There's a tradition in our house that occurs every fall: Apple picking. Well its supposed to, but thanks to the chaos of life, we always tend to run out of time.  Or so we thought, until we discovered this treasure in Iowa City over the weekend that will become a new tradition.
Knowing nothing about farms or orchards, I was under the the belief that "apple season" had a pretty tight window between late August and Mid-September.  And pretty much, the longer you waited, the less likely you were to find a good selection to choose from. Turns out, the "apple season" is much longer than I thought, thanks to our weekend trip to Wilson's Orchard.  I was stunned to learn not just how many different types of apples were being grown there, over 120 varieties.  Better yet, with the different types, comes very different ripening times, meaning apple picking starts the 3rd week in July and runs through the 3rd week in October.  So there's still plenty of time.  And you can always sample the ripe ones before heading out, so you know exactly what to pick.

Keep in mind that having that many varieties means there's quite a few acres of apple trees on the property, which means you'll be getting in some walking exercise.  And while the orchard is simply breath taking gorgeous, it is quite hilly, so walking does take it's toll on you.  Luckily, there is a wagon that'll take you out and back, pulled by "Bessie".  However, the wagon fills up quickly, so you may have to wait a bit for the next one.

Gary Duncan - Thinkstock

And while apple picking is a fun, memory making tradition, it also does wear off quickly on the the kids, and there's not a whole lot for the kids to do there.  I'd recommend bringing a picnic lunch, which adds to the fun, and give the kids something to look forward to when you're done (especially if you add a fresh apple turnover or cider donuts to the menu).

If you've never been apple picking, you'll also want to keep it mind it's not entirely cheap.  Before you realize it, you'll have bagged quite a few apples, which can add up quick.  We somehow filled almost 1.5 bags, and walked away paying just under $40.  While higher than anticipated, it was worth it for the memory.  We also had to add cider doughnuts to the bill (best I've ever had honestly), and almost added this amazing corer/peeler/slicer (which I'm going to regret passing on).

Regardless of price, I think we all agreed we will be returning next year as we get that apple craving again.  However, we might return sooner than that, as we saw they also have a pumpkin patch.  I highly recommend a stop out there at some point this season. If you're lucky enough to hit late afternoon/early evening, you may even catch some live musical entertainment.

What's your Fall family tradition?