Friday, September 11, 2015

Amaze 'N Apples and More Fall Family Fun at Royal Oak Farm Orchard

Royal Oak Farm Orchard

**Disclosure: We did receive a complimentary experience in order to bring you an accurate review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% our own.

Capitalizing on some glorious warm and sunny weather, we headed out to Royal Oak Farm Orchard last weekend to take a whirl around Amaze 'N Apples, the first apple tree maze in the US. What family can resist a 1.5 mile maze where you can actually pick apples? Not this one!


Amaze 'N Apples Maze:

Apple Tree

Before our visit, I had difficulty conceptualizing how an apple tree maze could be created. In order to craft the maze, the farm trained the trees along trellises. There are 9 different varieties of apples interspersed in the maze making it pretty colorful. This will also ensure that there are apples ripening throughout the season.

Apple Tree Maze

At the beginning of the maze, you are given a map to aid in navigation. There are some games to play along the way and even some play areas for the kids. I love the addition of the play areas because it gives kids a bit of a breather and actually helps extend their attention spans on the larger task. One area focused on sound which was fun! Another had games like hop scotch and tic-tac-toe!

Sound Garden for Kids

Kids Sound Garden

We were able to easily navigate the maze--although the little one did lead us into a couple of dead ends. Oops! Each of us was permitted to pick two apples, so we had fun choosing random varietals that we have never tried before. We do wish more of the apples were labeled with the maze for picking purposes. However, the map does have some indication of which type is where. Despite being comprised of  a whopping 3,000 trees, the maze seemed to take an appropriate amount of time to be a jovial diversion without being too long for younger children.

Do:
  • Bring a bag for your apples in the maze.
  • Explore the different sections of the maze.
  • Take breathers at some of the game spots.
  • Bring water.
  • Bring a friend!
  • Have fun!

All about family~

Royal Oak Farm Orchard is all about family. The orchard started as a retirement dream for Gloria and Peter Bianchini. Over the years, the dream expanded to not only include other family members but into the creation of a fun and wholesome place for all families to have fun! Growing up in New Jersey which has its share of apple orchards, I can certainly appreciate good ol' family fun at an apple orchard and Royal Oak serves it up! In fact, one of my most cherished memories is of our annual school trip to the orchard. Appsolutely Fall Fun!



Climbing Train

An adventure to Royal Oak can easily be an entire day outing for a family. In addition to Amaze 'N Apples, the farm bursts with opportunities for family enjoyment and connection. A sizable playground contains large structures to scale including a train, John Deere Tractor, Noah's Ark and more. A petting zoo is nearby. There are also a few playhouses that are just waiting for little visitors to move in!



In the same play area, you will find a train, carousel, orchard tours and a snack shop (apple cider anyone?). Royal Oak does have a token system which you can use for the train, carousel, orchard tours, maze and apple picking. There is a bit of a discount if you purchase a token package so consider that if you are going to check out multiple attractions and pick apples. Tokens can be purchased at the snack shop, inside the bake shop, apple barn or harvest barn.

Don't forget the Country Market and Bakery

While visiting, don't forget to take a peek inside the country store and bakery! The Bianchini Family has definitely put a lot of TLC in creating a country store and bakery that is full of inviting items from the traditional apple cider and  apple cider doughnuts to all sorts of mixes and sauces to gifts including art pieces to honey and beeswax products and more. The country store is really one of the more impressive ones that we have seen. Of course, we had to pick up some treats like caramel sticks, apple cider, local honey from Royal Oak itself and beeswax lip balm. Happy campers we are!





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Located adjacent to the bakery is the country restaurant which purveys a range of homemade soups, sandwiches, simple entrees and pies! We visited about typical lunch time so it was quite busy but if you wait to slightly later, you may find it a bit more relaxing.

Apple picking fun

Royal Oak has more apples than the eye can see! Apples, apples, and more apples--making it a great place to pick! When we visited, we could pick the Red Free which my daughter has been gladly snacking on all week. The orchard has so many varieties of apple trees planted that new varieties are ripening each week. The orchard does have a nice chart on the website to keep you up to date with which apples are available for picking and/or purchase. One of things we LOVED about the maze in particular is that it has been crafted using trees from various varietals. So, we were able to pick some varieties in the maze that you were not able to in the orchard. The farm will also be opening UPick for pumpkins. This area will also include a hay jump and hay maze for kids.

Apple Picking


To know:
  • Enjoy tastes from the bakery, fudgery and of apples in the Apple Barn.
  • Outside food is prohibited on the grounds but there are plenty of options between the snack shop, restaurant, bakery and Apple Barn.
  • There are several restrooms included some conveniently located in the country market, which you have to visit anyway!
  • Be sure to have plenty of water and wear sunscreen.
  • You can take a tractor ride out to pick your apples or walk there or walk back. We usually walk one way.
  • Royal Oak Farm Orchard is located in Harvard, Illinois, so quite a ways from the hustle and bustle of Chicago. What a respite!
  • Check the website for more info, hours and UPick availability.
  • Enjoy!
Thank you to Royal Oak Farm Orchard for hosting us!


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6 comments:

  1. With a name like Royal Oak, this sounds like a place to check out...wish it was actually closer to my Royal Oak (Michigan) :)

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    1. It is a lot of fun! Really a well-rounded outing! They have done a great job making it a wonderful family adventure!

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  2. What a fun time! I love the apple theme - in fall, that's all i want to eat!

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    Replies
    1. Apples are definitely one of the best things about fall!

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  3. OMG, how fun is that. Hoping I have time to visit and navigate the maze when I'm in Illinois.

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    1. It is definitely a lot of fun! Don't miss the country store either! Have fun!

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