Apple picking season is here and U-pick orchards are beginning to open for business. Heading out to the apple orchard makes for a perfect fall family weekend activity. To help you out, we’ve rounded up 11 orchards near Des Moines that offer pick-your-own apples and a few that also have fun activities for the kids, on-farm stores and festivals to celebrate the harvest. So, grab your bushel bags and read on for our top picks.
Apple Picking Season in Central Iowa: August through October
Know Before You Go
Call ahead to:
- verify picking dates as it varies from orchard to orchard and variety to variety.
- verify entry fees.
- verify what facilities, aka restrooms, are available on-site.
- verify which methods of payment the orchard accepts. Many farms and orchards only accept cash or check.
- verify exactly how to get there from wherever you are. (Unless, you think a day lost in Timbuktu is a fun adventure.)
- Remember comfortable shoes (you will be walking in fields) and wear sun screen.
- Bring your water bottle and pack a picnic if the orchard allows.
- Take along hand sanitizer if there will be a petting zoo or animals.
- Bring your camera.
- Discuss the apple picking rules with your kiddos, before letting them loose, and set an apple picking limit.
- And, be sure to have your favorite apple recipes and ingredients ready to go at home!
U-Pick Apple Orchards Near Des Moines
2402 W Main Street • Marshalltown • (641) 752-8443
Apple Varieties: Red Delicious
Head to Appleberry Farm in Marshalltown for some old-fashioned fall family fun. After you’ve filled up your bucket with apples, you can fill up your tummy with their fresh caramel apples and apple cider. You can also shop at their on-farm store which is loaded with antiques and decorative items. Have your camera ready, as they will have lots of pumpkins, gourds and fall decorations out that make great backdrops for family photos. Appleberry Farm is open Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; Saturday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 pm.
62785 280th Street • Nevada • (515) 382-5138
Apple Varieties: HoneyCrisp, Mollies Delicious, Gala and Earligold
The u-pick apple season has already started at The Berry Patch. A popular farm destination near Nevada, it’s a local favorite for berry and apple picking. Whether you’re visiting during the week or the weekend, the friendly helpful owners and employees make it an enjoyable day for families. Several varieties of apples, as well as, raspberries, blackberries and aronia berries are currently ready to pick. Their fall farm hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday. They are CLOSED on Sunday. The Berry Patch furnishes containers for you to pick or they will pick for you. Be sure to watch their website for updates on what’s ready to pick.
32835 610th Avenue • Cambridge • (515) 383-4354
Apple Varieties: Honeycrisp, Zestar!, Gala, Cortland, Blondee, McIntosh and more
Opening for the season on Saturday, September 9, 2017, Center Grove Orchard has grown to an 18-acre apple-growing powerhouse committed to showing families kid-powered fun focused on running, climbing, adventure and fresh air. Visitors pay a $12.95 weekend admission so kids can tire themselves out in the corn pool, ride the train, run through the corn maze, go down the humungous slide, jump on giant bouncy pillows and much more. You can also enjoy a delightful hayride to the orchard to gather your own apples or purchase them in their Country Store.
1348 295th Street • Montour • (641) 492-6353
Apple Varieties: Lodi, Summer Treat, Pristine, Wealthy, Gala, McIntosh, Honey Crisp, Jonathan and more
This family-owned and -operated business has grown since its beginning almost 60 years ago. “Annual Apple Picks” will be on September 24-25, 2017 and September 30-October 1, 2017 when the Orchard will be open from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. On these weekends, they will have apple cider, apple pies, caramel apples, squash, pumpkins, pumpkin rides, raspberries, and many varieties of their apples ready for picking. You’ll also want to mark October 8, 2017 on your calendar when they host their Cider Day. The orchard invites customers, friends and family to harvest apples with them. The apples are collected in wagons and made into fresh apple cider while you watch!
U-Pick Orchard: 13140 NW 102nd Avenue • Granger
Store: 9875 Meredith Drive • Urbandale • (515) 276-0852
Apple Varieties: HoneyCrisp, Gala, McIntosh, Jonathan, Empire, Cortland, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Pink Lady, and Braeburn
If you’re looking to fill your fall basket with more than just apples, then Iowa Orchard’s two locations should make your itinerary. They offer u-pick apples at their Granger location just off of Highway 141. They are open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm seven days a week during apple picking season. They do not charge an admission fee, but they do have a 1/2 peck minimum for everyone, except for kids in a stroller. They no longer offer pick-your-own apples in Urbandale because of the size and age of the trees. However, you can purchase apples at the store and they also offer up an array of homemade pies, fresh apple cider, decorative pumpkins, gourds and more.
773 NE 158th Avenue • Maxwell • (515) 240-4920
Apple Varieties: Honey Crisp, Haralson, Cheiftain and Jonathan
If picturesque and simple is the experience you’re seeking, go to McWilliams Apple Orchard near Maxwell. This is a great place to unwind and enjoy a low-key apple picking experience that’s easy, fun and affordable, without the added expense of play areas, food and tractor rides. They are open Sundays 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and weekdays by appointment. Watch their website for updates.
57495 230 Trail • Lacona • (641) 862-3841
Apple Varieties: Jonathan, Fuji, Gala, Red and Golden Delicious
Schneider Orchard is all set-up and ready for you to come pick apples. They’re also stocked with pre-picked apples, if you’re not inclined to pick-your-own. You’ll also find a country store and will want to save room for something sweet, the orchard serves fresh-baked apple crisp, caramel apples, caramel apple cheesecake, apple cookie on a stick and lots of other goodies. On October 6, 2017 they will be participating in Farm Crawl with six other independently owned family farm operations, all within an easy drive of each other in south-central Iowa.
12832 Royal Orchard Drive • Story City • (515) 733-4474
Apple Varieties: Honeycrisp, Fuji, Braeburn, Gala, Jonagold, Jonadel, Jonathan, Cortland, and Zestar
Storybook Orchard in Story City offers a wide selection of naturally grown fruits and veggies available for U-pick as well as pre-picked. Open mid-July through mid-December, you’ll find lots of tree fruits produced in season, including peaches, plums, cherries, and pears. In addition, they have over 60 different kinds of apples. Storybook Orchard is open daily 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
5987 NE 88th Street• Altoona • (515) 957-1303
Apple Varieties: Granny Smith, Yellow Lodi and Other Varieties
Upstream Gardens and Orchard is a working farm that offers pick-your-own apples, berries and other produce in Altoona. They also have honey from their own hives for sale. Yellow Lodi and a few other apple varieties are ready to pick now. Watch their website to know when the Granny Smiths are ready. Their hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday 1:00 to 7:00 pm. They do not charge admission, you just pay for what you pick.
2773 290th Street • Orient • (641) 337-5019
Apple Varieties: Pristine, Enterprise, Williams Pride, Liberty, Brown Snout, Dabinett, Harrison, Harry Masters Jersey, Kingston Black, Yarlington Mills and more
The Country Life Center in Orient is the birthplace farm of Henry A. Wallace. While this is NOT a u-pick orchard, you can purchase apples during the growing season, in the Market. With over 120 apple trees, you’ll surely find one kind of apple that you like. While there you’ll want to walk around the farm and enjoy the history and landscape that helped shape the life of one of Iowa’s most important native sons. You’ll also want to call ahead and make a reservation to dine at the Gathering Table Restaurant, where their menus are built around what is available to harvest from the gardens. Lunches and dinners are served Fridays in the Gathering Barn from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm and 5:30 to 8:00 pm April through December.
33130 Panther Creek Road • Adel • (515) 321-1847
Apple Varieties: Jonathan, Delicious, Chieftain, Enterprise and more
This family-owned and -operated business includes four acres of apple trees, one acre of peach trees, three acres of pumpkins, one acre of winter squash and ornamental gourds. In addition to the solid selection of produce, the Orchard draws families in with a one- acre corn maze, wagon rides, hens and goats. You’ll also want to be sure to visit their on-farm store where you can find all kinds of fresh, handmade foods such as apple cider donuts, caramel apples, Queens apple dessert, sliced apple pie and more. They also host Apple & Pumpkin Fest, which starts on September 23 and is held weekends until October 15, 2017.
If you aren’t up for a drive or have limited apple picking opportunities, another way to celebrate the harvest is to visit a local Farmers’ Market. Several remain open throughout September and October.
If you know of an orchard to add to the list, email email@example.com.
Where’s your favorite apple picking spot near Des Moines? Let us know in the Comments below!
Find more fall fun, like festivals and pumpkin patches on our Fall Fun Guide.