Ah, fall, my favorite season of the year. The weather finally cools off and the colors change, creating a halo of red, orange and gold all around. One of my favorite things about fall is all the fun traditions and local travel associated with the season. Last year, we went apple picking for the first time. We had so much fun and knew we had to continue that activity this year. However, in an effort to explore more of the Midwest, we decided to try a new orchard- County Line Orchard in Hobart, Indiana.
Located approximately an hour southeast of Chicago, County Line Orchard is a great day trip for those visiting or living near the city. One thing that surprised me about this orchard was how busy it was. The farmyard was absolutely crawling with people. Granted, we did choose to go on a Saturday but I still didn’t expect so many people, especially after last year when we had the place all to ourselves. Though once we got out to the orchard, the crowds were slim and we had our pick of several different varieties of apples.
When you arrive at the orchard on County Line Road, parking attendants are on hand to direct you to the parking lot across the street. Once you cross the street, you face the country store, which is housed in a large red barn. In order to purchase admission tickets, do not go inside the store. Instead, go around to the right side of the building to the ticket booth. It’s rather large and can’t be missed, thanks to the large sign above it with the prices. Here you can choose from three different admission packages. Or if you’re just interested in the u-pick section of the orchard, you can do that too. It’s only $1 per person. Children under two are free. Keep in mind that you must pay for whatever you pick.
We opted for the Lil’ Farmer Pass which covers the u-pick apples and pumpkins, the tractor ride out to the fields, and the kids’ farm. There is also a cute Moo Choo Train for the kids with cars in the form of farm animals for an extra cost. Although it looked popular with the young children, we decided to skip it since Ladybug wasn’t interested.
Once admission is paid, it’s time to go apple picking! You can find apples in the orchard directly across from the ticket booth or take the tractor out to the far orchard. The line to get onto the tractor can get pretty long but it moves fairly quickly. We waited for less than 10 minutes before getting to the front of the line. Note: It’s a good idea to use the restroom before getting on the tractor. I spotted at least one outhouse in the orchard but if you want to use a more comfortable restroom where you can wash your hands, make sure to go before you get on the tractor.
Once you arrive at the orchard, you have your pick of several varieties of apples. Make sure to pick up your apple picking bags at the ticket booth. You can fill it up as full as you’d like. The bags are quite large so you’ll have plenty of room for apples. Why not pick enough to make a pie? Or apple crisp? You can make both and still have plenty leftover to eat.
Besides apples, you can also pick pumpkins and sunflowers. These fields are within walking distance of the apple orchard. If your admission package includes use of the corn maze, you can take the tractor two stops past the orchard to the entrance of the maze.
Our tickets included the kids’ farm, so we headed there after we got back to the farmyard. We had two full bags of apples with us, and the attendant at the entrance of the farm offered to watch them for us so we didn’t have to carry them around. Ladybug loved seeing all the farm animals, especially the miniature horse and the donkeys. Even Buddy was fascinated and kept pointing at everything while exclaiming, “doggy!” (everything is doggy) with every new animal he saw.
Before you go, make sure you stop by the farm store to pay for your apples. Also make sure you pick up some doughnuts and apple cider on your way out. One of my favorite things about fall is indulging in both of those treats. The doughnuts at County Line Orchard were good but not the best I’ve had. That honor goes to Curtis Orchard in Champaign, Illinois.
Tips for visiting County Line Orchard
- Apple picking season at County Line Orchard runs from August 30- October 29, 2017.
- U-pick hours of operation are 9 am- 6 pm with the last tractor at 5 pm.
- For those who want to get something to eat besides doughnuts, there is one restaurant which serves pre-made foods such as pizza, hot sandwiches, and french fries. There are also a few food trucks located on the edge of the property.
Do you have any fall traditions? Share them in the comments.
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