When you think of the Midwest during the fall, besides experiencing beautiful foliage and lots of rain, one other thing comes to mind; apple cider mills. If you’re from the Midwest, which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is comprised of 12 states, taking the family to a cider mill to enjoy warm cider and freshly made donuts is a yearly tradition. There’s just something about the crisp fall air that combines with the scent of apples and baked goods that can encompass the feeling of fall that our friends from the South unfortunately just can’t understand.
Although apples are grown in almost every state in the U.S., with Washington being the leading producer, visiting the cider mill during the fall is something that’s inherently “Midwestern.” If you’re thinking of a Midwestern cider mill tour to soak up all the fall you can, we’ve picked one from each of the 12 Midwestern states that are a must-visit.
Starting with the most southwestern Midwestern state, the Louisberg Cider Mill has been a fall staple for Kansans since 1977. From humble beginnings, the 80-acre plot of apple-growing goodness started by Emmett and Mary O’Rear has bloomed into somewhat of an amusement park. An annual Ciderfest kicks off fall festivities in September. Then they have everything from corn mazes, pumpkin patches, live music on the weekend, to Halloween festivities. They close up shop after Halloween, with sporadic open houses to celebrate other holidays throughout the rest of the year.
Nebraska City, NE
Moving north to the land more known for its corn than its apples finds us at the Kimmel Apple Orchard and Vineyard. This farm has been operating for almost 100 years (since 1925). This orchard offers fun festivities throughout the fall season. Its wine bar featuring the classic Kimmel Apple Wine allows parents to blow off steam while the kids play on the farm. Kimmel Apple Orchard and Vineyard kicks off the fall season with an annual Applejack Festival featuring some great homemade hard cider.
Continuing north, you’ll reach the Country Apple Orchard in Harrisburg, South Dakota. Like every orchard, they offer you-pick apple picking from their 13 apple varieties. On top of that, they have tons of delicious goodies, from candy store offerings to food from outside vendors. Country Apple Orchard also offers many fun attractions for the kiddies like pony rides, train rides, corn/hay mazes, rubber duck races, and more.
By many people’s standards, considering North Dakota part of the Midwest might be a stretch. It’s also a stretch finding an apple orchard in North Dakota, let alone one that has cider. Nevertheless, we’re staying true to the government’s definition of the Midwest and including Oxbow Orchards. This small, family-owned orchard grows its own apples in the Northeast corner of the state, in Grafton. Oxbow Orchards is old school and doesn’t have a website. But, it’s got four 5-star reviews on Google; alas no cider.
White Bear Lake, MN
Traveling east, you can head to White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and one of the most popular apple cider mills in the state — Pine Tree Apple Orchard. Started by the Jacobson family in 1950, the once 25-acre farm has grown to over 300. Pine Tree Apple Orchard offers all the fall fun and goodies you can expect at an excellent cider mill, but apples aren’t its only crop. You can indulge in everything strawberry from June to July, from you-pick strawberries to fresh strawberry pie.
You’ll find Maiden Rock Cidery a bit further east, just over the Mississippi River and state border. If you’re a fall leafer, Stockholm is considered one of the best areas in Wisconsin to peep fall leaf changing. If you stop in at Maiden Rock, you’ll find cider, preserves, and other apple-related products. You can also indulge in hard ciders and wines geared towards adults. Another thing Maiden Rock offers that makes them stand out from other orchards is their riverboat cruises for special events.
Snaking your way south through the remaining Midwest states, be sure to hit the Sutliff Cider Company in Lison, Iowa. Started in 1985 and known more for its top-rated alcoholic cider, the Sutliff Cider Company still offers traditional cider and family-friendly fun. Open April through December, you can stop into the taproom for an adult beverage and tasty food. Before you leave, swing by the market for all the seasonal fall goodies you can handle.
St. Joseph, MO
Moving further south into St. Joseph, Missouri, you’ll find the wholesome, alcohol-free Schweizer Orchards. The Schweizer family has been in the apple business since the early 1900s. They have all the classics you can expect from an excellent cider mill; cider, apple butter, hayrides, and more.
From Schweizer’s head northeast to Millstadt, Illinois, and come across one of the most lively farms in the Midwest. There’s not much that Eckert’s Cider Farm doesn’t have. From a full-service restaurant to pig races and camel rides, there’s something for everyone here. Adults can hit up the cider shed for some delicious hard cider after picking apples and a wide array of other seasonal you-pick crops. Oh, did we mention they have a pumpkin cannon?!?
Rounding out the last three Midwest begins with Beasley’s Orchard in Danville, Indiana. Not only does Beasley’s boast some of the best cider and cider slushies you’ll ever taste (2015’s Best Cider Winner in Indiana), you can also pick off pumpkins with a giant apple cannon that looks like it was ripped off an aircraft carrier. Beasleys has all the fall events and treats you can ask for. It also offers the Hayloft, a popular event space designed for weddings and other special events.
Macqueen’s Apple Barn and Cider Mill is fall fun for the whole family. Macqueen’s kicks off the fall season with their Annual Apple Butter Stir Festival that gets thousands of visitors from across the state. Open over 65 years, Macqueen’s presses out delicious cider and baked goods year-round — just in case you can’t make it during the fall.
Last but far from least is Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill in Armada, MI. In Michigan, you can’t travel far without stumbling across a cider mill. That means to earn top billing takes a lot. Blake’s is known by some more for its delicious canned hard ciders distributed across the U.S. However, the amusement park of a cider mill has something for the whole family. Since 1946 Blake’s has grown into a Michigan cider empire. The 800-acre working farm and orchard feature a cider mill, funland, tasting room, hard cider production facility, and year-round events.
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