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As summer ends and fall encroaches, take advantage of the lingering warm weekends to spend some time with the family out in the fresh, crisp fall air. While Michigan’s numerous apple orchards mean you can always find apples at your grocery store, picking your own not only ensures you’ll get exactly the apples you want, but it can help teach kids where their food really comes from. Consider a trip to one of these Detroit-area orchards for a day of family fun, entertainment and education.

Apple Charlie’s Orchard and Cider Mill 

38035 S Huron Road
New Boston, MI 48164
(734) 753-9380
applecharlie.comFamily-owned and operated since 1952, Apple Charlie’s sits on 95 acres in Wayne County. The orchards feature a dozen varieties of apples grown on dwarf trees for easy picking. The harvest season for apples begins on September first and runs through mid-October, depending on the type. Kids can enjoy meeting the residents of the animal farm and taste cider and donuts at the cider mill. Apple Charlie’s also offers a pavilion with a cafeteria and live entertainment after noon on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall, and the haunted “Barn of Blood” in October.
Blake Farms Orchard and Cider Mill 
17985 Armada Center Road
Armada, MI 48005
(586) 784-5343
blakefarms.comSince its beginning in 1946 as one of Michigan’s first “pick your own” orchards, the Blake family has expanded its farm to over 500 acres at three separate facilities. Apple picking is available at the original cider mill location and at the Big Apple orchard on North Avenue, also in Armada. Blake’s apple harvest season runs from late July through mid-September. Most varieties are available at both orchards but some are only at one location. The orchards also offer a Barnyard Funland where an admission fee allows kids to pet and feed a variety of farm animals, take a ride on the tricycle track, find their way through the giant straw or cornfield maze and climb Straw Mountain. Pony rides, train rides and hayrides are also available to purchase.Related: Best Places to Pick Fresh Fruit in Metro Detroit

Spicer Orchards
10411 Clyde Road
Fenton, MI 48430
(810) 632-7692
spicerorchards.comFor five generations, the Spicer family has produced fresh fruits, apples and cider in southeast Michigan. The original farm was located near Detroit, moved to Linden and is now in its current location in the Fenton/Hartland area. In addition to apple picking, Spicer’s has a petting farm, corn maze and a fall festival every weekend in September and October that includes inflatables, face painting, arts and crafts, train and pony rides and a bee keeping display. A cider mill is on site as well with the obligatory cider and donuts; kids can watch the cider presses at work and see donuts being made. Apples are available for picking from mid-August through the end of October and can be purchased in the market through mid-January.
Westview Orchards
65075 Van Dyke
Washington Township, MI 48095
(586) 752-3123
westvieworchards.comWestview Orchards is one of Michigan’s oldest orchard that began in 1813 as a small garden and orchard. Throughout the years, and six generations, Westview has grown to span 188 acres and has been a leader in innovation and improvement in the farming and orchard industry. In the fall, Westview offers not only apple picking and cider mill fun, but a petting farm pavilion, a three-acre playground, wagon rides, a 40-foot slide, a six-acre corn maze, an apple slingshot, pony rides and a log obstacle course. Westview holds a variety of festivals on fall weekends, celebrating things such as hometown heroes, pumpkins, cider, peaches and America’s farmers. A nighttime corn maze ends in a campfire with kettle corn, hot cider, caramel apples and donuts available. Apple picking season kicks off on Labor Day weekend.Related: Best Parks For Kids In Detroit

Wiard’s Orchards & Country Fair
5565 Merritt Road
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
(734) 390-9211
wiards.comAnother old orchard, Wiard’s began in 1837 as a “u-pick” apple orchard and cider mill. Seven generations later, Wiard’s has expanded to include a variety of family-fun activities including a petting farm, hayrides, corn maze, pumpkin patch, miniature golf and a sports facility, all situated on nearly 100 acres. Wiard’s is also well known for its haunted thrill park “Night Terrors,” the largest such park in the state. The orchard itself contains 4,000 apple trees featuring 10 varieties of apples which change from year to year as new trees take the place of older trees that have died off. Picking is part of the Country Fair, open from mid-September through the last weekend in October.
Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer living in Detroit. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.