Fall in Iowa means the opportunity to go to a local orchard and not only pick apples if you so choose, but also find other seasonal treats to purchase as well as some family friendly activities at some of the farms. The following are the best orchards in and around Des Moines to while away a crisp fall afternoon. With the daily changes of COVID please be sure to check the website of the orchard you’re planning on visiting to avoid any problems especially if they have decided to close or reduce their hours.
- Center Grove Orchard–32835 610th Avenue, Cambridge-Center Grove orchard has made the orchard experience truly memorable with all of the family friendly options of both food and entertainment. You can pick apples and just have to pay according to how heavy your haul weighs. The farmyard pass at $12.95 for those over the age of 3 will get you admission to a huge list of activities ranging from hayrides around the farm, 2 jumping pillows, a corn maze and a corn pool that is very popular where kids can wade in a shallow pool of corn kernels. Their food selections include a bakery that has homemade treats like cider donuts and pumpkin rolls, a coffee shop, a feed bunk to get a more substantial meal like pulled pork sandwiches and apple jacks that serves apple flavored treats. This is the closest to a fall themed amusement park you’ll ever get the chance to go to.
- Geisler Farms–5251 NE 94th Avenue, Bondurant- Geisler is probably best known for their annual corn maze that is done in a special theme for each year. The corn maze is inside of a 10 acre cornfield and starts in September and lasts through October and even has 2 emergency exits for those who are feeling a little hopeless at ever getting out of it after a while. They offer other activities like hayrides and a fun zone that has things like hop-a-long ponies and pedal carts to keep adults and kids busy. This is an awesome place to get a pumpkin since they’re very passionate about their pumpkin patch and you’ll have a ton of pumpkins to choose from.
- Iowa Orchard–9875 Meredith Drive, Urbandale-Iowa Orchard is probably best known for their hot apple pies and their freshly pressed apple cider.They also offer seasonal favorites like watermelon, raspberries, and sweet corn The Dutch Crumb caramel apple pie is only $13 and you’ll want to buy a few of them since they’re going to be eaten up quickly by your family. Their orchard has a wide variety of apple types so depending on the time of year you go, you’ll be able to get your favorite type or pick something new to you. They offer packages for families wanting to utilize the family fun zone with admission costing $4 per person or $15 per family of four.
- Happy Apple–3408 Clarke Street, Norwalk-Happy Apple is located between Cumming and Norwalk and has a park like setting to make your apple picking that much more relaxing especially once the leaves starting changing colors. This would be an excellent place to have a fall wedding in their 6,000 square foot indoor facility with a large banquet room that can seat 500 people. They offer pick your own apples in the fall as well as hayrides but this orchard does seem more focused on hosting events so if you’re going just to pick apples, call ahead and see if there’s any events that day.
- Schneider Orchard–57495 230th Trail, Lacona- Schneider orchard is a smaller orchard with just 5 apple varieties but they really go out of their way to make your time there a fun experience. They have a farm crawl event that has 8 independently owned farms holding open houses so you can “crawl” to each one in a day and purchase locally grown products and meet the farmers. If you’re wanting to apple pick, just shoot them an email or call them before you go and they’re more than happy to accommodate your family.
- Wills Family Orchard–33130 Panther Creek Road, Adel- Wills Family Orchard has 4 acres of apple trees, 1 acre of peach trees, 3 acres of pumpkins, 1 acre of winter squash and a 1 acre corn maze so you’ll be sure to leave with plenty of fruit after spending a few hours here. All of their orchards are certified organic and their vine crops are minimally sprayed pesticides to reduce the amount of harmful toxins are used on their fruits. They have some great locally made products like homemade caramel sauce, organic applesauce, and apple wine. Be sure to stop by the barn yard and pet their friendly goats.
- Upstream Gardens and Orchard–5987 NE 88th Street, Altoona- Upstream Gardens opened in 2014 as a full service and pick your own fruit and vegetable farm. They do all of the weeding by hand and natural insect maintenance. The prices for the produce are reasonable and are cheaper if you choose to pick them yourself. They do ask that you use their contact link to setup an appointment before coming just so they can be ready for your visit. They’re open daily until November.
For the best places to get your pumpkin fix in Des Moines, click here.