Pick your own Honeycrisp or antique varietals of apples at a number of orchards that are a short drive from Milwaukee.
Apple Barn Orchard & Winery
Where: W6384 Sugar Creek Road, Elkhorn
This is a three-in-one operation—bakery, winery and orchard—and that means you can sip locally made wine on site as well as a bite into cider donuts, easily spending a lazy afternoon here. Back in 1848, two immigrants from Oslo, Norway, established the Walworth County farmstead, and it’s still in the family, now on its 6th generation. In 2015 Steve Jacobson’s Strawberry Jewel wine (other wines are made from fruit that includes apples, cherries, blueberries and rhubarbs) earned a Gold Medal at the Mid-American Wine Competition so it really is worth stepping into the wine-tasting lounge and bar. Pets are not allowed in the orchard for U-pick experiences but multi-generational families are encouraged.
What: Apple Holler
Where: 5006 S. Sylvania Ave., Sturtevant
Difficult to miss from I-94, this family-friendly experience in Racine County includes a restaurant serving apple pancakes for breakfast, and a spacious store selling products like applesauce, grilling sauces, apple pies, and fruit spreads. Head out into the 74-acre apple orchard—home to more than 30,000 dwarf apple trees, which means you don’t need ladders or stepstools—after paying to park and purchasing a “picking bag.” On weekends the restaurant serves a buffet breakfast and lunch, featuring apple-walnut French toast in the morning, and warm cinnamon apples and honey-apple butter with lunch, alongside egg entrees and other hot-dish items.
Barthel Fruit Farm
What: Barthel Fruit Farm
Where: 12246 N. Farmdale Road, Mequon
Barthel Fruit Farm in Ozaukee County has been a family-owned business growing fruit for 177 years. Check their website for news of what’s ripe and ready for picking before your visit. For example, during the first week of October the U-pick options were Cortland, Fuji, and McIntosh apples; and unfortunately, there are no Honeycrisp apples for picking this year due to a small crop. But you can purchase on site. Barthel Fruit Farm also has a stand at the West Bend farmers market on Saturday mornings (through Oct. 31, 2017).
Peck & Bushel
Where: 5454 CR-Q, Colgate
Harvesting only organic fruit, the 70-acre orchard in Washington County consists of 20,000 dwarf apple and fruit trees. Check the orchard’s Facebook feed for news on what you can pick upon arrival. In late September Peck & Bushel reported that organic Honeycrisp apples were ready to pick and in mid-September an apple varietal called Organic Pixie Crunch with a candy-like sweetness. Organic apple cider is also sold on-site, as are pre-picked apples if you don’t want to pick your own. Dogs are not permitted on the property. This is one of the state's newest apple orchards. Owners Joe and Jenny Fahey planted the trees (to the tune of 3,000) 10 years ago.
Old Homestead Orchard
What: Old Homestead Orchard
Where: 7814 Raynor Ave., Franksville
This family-owned apple and pear orchard in Racine County near the Root River Parkway offers U-pick apples during the months of September and October. You can also buy sunflowers, flower jellies, raspberries, butters, jams, sauces and farm-fresh eggs from the orchard store. On Oct. 8 and 9 is Autumn Fest, which includes U-pick apples along with a pumpkin-throwing contest. Apples for sale in early October include Honeycrisp, Zestar, MacIntosh, and Cortland. Dogs are not allowed at the orchard.