Last weekend we had the chance to spend the day at Eckert's Farms in Belleville picking apples and enjoying the carnival during the opening weekend of Applefest. Even though it's still hot here in the midwest, we've started seeing and feeling glimpses of fall and I couldn't be more excited. Apple picking has been a tradition for us (last year's photos), but we usually wait until mid/late-October, when the leaves are turning and pumpkins are ready for picking too. But, this year we decided to hit the fields early and beat the crowds, ensuring that we got lots of choice apples for pies and applesauce. (Don't worry, we'll be going back for pumpkins next month.)
After checking out the tractors and grabbing our bags, we got in line (with friends! hi Liz!) for the tractor ride to the fields. All the kids love the tractor ride, which is the highlight of the trip for Mac. Once we got to the fields, we let the kids run loose and start picking! Right now, Jonathan apples and Gala apples are in season - both were delish! The Jonathans were a bit more tart and the Galas were sweet and perfect for eating right off the tree. I love that they encourage you to eat as much fruit as you want while you pick and you don't have to pay for it! As expected, Mac ate about 6 bites out of a dozen different apples and Mim ate at least 5 apples down to the core. She was an apple-eating machine!
Both kids helped fill the bags and we ended up with about 34 pounds of apples! No one got stung by a bee, no one got sick from eating too many apples and no one got run over by a tractor, so overall I think it was a really successful trip. I've already made applesauce, apple crumb pie and apple tartlets and still have about two dozen apples left! Apple sangria, baked apple chips and apple butter are next on my list.
Over the last couple years, Eckert's has become one of my kids' favorite places in St. Louis...and for good reason. Not only do they love picking fruit (and eating it), but there's so many other fun things for kids to do there. From the giant tractors, mini tractors, putt putt holes and sand pit in the waiting area to the pony rides, goats, trains, funnel cakes and rides in the carnival area, we can make a full day out of a trip to Eckert's. Plus, the restaurant is absolutely delish (make a reservation and use the NoWait app) and they're really understanding of crazy loud kids. And did I mention the frozen custard? YUM.
After a quick lunch at the restaurant, the kids were dying to ride the ponies. Mac rode a pony named Maggie and Mim rode Pumpkin - the exact same two ponies they rode when we were there for blackberry picking. They haven't stopped talking about their ponies since. We also had to feed the goats and cows, check out the rides and play in the sand. We left just before nap time and both kids conked out in the car on the way home. Win-win.
If you're in the STL area and interested in visiting Eckert's for yourself - use the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Eckert's!
Good luck and happy picking!
Is apple picking on your fall bucket list?
*A big thanks to Eckert's for hosting us this weekend, inspiring this post and sponsoring the giveaway! We love supporting local businesses.