Almar Orchards 1431 Duffield Rd., Flushing; 810-659-6568; almarorchards.com: This orchard, located just outside of Flint, offers a year-round petting zoo with a herd of reindeer, hayrides in season, and all-organic selections of donuts, honey, bread, fudge and caramel corn, both from the orchard and local businesses. Almar's has also begun raising an old-heritage breed of pig for its organic Berkshire pork. And don't miss out on the hard cider, J.K.'s Scrumpy Farmhouse Organic. One Short Order reader tells us, "It's sweet, tart and fizzy with the alcoholic strength of beer and the heady fragrance of Champagne." It's also available at area beverage retailers. Open year-round.
Apple Charlie's South Huron Orchards and Cider Mill 38035 S. Huron Rd., New Boston; 734-753-9380; applecharlie.com: Between the bakery, the animal farm, the reasonable prices, the hayrides, the glassed-in cider press, and the handicapped-accessible facilities, the proprietors take pride in the cleanliness and quality of this 50-year-old attraction. Closes Jan. 1
Blacke's Orchard and Cider Mill 17985 Armada Center, Armada; 586-784-5343; blakefarms.com: Blake's apple empire encompasses the Armada mill, two Armada orchards, and another one in Almont. But it's the mill that has the petting zoo for the kids and the orchard products for your winter larder. The orchard is still harvesting late-bearing apple trees, and the U-cut Christmas trees harvest will begin in mid-November. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Closes Dec. 23
Dexter Cider Mill 3685 Central St., Dexter, 734-426-8531; dextercidermill.com: With more than 120 years of operation, Dexter Cider Mill bills itself as the longest continually run mill in the state, serving wood-pressed cider, donuts, apple pie, caramel apples and apple-nut bread daily. In addition to jellies, butters, hot sauces, boiled cider, maple syrup, honey and popcorn, expect pickled asparagus, soy nuts and even cider slushies. Their award-winning Dexter Cider Mill Apple Cookbook is also available for sale. Season ends mid-November. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; open until 6 p.m. Saturdays.
Franklin Cider Mill 7450 Franklin Rd., Bloomfield Hills, 248-626-2968; franklincidermill.com: One of our staffers remarks: "It's the best-tasting cider, and the hot donuts are to die for. The brown paper bags they come in become translucent with grease. The cider press is right there so you can witness the apple carnage. Watch out for bees." Open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, until Nov. 28. For those going late in the season, the mill offers this appealing opinion: "The sweetest cider is the day we close."
Obstbaum Orchards 9252 Currie Rd., Salem; 734-560-2840; obstbaum.com: A short ride from Plymouth and Northville, Obstbaum (German for "fruit tree") offers the chance to watch cider being pressed while you munch on donuts and swill down cider. Owners Hans and Lynda Neuroth enjoy answering questions or accommodating special requests. Find their full range of products on their website.
Parmenter's Northville 714 Baseline Rd., Northville; 248-349-3181; northvillecider.com: Northville's second-oldest continuously operating business has the usual favorites — cider, donuts, caramel apples, apple butter, pumpkin butter, honey, maple syrup — you'll find cider slushes, apple chips drizzled with caramel, white cheddar cheese, cherry salsa, wines and candies ranging from lollipops to wax fangs. Open daily 10 a.m.-8 p.m. until Nov. 21 (though they tend to close a bit earlier after the switch back to daylight savings).
Plymouth Orchards and Cider Mill 10685 Warren Rd., Plymouth; 734-455-2290; plymouthorchards.com: The retail store stocks ciders, donuts, unusual jams and jellies, maple syrup and honey; a visit offers the chance for a scenic wagon ride or a stroll through the pumpkin patch, where "U-pick." The store also stocks several varieties of apples, including those now in season, such as Portland and Red Delicious. Picturesque barnyard animals include goats, sheep, chickens, bunnies, pigs, cows and llamas. Open daily from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. until Nov. 7. The mill's secondary market on Ann Arbor Road in Plymouth is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. until Nov. 29.
Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill 2961 W. 32 Mile Rd., Romeo; 586-752-2453; stonycreekorchard.com: Established in 1939, Stony Creek has all the regular bases — apples to jams to donuts — covered, but on the weekends it really shines. Here you'll find ice cream, homemade apple pie, lunch items and something called the "Stony Apple" — apple slices slathered in hot caramel sauce, whipped cream, nuts and other toppings. "U-pick" is available weekends too, and their salesroom offers shipping made-to-order gift boxes. Open daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m. until Dec 31. From Jan. 1, open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday only.
Verellen Orchards 63260 Van Dyke Rd., Washington; 586-752-2989: Their general store carries a variety of seasonal produce including an array of apples and cider. They also carry cookies, pies and donuts baked fresh every morning. Open 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday-Sunday
Wasem Fruit Farm 6580 Judd Rd., Milan; 734-482-2342; wasemfruitfarm.com: This family-run orchard located in Augusta Township offers "U-pick apples" pumpkins, and raspberries, donuts, unpasteurized cider, honey, pears, plums. Though the mill is house in a (slightly) less-than-picturesque building, it's still wonderful place to take the kids. Wasem's is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the Nov. 1, where they will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. After Nov. 14 they are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays until Dec. 15
Wiard's Orchards Inc. 5565 Merritt Rd., Ypsilanti; 734-390-9211; wiards.com: Founded in 1853, this is the super-megaplex of orchards. Wiard's (pronounced "wired's" not "weird's"). Features a pony, corral, a farm market, a karaoke stage, hayrides, corn maze, giant inflatables, and — oh, and apples. Lots of apples; served with the requisite fresh-pressed cider and hot cinnamon donuts, available at the Country Store. They also have "U-pick" pumpkins. In short, this charming cider mill seems to have it all — incorporated. Wiard's Country Fair is open Wednesday through Sunday; call for hours and admission prices.
Yates Cider Mill 1990 E. Avon Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-651-8300; yatescidermill.com: Surrounded by beautiful parks fit for picnics and hiking, the Yates Cider Mill has as many as 24 varieties of apples — usually five or six different kinds at once — can go into its ciders. In addition to the main store's donuts, butters, apples and syrup, a second shop can be found across a small bridge selling such specialty items as Frankenmuth fudge. Pair a donut or the fudge with one of the 20 different flavors of premium ice cream served at the recently added Ice Cream Shoppe, which runs through September. November's chill brings with it Yates hot cider wassail, and pony rides are available weekends for the kids. Reserved tours of the cider-making process and press operation are given through November. Open 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on the weekends.
Special thanks to editorial intern Michelle Anne Styczynski for her assistance compiling this column.Special thanks to editorial intern Michelle Anne Styczynski for her assistance compiling this