Here’s a roundup of my favorite locations for apple picking in the Chicago area! As a Chicagoland mom (and family and graduating senior photographer), I’m often hunting for fun activities to do with my kids – and I thought it would be fun to share my research so you don’t have to look everything up, too!
TL;DR: Which are my *favorites*? As a mom with little kids based out of Oak Park, IL (near western suburbs of Chicagoland), Kuiper’s is my choice for a busier, festival environment, while Honey Hill is my choice for a quieter day. There’s definitely more festive and more quiet orchard options available, but these balance my family’s interests while minimizing our time in the car.
When are apples ripe in Illinois?
Depending on the apple tree varieties at the Orchard, apple orchards in the Chicago area can open for the season as early as mid-August and continue to have apples available through late October.
There are a number of apple orchards that also are pumpkin patches! If you’re looking for that crossover, I mention pumpkin availability for each orchard! As apple season starts earlier than pumpkin season, remember to visit in late September through late October in order to have them both available!
What Chicago Apple Orchards are Dog-Friendly?
Most apple orchards discourage bringing dogs unless they are service animals as designated under the ADA. Jonamac Orchard is the only one I’ve found that welcomes leashed dogs, but only during the daylight hours on the last weekend of October for the Howl-O-Ween event.
Apple Orchards Closest to Chicago IL
Keller’s Farmstand is 50 minutes (41 miles) away from downtown Chicago in Oswego, IL, south of Aurora and Naperville. Their apple varietals ripen late August-late September. They say, “Enjoy our 8-acre corn maze, kids play area, animal barn, wagon rides, and more! Don’t miss our homemade apple cider donuts, kettle corn, fudge, and other delicious treats while you are visiting the farm on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall.” Importantly, if you have kids that want to play in the children’s area, you’ll need to make reservations and pre-purchase a wristband here. No reservations are needed for apple- or pumpkin-picking, or shopping at the farmstand. In the play area Keller’s offers a corn maze, animal area, tractors to sit on for photo opportunities, and big tractor tires to climb!
Heinz Orchard in Green Oaks (may say Libertyville on your map), IL is a great option for the North Shore; it is located 45 minutes, 39 miles north of downtown Chicago, between Mundelein on the west side and Lake Forest on the east side. This orchard is decidedly no-frills; no hayrides, pumpkins, petting zoos, or BATHROOMS. However, if you’re looking for an Chicago apple orchard without a “fall festival,” this is a great option.
Best Apple Picking in Chicago; West Suburbs
Kuiper’s Family Farm is located in Maple Park, IL and is 56 minutes, 55 miles from downtown Chicago. Their fall season is late August through October 31, 9 AM-6 PM daily except Sundays 9-5 PM, and October 31 closing at 4 PM. For seasonal food choices, they offer apple cider and apple cider doughnuts. Kuiper’s offers pumpkins for sale and many other attractions besides apple and pumpkin picking. Some of those offerings include hayrides, corn maze, giant inflatable jumping pillow, farm animals, and a giant pool of dry corn kernels to swim in. If you have small children, Kuiper’s is a great choice if you’re looking for entertainment beyond picking produce!
Jonamac Orchard is family-owned and has 20,000 apple trees on their property. This may be of special interest to grownups as it has a Cider House with hard cider, apple wine, and ale tasting! They also serve fresh, non-alcoholic apple cider. For attractions, there’s a corn maze and a hayride out to their literal pumpkin patch where you can pick pumpkins off the vine. They’re open M-F 11 AM-5 PM and 10 AM-5 PM on the weekends. Jonamac Orchard is in Malta, IL (a little west of DeKalb), so this location is best if you’re based out of the west suburbs, otherwise it’s a 90 minute drive (70 miles) from downtown Chicago. This is a low-key orchard and farm with the focus on the produce.
Honey Hill Orchard is another popular apple orchard! It is based out of Waterman, IL, (a little south of DeKalb, west of Aurora), and an hour and 10 minutes (65 miles) west of downtown Chicago. Honey Hill offers U-Pick Apples at $10/u-fill bag and accepts cash only. This is a less commercialized farm that offers hay rides, and a free children’s play area and petting zoo. Honey Hill also offers apple cider, apple cider donuts, and apple pies, as well as a rotating schedule of food truck options. They have a hayride out to their you-pick pumpkin patch. Honey Hill Orchard opens in early September and closes for the season November 1 with daily hours of 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
County Line Orchard in Hobart, IN is 50 minutes, 44 miles away from downtown Chicago and is a great choice for an apple orchard if you’re coming from the south side! In addition to u-pick apples and pumpkins, County Line Orchard offers apple cider (including a cherry-apple variety!), pumpkin and apple cider doughnuts, lots of activities for little kids (you do need to pay for attractions, but it’s $12 for an all-day pass). Some of the attractions include a tractor ride, corn maze, petting zoo, and “moo choo” cow-themed train ride. In addition to apples August-October, County Line Orchard also offers sunflowers August-September and pumpkins September-October; go in late September for an overlap of all three!
Prairie Sky Orchard in Union, IL is an hour, 58 miles northwest from downtown Chicago and is a beautiful apple and Korean giant pear orchard in McHenry county. It’s a great apple picking in Chicago option if you’re coming from the northwest suburbs! In addition to fresh fruit, Prairie Sky offers take and bake pies, apple cider, and fresh apple cider doughnuts. This orchard is open only on the weekends from 10 AM-4 PM and has lunch options including hot dogs, chips, and pie.
Finally, Woodstock Country Orchard in Woodstock, IL, is 1 hour, 60 miles northwest from downtown Chicago. It’s another great back-to-basics apple orchard. This orchard is open Friday 10 AM-2 PM and on the weekends from 9 AM – 4 PM and is closed during the remaining weekdays. They offer apples, jam, apple cider, honey, and apple cider doughnuts, and IMPORTANTLY, they accept cash and check only.
Is there a Chicago apple picking option I haven’t covered here? Let me know! Photos from this blog appeared in the September/October 2023 issue of Chicago Parent magazine.
Kristen Hazelton is an award-winning Oak Park, IL (West Chicagoland) and Livermore, CA (San Francisco East Bay Area) graduating senior, and family photographer. She occasionally photographs in San Diego, CA, Tucson, AZ, and Seattle, WA. You can inquire about your own photoshoot here!