You may have heard about Michigan’s reputation as one of the top apple producing states in the country. But did you know that most of those apple orchards are concentrated just outside of Grand Rapids? Known locally as “the Ridge,” this agricultural mecca northwest of GR is home to dozens of orchards, where apples are grown by the billions. Take a drive up Fruit Ridge Avenue this fall, or better yet, get in on the action with eight great u-pick apple orchards!
Schwallier’s Country Basket
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Conveniently located at the corner of 9 Mile and M37, Schwallier’s Country Basket offers all sorts of local produce grown minutes away. Schwallier’s grows fifteen different varieties of apples. Check out their Facebook page for the most recent information on U-Pick hours.
Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market
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Look for the bright pink John Deere tractor; you can’t miss Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market. These “farm lovin’ females” know how to host a fun afternoon! In addition to the U-Pick apple orchards, Dunneback & Girls also have a corn maze, bakery, and gift shop on site. When you’re finished picking, treat yourself to a homemade caramel apple shake on the deck and enjoy those farm views!
Steffens Orchard Market
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Another great option on the Ridge is Steffens Orchard Market. Steffens will get you outfitted with wagons, bags, and baskets, and point you in the right direction. The hardest part will be deciding which of their ten delicious apple varieties to take home! An excellent option for those with kids, Steffens also has a swing set, wooden tractor, and a free moon bounce on the weekends.
Fruit Ridge Hayrides
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What better way to #discovertheridge than to enjoy a hayride after apple picking? At Fruit Ridge Hayrides, you can do both! On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you can easily lose track of time at the corn maze, petting zoo, pony rides, and of course, while picking your share of Honeycrisp.
Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery
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Of course, not every great apple orchard is located on the Ridge. Robinette’s Apple Haus is right at the corner of 4 Mile and East Beltline and has all the staples of the perfect fall day: U-Pick Apple orchards, a hiking trail through the farm, wine and cider tasting, hay rides, and a corn maze. Check out their website to see the latest apple varieties.
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A visit to Crane Orchards is well worth the drive to Fennville! Located on the shores of beautiful Hutchins Lake, U-Pickers at Crane’s are free to peruse the farm in search of all seventeen apple varieties. When you’ve picked your fill, be sure to stop at Crane’s Pie Pantry, the famous on-site restaurant that put Fennville, Michigan on the map!
Hanulcik Farm Market
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If you’re looking for apples on the east side of Grand Rapids, head to Hanulcik Farm Market in Ionia! A family operation since 1936, Hanulcik has seven apple varieties available for picking Friday through Sunday. You can also visit their farm market, where you can browse for local honey, maple syrup, and locally-made goat milk soap!
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During the summer months, peaches and cherries steal the show at Summersweet Orchard in Caledonia, but apples are the main fall attraction! Located on 92nd Street east of Kalamazoo Avenue, Summersweet will keep you updated with the best spots, varieties, and picking times on their Facebook page.
Apple season is in full swing, so grab some friends and get out there!
About the Author
Nick Meekhof graduated from Calvin College with a major in writing and a minor in geography. A farmer for the first twenty-three years of his life, Nick currently works for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. When he’s not traversing the state conducting orchard inspections, he can be found exploring the rivers, forests, and small towns all throughout the Great Lakes State. His current goals include kayaking one hundred Michigan rivers, swimming in Lake Michigan during every month of the year, and visiting as many Michigan breweries as possible.Follow Nick’s adventures on Instagram: @puremichiganguy