My daughter is now 2 and a half years old and I am trying to start new traditions with her that will hopefully last into adulthood. One of those traditions is finding a great apple orchard to take her to where we can pick our own apples, go on a tractor ride, and just have a great family experience. We went to one a couple years ago (I will not name names) and we found it lacking. It was so commercialized it didn't even feel like you were at an apple orchard, so this year when Jenna told me about Parley Lake Winery we decided to give it a shot. We were not disappointed!
Parley Lake Winery is located in Waconia, which for some might be a bit of a drive (it was about an hour drive for us, but we are in more of the southeast metro) but it was well worth it! Plan on going there and making an afternoon of it if you can. You can bring lunch and make it a picnic or you can get a pizza that they make outside in the fire truck where they converted the back end into a pizza oven (So cool!). They also have an area where you can see and pet a variety of animals. When you get there you can go into the large barn where they have an assortment of jams, butters, etc... to buy, apple tastings so you can decide which apples you would like to pick, and apples already in bags if you don't have the time to go and pick yourselves. If you go up to the counter you can purchase a bag to take with you on your picking expedition. Then you can either go out and wait for a tractor to take you to the trees that are in season, or you can make the walk out yourself (its a beautiful trail no matter which way you chose to enjoy it). My daughter LOVES tractors, so of course we took the tractor ride:)
When we got back from the apple picking we decided to do some wine sampling! It was $5 for 4 tastings or $10 for 8 and you get to keep the glass. The wine was great and my daughter loved the little crackers they gave you.
The overall experience here was fantastic. We had such a good time and there were things to do for both children and adults! There is also a lot to be said about the overall picture the winery presents. They have it decorated and ready for fall and the old barns they house the store, bar, and samplings in is simply charming.
If you decide you want to visit an orchard and start your own traditions, I would highly suggest the Parley Lake Winery. If you need any suggestions for what to do with your apples once you have them, the I would highly suggest this Carmel Apple Crisp recipe. I found it on pinterest and it is incredibly easy to make and tastes like something you got at a restaurant!
Written by Melissa Bye