By Katherine Kuhnlein
The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)
So far this season, I’ve been to three apple orchards/cider mills. To my surprise, they all didn’t provide the opportunity to pick apples straight off the trees.
A cider mill is a location where cider is made using equipment that extracts the juice and pulp from apples. Cider mills sell fresh doughnuts along with the cider, and occasionally they sell apples that have been picked at an off-site location.
An apple orchard differs from a cider mill because they have on-site apple picking. They usually involve a more hands-on experience such as picking apples, hayrides and corn mazes. They typically sell fresh cider and doughnuts, which is a huge part of the appeal.
At the start of the season, I went to the Franklin Cider Mill, located in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I would describe it as an apple-themed market with many different vendors that set up in tents outside and sell all different, fall-related products. They also sell the usual cider and doughnuts. Plus, it’s only about 35 minutes away, which is a terrifically easy commute.
Unfortunately, I thought I was going to pick apples, and because I didn’t realize it was a cider mill and not an apple orchard, I was let down. They didn’t have much seating or room around the property, so I had to drink the cider and doughnuts in the car. The cool part, however, was that I could see the apples being pressed into cider. The cider at Franklin was my favorite compared to Yates and Stoney Creek, because I could taste how fresh it was. However, the doughnuts were sub-par. Not only were they cold, but they didn’t even have the classic cinnamon sugar coating on the outside.
The next stop was Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills, MI. Yates has fall activities including a riverwalk and different booths to buy food items. On the weekends they have The First Michigan Colonial Fire and Drum Corps marching around the grounds. The atmosphere was great–you could feel the happiness of the kids and parents in the air. But I soon found myself disappointed, since their so-called “apple cider” could have been bought at Kroger with a label that read “Apple Juice.” It didn’t have the apple cider taste that we all start to crave in the fall and had the translucency of juice. However, I liked these doughnuts much better, compared to Franklin’s doughnuts, because they were warm and had an option of getting cinnamon sugar.
Yates provides more attractions compared to Franklin, with many different booths selling cider, doughnuts, fudge, hot dogs and ice cream. There is a much larger moving river than at Franklin, giving customers the opportunity to wander while enjoying their treats. Yates can be made into a day trip exploring the many things they have to offer, including the scenery, and is about 40 minutes away.
I longed for an opportunity to pick and taste apples right off the tree, so I headed an hour away to Romeo, MI.
Stoney Creek Apple Orchard is my favorite of the three. It is relatively inexpensive compared to the other locations’ prices for doughnuts and cider, which made both my wallet and I happy. The property is simple, consisting of a little donut and cider shop featuring multiple types of warm doughnuts, hot or cold cider and even a cider shake. The simplicity adds to the experience, allowing one to get what they want out of the trip. There’s an opportunity to take a hayride back to the orchards where I could pick and eat all the different kinds of apples I liked. For a chance to pick apples while enjoying fresh doughnuts and cider, this is the place to go. Stoney Creek also has a sales room which sells bags of apples, candies and fudge.
Depending on the amount of time you have this season, all three of these cider mills and apple orchards are worthy of your time and taste buds and you can’t really make a bad choice about where you want to spend your fall.
Photo Credit: Unsplash