Apple pie, apple strudel, apple turnover, applesauce, apple butter, apple cider, or a big bite into a crisp, freshly picked apple. Sweet, tart, or somewhere in between. However you like your apples, Royal Oak Farm Orchard has them for you to bake, cook, or eat as-is. Wow, do they have the apples, 15,000 trees and 29 varieties.
For three months every year, from mid-August to late October, Royal Oak Farm Orchard, the largest orchard in northern Illinois, is open six days a week (closed Sundays) for you to pick apples. Raspberries are available in late summer and early fall, and you can pick your Halloween pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, too.
Royal Oak has a great cafeteria-style restaurant that serves sandwiches like pulled pork or Italian beef, entrees like their famous chicken pot pie, salads, soups, and delicious desserts like fresh-baked pies and apple slices.Besides apple picking, lots of activities are available, too. You can listen to music, sometimes live, as the kids play on the playground or visit the petting zoo.
Ride with the kids on the Royal Oak Express, a trackless train ride, or the carousel.
On the hay wagon tour of the orchard, you’ll learn the orchard’s history, see the present and hear about the future, like the apple tree maze that was planted and will be available for use in 2015. The trees are planted close together to form European-styled hedge maze.
Be sure to stop in to the Country Store, where you can purchase fall decor items, jams, jellies and syrups, and baked treats like fruit pies, turnovers, strudel, and their popular apple cider donuts.
If you don’t care to pick your own apples, you can buy them pre-picked in the Apple Barn, along with lots of other fresh, colorful fall fruits, vegetables, pumpkins, and gourds.
Royal Oak Farm Orchard is located at 15908 Hebron Road in Harvard, Illinois. Admission is free, but there is a small fee for the train, carousel and orchard tour. They are open in 2013 through November 16. Check the web site for exact hours and u-pick schedule.
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