Your Favorite Fall Traditions, Social-Distancing Style
Where can you pick apples, sip cider and choose a pumpkin for carving? We tell you where you can get your fill of fall in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region, while still keeping your distance from others.
At Apple Jack Orchards in Delano, freshly picked apples are just the beginning. The on-site bakery offers plenty of seasonal goodies, such as apple cinnamon donuts, apple pies and apple dumplings. There’s also a gift shop and kids’ play area. Curbside pickup is available for visitors who prefer a low-contact option.
Deer Lake Orchard in Buffalo grows over two dozen apple varieties, including Zestar, Honeycrisp, Cortland, Haralson and SweeTango. Plus, the scenic orchard features a classic red barn — the perfect fall photo opp.
Lakeville’s Applewood Orchard has both pick-your-own and pre-picked apples, and outdoor checkouts are available as a safety precaution. Purchase prepared foods like jams, jellies, salsa, fritters, caramel dip and caramel apples to enjoy at home.
Thompsons’ Hillcrest Orchard in Elko offers 13 different apple varieties along with apple pies, pumpkins and raspberry jam. The picturesque orchard setting makes a great backdrop for family photos.
Over near Jordan, you can find over 25 different apple varieties at Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard — and most are exclusive to the orchard, thanks to its three-decades-long breeding program. To ensure best social-distancing practices, pick-your-own apples will be offered to visitors via an assigned time slot and location. Food and bakery items will be available to go.
Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater has been a fall destination for more than 70 years. Choose from pre-picked or pick-your-own apples, or order from the orchard’s online store for home delivery. You and your crew can also treat yourselves to apple baked goods, apple butter and jams. Plus, Aamodt’s is home to Thor’s Hard Cider Taproom, which serves a variety of alcoholic ciders made from apples hand-pressed on-site. Cider is available for purchase by the glass and the bottle.
Waldoch Farm in Lino Lakes offers pre-picked pumpkins at its garden center, and its pick-your-own pumpkin patch is scheduled to open the first weekend in October. Check the website for details and updates on other possible fall activities.
Enjoy the fresh flavors of fall at Eagan’s Market Fest, held every Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. With 40 different vendors, this outdoor farmers market offers everything from apples and apple chips from Brand Farms to honey products from Bare Honey. There are also baked goods and food booths. Handwashing stations are available, and space between vendors has been increased to accommodate social distancing.
To find pumpkins, root vegetables, cinnamon-roasted nuts, maple syrup and more, swing by the Maple Grove Farmers Market and stock up on seasonal and locally produced foods. The market has taken several safety precautions including one-way traffic, handwashing stations, hand sanitizer and extra space between vendors.
Located beneath Golden Valley’s water tower, you’ll find the Market in the Valley Farmers Market every Sunday through Oct. 4. Shop from more than 40 vendors offering the freshest seasonal produce and flowers, as well as jams, honey, baked goods, crafts and more. Grab a bite to eat from a visiting food truck. Order online for quick and convenient pickup.
Nothing says fall like sipping a pint of hard cider on the patio at Minneapolis Cider Company. In addition to a wide range of classic and unique ciders (try the Fiery Mango Habanero), the taproom also serves cocktails made with Pomologie, a distilled spirit crafted from fruit and botanicals. While you’re there, enjoy a socially distanced game of pickleball at the on-site pickleball court — paddles are available for rental, and the court can be booked online.
Located just west of Stillwater, Saint Croix Vineyards offers wine tastings in a restored century-old barn. There’s plenty of outdoor seating on the deck, and visitors can see the vineyards where the grapes are grown.
St. Louis Park’s Dampfwerk Distilling blends European traditions with American tastes, resulting in German-style fruit brandies and liqueurs that take the edge off cool fall days. Try the apple brandy made with Minnesota-grown apples, or the mellow, complex barreled apple brandy aged in French oak. Patio seating is available, as are private distillery tours.
With over 100 climate-controlled hitting bays, Topgolf in Brooklyn Center lets you and your family get some fresh air whatever the weather. No golfing experience is required — score points by hitting balls at giant dartboard-style targets on the field. Guests are spaced out to ensure social distancing, and equipment and hitting bays are sanitized between each group. Wrap up a fun outing with a meal or drink at the on-site restaurant and bar.
For some low-key family fun, check out Richfield’s Veterans Park. The park features 2 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as a farmers market on Saturdays through Oct. 17. You can also play a round of mini golf or rent a four-wheel surrey bicycle (through Sept. 27).
Soar over fall foliage and the St. Croix Valley with a ride on Aamodt’s Balloons. Hot air balloon flights depart from the property of Aamodt’s Apple Farm and Saint Croix Vineyards in Stillwater and end with a celebratory champagne toast. Pricing is available for couples and small groups of up to eight passengers.