It’s fall in Michigan and that means it’s time to visit a cider mill. Seriously, it’s like a tradition or rule or something when you live here. Ok, maybe not a rule, but a definite tradition in my life. My parents often took my sisters and me to the local cider mills during our childhood. I vividly recall piling into the car on a Sunday, the Lions game on the radio, standing in line at the mill for cold cider and warm donuts, wandering along the river and woods bordering the cider mill, and lots of laughs. Great childhood memories with my family. Maybe that’s why it’s a tradition I still enjoy.
My friends and I decided to check out Blake’s Farms. They have multiple locations offering a multitude of activities and tasty treats. We chose to visit their main orchards, cider mill and tasting room located in Armada. Funny confession: we were trying to avoid the mass of families with kids that often flood the cider mills in the fall. So we chose to go around dinner time, thinking families would be at home eating dinner. We thought wrong. Apparently many parents don’t feed their children at the typical dinner time anymore, or they feed them donuts and cider (the type of parent I would be if I had kids). Blake’s was packed, busy enough that we parked in the overflow lot across from the cider mill. But it was a gorgeous, sunny fall day, perfect to be outdoors. And I’m always happy to see people, especially children, enjoying the outdoors.
Blake’s is quite the operation. Established in 1946, Blake’s operates u-pick orchards, cider mill, garden, market with great jams, jellies and more, tasting room and restaurant, special events, tours, school programs and more. Here are some fun facts I found on their website: there are 45,600 apple trees on their property growing 42 apple varieties. They also produce 19 varieties of hard cider.
Blake’s offers something for every age. There is a ‘funland‘ geared toward children, with a straw bale maze, hayrides, swings, animal petting farm, duck races and more. There is a fee to get into this area. We skipped the main cider mill building due to the long line, and headed to the market building (you can also buy cider and donuts in here). I loved wandering through, checking out the many options of fresh fruit, vegetables, salsas, jams, breads, applesauces and other delicious looking foods. There are also cute gift ideas and home decorations. We purchased fresh vegetables and some beautifully, bright mums. Their mum plants were gorgeous and so reasonably priced.
After we enjoyed our cider and donuts, we headed for the tasting room. Blake’s produces hard ciders and wines. They use apples picked from their own orchards and offer a variety of flavorful drinks. The tasting room was added a few years ago and I personally think it’s a great addition to their business operations. A food menu offers a good variety of options, and you purchase flights of cider and wine. I love the ambiance and decor of the welcoming building. There is a great outdoor patio off the building with tables and chairs, as well as a large grassy area that also welcomes people to sit, relax and enjoy their beverages.
I always enjoy time with my friends, and this was no different. Blake’s is a fun spot for everyone. We decided we would definitely return soon to shop the market again and enjoy dinner and drinks. Don’t forget to check their hours and special event calendar before you go.