For Michiganders young and old, fall means a lot of things. It means changing leaves, corn mazes, and comfortable weather. It also means visiting cider mills for delicious apple cider and donuts and you won’t find much better than Parmenter’s Cider Mill in Northville.
Located in Metro Detroit, Parmenter’s has been going strong for 150 years. It’s steeped in tradition and is a must-visit spot for hundreds of Mitten State residents during the fall.
Parmenter’s is one of the oldest continuously operating businesses in Northville and its big red barn — with its name across the top in white letters — is a familiar site to all who stop by.
Parmenter’s Northville Cider Mill: 150 Years of Tradition
Parmenter’s, the famous Northville Cider Mill, is located at 714 Baseline Rd in Northville, Michigan.
It will open on Aug. 26, 2023, and celebrate its 150 season in 2023. It will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The cider mill typically opens in mid-August and is open until mid-November.
The Early Years
The rich history of Parmenter’s Cider Mill dates back to the mid-1800s when Navy veteran Benijah Aldrich “Madge” Parmenter returned to farming in the Novi/Northville area and established Parmenter’s Mill in 1873.
The mill originally produced vinegar, using a team of horses to power the mill. By 1880, a threshing machine engine at the mill ground up as many as 10,000 bushels of apples each year. The mill churned out apple cider vinegar as its main product until the 1950s, but it also produced apple cider and apple butter.
Parmenter’s mill was run by five generations of the Parmenter family from 1873 to 1968.
Under New Ownership
In 1968, the mill was sold by Robert Parmenter, a fifth-generation descendent of Benjiah, to Vern and Ruth Bodker. The Bodkers upgraded the mill’s cider-making operations, added a winery in 1982, and rebuilt the mill after a fire claimed the original structure in 1977.
The mill was sold yet again in 1991 when sisters Cheryl Nelson and Diane Jones and their husbands bought the mill from their neighbors the Bodkers. This quartet ran mill operations for the next 22 years.
Robert Nelson Jr. and his wife Carina bought the Northville Winery from his aunt and uncle in 2006, added a microbrewery on the property in 2014, and purchased the mill in 2016. They hope to “keep it in the family” for years to come.
A Delicious Array of Offerings
Cider and donuts are undoubtedly the stars of the show at many cider mills across Metro Detroit. For cider mill visitors, there’s just something magical about warm, soft, fresh-made donuts, and tart cider, straight from the source.
Parmenter’s offers top-notch cider and donuts too, but the cider mill offers its visitors so much more, especially if they like apples. Parmenter’s cider is even award-winning, having been honored in the past by the Michigan State Horticultural Society with a Michigan Apple Cider Award.
Visitors to Parmenter’s can indulge in apple pies, caramel apple chips, donut chips, apple butter, roasted almonds, and all sorts of other homemade goodies.
Visitors looking to quench their thirst can visit the Northville Brewery for refreshing hard cider and beer.
A Fun Experience for the Whole Family
Michiganders and out-of-state visitors alike love this apple cider mill for its apples, cider, and donuts, but there’s so much more to do there than just eat.
After you’ve waited in line and gotten a taste of Parmenter’s goodies, there’s plenty more to experience, especially if the weather is nice.
If the kiddos are looking for something fun to do, turn them loose and let them enjoy the on-site playground. Visitors who enjoy going for fall walks can stroll around the property, visit the ducks that live near the Rouge River, and enjoy the sites and sounds of a beautiful fall day.
Those who visit Northville Winery can enjoy an extensive craft beer and hard cider menu as well as food trucks and live music on select dates.
A Michigan Cider Mill Experience at Parmenter’s
Native Virginian Jennifer Bowman moved to Michigan in 2011 and got a true Michigan cider mill experience at Parmenter’s, which she wrote about in 2013:
Where I come from, “fall” means pumpkins. It means changing leaves, chili dogs, hay rides, and corn mazes. It’s my favorite time of year, and I always imagined that any other place would be hard-pressed to match the best parts of the season as they occur along the Blue Ridge.
That’s why I think it’s fantastic that Michigan has all of these things, plus another local tradition that I was unfamiliar with before moving to the mitten: cider mills.
Cider Mills: A Fall Tradition in Michigan
Not only do we get to drink cider and eat fresh apples this time of year—but we also get to enjoy these products while they’re still fresh and know that we’re supporting local farms and businesses along the way.
It definitely feels a little more special than picking up a gallon of “I-don’t-know-who-made-this” cider from the grocery section of Wal-Mart.
This year, everything that could possibly stand in the way of a cider mill visit seemed to happen. Schedules got busy, trips got rained out, and plans got canceled.
Early autumn slipped through my fingertips, and I became a little anxious as I wondered if I’d be able to enjoy a little bit of fall flavor before the Christmas season rolled around.
I love gingerbread and peppermint as much as the next girl, but give me a little cinnamon and pumpkin spice until Thanksgiving comes.
An Unexpected Cider Mill Surprise
I know that many cider mills stay open throughout November, but as I searched for one that I could visit in between work, church, and other plans, I kept coming across the same problem—everything seemed to be open during regular weekday business hours.
Sure, there’s always Saturday, but that’s also the day I use to accomplish the 10,000 other things I didn’t get to do between Monday and Friday.
Then, I came across Parmenter’s Northville Cider Mill in Northville. It promised me cider, it promised me donuts, and best of all—it was open until 7 p.m. Because this place was obviously tailored just for me, I had to check it out.
After work one day, I hopped in the car, drove home to change, and even had a few minutes to unwind before going back out and finding the mill. When I got there, it was dark (thanks, Daylight Savings Time!), and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get the “full experience” since I had read so much about early-September activities, like eating outside and watching the apple press in all its glory.
A Cozy Hideaway in Northville
Parmenter’s, however, is more than just a warm-weather activity. It’s a cozy hideaway when the air gets cold, nestled just far enough from busy roads, yet close enough to town that you can swing by when you’re craving something sweet.
When I stepped into the barn, I found a comfortable, adorably decorated store filled with old signs, whimsical decorations, and lots of fudge and apple treats.
Telling the woman at the counter I had never been there before, she smiled and explained the selection, and I sat down with my husband at an indoor picnic bench to enjoy some deliciously smooth cider and cinnamon-sugar donuts.
While I love the instant melt-in-your-mouth taste of “typical” cider mill donuts, the donuts from Parmenter’s were unique in that they were puffier and denser than others—and more practical for buying in large quantities.
Case in point: a fluffier, cake-ier donut keeps longer because it stays soft instead of shriveling up as other donuts do after cooling. I approve, Parmenter’s, I approve.
Something For Everyone at Parmenter’s
I, for one, am glad for Parmenter’s resiliency and how it caters to everyone—from families to the after-work crowd. I mean, fresh donuts and cider that you can pick up on your way home or enjoy in-house on a cozy evening? That’s so Michigan. And I’m totally a fan.
Visit Other Cider Mills Around Michigan
Parmenter’s is one of Metro Detroit’s best cider mills, but there are dozens of them in Michigan with lots to offer, including donuts and fresh cider. Some of them, like Dexter Cider Mill near Ann Arbor, have been open for more than 100 years!
If you’re craving apple cider or donuts, or you just want to visit a cider mill, check out our cider mill guide for some of the best places in the state.