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Have You Gone Apple Picking Yet?

Photo by Melody Bates on UnsplashFor the past 3 years, Ryan and I have gone apple picking at our local fruit farm and I look forward to it every year. It’s one of the many fall activities that we enjoy.
Most people go once a year, but not us. We have to go at least twice every season. If I had it my way, we would go every weekend for the whole season.

Why?

There are hundreds of apple varieties and no one apple orchard are alike. Walking through endless rows of apple trees invites my inner child to run and explore.
For some odd reason, it tickles my fancy to pluck an apple from the tree and munch on it before tossing it on the ground. (I probably did this a lot as a child).

We’ve picked apples twice this fall and we’re going pack at least one more time (Honey Crisp will be ripe the end of September).
On each visit, different varieties were available to pick.

What’s Your Favorite Apple Variety?

During our first, visit I discovered a new favorite, mollies. They’re sweeter than Honey Crisp, loads of flavor, and firm. They taste like Apple Jolly Ranchers.

I think I’m becoming an apple geek… but what do you expect from a fall baby!

Our last visit wasn’t as spectacular as the first.Courland, Fuji, Gala, and McIntosh were available but I didn’t care for any of them.

Thank goodness I tasted each variety! There’s nothing worse than picking a bag full of apples you don’t like (yep, been there, done that)!
Courtland apples are very tart and super firm.
You know, the kind of firmness that gets stuck between your teeth and can cut your gums. Eating a Courtland apple is like that Tums commercial when the food fights you back.

Galas, Fuji and McIntosh were ok in texture but the apple flavor is very mild. I was a little surprised by how mild they are.
We’ve brought these varieties at the store and thought the bland taste was due to the apples being picked before ripeness or we got a bad bunch.
Turns out that’s how they taste fresh off the tree.

Now I know what apples NOT to buy when grocery shopping.

If you and your family have yet to go apple picking, there’s still time to get out there and discover your favorite varieties.
Where else is it encouraged to chuck half eaten apples on the ground?
Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Where To Go

There are plenty of apple orchards here in Wisconsin and you can find a list of them here. Apple picking will go into October so set a date, invite friends and family, and get to picking.

The nearest orchard near me is Barthel Fruit Farm. You’ll find dates, list of varieties, recipes, directions, etc on their website. They also have a pumpkin farm, pears, and a store if you don’t want to pick your own apples.

Apple Holler is another well- known orchard and great for families. An unique orchard I’d like to try is Weston’s Antique Apples. They have varieties I’ve never heard of.
Autumn fruit picking is in full swing and with so many apple varieties to experience, it’s the perfect time to take a trip to your nearest fruit farm.

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Top 3 Family Vacation Ideas For The Fall

School’s back in session and you know what that means, car pools, after school activities, and homework.  It’s a bitter sweet change in your daily routine and it can feel daunting at times.

I can relate.

Children have the same mixed feelings about the school season and while parents celebrate having our homes kid free during the day, planning a fall trip will ease  the pressure of a demanding family schedule.

Why not take advantage of school breaks and plan a family getaway?
Here are the top 3 vacation ideas taken from Travel Agent magazine.

Theme Parks

Perennial theme parks are a popular choice family getaways and every year there’s something new for visitors to experience. Universal Orlando opened its new Volcano Bay water park late spring.

It’s the third theme park in the resort, spanning 30 acres and four themed areas. Enjoy the 200 foot body plunge slide, 124 foot water slides and the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. If death defying rides isn’t for you, there’s multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a winding river and plenty of places to lounge and relax.

The 22nd annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival runs from August 31 through November 13th.

This festival is  packed with activities the whole family can enjoy. There’s entertainment and eats for foodies. Children receive a passport that can be stamped at a collection of 35 global marketplace booths.

Local indoor theme parks in Wisconsin Dells offers an wide array of fun too..

Road Trips

Did you know that Georgia is a hotspot for the Hollywood film industry?

That’s right, location scouts and director flock to this beautiful state to film movies like the Hunger Games: Catching fire, XMen First Class, and The Blind Side.

Georgia Film Selfie Spot Tour, a self-guided tour, is open until  the end of the year. Visit 33 sites across the state. Each site marks the ideal spot for the perfect selfie.    Visit “Captain America: Civil War,” at the Porsche Experience Center, Atlanta, where families can test drive a Porsche and take a selfie at the Avengers’ Headquarters.

Resorts

Little River Inn, a three hour drive from San Francisco. Spend time at the Pennyroyal Dairy tasting handcrafted cheeses, ride the heritage Skunk Train along redwoods and take a guided kayaking tour of nearby sea caves.
A special 2 night package for two adults, two children under 12, above mention activities and 1 breakfast for four is priced at $945.

Did I mention Little River Inn is pet friendly?

You can begin pricing vacations for October and November, when the weather averages are mid-eighties and seventies in most southern states.  Perfect timing for the first days off from school.

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Top Travel Destinations For Fall Foliage

With the end of summer fast approaching, it’s time to embrace the crisp weather and dazzling foliage the fall season brings.
Autumn foliage is a great reason to explore your surrounding areas. For me, there’s no better way to spend a lazy Sunday then to drive through the country side enjoying the refreshing fall air and admiring the glorious yellows and blazing oranges of fall.
If you enjoy the smell of burning leaves, and the vibrant colors of the autumn season as I do, here’s a list of special places to visit.

New York

Duchess County in New York’s Hudson Valley has some of the most beautiful land you’ll ever set your eyes on. New York’s Hudson River Valley is a popular location for leaf peepers and once you visit, you’ll know why. With sinuous roads, sweeping vistas, elevation changes, and miles of farm lands, you’ll fall in love with the scenery. Late October and early November is the best time to visit.

Connecticut

Blessed with rolling forested terrain and quaint towns accentuate the leaf-peeping experience. The top places to visit for the best colors are Litchfield, and the eastern Mystic region. The Connecticut Wine Trail welcome guests to wineries and vineyards that host harvest season events and tastings. Hartford has a beautiful city park, Bushnell Park, and the rugged East Rock Park. Visit in October to view brilliant colors and join the festivities.

North Carolina

Yes, North Carolina has amazing fall foliage! Mt. Mitchell and the surrounding Pisgah National Forest has vast expanses of deciduous trees. Plan your trip for mid to late October and hike the trails in Pisgah National Forest to take in the wonderful view.

Ohio

Just 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland is Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a 33,000-acre preserve. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad chugs past heron and bald eagle nests and offers ghost train rides in autumn. Ashtabula County, home of 17 historic bridges offers spectacular autumn colors and festivities. Plan your visit for mid-October and bring the whole family!

Wisconsin

Visit the picturesque Marinette County’s Waterfall Tour and marvel at a series of 14 waterfalls and cataracts throughout this 125-mile loop tour. Adventurous foliage peepers can whitewater paddle on the Pike, Peshtigo and Pemebonwon Rivers. Lake Geneva boasts wonderful fall foliage you can take in ziplinning through the woods or a boat tour on the lake. Autumn colors peak in early to mid-October.

Kansas

*See Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa from a viewing platform in the little town of White Cloud, 85 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri. The town, on the bluffs of the Missouri River, lies at the northern end of the 63-mile Glacial Hills Scenic Byway. Plan your trip for mid-October.

Washington

Washington is a wonderland of fall foliage! The Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle is a must visit and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness has spectacular mountain scenery with vibrant yellow Alpine larch trees in the central Cascades. Early October through early November is a great time for leave peepers to visit.

Leaf peeping is serious business in many states, so expect crowds on peak weekends. To by pass crowds, plan your trip in advance and go during the week.

Enjoy the fall season!

 

*John Briley Travel Channel article, Fall Foliage Road Trip

 

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