A sampler of farms and orchards
Tapping agricultural roots, Minnesota and western Wisconsin provide a wealth of farm and orchard experiences each fall. Bring cash for extras, raid quarters from your piggy bank for petting zoo feed machines, and print out online directions before you leave. Here are more don't-miss destinations for fall family fun.
When: Orchard open daily for apples including RiverBelles, treats such as apple doughnuts and a kids' treasure hunt. Wagon rides, kiddie tram, John Deere kiddie trikes and tractors, and possible pick-your-own apples on weekends.
Highlights: Plenty of fall foods, including apple bratwurst, apple salsa, cider, pies and popcorn, plus wine tastings at St. Croix Vineyards next door.
Admission: $1-$3 per ride and per activity on weekends. No charge to visit the resident goats.
Getting there: Take Hwy. 36 to Manning Avenue in Stillwater. It's a half-mile north on the left.
Bonus: Call Aamodt's Hot Air Balloon Rides for a bucket-list trip above the St. Croix River Valley (651-351-0101).
Info: 651-439-3127; aamodts applefarm.com
When: Bakery and apple market daily. You-pick apples and pumpkin patch plus wagon rides, American flag corn maze, corn pit, cow-themed barrel train, apple cannon, pony rides and jumping pillow, open weekends through Oct. 31 plus this Thu-Fri.
Highlights: Jumping pillow for active kids, eating cider brats and apple doughnuts along the Crow River, and live music on weekend afternoons.
Admission: $3-$6 per person, per activity.
Getting there: Take Hwy. 12 to Delano. It's about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis.
Info: 763-972-6673; applejack orchards.com
Emma Krumbee's Scarecrow Festival
Belle Plaine, Minn.
When: Daily through Oct. 30 with wagon rides to pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, a giant haystack and slide, barrel train, farm trikes, goats, and more than 100 scarecrows that may represent characters from Minions to Big Bird.
Highlights: Creative scarecrows and treats such as caramel apples, pies, doughnuts and fritters.
Bonus: Stop at the bold yellow Jim's Apple Farm ("Minnesota's Largest Candy Store") on the way down Hwy. 169 for a mind-boggling selection of quirky Christmas gifts and hundreds of bottled pop choices.
Getting there: Take Hwy. 169 south to Belle Plaine, about 43 miles from Minneapolis.
When: Jumping pillow, hay jump, farm animals, steer roping, wagon rides and a corn maze on weekends.
Highlights: Garth Brooks-themed corn maze open for flashlight tours at dusk Fri-Sat. Extra charge for corn and pumpkin cannons.
Bonus: Make it a weekend with a stay at Eau Claire, Wis.'s Metropolis Resort, with an indoor water park, go-cart track and arcade. Or return in the spring for lambing season, or in June for pick-your-own strawberries.
Admission: $10.50; $4 ages 2-4.
Getting there: Take Interstate 94 70 miles west to Menomonie.
Info: 1-715-231-2377; govinsfarm.com.
Lisa Meyers McClintick