Craving cool days and warm apple cider? A town steeped in food and farming culture, Traverse City offers incredible opportunities to connect with your food – even to the point of picking it yourself! These three fall afternoon trips are perfect for finding bright foliage, perfect sips, and great farm souvenirs for your kitchen or front step.
If you head North on US-31 in the fall, sunflowers give way to orange and red leaves from the rows of cherry trees, interspersed with peeks of the bay, and beautiful farmhouses. Before you reach Elk Rapids, you’ll find the classic red metal roof of Farmer White’s, tucked in around piles of pumpkins in every color. From the classic Cinderella pumpkin, to ghostly white, or even blue and pink-hued would-be Jack-o-Lanterns, Farmer White’s has an incredible selection - only to be matched by their fresh apple cider and donuts.
From there, take a quick hop over to Rennie Orchards for u-pick apples and hay rides, which will be available from the third week of September through October. They have everything you need to pick your own bushel and will be updating their Facebook page as the season progresses.
After an afternoon on the farm, head to Townline Ciderworks at Altonen Orchards for a glass of hard cider, as well as delicious Mexican food from the Sabores y Colores Food Truck on-site. I recommend their crisp Alma Mater to any Spartan fans!
Old Mission Peninsula
Just a short drive from downtown Traverse City, head up the Old Mission peninsula to find a variety of farm stands, wineries, and scenic bay and orchard views. Stop at Buchan’s Blueberry Hill for a family u-pick experience. Their Cortland and Macintosh apples will have a limited amount this year (2022) - so be sure to check their voicemail for U-pick availability, which is updated frequently. If you come before u-pick opens, you can still enjoy fresh-pressed cider and early apple varieties from the counter!
After working up an appetite, hop over to the Secret Garden at Brys Estate, which will be serving mulled apple cider with their lavender shortbread cookies Fridays and weekends throughout October. If you’re still feeling peckish, pizza with an Oro de Calabaza at the Jolly Pumpkin is always a great option!
Looking for the Great Pumpkin? Head to Suttons Bay for an impressive selection of pumpkins in a multitude of sizes and shapes at organic no-till farm 9 Bean Rows. They grow giant pumpkins and proudly display the grand champ heavyweights every year at their on-farm bakery. Once you’ve filled up on a pizza lunch from their wood-fired oven, head to their field for a pumpkin u-pick, the ultimate souvenir, available October 1st through Halloween!
If you make your trip at the later end of fall, you’ll have come at the perfect time to head into the orchards for Evercrisp apple u-pick with VerSnyder Orchards. The farm is on track to have a great harvest year, and you can fill your own half bushel with the best your arm can reach. Be sure to bring cash as a payment method in order to take part!
On your way back into Traverse City, stop in at Gallagher’s Farm Market for great donuts and a visit with adorable farm animals, like chickens, goats, and pigs. If you haven’t already stocked up on enough fall-time foods, Gallagher’s also has apples and pumpkins available for purchase!
Which direction are you heading for the perfect fall foodie adventure?