Edwards Apple Orchard in Poplar Grove, Illinois is one of my family's annual traditions ever since before my sister and I were even born. It's a place we go to each year that rings in the arrival of Fall; seriously, it's not Fall unless we gather the family into the car and whoever else may be with us at the time and head over to the orchard for the familiar and coveted apple cider donuts, the small petting zoo where you can feed the animals pellets for a quarter, and the annual family picture in front of the Edwards ivy-covered wind mill.
My family and I try to go to the apple orchard at least once a year but if we're lucky we get to go several more times before it closes. Thankfully my mom and I got to go one last time yesterday afternoon before it closed its doors for another year, which is sadly today!
Even though it's the beginning of December and most traces of Fall have all but left, as chilly as it might be and overlooking the little patches of show on the ground and rooftops, walking into Edwards almost brings back the smells and the feeling of Fall time.
Usually when we hit up the apple orchard we immediately stop in to satisfy our doughnut cravings but this particular visit my mom and I decided to do our shopping first and foremost before filling our tummies with delightful goodies. It ended up being a good decision on our parts because there were so many sales and BOGOs going on in the shopping center my mom and I had a blast doing some Christmas shopping.
Aside from going when it first opens, I think we found a new tradition: going on the last day before it closes!
Going through the shopping center you could definitely tell the holidays were upon us! There were tons of handmade, rustic, nostalgic and holiday themed merchandise that could be purchased, from t-shirts and sweaters to delicious looking (and tasting) food stuffs, to holiday and home decor galore!
They even had the iconic antique truck all decked out for the holidays...
Once we made our rounds around the shopping center and found everything we wanted to get (with a few goodies for ourselves in the mix), we were ready to check out and finally satisfy our apple cider doughnut cravings!
We made our way out of the shopping area and around the back of the building where you can find the museum of antique farming equipment, the kids play area, the petting zoo, and, of course, the Edwards Apple Orchard restaurant.
Mom and I knew exactly what we wanted so there was no hesitation! She got a hot dog with hot apple cider while I got a pulled pork sandwich with cold apple cider, we each got two doughnuts, and a slice of warm apple pie to split.
It's quite sad to see another year come and go and the closing of Edwards is definitely one to make you realize Winter is upon us and before you know it the holidays will be over and it'll be time to start a new year once again.
While we still practically have the whole month of December to enjoy before we all start new, I'll definitely treasure this last apple orchard visit of 2013 with my mom and eagerly await next Fall when the cycle starts over again.