There are some traditions that are worth carrying through the duty stations – even if it requires a little drive. For us, picking apples & pumpkins are simply a necessary part of Fall.
The seasons make a statement here at Fort Knox in Central Kentucky. The grass is still green and temperatures are in the 80s but the air runs cooler and leaves fall. To give it a push, school starts the first week of August here. We’ve swung through back to school shopping, the first month of school and jumped into a full calendar of school year activities. I’m ready for it to feel like Fall! Sweaters and soups and cuddly throw blankets need to happen.
Despite Labor Day temps edging more towards beach than Fall football, we decided to stick to our family tradition and look for apple orchards. There’s something about apple recipes that evoke falling leaves and the softness of end of summer sun no matter what the temps are. In my mind, Fall activities like apple picking and the pumpkin patch should be an event! Since we have an 8 year old, we look for:
- accessible fields
- some kind of playground or kid friendly energy burner
- decadent food of some kind for a treat
Eckert’s Boyd Orchard, Lexington
A quick google search revealed a handful of options currently offering apple picking in the local area. But a few appeared to be just orchards and unlikely to hold my son’s attention for very long. Another couple were 90+ minutes away in Indiana. A more likely option popped up in Eckert’s Boyd Orchard in Versailles, Kentucky. The website displayed clear information about a playground, store and the orchards. As a bonus, the location is a quick drive from both shopping and restaurants in Lexington.
From Fort Knox, it’s a simple trip down the Bluegrass Parkway to Versailles, taking just over an hour. Versailles is adorable. We made a mental note to bring my In Laws to visit as its the kind of main street you can walk around. Between Versailles and the orchard is a charming drive with horse farms on either side. Clear signs made it easy to find (always a bonus when the kids are getting restless after a drive).
On arrival, we meandered through the store and peaked in the play area before a helpful employee pointed us in the direction of the apple picking. Clean restrooms were a nice bonus before hitching a ride on a tractor pulled trailer out to the apple orchards.
One of the critical reviews I had read online complained that employees specified which rows of trees could be picked from. I’m sure that wandering through all of the trees would be pleasant, but I didn’t mind having the tractor ride to the back of the property and there were more than enough apples on the trees made available. The bags provided by Eckert’s held about 20 lbs of apples and I had no interest in lugging that all the way back to the store – so the tractor ride was much appreciated!
We filled our 20 lb bag quite easily on a stroll down the line of trees and were ready to head back. After a quick tractor ride, my husband paid for our apples (you pay by the weight of the apples you pick, about $1.89/lb) while the kiddo and I headed to the playground. Straw bales, tall slides and a separate pre-schooler friendly area made this one of the better playgrounds I’ve seen at pumpkin patches. We sat & enjoyed the sunshine while the kiddo played. If your little ones enjoy petting animals, bring a couple quarters to feed well-mannered goats at the “Goaten Gate Bridge.”
A Fall Treat
My husband’s number one request when I mentioned apple picking a few weeks ago: apple cider donuts.
As a native New Yorker, apple cider donuts are a staple of fall activities (especially for someone who isn’t a huge pumpkin fan). Eckert’s Boyd Orchard boasted on their website that they were known for their apple cider donuts, which turned out to be the perfect end to our beginning-of-Fall day.
First, though, we took another walk through the store. Apples, late season peaches, corn, and tomatoes from the Orchard were all offered at very reasonable prices. In addition to the donuts, the store also offered peach & apple butter, all sorts of apple jams and vinaigrette, and fun country themed decor. I picked up peach butter and my husband couldn’t resist the peach cider to go with his donuts.
We finished our visit to Eckert’s Boyd Orchard with a checkers game while enjoying our donuts before heading into Lexington (The Summit at Fritz Farm) for dinner. Like most successful outings, the kiddo fell asleep on the way home. We picked up a calendar while we there and have already put down a trip back for Apple Fest later this month & the pumpkin patch in October! A lovely (and affordable) way to continue our family traditions.
How do you celebrate the beginning of Fall?