Take Your Pick of Michigan Apples

Take Your Pick of Michigan Apples

Cortland, Jonamac, McIntosh, Gala, Honeycrisp, Empire, Jonagold, Ida Red, Winesap, Fuji, Granny Smith… Apples from Michigan are among the best in the country, and what better time to enjoy the delicious, crisp sweetness of your favorite variety right off the tree.

This fall’s apple crop is estimated to be the largest Michigan has ever produced, according to the Michigan Apple Committee. I’ve already taken one trip to the orchard this year, and it won’t be the last. My kids eat apples by the bushel, and cider only lasts so long.

For many families, picking apples in the fall is a generations-old tradition. As is the growing of apples, since many of Michigan’s orchards are family-owned and operated and have been for many years. As different as the varieties of apples they grow, every orchard is unique. You can take a whole day to enjoy what a Michigan orchard has to offer – acres of apples, pumpkins, petting zoos, bakeries, hayrides, cider, wine and, my favorite, hot-out-of-the-fryer doughnuts!

There are so many orchards in Michigan, you’ll have no trouble finding one to visit. Here are a few of my favorites:

Apple Cider - Awesome Mitten
Fresh pressed apple cider. Photo courtesy of Jackie Mitchell.

Country Mill

Where you’ll find it:
Charlotte, MI

What will bring you here:
Country Mill has more than 25 apple varieties. If you have a favorite apple, you’ll find it here. They also offer you-pick apples, blueberries, peaches, and pumpkins. There are also bushels and half-bushels of bagged apples available in their country store, along with a caramel apple station, wine tasting, a café with sandwiches and snacks, and never-ending trays of fresh, hot doughnuts. The play area and petting zoo will entertain the kids while you hunt for the perfect pumpkin.

What you’ll love:
Cider. Slushie. Cider slushie. Need I say more?

Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery

Where you’ll find it:
Grand Rapids, MI

What will bring you here:
Once on the outskirts of Grand Rapids, Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery now offers a taste of country living in the midst a thriving city. Cider has been flowing through the mill at Robinette’s since 1971, when they opened their doors to become a family destination in West Michigan. Grab some apple bread or a maple bacon doughnut and have a look around. The corn maze, hayrides, winery, café, jumping pillow, and outdoor trail provide something for everyone.

What you’ll love:
A five-mile trail that runs through the orchard and northern part of the farm. It’s a challenging trail that will keep runners and mountain bikers on their toes. Or, you can simply enjoy a nice walk through the scenery.

Apples, cider mill - Awesome Mitten
Fresh picked Michigan apples. Photo courtesy of Jackie Mitchell.

Friske’s Farm Market

Where you’ll find it:
Ellsworth, MI

What will bring you here:
Friske’s Farm Market has two hundred and forty acres of fun and food. The Marketplace & General Store is a walk down memory lane with unique specialty foods, kitchen gadgets, and nostalgic games. Featuring all things fruit, Friskes make their own salsas, salad dressings, jams, pie fillings, and juice. If you’re not too full, make your way out to the Orchard Playland and petting zoo or listen to live music on Apple Fest days.

What you’ll love:
Food, food, and more food. You can spend a week trying everything on the café’s breakfast, lunch, and pizza menus. And then take your pick of dessert items from the bakery and snack on everything in the market. “Eat, Shop, Play” is their motto.

Donuts and apple cider - Awesome Mitten
Warm sugar-sprinkled doughnuts and cold apple cider. Photo courtesy of Jackie Mitchell.

Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill

Where you’ll find it:
Armada, MI

What will bring you here:
One of the first you-pick orchards in Michigan, the Blakes started in 1946. Now they’ve expanded Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill to 500 acres across 3 locations, consisting of orchards and farmland with apples, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, pumpkins, and Christmas trees. Their award-winning cider has helped them get voted Michigan’s number one orchard by AAA authorities. They are a family entertainment farm featuring pony rides, train rides, hayrides, and corn mazes.

What you’ll love:
The hard cider. Made from their own apples, Blake’s hard ciders are the perfect way to enjoy a grown-up taste of apple cider.

Apple tree - Awesome Mitten
Ripe apple ready to pick. Photo courtesy of Jackie Mitchell.

If you get home and realize you picked way more apples than you can eat, use the apples in any of these tasty recipes. Or, try your hand at homemade applesauce. Warm or cold, it’s delicious over pork chops, ice cream, or eaten straight out of a bowl. It also freezes well, and opening a jar of homemade applesauce in March is like opening a jar of orchard sunshine – it’ll warm your heart!

What’s your favorite variety of Michigan apple? Let us know in the comments!

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I live with my boyfriend and our four kids in the Lansing area, but I grew up in Grand Rapids and my heart belongs to the UP. I spent nine summers on Mackinac Island through the Scout program, and I've camped and backpacked just about everywhere - North Manitou Island, Pictured Rocks, Porcupine Mountains, Isle Royale, and a hundred places in between. You can catch me on a trail, on a bike, on a motorcycle, in a kayak, by a bonfire, on a road trip, at a cookout, at a zoo, in the park, or knitting. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @JackieMwrites or on my website jackiemwrites.com.