Get a Taste of Minnesota's Harvest
Each fall, apples and pumpkins are ripe for the picking, and corn mazes are carved out of the fields, offering adults and kids alike the opportunity to experience Minnesota’s bounty at harvest time.
More than two-dozen apple varieties, including tart McIntosh, sweet and juicy Honeycrisp and rich Red Baron, grow at orchards throughout the state. Many orchards also offer a variety of family activities on fall weekends.
At Center Creek Orchard in southern Fairmont, a fall festival takes place every weekend in September and October, with hay rides, scarecrow building and mini-golf plus pick-your-own apples and apple-centric treats like pies, crisps and cider “slush.”
In Belle Plaine, Emma Krumbee’s Apple Orchard has 10 varieties for visitors to pick, as well as readymade fritters, cider doughnuts and apple butter. Bring the whole family, including the dog – the orchard is pet friendly.
Come October, it’s time to find the perfect canvas for your jack-o’-lantern at one of Minnesota’s many pumpkin patches. Pumpkins of any size and shape are $3.99 each at Tom’s Pumpkin Farm in Lindstrom, a 15-acre family farm with more than 20 varieties including white pumpkins, squash and gourds. Or head to Buffalo River Pumpkin Patch, where the little ones can check out the animal barn and game area, navigate the straw maze and learn roping skills at “cowboy camp.”
In addition to selling edible goodies and seasonal decorations, many orchards and farms attract visitors with one-of-a-kind corn mazes, North America’s version of the European maze tradition. Maze-makers plant or cut corn to create a pathway in elaborate designs that, when seen from above, create images like a world map, animal or even the Minnesota Vikings logo.
Southwest of the Twin Cities, Severs Corn Maze in Shakopee is one of the biggest in the state. The maze features an annual challenge and is accompanied by live music, pig races and a corn pit, where visitors can sink into 10,000 bushels of kernels. At the Shafer Corn Maze, try not to get lost in the 12-acre corn field during the day, or, if you dare, head there after dark for the haunted maze in October. This year's maze at Waldoch Farm Garden Center in Lino Lakes is in the shape of a sunflower.
Some locations, like Afton Apple Orchard in Hastings, offer apples, a pumpkin patch, mazes and more all in one place. Learn more about all of the destinations listed here, as well as dozens more, at www.minnesotagrown.com.