Early summer means strawberries, and Champaign-Urbana friends are in luck: we’ve dug up several strawberry farms within roughly an hour’s drive from Champaign-Urbana where you can pick your own strawberries.
WARNING: The season is short for traditional berries, so if you blink you might miss it. (New: see a non-traditional option for late summer!)
To be sure that there are berries ripe for the picking, we recommend that you call ahead before you go to any farm (some also put up information on their Facebook pages and/or websites).
Oh, and a few other tips:
1) Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen; sunglasses and hats are also helpful. Remember, there is no shade while berry picking. As for shoes, rain boots are a good option – or something else that you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy.
2) Where there is fruit there is often bugs. Go early as possible; be prepared to do sunscreen and bug repellent.
3) In past years, we recommended that you bring cash to pay. That’s still good advice, but more and more places have options for credit.
4) Watch the weather. You don’t want to be picking with any threats of lightning.
5) BYOB – bring your own buckets. Sometimes that is required, every strawberry patch has different rules.
6) Remember, berry season is short!
U-Pick Strawberry Locations Near Champaign-Urbana (organized by distance)
Mariah’s Mums & More (Triple M Farm), Clinton
This is a new addition to our guide – experience u pick strawberries “like never before” with this vertical, hydroponic growing system. This way of growing allows you to pick standing up and not on the ground. Also at Mariah’s, in the later summer and fall: a farmstand selling fresh produce as well as pick-your-own zinnias and the largest variety of fall mums grown in one location in Illinois.
Location: They recommend using the directions on the website. About 40 minutes from Champaign. Not far from Clinton Lake.
Notes: Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – Noon or until they are picked out for the day, from June until October dependent on weather. They recommend arriving by 10 a.m. Strawberries are $5 per pound. You may also pick by appointment on Tuesday or Thursday evenings, when the berries are $4 per pound. Cash preferred, they also accept local checks and Visa, Mastercard, & Discover.
Butler Strawberry Acres, Danville
This locally owned family farm typically has the earliest of the area’s traditional strawberry farm seasons. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page.
Location: Northeast Danville. Address: 515 Poland Rd, Danville (1 hour from southwest Champaign)
Notes: Good news: children will be allowed to pick again this year. Closed on Sundays. Has other crops all season long, including pumpkins in the fall. As of May 17, signaled that its berries may be ready as soon as that week.
Phone: (217) 443-3027
Braffet Berry Farm, Carlock
The season at Braffet generally starts right before Memorial Day and lasts about four weeks. A recent tweet indicated they would be most likely open in early June.
Location: Carlock, Illinois, which is northwest of Bloomington-Normal (on the way to Peoria). (1 hour, 5 minutes from southwest Champaign). Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/sbLUZzVqcpC2
Notes: Open 7 days a week during picking season. Only takes cash or checks. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page.
Jeffries Orchard, Springfield
Our family went to Jeffries Orchard in Springfield a few years ago, and you can read all about this no-frills experience on the website. Typically opens for u pick in late May for strawberries. They have a roadside stand and sell produce all summer long. Note: on Facebook they recently indicated strawberries might be ready this year in “mid-May.”
Location: A great advantage for this place: it is close to Springfield and therefore close to other attractions, food, etc. About 75 minutes from southwest Champaign.
Notes: Open 7 days a week. Takes credit cards. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page. Also has blueberry and peaches on site, but season is much later in the summer.
Just Berries, Stewardson, Illinois
Typically open for picking around Memorial Day in the last week of May. Strawberry season usually lasts about a month. (In 2021, they are predicting the end of May.)
Location: About 75 minutes from southwest Champaign, straight south between Mattoon and Effingham. Get directions on the website.
Notes: Open 7 days a week during picking season. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page. Also has blueberries and blackberries on site, but season is much later in the summer.
Ditzler Orchard, Rosedale, Indiana
Strawberry season usually lasts about a month. (In 2021, they are predicting the last week of May.)
Location: About 90 minutes from Champaign-Urbana. This orchard is near the sunflower maze not far from Paris.
Notes: Open 7 days a week during picking season. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page. Also has blueberries and blackberries later in the season, and sweet cherries too.
Make it a day trip: If you go to Rosedale, check out the children’s museum in Terre Haute.
Directions: On their website.
Bigard’s Strawberry Patch and Peach Orchard, Newton, Illinois
Already open for strawberry u-pick – on May 17! Bring cash – no debit or credit at this time. Also has peaches, but season is much later in the summer.
Location: About 90 minutes straight south from Champaign-Urbana.
Notes: Open 7 days a week during picking season, with longer hours Monday through Saturday. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page. Price for U-Pick is $2.25 a pound. You may pick in Ice Cream Buckets, Flats from previous years, or buy a new one for a small fee. No other containers will be allowed.
Make it a day trip: If you go to Newton, make sure to head over to Casey for the Big Things. (Trust us.)
Directions: Google Map link.
Phone: (618) 783-3251
Did we miss your favorite strawberry u-pick? Let us know.