This piece is part of a series of articles submitted to The Local Tourist through a cooperation with a 400-level travel writing class at Purdue University.
By Elizabeth Pollack
Ever since I can remember, when the leaves started to change that meant it was time for my family and me to take a trip to our favorite apple orchard.
To this day, it’s still a tradition to visit County Line Orchard.
Nothing quite says fall like sipping on hot apple cider and arguing with your sibling over who picked the best apples.
I was very lucky to grow up only a short drive away from one of my favorite places. I first visited County Line Orchard on a field trip when I was in kindergarten.
Back then, this place was nowhere as big, busy, and well-known as it is today. The only people who really knew about it were families like mine who lived close by.
Before it was a major tourist attraction, it consisted of just one barn, a small field of apple trees, and one corn maze.
I remember sitting in a small room on my field trip while someone showed us how bees make honey and being so excited to get my own apple picking bag. Our school was the only one there and we had all the apples to choose from.
Today, people come from all over the Midwest just to experience County Line Orchard. It is the closest orchard to downtown Chicago, drawing in many people from the city. There are lines of cars with different license plates surrounding the area.
Looking for more fun near County Line Orchard? Check out Gabis Arboretum.
What can you do at County Line Orchard?
The most popular attraction of County Line is, of course, the apple picking.
You pay a general admission charge of $1 per person, which gives you full access to the orchard.
You can either walk to the apple fields or take a tractor ride. I suggest taking the tractor ride because yes, it’s less walking, but it’s a fun way to see more of the orchard.
I always like to talk to the people around me on the tractor and ask how long they’ve been going to County Line. It’s interesting to see how some are there for the very first time while others have been going religiously their entire lives like I have.
I asked Dave, a man that has been working seasonally at County Line driving the tractors for many years, what he liked most about his job. He said, “My favorite part about working here is seeing how excited all the different people and kids get. Some kids have been coming here for years and you get to see them grow up.”
Once you get to the apple fields there are 30 varieties of apples. The different types are better for different things. The helpful employees can tell you which kind is better for making a pie or which is better for applesauce.
My personal favorite is the Honeycrisp, which is tart but a great apple to snack on.
You can also head over to the pumpkin patch. The pumpkins come in all different shapes and sizes, ready to carve.
Right by the pumpkin patch is the huge corn maze. The corn maze is shaped into different fun fall designs each year. Maps are available but still be ready to get lost in the corn! When I was little my dad and I always tried to follow the map at first, but still ended up confused, wandering the maze for hours anyways.
I think half the fun is trying to figure out where to turn next and realizing you’ve been going in a giant circle.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget my favorite part, and arguably the best part of County Line Orchard: the donuts. I remember when I was a kid, my parents and I would wait in line, sometimes for more than an hour, for these fresh, warm donuts that really do melt in your mouth. It was always worth the wait.
I also loved watching them be made through the glass windows while we waited. Today, you can still watch these famous apple and pumpkin donuts be made.
However, don’t worry about the wait because there’s always stacks and stacks ready for you to buy and enjoy. In an average season today the orchard makes up to 1 million donuts.
Now that’s a lot of donuts.
Not a fan of donuts? Don’t worry, there’s many other foods to love and enjoy. Some other good eats you can find are at the bakery, County Line Kitchen and Grill , and even local food booths.
I always like to try something new each time I go. Once you decide what to munch on, take a seat at the picnic tables outside and enjoy yourself.
There are often small bands playing live music, too.
County Line Orchard has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I always feel like I’m at home when I come here and I look forward to returning every autumn.
When does County Line Orchard Open?
The Orchard typically opens at the beginning of September and closes at the end of October. There is much to do here, but the maps can help you make sure you get to see it all. The friendly locals and employees are sure to be helpful as well.
County Line Orchard is located on 200 S County Line Road in Hobart in Northwest Indiana.
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