Apple Picking: A Fabulous Way to Welcome the Fall Season

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It’s already September, and if you haven’t yet checked “Apple Picking” off of your Fall Bucket List, throw your kids in the minivan and head to Braeutigam Orchards in Belleville, Illinois!

 

I first stumbled upon this not-so-hidden gem with my daughter’s preschool class on a field trip. In the past, we had taken our kids to the bigger, more well-known orchard in the area, but it always felt too commercialized and busy. Braeutigam Orchards is the exact opposite, and we’ll never go anywhere else!

 

First, getting there takes some time, but it’s an easy 40 min drive from central St. Louis County. My kids love the drive past downtown STL anyway, so win-win. You’ll follow the signs on Turkey Hill Lane (the quintessential “little dirt road”) to the orchards, where you can park directly in front of the store or across the road.

 

The first person you’ll likely encounter is Farmer Dan (you’ll know him from the bright red shirt he wears bearing his name). He is absolutely THE BEST! He is the keeper of the animals, knowledgeable about all things in the orchard, and 100% committed to making sure your family has a good time.

On our recent trip, my kids immediately ran to the animal pens located just off the parking lot across the road. Within minutes, Farmer Dan popped up with buckets of food and treats for the animals, engaging them and showing them how to care for the goats and pigs.

 

After they had petted the goats, fed the pigs, and washed their hands, my kids headed straight for the playground located next to the store. No matter how old your kids are (mine are 9, 7, and 4), they will love exploring the playground, which has wooden play structures, bins of dried corn, a miniature “store,” swings, and more.

 

Their play was interrupted when Farmer Dan sprung the gate on the nearby chicken coop, and a flock of hens, roosters, and TURKEYS emerged! He was ready with buckets of chicken feed for the kids to throw on the ground and talked to them about caring for chickens and how he ended up with so many turkeys (if you want to know why you’ll have to ask him for yourself … I don’t want to spoil it for you!).

 

 

They were having so much fun in the chicken yard that they almost didn’t want to stop to hop on the tractor that pulled up to take us back to the orchards. For truck and tractor-loving children, the ride back into the orchard is enough to make the trip worth it. You are hopping on a real-deal trailer, however, so hold onto those little ones accordingly!

 

The apple picking itself is no different than in any other orchard and just as rewarding— you’re welcome to taste test, wander the appropriate areas, and use the long-handled fruit pickers they keep on hand. 

 

I haven’t even mentioned the best part of Braeutigam Orchards yet— it’s FREE (you pay for what you pick, obviously). To be honest, I haven’t price-checked them against any other orchard, but it seemed reasonable for pick-your-own apples, especially when there’s free parking and admission.

 

Once you enter the store to pay for your apples, you’ll notice all the other fresh produce for sale, as well as the traditional apple butter and other condiments. Your kids will immediately notice the apple cider slushies for sale (don’t worry – a small cup is only $1 and is totally a manageable amount for little ones). Farmer Dan himself played bartender to my kids and took them behind the counter to show them the slushy machine up close.

 

 

 

Before you leave, you have to head next door to the building across the pavilion (where they not only host field trips but birthday parties, as well). It houses the bakery which sells their delicious apple cider doughnuts, gooey butter cake, and other baked treats. There are plenty of picnic tables outside to sit and enjoy your treats, but grab some paper towels because those doughnuts are COATED with cinnamon sugar (my mouth is watering just thinking about it).

 

Braeutigam Orchards is open daily through October 31st (check out their Facebook page for daily hours and the picking schedule). And even if you don’t make it in time for apple picking, definitely go check them out when it’s time to pick out your pumpkins for Halloween — their pumpkin picking is just as fun.

 

And if you’re looking for inspiration on what to do with all your apples once you get them home, check out my favorite easy Apple Galette recipe from Newlywed Chefs (don’t worry, it looks and sounds fancy, but it’s super easy to make, especially if you’re like me and use a pre-made crust!).

1 COMMENT

  1. Amy, If I knew you were going to print a writeup to make me cry, I would have treated you and the kids a little nicer on your trip. Since your trip, I have had to shorten my hours due to some medical treatments…….. woman, you know how to lift somebodies sagging spirits.
    Please tap me on the shoulder your next visit so I can shower you with orchard goodies.
    Thank You
    Farmer Dan

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