We've been going to Minnetonka Orchards since I was a kid. Back then there wasn't a petting zoo or train rides or face painting. We occasionally got to go on a hayride, and if we were lucky we'd stop in when they had the big pile of hay bales that we could climb on. I remember the black lab that used to greet us in the parking lot (always wearing a bandanna around its neck), and the hot apple cider they served in the barn. We'd sample all the apples in the barn and always left with a big bag of our favorites (I think that's why my mom went in the first place - the apples were probably cheaper at the farm than in the grocery store).
Back then everything we did at the apple farm (besides the hayride) took place either in or around the barn. When I came back years later with my husband's family, I was amazed to see how big the farm really was...and how much it had changed.
I'll always love the old apple farm, but since I don't live 5 minutes away anymore, I'm glad they've added a few more kid-friendly attractions to make the trip out there worthwhile.
Of course they still have the hay pile, which Abe and his cousins love to jump and climb on.
There's a small petting zoo with sheep, goats, and bunnies...
...and a corn maze. Don't get lost!
They have a regular hayride that goes around the farm, but the kids were just as happy with this mini-train. Abe had so much fun, he happily waved to anyone who was watching.
At the Feed Hut you can buy burgers, brats, and beverages (there's another one up by the apple barn), and nearby there's a small playground area with some picnic tables, a sandbox, and a wooden train that the kids love to climb on.
Seriously, Abe could have played on that train all day!
They also have a big corn silo for kids to climb in. Abe loved climbing to the top, but the slide was steep and he had the most terrified look on his face coming down. Probably better for older kids.
We also went on the hayride through the woods. As we drove under this pterodactyl, the tractor driver pulled on a string making his wings flap up and down.
The hayride makes a few stops along the way. You can get off at the apple barn, the play area, or to pick apples in the orchard. We headed to the apple barn for a picnic lunch.
Whenever we go to the apple farm, I have to get an apple brat...and apple donuts and cider.
The barn has been around since I was a kid, but now it's been turned into more of a gift shop. They sell all kinds of food items and knick-knacks. You can also buy bags of already picked apples at the barn.
The Donut House is just outside the barn. They weren't selling hot apple cider that day (it was unusually warm), so I settled for a bag of donuts instead.
It was hard to resist eating the whole bag right then and there, but I think we managed to save a few for breakfast the next morning.
After lunch we headed off to the orchard to pick apples. Abe had to pull out his map to find out where the best apples were.
Once we found them, we filled a big bag with Honeycrisps and headed home.
They've started growing grapes at the orchard for making wine. One thing I know about wine: it's not so much the grapes they use as where they're grown that makes them special. I think apples are the same way. I'll eat apples from other states, but even ones grown in other parts of Minnesota can't beat the ones I grew up with. In my opinion, the best apples will always come from Minnetonka Orchards.
Minnetonka Orchards offers the following attractions and amenities (click on the links for more information):
For more information about apple picking and other events at the Minnetonka Orchards, go to www.minnetonkaorchards.com.
If you're looking for fun things to do with the family in the Twin Cities (or just need some ideas of what to do in your own town), check out our other favorite local attractions right here.