Apple picking season is here, and we offer options on where to pick apples in the Champaign-Urbana area
It’s hard to believe that apple picking season is here! It’s a picturesque fall activity for families in many Midwestern communities, and Champaign-Urbana is no different.
In Central Illinois, apple picking season generally starts in late July/early August and goes through October but varies greatly from farm to farm. Some varieties ripen earlier than others. Some of the orchards we list will have a number of other activities (with many happening only on the weekends), while other are a simple “show up and pick apples” deal. We break it down for you with the info we have.
To be sure that there are apples available and 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 or websites). Some farms have limited quantities, and the seasons can be short.
Oh, and a few other tips:
1) Bring water to have in the field and use the restroom before you go into the orchard. You never know how far away you might get.
2) Where there is fruit there is often bugs. Go as early in the day as possible; wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug repellent.
3) Apples are HEAVY! Some places provide wagons; others do not. Another reason to call ahead if you don’t know.
4) It’s tempting to pick a lot of apples. Consider what you might do with them ahead of time to figure out how much you should really bring home. (Speaking from experience here.)
5) It’s difficult for younger kids to pick apples without help from a grown-up. You can buy your own apple picker contraptions to bring along, which are inexpensive; some orchards may have them available. We’ve even seen people bring ladders.
6) Bring your own bags if you can.
Apple Picking Near Champaign-Urbana (organized by distance)
There’s lots of fun to be had here, but at its core (see what we did there), apples are the main attraction at Curtis Orchard. Goats, kittens, a cafe and so much more (especially as we head into fall) can be enjoyed here at our local orchard.
Location: On Duncan Avenue, south of Curtis Road in Champaign.
Notes: Curtis Orchard is open from July 20 until Dec. 23, and it has apples available most of that time. You can see what varieties are available on its website. You can even sign up to get emails when certain varieties are ready. However, not all varieties are available for picking. Wagons provided.
A traditional apple orchard with lots of varieties, this orchard has recently re-planted many trees and has a limited number of u-pick days this season. Read more about the progress and u-pick availability on their website.
Location: Outside of Sullivan, in Moultrie County. Use the directions from its website. Evidently GPS systems including Google won’t reliably get you there. About 75 minutes from Champaign-Urbana. Not far from other attractions including Amish country and Aikman Wildlife Adventure.
Notes: Open early July until mid-November. Some fall weekends they may have lunch available.
Other attractions: A large playground area and a separate preschool play area are available on site. Orchard offers tours as well as cider demonstrations starting in September. Must get reservations in advance.
Phone: (217) 728-8269
Believe it or not, at about 1.5 hours away, Ditzler Orchard is closer to us than the Peoria orchards. This is just north of Terre Haute. Watch Facebook for info, but picking season generally starts around Aug. 25.
Apple Picking in the Peoria area
Both of these orchards are on the western side of Peoria, meaning they are about two hours away.
In 2021, apple picking starts in late August and goes to mid-October. Closed Sundays.
Opens Aug. 2. More akin to Curtis Orchard with a wide variety of activities available in addition to apple picking. Beginning the first Festival Days of September, you can catch a wagon ride out to the orchard and pick your own apples. They offer more than 11,000 u-pick apple trees and 17 varieties of apples.
Looking for other fruits to pick?