Fall Farm Festivities
The leaves are beginning to change, I have switched out my summer wardrobe for leggings, boots and sweaters (which will finally be put to good use this weekend as temps drop into the fifties) and Halloween is just around the corner! This is my favorite time of year; the short few weeks between sweltering humid heat and freezing cold snow. I am going to take advantage of this perfect sweater weather and go do all those amazing fall bucket list items that people Instagram about!
If you are anything like me, you see those amazing feeds and think "Hey, I should do that", but where do you find a family friendly place to pick sunflowers and apples, get pumpkins, take hayrides and run through a corn maze in the city? The short answer is you don't. Sure the grocery store has some pumpkins and a bouquet from Trader Joe's is cute and affordable, but certainly does not offer the fun and excitement that spending a day with friends and family at a farm will.
If you are looking for entertainment and to cross a few fall bucket list items off, then head over to County Line Orchard in Hobart, Indiana. It is just an hour outside Chicago, and is well worth the trip! Last weekend my sister and I headed out for a fun-filled day at the orchard. We spent a fantastic afternoon outside and couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more. County Line Orchard offers free and ample parking and for $1 you have access to "you pick" apples, pumpkins, and sun flowers as well as a corn maze. There are food trucks and music to help entertain the little ones and of course a barn full of delicious apple and pumpkin spiced goodies.
If you are up for apple picking, there are numerous groves to choose from; each with many varieties of apples and of course the obligatory tractor ride to take you there. I highly recommend taking the tractor, and not just for the novelty. There is a lot of mud out in the fields so suit up with some Wellies, ditch the stroller and wait in the fairly quick moving line for the tractor to take you to each fun destination on the farm. With forty acres of apples to pick, we found the section that had all of our favorites: fuji, cortland and gala and went to town. We had to reign ourselves in we were having so much fun; remember what you pick you have to cary so we needed to exercise a little restraint.
Next we found the pumpkin patch, which has a mix of pumpkins still on the vine that you can cut and some pre-cut ones. These pumpkins come in all shapes sizes and colors. We found some perfect carving pumpkins and for $0.40/ pound (maximum $12) you can find some pretty big pumpkins that wont break the bank! While I am a fan of carving pumpkins there are also an array of beautiful and ugly pumpkins and gourds that are green, red, white and bumpy which will look amazing on any front step or porch. In fact, I may have bought a few of these "weird" pumpkins myself! Add a few sunflowers or potted mums and a Pinterest worthy yard can be yours too (stay tuned for how I use these pumpkins to decorate my porch)!
The sunflower field is large, but we are running slightly late in the year to get the best looking flowers. If this is your priority I would recommend heading out to the orchard by early to mid September to get the freshest looking blooms. If you are bringing the kids (or haven't been reading any Stephen King lately) stop by the corn maze. The design changes yearly, but it is always a huge hit!
Bring your appetite with you as there are so many good treats that await both inside the barn and out by the picnic area. Feel free to bring your own lunch or to sample from one of the many food trucks which provide delicious BBQ, tacos, soft pretzels and more. Sit a while on the benches with friends and listen to some family friendly barnyard jams while you enjoy your snack. If you have a sweet tooth you should head into the barn where you can find all sorts of packaged items for gifts, apple cider, caramel apples, and fresh baked pies and donuts. The donuts come in just two flavors, pumpkin and apple cinnamon and are the most sought after. Don't be intimidated by the long line; they have filling orders down to a science and the line moves quickly.
My sister and I left with a trunk full of apples and pumpkins and a phone full of photos to make all our friends and family jealous of our Instagram worthy day! So if you are looking to have some fun, get some great photos and take advantage of all the great things fall has to offer, head over to County line Orchards, trust me you wont be disappointed! Best of all, the fun isn'y over yet. Now that I have a basket full of apples, I get to find new and exciting recipes to try that incorporate our haul. So far I have made a batch of homemade apple sauce, which was so delicious I am going to make some more as a gift for visiting friends. Stay tuned for recipes and pumpkin decorating inspiration!
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