As a young girl growing up in Cedar Rapids, I looked forward to fall; the changing colors of the trees, hayrack rides, and our annual trip to the local apple orchard. Though I have skipped a few annual trips over the years, visiting one local orchard reminded me of why I looked forward to it every year.
Allen's Apple Orchard located at 5801 10th St, Marion, offers more than just apples. Their haystack/tunnel for the kids, along with hayrack rides, and the opportunity to pick your own apples provides an entertaining family activity that everyone can enjoy.
Allen's also has a variety of items in their store, including local honey, jams and jellies, and their homemade apple donuts and apple slushies, and of course, different kinds of apples that are labeled as to which are best for cooking and eating. Children's books about apples, crafts, and other locally-made craft items are also available for purchase.
We chose to pick our own apples during our visit Sept. 15. Since this was our first time at Allen's, we had to ask how we go about it. One of the staff members patiently asked us what kind of apples we were looking for and directed us to the trees that had a purple ribbon, signifying Cortland apples, great for eating and baking. (Apple Crisp recipe below)
The tree was full of ripe, delicious-looking apples, and we chose the best ones and took them back to the store to pay for them. As we stood in line, I looked over and saw a case filled with donuts and turnovers. I chose the apple donuts (3 for $3), and though it was a tough decision between the two, I was so glad I did. The homemade donuts were indescribably delicious, with just the right balance of apples, sugar, and cinnamon.
The visit to Allen's Orchard brought back many memories for me, as well as created new ones; an adventure that is sure to become an annual tradition.
Allen's is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information, visit their website or Facebook page.
Cindy's Apple Crisp
6 apples, peeled and cores, and diced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
Preheat oven to 375°. Toss apples with cinnamon and sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Place apples in a 9" x 13" pan and top with oats and sugar mixture. Bake for 40 minutes or until apples are tender.
It’s hard to believe summer is nearly over. Kids are back in school; mornings and evenings are getting cooler; and soon the leaves will turn beautiful shades of yellows and reds. Though Iowa is known for its Indian summers, it’s just a matter of time before pumpkin spice takes over our air freshners and coffees.
The autumnal equinox officially arrives Saturday, Sept. 22 according to the Farmer’s Almanac. It is the astronomical start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere; days become shorter and we will soon have to “fall back” and change the clocks to reflect an hour earlier. (Daylights Savings happens Sunday, Nov.4.)
Fall in Iowa means football games, romps in the corn mazes, scenic road trips, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, hayrack rides, and bonfires.
Just because the weather is turning cooler is no reason to stop having fun. Here are a few apple orchards and farms in our area offering fun activities this fall:
5801 N 10th Street, Marion, Iowa 52302
Located just north of Marion, Allen’s is a family-run orchard that hosts field trips, weddings, bonfires and much more. Allen’s offers over 40 varieties of delicious apples that are available in various parts of the year.
Visit on Saturday and Sunday during Open Season and pick your own apples. Allen’s also has fresh grown produce, unique gifts, and scrumptious treats like donuts, turnovers, cookies, pies and caramel apples.
Allen’s is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information, visit their website at www.allensorchard.com.
Bart’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch
7307 Alburnett Rd, Marion, Iowa 52302
Bart’s opens Saturday, Sept. 22 at 9 am. Pony rides will be held from noon to 4 pm and are $7 each. There are other activities for the kids to do including hayrack rides, small pedal tractors and a small corn maze. Schedule a field trip or display delivery by calling 319-373-2633. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
The Big Apple Orchard
1115 Hwy 30 W, Mt. Vernon, Iowa 52314
The Big Apple Orchard is a family run apple orchard in Mount Vernon. The Big Apple Orchard has approximately 2,000 apple trees and 22 varieties of apples.
Located two miles west of Mount Vernon, right along Highway 30. Look for the yellow house and Statue of Liberty barn on the north side of the road, where the four lane changes to a two lane (when heading east).
The Big Apple Orchard is now open. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Fridays, 3-6 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10 am-6 pm, and closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.
More information can be found at bigappleorchard.com.
Bass Family Farms
840 Bass Lane, Mt Vernon, Iowa 52314
Featuring pesticide and herbicide-free veggies, sweet corn, pumpkins, gourds, jams, jellies, sauces, dips, soaps, popcorn, free range eggs, locally raised beef products, Edgewood Locker meat, coffee, wines from across the world, and specialty chocolates.
Bass Family Farms also offer hay-rides, educational tours, and corporate or group outings, as well as private parties. Contact us at (319) 895-6480 for information, or visit their website at bassfarms.org.
245 Hwy. 1 South, Mt Vernon, Iowa 52314
Kroul Farms offers Indian corn, gourds and squash, straw bales, corn-shucks, and specialty pumpkins, and are available for fall decorating projects and events.
This Halloween, pull your wagon through the spooky graveyard and past the haunted old car. See how tall you are this year on the big "how tall this fall" sign and take your picture as Frankenstein. The 3-acre corn maze is quite a challenge, so a smaller version is made out of round bales for the little ones.
Visit their website at kroulfarms.com for more information.
3260 69th St, Atkins, Iowa 52206
Bloomsbury Farm offers a huge pumpkin patch, as well as a variety of other activities, including 2 corn mazes, hayrack rides, jumping pillow, zip line, petting zoo, gift shop, and much more. The cost is $8.95 per person Mon. through Fri., and $12.50 per person on the weekends. Kids 2 and under are free.
Bloomsbury Farms also offers Scream Acres, featuring the haunted cornfield. Details can be found at www.bloomsburyfarm.com. Bloomsbury Acres pumpkin patch is open until Oct. 31.
Colony Pumpkin Patch
2780 Front St NE, North Liberty, Iowa 52317
Colony Pumpkin Patch has over 15 acres of carving and decorative pumpkins, a variety of squash and gourds, and a 5-acre corn maze and fall festival Oct. 6 that continues to expand every year.
Colony Pumpkin Patch is open Sept. 15 to Oct. 28, Monday through Friday 4 pm – 6 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.
The Flashlight Maze is available Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28 to Oct. 27, from 7-10 pm. (Last ticket sold at 9:30 pm)
For more information, visit colonypumpkinpatch.com.
4823 Dingleberry Road NE, Iowa City, Iowa 52240
Wilson’s is a U-Pick apple orchard located just North of Iowa City with family activities happening all season. Wilson’s Orchard has 120 different varieties of apple trees and offers pumpkins, as well.
Trailer Rides cost $5 per person (4 years old and up), and are completely redeemable in apples. So, if you buy two trailer ride tickets for $10, you can receive the same amount back in apples.
Wilson’s Orchard is open daily through October 10 am to 6 pm. Visit their website for details at willsonsorchard.com or on their Facebook page.
I had the good fortune to visit the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota last weekend and visited one of my favorite stores; the American Girl Doll Store. The store included two levels of American Girl dolls, clothes, and accessories that even I could appreciate. The store also had a doll salon, as well as a bistro, where you could have lunch with your doll by your side.
Though the dolls and accessories can be a bit pricey, they can be cherished and handed down through the generations, as was the case with my daughter's doll, Samantha. She bought the doll with her own money when she was 11 years old. It wasn't long before her little brother found a pair of scissors and cut off Samantha's long hair. For years she sat in a box, and moved with my daughter until she found her way back to me. As a Christmas gift a couple of years ago, I sent the doll to the mall to have her spruced up and reset to her original look.
That year, my daughter, Lori, gave her doll to her 8 year-old daughter, who was thrilled to have an American Girl doll, especially since it was her mother's. And having a place like the Mall of America to browse through, it's easy to see why American Girl Dolls has been a favorite of little girls for decades.
American Girl is a line of dolls released in 1986 by Pleasant Company. According to Wikipedia, "the dolls portray girls of a variety of ethnic backgrounds. They are sold with accompanying books, which were told from the viewpoint of the girls. Originally the stories focused on various periods of American history, but they were expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from contemporary life."
Aside from the original American Girl dolls, customers have options to create dolls with specific features, such as eyes, shape of the face, and hair. Accessories and clothing for the dolls is available online and a variety of stores throughout the world.
Wikipedia also stated that a reboot of the Historical Characters line, known as BeForever, was launched in August 2014, "complete with redesigned outfits, a two-volume compilation of previously-released books, and a "Journey Book" for each character, with players taking the role of a present-day girl who found her way to the past and met up with one of the Historical girls. The line also coincided with the relaunch of Samantha Parkington, whose collection was previously discontinued in 2008."
American Girl released a new line of contemporary dolls in 2017. The first doll in the line was aspiring country single, Tenney Grant, along with the first-ever American Boy Doll, Logan (Tenney's band mate) and Z Yang, who is interested in photography and making videos.
Pleasant Company was purchased by Mattel, and has since created a variety of other dolls, including Bitty Babies and WellieWishers. For more information, visit the American Girl Doll website.
Mall of America American Girl Doll Store Slideshow
The Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival may have been created to celebrate America's break from English rule, but it's also a time to celebrate our little corner of the world. The Balloon Glow at Brucemore, ski shows at Ellis Park, Kernels baseball, and the BBQ Round-up are just a few of the festivities!
Visit the festival's website, where you will find the entire schedule of fun for you and your family!
Remember the carefree days of summer, when all you had to do was figure out what you're going to do with your summer? Friends would gather at the beach or at the pool during the day, then once it cooled off, they would cruise the ave, or pile in a car and head to the drive-in!
There are still a few drive-ins you can visit in Iowa. And although you may have to drive a few miles, I'm sure most people will agree it is worth the drive!
This drive-in is located in Delmar, Iowa, 5 miles south of Maquoketa on Hwy 61 just off of EXIT 153. Admission is $8 for adults, and $5 for kids 5-12.
Blue Grass Drive-In
Blue Grass, Iowa is located to the southeast of Cedar Rapids, between Bettendorf and Muscatine. Admission for the double feature is $9 for adults, $4 for kids 4-12.
Valle Drive-In is located 4074 Hwy F48 in
Newton, Iowa . Admission is $8 for adults, $ for kids 5-11.