3 Macomb County cider houses and orchards you shouldn’t miss this season
It’s hard to think of a more appropriate fall treat than cider and donuts. And when it comes to apple orchards, Macomb County has a lot to offer. Here are three great orchards to check out the next time you feel like strolling among the apple trees.
Blake orchard and cider house
Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill is certainly one of the most well-known orchards in Southeast Michigan. It is located on an 800-acre working farm in Armada that includes a cider house, outdoor backyard amusement center, tasting room, and Hard Cider production facility.
Blake Farms began in 1946, when Gerald and Lovey Blake moved from suburban Detroit to 100 acres of land in the village of Macomb County. They raised their 13 children – who provided the farm labor – in a three-bedroom homeCider made at Blake’s Orchard (Steve Koss) close there. After attending Michigan State University, their twin sons, Pete and Paul Blake, returned home to carry on the family legacy, while expanding the farm’s offerings. Continuing his interest in fermentation, Andrew Blake, Paul’s son, founded Blake’s Hard Cider in 2013.
“We’re a hard cider business as well as a farm. Really the highlight, what people drive here is our pick-your-own farm,” says Jacqlyn Bradford, director of marketing at Blake Farms. “We are one of Michigan’s premier pick-your-own farms.”
The U-pick farm offers more than 40 varieties of apples, including Gala, McIntosh and Northern Spy. A variety of other products, from berries to pumpkins, are also available at different times of the year. Self-picked (and pre-cut) Christmas trees can also be purchased in November and December. No special preparation is required to participate in the pick-your-own experience. Staff at the gate provide customers with a bag and instructions on how to navigate the orchard and fields.
Visitors to Blake Farms can watch apples being pressed into cider and buy fresh donuts at its cider house. The Funland area includes a petting zoo, straw bale maze, sports area, and play structure. Trolley and train rides are available for those who want a scenic experience of the site. Tasting room allows visitors to taste craft cider, beer and Blake-branded wine
There is live music every weekend and the farm is also a popular site for school trips, parties, campfires and adult tours.
The farm is open all year round, seven days a week, with various activities and special events adapted to specific seasons. Fall offers spooky attractions, pumpkin carvings, haunted wagon rides and zombie paintball, while winter offers a chance to experience igloo dining, ice skating and an extravagant holiday spectacle. Tours of the hard cider production facility take place twice a week between November and August.
“Right now, we’re in the thick of our fall seasonality with cider and donuts,” says Bradford. “I strongly encourage people to get out. It’s a great place to make memories with your family.”
The Westview Orchard winery offers a wide selection of Michigan wines. (Westview Orchard)
Westview Orchards and Vineyard
Westview Orchards and Winery in Washington Township is another Macomb orchard with plenty to do. It’s a great place to buy apples, cider, and a variety of baked goods. The 188-acre farm is home to several historic buildings, a playground, and a winery.
The farm that would become Westview Orchards was founded in 1813 by Michael Bowerman, a veteran of the War of 1812. As a reward for his wartime service, he received land in Detroit. He decided the then swampy plot was not working well for farming, so he moved to the Romeo area where he found the hills much more suitable for cultivation.
Bowerman cleared the land and set up a small garden and orchard. Over time, the farm grew and diversified, becoming a successful wholesaler of fruit, produce andWine Tasting at Westview Orchard (Westview Orchard) dairy and beef cows in Detroit. During the Great Depression, Harvey Bowerman – a descendant of Michael – was forced to rethink the farm’s operating model after learning from Eastern Market that there was no room for his peaches. He began selling farm produce at a Detroit Urban Railroad streetcar stop at what is now the intersection of Van Dyke Avenue and 30 Mile Road.
“Not only Romeo, but all of southeast Michigan was awash with peaches, too many to trade wholesale,” says Katrina Roy, co-owner of Westview Orchard & Winery. “So he had the good idea to flip the truck over and see if people in the area would buy them, so that was the start of our direct marketing concept, from then on it was the sale by retail.”
The family later bought a one-room schoolhouse nearby, moved it to the intersection, and converted it into the farmers’ market and grade hall for Westview Orchards. In the 1990s, the family turned the school into a concession area and educational space.
In recent years, there have been other changes as well. Today the farm is a popular U-Pick destination. Depending on the season, visitors can pick a variety of flowers and produce, including strawberries, asparagus, sunflowers, peaches and sweet corn – and, of course, apples and pumpkins.
Westview also sports an extensive bakery, with donuts that won the Judge’s Choice award at Donutfest Detroit in 2019. It also has a great selection of pies, flips, and other offerings. For families with young children, there are plenty of fun attractions at The Orchard, including a three-acre playground, rope mountain, corn maze, and lots of farm animals.
The cellar is another highlight there. Located on the top floor of the farm’s historic barn, it’s accessible via a winding silo staircase or wheelchair ramp and offers an extensive selection of Michigan wines, including Westview Orchard’s own brand.
Like Blake’s Orchard, Westview also sponsors many exciting events like live music, piano duels, country line dancing, craft classes, sips and shops, and even goat yoga. The last weekend of October this year will be particularly exciting with a pumpkin smashing event, where candy-filled pumpkins will be launched from cannons, as well as a 5k race.
“Our goal is to please our customers,” says Roy. “Our goal is to provide a safe farming environment for people to go with their families and friends. We want them to have fun and have a good time.”
Apples are ripe for picking at Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill. (Stony Creek Orchard)Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill
If you are looking for an old fashioned farmhouse experience, Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill is the way to go. Located in Romeo, the orchard is part of a family farm that has been in operation for over 80 years.
“It’s a traditional orchard and cider house. You go to the orchard to pick your own apples,” says Carol Ross, owner of Stony Creek Orchard with her husband Roger. “We’ve tried different things over the years. We had bands playing and our traditional customers wanted quiet. So it’s laid back, rather than a lot of hype.”
Roger’s grandfather, Henry, and father, Loren, originally owned farms in Rochester, Michigan. They moved to Romeo in 1939 to start their new business.A barn at Stony Creek Orchard (Stony Creek Orchard) At first their farm was dedicated to growing wheat and other crops, but eventually they added the orchard and cider house. Ross herself has a long connection to the farm; she started picking apples there at just ten years old and later married into the family.
Passing the farm from the road, one might not realize that there is an orchard there. Visitors must take a long scenic drive lined with tall locus and pine trees to reach the apple trees and cider house. The buildings on the property are steeped in history, with barns dating from before the founding of the current farmhouse and a farmhouse over 100 years old. Those who wander through the auction center will see antiques and game heads hanging on the walls.
Throughout the season, visitors can choose from more than a dozen varieties of apples as well as pumpkins and raspberries. They can also buy these pre-picked items at the orchard saleroom, where fresh cider, donuts and other products are available.
Stony Creek’s minimalist approach is intentional. No frills apple picking aims to encourage families to engage in a joint activity. According to Ross, this strategy has been a hit with local customers for generations and there are no plans to change that any time soon.
“It’s a quaint farm,” Ross said. “My husband, Roger, wants to keep it like a farm. He feels that once people go out and experience country life, [everything] is a little more calm and relaxed.”
Members of the Wolcott Riding Club go horse riding at Wolcot Mill Metropark. (Macomb County/Wolcott Riding Club)Other Fun Fall Activities in Macomb County
In addition to these, there are several other orchards and cider mills to visit in Macomb County, including Brookwood Fruit Farm, Hy’s Cider Mill, Middleton Farms Cider Mill, and Verellen Orchards. Beyond apples, there are also plenty of other options for fall fun.
For those who want to enjoy the fall colors on horseback, Wolcott Mill Metropark, with its special equestrian trails, is a great place to enjoy the pastime. Interested runners can contact the Wolcott Mill Trail Association to learn more about the trails and the community that uses them.
Those looking for something a little spookier can check out Scarefest Scream Park in Lenox Township. For a slightly more low-key Halloween experience, check out the Halloween birthday in Macomb Township on October 21 or Free “Neighbor-Haunt” Halloween Yard Tour in Clinton Township October 22-30.
The Macomb Parks & Trails series seeks to capture the story of outdoor recreation, green space, placemaking, and emerging outdoor assets that are shaping the future of Macomb County. This is made possible thanks to funding from Macomb County.