Fall is officially here, and yes of course that means pumpkin spice everything, but it also means some fun opportunities to get outside and enjoy these last days of beautiful weather!
We have some great options for getting your fall on, Covid-style. The activities suggested all have safety protocols in place, listed on each website, don’t forget to pack your mask! Also, you know what’s best for you and your family, feel free to contact the location ahead of time to make sure you feel safe.
Our all-time favorite orchard is Royal Oak Farm in Harvard, IL. The orchard is huge, so there’s plenty of space to distance, they have a great variety of apples, and the gift and bakeshop are simply divine. There is also pumpkin picking available AND an apple tree maze (call for availability)! Don’t miss the petting zoo and playground if you have littles! The restaurant is open with only outdoor seating. Portapotties are available. The hayrides are not operating, so wear your walking shoes!
Looking for close and simple? Check out Heinz Orchard in Green Oaks, IL. Strollers and wagons are welcome, no bathrooms, no frills option here! They do warn that the apples are small due to the drought, we did find smaller apples than normal at Royal Oak too. They are still yummy!
Stades Farm in McHenry, IL comes up as a regular favorite of many! Only open on weekends, they have a bakery and market as well. Sadly, their “Farmtractions” theme park is closed this year. If you’re nearby, this is a great option!
Last but not least on my list, in Woodstock, IL All Seasons Orchard is a popular spot for families! They offer online ticket sales for weekend admittance, which are guaranteed admittance since they limit numbers. Weekday tickets are purchased at the orchard only. They have a Barnyard activity area (open!) which includes magic shows, corn maze, pig races, pedal karts, pumpkin picking, and a petting zoo. Don’t miss their Farm Market with bakery, oh yum!
A few pumpkin patches are combo apple orchards, listed above. We actually prefer to take the easy (lazy?) route and buy our pumpkins. Here are my favorite haunts (ha):
Lewis Fresh Market in Waukegan, IL has great prices on huge pumpkins that make perfect jack o’lanterns! They also have gorgeous mums and smaller pumpkins and gourds too.
Need a carload of pumpkins for a great price? The only place to go is Thompson Strawberry Farm in Bristol, WI, just over the border. Check online for field conditions before going, clean out the trunk and load it up to be the best decorated house on the block!
In need of a laugh? A pig race might be just the thing! Check them out (and more) at Didier Farms in Lincolnshire, IL. Their pumpkinfest is still running, minus the hayrides. Check out their farmstand farmer’s market offering all kinds of goodies!
If you’re going to visit only one corn maze this fall, you must choose Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, IL. Advertised as the world’s largest and most intricate corn maze, it is a must-see. With a yearly theme and fun checkpoint challenge, you’ll also get a map and easy exit routes should you need a break! It’s truly a sight to behold, and there are other fun things to do as well including more pig races, play area, campfire and picnic spots, and a pumpkin patch!
Need a smaller scale adventure? Check out the hidden gem of Kroll’s Farm in Waukegan, IL. Play their unique maze game on your smart phone, pick up some pumpkins (voted best pumpkin patch in IL in 2019 by Taste of Home and House Beautiful), and visit the petting zoo while you’re there! If you’re going on a weekend, make sure to purchase tickets ahead of time.
There is obvious overlap in the categories listed- so feel free to pick a spot that sounds fun and get out and enjoy fall, safely! Cheers!