We are heading into my favorite time of year when the leaves start changing colors, temperatures become cooler, and orchards are ripe with apples ready to be picked. One of the greatest pastimes for the midwest is to visit cider mills in the fall, pick apples and pumpkins, walk through giant corn mazes, and take home some delicious apple cider and doughnuts. My top three favorite Michigan Cider Mills that you must visit have so many family activities for you to do that you might have to come back over and over through the autumn season.
Yates Cider Mill
Yates Cider Mill is one of the longest-running businesses in Michigan and is a Michigan landmark and registered historic site. It started as a mill powered by the water of the Clinton River in 1863 but, switched to making cider in 1876. You can swing by and quickly pick up a pint of apple cider and doughnuts, buy a scoop of ice cream, spend an afternoon here relaxing by the river, or pet the animals. The convenience of this cider mill is that it is right on the outskirts of Rochester so, right in Metro-Detroit. Yates Cider Mill's open hours are Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and weekend hours are 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. Their Fall kick-off event starts on August 31st. Come out and enjoy the fall sunshine and pick up some apple cider at Yates!
Petting Zoo at Yates Cider Mill
The petting zoo at Yates has goats sheep and llama on the weekends during September and October. Food for the animals is $1, but as they say, petting is free. The smaller goats are my favorite and deserve a little more attention since the bigger ones are the pushiest when it comes to getting food.
Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill
Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill is family-owned and operated in Armada since 1946 and one of my absolute favorites for Michigan Cider Mills. It was the first U-pick orchard in Michigan. This is a great place to pick your favorite type of apples (Paula Red, Jersey Mac, Jonathon, Ginger Gold, and Molly Delicious). The newest addition since I have been to Blake’s Cider Mill is the Hard Cider Tasting Room and Restaurant which is opened all year long. Blake's Cider Mill's open hours are 8 a.m.- 7 p.m. and open to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Visiting Blake’s Cider Mill is a fall tradition in my family for years. My mom and dad took us when we were little. And my sisters and I had so much fun climbing the trees to pick the apples higher up. Then watching them make apple cider and get caramel apples. I loved it when my mom made the apple pies from the apples we picked when we got home. As we grew up and my family moved away from Metro-Detroit, I made it a point to bring my niece and nephew back here over the years to enjoy the family tradition that we started so long ago. It is nice to remember how much fun we have as a family together.
Making Apple Cider
One of the coolest parts of visiting Blake’s is to see the whole process of making apple cider from the apple to the jug. You can stand and watch the entire process in the same building as you buy the cider and doughnuts. I always buy myself some cider and one candy apple to take home to indulge my sweet tooth. What do you indulge in during the fall season?
Picking Pumpkins for Halloween
If you are looking for great big pumpkins to carve for Halloween, you should come out to Blake’s. You can take the tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch to find your very own pumpkin. You should come early in the season if you want to get a good one before they are all gone.
The Funland area at Blake’s Cider Mill has a separate admission fee. You can purchase a day pass through September 6th for $10.95 per person. Starting September 9th, the day pass on Mondays through Thursdays is $14.95 and on the weekends it is $18.95. Funland's open hours are Thursdays through Sundays 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. After September 13th, Funland will be open daily. The Funland activities included in the fee are the petting zoo, jumping pillows, Haunted Village, Cornfield Maze, Barnyard 500 Tricycle Track, and much, much, more. The Funland is a nice addition to round out your afternoon at Blake’s Cider Mill.
The petting zoo at Blake’s Cider Mill has a good collection of animals for you to feed and pet. There are cows, goats, llamas, pigs, and bunny rabbits. Kids will enjoy seeing all animals, especially the cute baby ones. And don’t worry, there is anti-bacterial soap to wash your hands after petting the animals.
Giant Cornfield Maze
The giant corn maze is a highlight for us when we visit Michigan Cider Mills. We try to hide from each other while we are in there and my sister gives up way too quickly to figure out the maze. She’ll be sitting on top of the straw mountain waiting for us to find our way out of the corn maze. The corn stalks are so high that you can’t even see over the top of them, which makes it even more fun and makes great photos.
The Haunted Village is more fun than scary for kids to go through. Lots of skeletons posed around the village and a few things show up for the typical jump, but all harmless fun. Bring your camera for some fun selfies.
Blake’s Big Apple Cider Mill
Another one of the Michigan Cider Mills is Blake’s Big Apple Cider Mill. It is also in Armada although smaller in scale compared to Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill. You can pick apples here and also purchase apple cider and doughnuts to take home with you. The Big Apple Cider Mill does have some different fun haunted attractions for you in the fall. They have a Haunted Hayride, 3-story Haunted Barn, and Zombie Paintball Safari. Each activity has a separate fee, but combo tickets are available. This is something I never even knew about until I joined a group of friends from work to try it. What a fun fall evening out!
Where can you pretend you are in the TVshow Walking Dead? Blake’s Big Apple’s Zombie Paintball Safari gives you experience shooting zombies (live actors) with a paintball gun attached to a tractor. You will travel for approximately 20 minutes over 10 acres to shoot the zombies infesting the orchard. Each paintball gun holds about 75 shots, and you can purchase refills beforehand. The experience costs $39.95 as a combo ticket for all the haunted attractions. You will laugh uncontrollably while on this ride. Get a group of friends together, and you will have a great fall haunted evening out.
As temperatures cool and the days get shorter, make your way over to explore some excellent Michigan Cider Mills. My three favorite cider mills in Metro-Detroit have plenty of family fun activities for you to have a great fall day or evening out. Have you been to these cider mills? What are your favorite fall activity and tradition you do with your family? Go ahead and leave me comments. I would love to hear about it.
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