When the days start getting shorter and the leaves start falling, there’s one thing to look forward to: cider mills. Michigan, one of the nation’s top apple-producers along with Washington and New York, has more than 100 cider mills that offer not only delicious cider, apples and other apple products, but fall activities for the whole family.
According to Michigan.org, apples have a $700 million annual impact on our state’s economy, and Michigan produces some 20 millions apples every year. So why not celebrate Michigan apples with a nod to the local farms that produce them? Oh, and don’t forget the donuts. They may not be made of apples, but they sure are good with cider.
Here are just a few Detroit area cider mills you may want to visit. Even if they’re off-the-beaten-path for you, they offer a nice autumn destination with plenty of colorful scenery along the way.
Apple Charlie’s Orchard and Cider Mill: Claiming to be the only remaining cider mill in Wayne County, this New Boston site not only offers cider, donuts and baked goods, but a host of entertainment. The pavilion includes a cafeteria with Dearborn Sausage and other luncheon foods, plus musical entertainment on the weekends. There’s also an animal farm onsite and a Barn of Blood haunted house that’s open weekends through Halloween. Visit www.applecharlie.com for more information.
Blake Farms: This Armada orchard and cider mill has the typical cider mill products, plus you-pick fruits and vegetables. In October, there are tomatoes, green peppers, green beans, pumpkins and apples ripe for the picking. There’s also a petting and feeding farm, corn maze, pony rides, train rides, story time for the kids and more. It’s worth a trip out there if you’re not an east-sider. Visit www.blakefarms.com for more information.
Yates Cider Mill: Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills offers cider and donuts, and the opportunity to watch the cider press, which operates via a water turbine, in action. The circa 1863 farm also has a petting zoo, pony rides, fudge and ice cream shops and even an apple pulp car – a train car that every so often empties apple pulp by traveling along the railroad tracks underneath the mill. Visit www.yatescidermill.com for more information.
Erwin Orchards: Erwin Orchards in South Lyon traces its history back to James Erwin, who planted his first tree on the site in 1920. The third-generation farm now offers cider and donuts; you-pick apples, cherries, raspberries and pumpkins; and a host of entertaining activities. There’s a petting farm, corn maze, haunted barn and less-spooky version for kids, inflatable rides for the kids and a tricycle trail. Visit Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. for the annual Halloween costume contest. Visit www.erwinorchards.com for more information.
The Wilson Barn: Located in Livonia, The Wilson Barn isn’t a cider mill, but it’s a great place to visit in the fall. Right now the barn is decked out with pumpkins for the annual Pumpkinfest. Buy pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, cider and donuts, and other fall-themed items, and enjoy pony rides too. On weekends, shop the craft booths on the grounds, or let the kids jump on the inflatables. Visit www.wilsonbarn.us for more information.