As the fall season comes, the days are growing shorter, and the temperatures are cooling down. Don't let the gloom of the season wrap your thoughts. Go apple picking and cider sipping instead. The Ann Arbor area has lots of seasonal activities to offer this fall, from apple and pumpkin picking to hayrides and corn mazes. Moreover, cider mills sell more than just cider: donuts, apple butter, baked goods, maple candies, and fall decorations.
Michigan bears a proud title of the nation's third-largest producer of apples. There are almost 15 million apple trees in the apple orchards across the state. Most of the apple growers are concentrated in the southeast of the state near Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Best apple orchards and cider mills in the Ann Arbor area
Here are several cider mills to get you in the fall spirit. All of them are about a half-hour drive from Ann Arbor, which means you can go cider hopping, tasting different ciders, donuts, and apple products. Whatever apple orchard you pick, make sure to check for the latest information (please, refer to the "External Resources" section below). Wiard's Orchards and Country Fair welcomes the fall season with U-pick apples and pumpkins, corn maze, and hayrides. Families can have even more fun at the Night Terrors Halloween attractions, Country Fair, as well as pony rides, petting farm, and play areas. Wiard's Orchards and Country Fair usually is open from Labor Day or mid–September through October, opening dates and hours varying from year to year. Wasem Fruit Farm gives you a choice: pick-your-own apples or already-picked ones of some 25 varieties. If you are into other orchard products, here you'll find pears, plums, raspberries, and tart cherries. For foodies, there are fresh donuts, delicious cider, sugar-free apple butter, and homemade jams. Wasem Fruit Farm is open roughly from mid-September to November 1st. Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill is a family-friendly place to enjoy fresh-pressed apple cider, fresh donuts, icy apple cider slushies, crispy caramel apples, and freshly-picked organic apples. A fun farm experience with wagon rides, a picnic area, pumpkin picking, and farm animals can keep you busy all day. Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill welcomes guests from Labor Day through the first weekend in November. Alber Orchard & Cider Mill on a winding, picturesque road boasts about 150 varieties of apples, including heirloom apples. As some of the trees are remarkably old, there is no U-pick apple option. Alber also sells apple cider and donuts. There are plenty of family activities to engage in: tractor-drawn hayrides, a 7-ac (3-ha) corn maze, kids area, U-pick pumpkins, farm animals, a straw maze, and tours of the vintage cider press. On selected weekends, you can enjoy the Fall Music events at Alber Orchard. The season here lasts from mid-September to mid-November. Dexter Cider Mill is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in the state of Michigan (since 1886), nestled on the Huron River banks. This signature red barn is a local favorite as it still uses old methods to make wood-pressed cider. Guests can watch the mill pressing fresh cider. Along with fresh and caramel apples, the cider mill sells hot donuts, apple nut bread, apple pies, and jellies. Dexter Cider Mill usually opens its doors from late August through mid-November.