Picking apples is more than just a way to stock up for all of the pies, preserves and sauces you’ll make this winter. When the leaves change color and the air cools away from high the temperatures of summer, picking apples is a tradition in Minnesota that is meant for loved ones and for family. Where can you find those perfectly crisp, juicy and always delicious apples? Pack up the family and head out to one of these Minnesota orchards. And here are a few more ideas from CBS Minnesota’s 2013 article: “Best Apple Picking In Minnesota.”
Fireside Orchards and Gardens
2225 Lonsdale Blvd. E.
Northfield, MN 55057
As if willing the warmth and comfort of an autumn fire with a name like Fireside, these apples prove why changing seasons are a blessing and not a curse. The selection of pre-picked apples is incredible in the cool-room, but for those of us who understand the joys of picking a ripe red apple straight from the tree, you’re welcome to spend as long as you’d like plucking and picking. Spend an afternoon wandering between the rows and rows of trees, looking for those perfect apples. For 43 years, Fireside has turned the Northfield countryside into a destination for Minnesota families, and the quality of apples speak for themselves.
Whistling Well Farm
8973 St Croix Trail South
Hastings, MN 55033
You’ll get the full apple picking experience at this picturesque farm in the St. Croix Valley. Not only are the lush trees ripe with fruit, but the friendly people at Whistling Well will even tell you about the process. Over 20 different varieties are available here, some of which were developed by the University of Minnesota (which has created some of the best apples in the world). The landscape seems straight out of a storybook, and the animals on the premises add a quaint, classically Midwestern touch. This is a day trip that will be fun for everyone.
6530 County Road 26
Minnetrista, MN 55364
For a flat $6, you can enjoy the expansive grounds of the Minnetonka Orchards on Saturdays and Sundays, complete with corn maze and play equipment for the young ones, as well as live music and food stands that aren’t available throughout the week. Catering to everyone, this orchard can either be the busy, bustling experience on the weekend, common to popular Minnesota orchards, or calm and quiet during the weekdays (when admission is free). It’s perfect for a picnic and leisurely stroll past apple trees practically glowing with bright red fruit.
26205 Fairlawn Ave.
Webster, MN 55088
This is not your average apple orchard. Focusing less on the corn mazes and petting zoos that add to the experience of other orchards in Minnesota, Sweetland is focused on the best of apples and apple products. It’s all about the product. The name says it all: Sweetland. The friendly faces at this orchard will direct you to the parts of the orchard currently most ripe, and provide you with tips of the trade. Come here for tours, tastings or just good old fashioned apple-picking in a setting unmatched in its dedication to food growing. And you can find some of Minnesota’s best hard cider here as well. Adults take note: you will be wowed.
8251 Old Highway 169 Blvd.
Jordan, MN 55352
Apples are king at this historic orchard, and the picking schedule allows you to know what you’re picking and when. Various types, including some harder to find apples, are available for you to bring home in bulk. They’re all delicious, but part of the fun is finding your favorites, so grab a basket and head out into the orchard to find some of the best apples around. If you’re really passionate about apples and all that they entail, you can host events at this orchard, from weddings to graduation parties, for a truly Minnesotan celebration.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.