Yesterday was the first day of the fall season. After living in Boston for four years, fall became my favorite season of the year because I loved the kaleidoscope of colors, the cooler temperatures, and, most importantly, the flavors! I loved how the season was filled with hot chocolates, apples, pumpkin, cinnamon sugar, and butter. Now that we are in Chicago and the weather is becoming more fall-like (really though, what's summer weather in Chicago because I missed it), I find myself in that familiar place of wanting long walks outside and baking anything and everything with apples.
This past weekend we took the girls to experience a quintessential fall activity: apple picking! I had been researching different orchards beforehand and on Sunday decided we would be visiting Jonomac Orchard. This orchard was close to an hour and a half from home, but it seemed to offer the most bang for the buck and I liked that they didn't charge a per person rate for the apple picking.
We bought a half peck ($13 for about 5 lbs of apple) and went to town picking Golden Delicious, Ruby Jon, and Jonathan apples. The girls had so much fun (we adults did, too) and I couldn't get over how cute they looked picking apples. Little things like this make me so happy we are in Chicago and able to give the girls such unique experiences. The best part of this experience was being able to eat the apples right then and there. We tried all three varieties and Cati determined "delicious golden" was her favorite.
After apple picking, the girls played in the huge Barnyard that had slides, haystacks you could walk on, a mini maze, a corn shed, and tricycles. Then, we had the crazy idea of doing the corn maze. This was fun at first, but then we couldn't figure out how to get out and our anxiety must have trickled down to the girls because Elina started asking for home and Cati started saying her legs wee hurting. The funny part is that our anxiety was due to wanting to get out before the girls started complaining and here we were instigating that! It was still fun though, but because it took us so long to figure out the first half, we didn't get to do the second half.
Before we left I knew I had to get us apple cider donuts. The line was out the door by 1pm but it moved quickly. Everyone loved the donuts. I also bought a slice of apple pie and I wish I would have bought more as that pie had the best crust I have ever tasted.
It was such a great experience. The girls loved it and Cati has already asked if we could go back this weekend. We'll definitely be making another trip before the picking season ends in November.
Jonamac Orchard is located at 19412 Shabbona Road in Malta, IL. A half peck (about 5lbs) of apples is $13 and a full peck is $26. A half dozen donuts is $4.50, a dozen donuts is $7.95, slices of apple pie are $2.75, and a full apple pie is $12.95. Corn maze and barnyard admission is $10 for kids (2 and under are free) and $8 for adults. The orchard accepts credit cards, but not American Express and all the bathrooms are port-a-potties (Elina refused to use these bathrooms). My advice would be to try to get there early as it's less busy and the lines are shorter. However, as an adult it seems like a fun place to go later because of the live music and wine tastings. For more information visit their website http://www.jonamacorchard.com/