Strawberry picking is an early summertime favorite and we have options for your family in Central Illinois
Within a one-hour drive from Champaign-Urbana, you can find spots to take your kids strawberry picking — but don’t delay, strawberry season comes and goes quickly
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.
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 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
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: Mariah’s recommends using the directions on the website. About 40 minutes from Champaign. Not far from Clinton Lake.
Notes: Saturdays, 10-11 a.m. starting July 2 (weather dependent) or until picked out for the day. Mariah’s recommends arriving by 10 a.m. Strawberries are $5 per pound. Cash preferred; local checks and Visa, Mastercard, and Discover also accepted. New this year, you can make an appointment to have your own u-pick time (different pricing). Get the scoop on their strawberries here.
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 Road, Danville (one hour from southwest Champaign)
Notes: Closed on Sundays. Has other crops all season long, including pumpkins in the fall. Current opening projected to be May 26-27.
Phone: (217) 443-3027
Braffet Berry Farm, Carlock
The season at Braffet generally starts early June and lasts about four weeks.
Location: Carlock, which is northwest of Bloomington-Normal (on the way to Peoria). (1 hour, 5 minutes from southwest Champaign). Directions here.
Notes: Open daily during picking season but check Twitter or Facebook first to make sure. Only takes cash or checks. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page.
Phone: (309) 376-2012
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. Typically opens for u-pick in late May for strawberries. Jeffries has a roadside stand and sells produce all summer long. Note: On Facebook it 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 seven 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.
Phone: (217) 487-7582
Just Berries, Stewardson, Illinois
Typically open for picking around Memorial Day in the last week of May. Strawberry season usually lasts about a month.
Location: About 75 minutes from southwest Champaign, straight south between Mattoon and Effingham. Get directions on the website.
Notes: Open seven 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.
Phone: (217) 343-8348
Ditzler Orchard, Rosedale, Ind.
Strawberry season usually lasts about a month. The website lists strawberry season as May 20 – June 25.
Location: About 90 minutes from Champaign-Urbana. This orchard is near the sunflower maze not far from Paris.
Notes: Open seven days a week during picking season. Posts regular updates on its Facebook page. Also has blueberries, blackberries and sweet cherries later in the season.
Make it a day trip: If you go to Rosedale, check out the children’s museum in Terre Haute. Also, it wouldn’t be hard to make a trip to Turkey Run as a part of a trip to the farm.
Directions: On the website
Phone: (765) 548-2308
Bigard’s Strawberry Patch and Peach Orchard, Newton
Another early option — it plans to open for Memorial Day! Bring cash – no debit or credit at this time. Also has peaches much later in the summer.
Location: About 90 minutes straight south from Champaign-Urbana.
Notes: Open seven 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
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