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Apples, apples and more apples

Fall break is fast approaching and it’s time to satisfy that orchard fix. Check out some of these stops throughout Illinois on the way home or on a fall trip.

Near Peoria:

Tanners Orchard
Famous for its apple cider doughnuts, Tanners has been around since 1947 and offers a U-Pick orchard filled with 17 different types of apples and various pumpkins. Tanners celebrates “Festival Days” during the weekend, which include pony rides, a large and small corn maze and wagon rides to the orchard. There is also a petting zoo and a playground.
• 740 IL-40, Speer
• 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• U-Pick (during Festival Days)– $3 + price of apples/pumpkins; corn maze– $6 for adults

Ackerman Farms
Ackerman offers a variety of activities, including corn mazes, weekend haystack rides and an array of farm animals. The pumpkins are the real attraction, however, with many varieties to choose from. This orchard is Scout tested and approved.
• 27158 U.S. Highway 150 (Jackson St.), Morton
• 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; closes Oct. 31
• Corn maze– $4 for adults; weekend haystack rides– $2.50 per person

Christ Orchards
Not only does Christ Orchards offer chances to pick fruit yourself, but they also have all sizes and types of pumpkins and gourds, edible and not. The orchard carries products like pure honey, fresh-pressed apple cider, fruit butter, preserves and more. If you are in dire need of a compact apple peeler, they have those too.
• 4321 North Texas Road, Elmwood
• 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (October); 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (November); closed Sundays
• Free admission

Near Chicago:

Jonamac Orchards
Jonamac Orchards includes the typical corn maze, apple picking and pumpkin patch but also offers a “barn yard” section with a jumping pillow, petting zoo and barn yard play area. Jonamac features private campfire sites for two to 25 people, equipped with wood for bonfires. The orchard includes a haunted corn maze Friday and Saturday nights from dusk until 10:30 p.m. The haunted maze opens tonight and runs through October.
• 19412 Shabbona Road, Malta
• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Corn maze– $5; barn yard– $4 for adults; haunted corn maze– $13; private campfire sites– $25

Curran’s Orchard
Curran’s Orchard claims to provide fruit that is more pure because it uses a quarter of the typical amount of chemicals in its spray. The orchard also boasts an award-winning apple cider, along with hay wagon rides, a farm animal corral, straw bale mini-maze and an apple launcher. The orchard opens at 7 a.m. during the week, so you can grab an early morning apple doughnut.
• 6385 Kilburn Ave. Rockford
• Free admission
• 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch
This pumpkin patch has more than just the typical orange gourd. Goebbert’s has pig races, a pumpkin slide, a mechanical pumpkin-eating dinosaur and friendly giraffes. Visitors can also grab some hand-dipped caramel apples or swing by the fudge shop and the Farmer’s Wife Cafe.
• 42W813 Reinking Rd, Hampshire
• 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• $12 weekly admission, $15 Saturday and Sunday

Near St. Louis:

Eckert’s Orchards
Eckert’s Orchards at Millstadt Farm claims to be set up like a mini county amusement park. The farm includes a 10-acre corn maze, pig races, 70-foot underground mine shaft slide, carnival rides and more. Eckert’s offers haunted hayrides on Fridays and Saturdays in October. The farm also takes reservations for their bonfire sites, which provide straw bale seating for up to 40 people.
• 2719 Eckert Orchard Lane, Millstadt
• 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• $12 admission; haunted hayride– first ride free (after paying admission to farm), each additional ride $5; bonfire sites– prices vary

Braeutigam Orchards
If you’re looking for a less-commercialized farm, look no further than Braeutigam Orchards. As a small operation, the orchard doesn’t offer restaurants and carnival rides, but it does have a wide variety of fresh fruit and gives a glimpse into what a family-run farm is like.
• 2795 Turkey Hill Ln, Belleville
• 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Free admission

Mills Apple Farm
Although Mills is in the process of rebuilding its main building after a fire last year, the farm still offers a variety of produce and attractions. Besides its orchards, the Mills Apple Farm includes a petting zoo, wagon rides and a glimpse at its egg factory. If you don’t make it in time for apple cider and pumpkin picking, Christmas tree sales begin Nov. 26.
• 11477 Pocahontas Road, Marine
• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Mondays
• Free admission

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