accept credit or debit, but there is an ATM on site.

Ten Eyck Orchard

W968 Highway 11 & 81, Brodhead, Wis., (608) 447-0034, teneyckorchard.com

Six generations of Ten Eycks have operated this orchard that today offers more than 50 varieties of apples, from the popular U-Pick Honeycrisp to unique pre-picked antique options such as Russet, Snow, Winesap and others. There’s also pears, pumpkins, squash, cider, apple butter, honey and made-from-scratch baked goods available for purchase. ❚