Set yourself apart from the usual dinner with a movie with a fall-themed date at any of the bevy of orchards, family farms and cideries along the Front Range. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a crisp October afternoon with your family or a special someone you want to impress with your knowledge of antique steam engines or apple-pressing processes.
Here are a few top-notch options within a day’s drive of Boulder:
YA YA Farm & Orchard
Where: 6914 Ute Hwy, Longmont
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m Tues., Wed., Fri.; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thurs.; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. and Sun.
Cost: Free admission
Although YA YA Farm & Orchard does not offer you-pick-fruit or hayrides in 2020, there is still plenty to do when visiting this historic farm and orchard known for producing delicious byproducts of their heirloom apples. Sample the unique apple cider donuts, apple pies and apple barbecue sauce in an idyllic setting surrounded by friendly draft horses and peacocks. Accordingly, guests are asked to leave dogs at home.
Peruse the farm’s selection of fruits and make an ill-advised “Apple of My Eye” joke to your date. Admire the nearby flower garden and discuss recipes for your newly-selected pears. Why is the 8-acre expanse named YA YA? Because it was originally known for the Percheron draft horses and “YA YA!” is what cowboys say to horses to get them to walk on.
On Oct. 24 and 25, the Farm will host a gourd painting event. For $12, a local artist will guide participants in painting autumn gourds, with hot mulled cider and apple cider donuts to nosh on.
St. Vrain Cidery
Where: Entrance in the alleyway, 350 Terry St #130, Longmont
Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m Tues. to Fri.; 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sat.; Closed Sun. and Mon.
If YA YA Farm & Orchard was a hit (and why wouldn’t it be?), finish up your date by heading into downtown Longmont and checking out St. Vrain Cidery. Located in the former Longmont Times-Call newspaper building at 350 Terry Street (why weren’t they open when this reporter clocked in there every day?), St. Vrain Cidery has established itself as one of the area’s premier cideries.
At the time of this writing, the cidery is open for dine-in Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., although that could change because of COVID-19. Check the cidery’s Facebook or Instagram for day-of updates. If they aren’t open for dine-in, order online for pickup or delivery. Choose from one of the largest selections of hard ciders, made locally and from around the state, including seasonal favorites like the newly-released gingerbread cider. With its cinnamon and sugar flavors complementing the crisp apple and warming ginger, it’s the perfect pick to get into the fall spirit. You can also order from the on-site food truck if the apple cider donuts are starting to wear off.
Pick up some of St. Vrain’s one-of-a-kind ciders or continue with your artsy date by ordering a $30 Cider & Ceramics kit. The kit includes a four-pack or 32-ounce growler of your choice of cider and everything you need to decorate an included ceramic item while you sip.
Where: 13912 CR 19, Platteville
When: Daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through mid-November
Cost: Harvest rides $25 per person
If you and your date are more hands-on types and want the full fall harvest experience, head on over to Miller Farms in Platteville to pluck your own vegetables from the dirt. Take a hayride out to 180 acres of fields to select the best potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, Indian corn, squash and peppers on this family-owned farm. If you have a good hearty pot roast recipe, now would be the time to break it out.
Wind your way through the corn maze on-site and steal a kiss in the stalks. Observe the chile roaster and make false claims about how spicy a pepper you can handle before begging for water. If your date has an interest in antique machines from history and pop culture, take a stroll through the farm’s Antique Alley to observe oddities ranging from historic tractors to a recreation Ghostbusters Ectomobile.
Where: 11455 Co Rd 17, Firestone
When: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fri.; 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sat.; 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sun.
Near Miller Farms is Wild Cider, perfect for picking up a seasonal hard pumpkin cider, sold as “the feeling of fall in a can.” C’mon, who could say no to that? Or try out one of their core ciders, Bee Hoppy, which sports floral and citrus notes from the hops and white clover honey for a touch of sweetness.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch live music or a socially distanced movie screening in the outdoor Cider Garden. Bundle up, arrive early to snag a table or a spot in the orchard and be a taste tester for Wild Cider’s not-yet-released concoctions. And your four-legged friends are welcome! Check Wild Cider’s Facebook or Instagram page to keep up-to-date on Cider Garden events.
Where: 10600 Isabelle Rd, Lafayette
When: Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $5 admission to the pumpkin patch, Fall Market admission is free
Take your date to Cottonwood Farms, borrow a beautiful red wagon and pick the perfect future jack-o-lantern for only $5 admission. Wagon rides are available on weekends and the Fall Market has pumpkins, squash and fall décor available for sale. The farm owned by husband-and-wife duo Ben and Amy Condon is all kinds of wholesome. Their son, Ben, keeps bees and produces local honey that is sold at the Fall Market.
Stretch your legs and work your navigating skills in the 4-acre corn maze, which is cut by hand to allow for narrower paths. Well-behaved dogs on a leash are allowed at the farm, except in the maze. Relax and watch as the farm bunnies hopping about, the chickens scratch and the goats and sheep mill about. If you visit during a weekend in October, you can also marvel at the 1906 antique steam engine on display at the Fall Market.
Where: 6728 County Rd 3 1/4, Erie
When: Closed Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon. and Wed.; 1o a.m. to 10 p.m. Thurs.; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri.; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sat.; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun.
Anderson Farms has activities available for every level of fall enthusiast. Get lost together in Colorado’s longest-running 25-acre corn maze, which is cut into a “Bee Kind” theme for 2020. Take a wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch, which sports more than 70 kinds of pumpkins and gourds or pay 25 cents for a handful of pellets to feed the goats, alpacas, chickens and ducks on the farm. Race your date in pedal carts at the Barnyard 500 track. Winner buys dinner!
If you want to start a spookier October tradition, head out after dark for Terror in the Corn or Zombie Paintball Hunt. At Terror in the Corn, strategically dodge a pair of crazed twins in a three-part attraction that also includes a haunted ghost town. If you opt for the Zombie Paintball Hunt, you and your honey will be tasked with saving Anderson Farms from a horde of the undead with only your specially-equipped wagon, paintball gun and wits at your disposal.
Adam’s Apple Orchard & Country Store
Where: 42135 Weld County Road 43, Ault
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wed to Sun
Cost: Admission is free
Although Ault is about a 90-minute drive from Boulder, there is still much to enjoy in “A Unique Little Town” like Ault. Adam’s Apple Orchard & Country Store usually runs a popular U-Pick-It apple program, but their apple crop this year was devastated by severe weather.
Still, a drive out to the orchard is a fun time, with beautiful fall colors on display and a quaint little country store with apples, pumpkins, honey and cider for sale. Take the hayride around the orchard to learn more about growing apples along the Front Range and really get in the October spirit.