My favorite time of year is when the air begins outside begins to feel a bit crisper, and summer days seem to be a thing of the past. It is time to bust out the spice-scented candles, turn the AC off, and open the windows!
I believe fall is a lot of people’s favorite time of year. Why? Because it’s the best time to go apple picking! Whether you want to take your special someone on a romantic apple picking date, or find a fun outdoor activity to do with the kids, we have the best places for you to go to.
I’ve put together a list of the best apple orchards in South Dakota, along with what they each have to offer. I’ll also tell you what you need to know before you pack up the car and hit the road.
Keep reading to find your next must-see apple orchard!
The Origin of Apple Orchards in South Dakota
Fruit growing wasn’t the easiest job to be done in the early days in South Dakota. Soil types, temperature differences, and rainfall levels were some of the major challenges for growing fruit orchards. But then some passionate people came along and helped boost South Dakota’s apple economy.
Professor Niels E. Hansen
Professor Niels E. Hansen was a famous horticulturalists in South Dakota in the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hunds. He worked studied plant and fruit varieties around the world in order to bread hardy ones that might thrive in South Dakota’s climate.
A statue of him now stands on the South Dakota State College campus to honor his many horticultural achievements for his state.
South Dakota resident Laura Alderman also had a massive impact on the apple orchard business for the last two decades of the eighteen hundreds. Thanks to Alderman’s knowledge, willingness to learn, and skilled management, the Alderman Orchard became the biggest commercial orchard in South Dakota of the time.
Alderman became something of a horticultural celebrity. In an era during which women mostly stuck to gardening, Alderman was writing and reporting on plant breeding, plant adaptability, South Dakota orchard culture, and more at the State Horticultural Society meetings, as well as for other horticultural organizations and boards.
Alderman eventually retired and sold the orchard, but her apple orchard endeavors would influence horticulturalists for generations to come.
Now that you know some of the major players that impacted apple orchards in South Dakota, let’s look at some modern ones!
1. County Apple Orchard
Harrisburg, South Dakota
One of the most popular apple orchards in South Dakota is Country Apple Orchard in Harrisburg. You can visit this beautiful orchard every weekend during September and October. Some of the main attractions available are a zip line course, hay bale maze, petting zoo, corn pit, pony rides, and so much more!
County Apple Orchards is a historic apple orchard in South Dakota founded in 1984 with a stunning U-Pick orchard with over 4,000 trees on 50 acres of land.
The best part is you can pick your favorite variety. You can choose from Honeygold, Honeycrisp, Jonathon, McIntosh, and much more. This is a must-visit location if you are ever in the Sioux Falls area.
2. Hoversten Orchard
Brandon, South Dakota
When looking for a fantastic location for U-Pick apples, you must take a trip to Brandon and visit Hoversten Orchard. This apple orchard in the southeast part of South Dakota also has some of the best and freshest ingredients to stock up your pantry for the fall season.
Pick up some of the tastiest honey you will ever have, along with the freshest preserves, jellies, jams, and even barbeque sauces. Or pick up a fresh pie to enjoy once you get home. When visiting in September you can pick from some of the tastiest apple ciders around, perfect for the chilly fall nights.
Around mid-September, you’ll be able to pick some fantastic squash and pumpkins in all different sizes and varieties, making this one of the best South Dakota apple orchards for celebrating fall.
3. Homestead Orchard
Parker, South Dakota
This beautiful orchard in Parker is the best place to find an assortment of your favorite apples. Located in the southeast part of South Dakota, Homestead Orchard also offers pumpkins, multiple kinds of squash, and different types of edible and decorative gourds.
When you visit, don’t forget to try out the arrangement of different pastries, jams, honey, caramels, and syrups. As you can see, Homestead Orchard is not only an apple orchard in South Dakota. In fact, they also hold a chrysanthemum show that showcases over 100 different plots!
Make sure to come by and pick your favorite apples, snack on some of the delicious treats and coffees they offer, and enjoy the outdoor picnic area with your family.
4. Prairie Blush Orchards
Lake Norden, South Dakota
This South Dakota apple orchard is known for its delicious pies and beautiful grounds. Located in the middle eastern part of South Dakota, at Prairie Blush Orchards you are offered a great selection of U-pick apples, hayrides, and, depending on the time of year, availability to wander through the pumpkin patch.
Plus, this apple orchard in South Dakota is known for its homemade fruit pies! In fact, they are so tasty that they also can be made by appointment during the off seasons, so you don’t have to wait to get your fix on a homemade apple or pumpkin pie.
Depending on the time you visit, try some delicious hot soups, apple ciders, pies, apple crisps, donuts, caramel apples, and more. If you are lucky, you may get sent home with some delicious recipes to try with your freshly picked apples!
Why Visit Locally Owned Orchards?
Visiting the local apple orchards in South Dakota is excellent not only for the community but for our little ones as well. Apple orchards and farms alike are a fantastic learning experience. It teaches our children that we don’t just get our food from grocery stores, but this is where it all begins. Plus, it’s just plain old fun!
When visiting locally owned orchards, you are also supporting your local economy instead of commercial apple growers across the country. Over time, you may even grow to have a relationship with the orchard owner. That also means you’re eating apples grown closer to home, which almost guarantees that they are healthier for you!
What to do With Your Freshly Picked Apples
So you’ve picked your own delicious apples. Now the question is, what to make? Of course, apples make a fantastic snack on their own, but you may not be able to eat a whole bushel yourself.
You can use apples of all varieties in all types of cooking, baking, freezing, snacking, and really whatever you want to do with them. These hearty fruits can stand up to the task!
Try out some of our top-rated recipes when looking for savory dishes.
Most of these recipes are super easy and come together in no time. Make them for lunch or dinner. Either way, your fresh apples are the perfect ingredient.
But if you are looking for some of our favorite sweet apple desserts, you must try these delicious recipes.
Another tasty option would be to take your turn at making some fresh apple cider. If the idea of making your own cider from freshly picked apples appeals to you, we’ve got some great resources to help
Our article on the Best Cider Apples will let you know what varieties of apples to get when you visit an orchard. You’ll also want to read The 5 Best Apple Cider Presses to help you decide on which cider press to buy. Finally, our post on How to Make Apple Cider With a Press will walk you step-by-step through the process of using your press to make delicious, fresh apple cider to enjoy.
What’s certain is that after visiting one of these fantastic apple orchards in South Dakota, you’ll be itching to make some of these tasty recipes with your haul of freshly picked apples!
Visit a South Dakota Apple Orchard Near You!
These are the four best apple orchards in South Dakota to visit this fall, and they all bring something unique and special to the table. Some orchards have great u-pick options, while others have the most delectable of jams, jellies, and preserves, and still others have already made pies to pop into the oven once you get home.
Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!