Changing seasons means new activities and places to add to weekend to-do lists

2013-08-31T19:55:00Z 2013-09-03T11:45:04Z Changing seasons means new activities and places to add to weekend to-do listsJane Ammeson Times Correspondent
August 31, 2013 7:55 pm  • 

Fall is orchards brimming with crisp red apples and pumpkin patches dotted with vividly orange globes. It’s walks through woods as confetti colored leaves dance above our heads and drives along country roads offering vistas of this glorious season. So whether you stay near or travel far, enjoy the beauty of the season as you and your family go a wandering.

Celebrate all things apples at the 400-acre Garwood Orchards in LaPorte, a 6th generation family, during their annual Apple Fest held the weekend after Labor Day, this year September 14-15. The fun includes an arts and crafts show, horse and tractor-drawn wagon rides, u-pick apples and pumpkins as well as the Garwood Grille concession stand and their Bake Shoppe and Gelato Bar for pies, cookies, deep fried donuts and the not to be missed Palazzolo’s gelato and sorbetto.

At Lemon Creek Winery and Fruit Farm in Berrien Springs, Mich., a 300-acre farm owned and operated by the Lemon family since 1855, wagon rides take u-pickers to and from the orchard covered hills for fruits of the seasons including peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, apples and grapes.

“We have about 60 acres of fruit orchards and about 150 acres of grapes,” said Kathy Lemon, one of the owners of Lemon Creek, “and so there’s always something to pick. We also offer already picked. Fall is beautiful here on the farm and whether you’re here to pick or just walk through the orchards, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.”

Can’t get enough of them apples? Then mark your calendar for Fall Harvest Days at Amish Acres Historic Farm and Heritage Resort in Nappanee, Ind. from Sept. 21 through Oct. 27. Watch demonstrators make apple butter in large cauldrons over an open fire and apples pressed into cider at Kuhns Cider & Grist Mill, named one of the 10 best in the U.S. by Visit the eight village shops including The Log Cabin Fudgery and Soda Fountain for hand dipped caramel apples, pumpkin fudge and ice cream. Hop aboard a farm wagon ride through the woods to the pumpkin patch to pick your own from the seemingly endless shapes and sizes and roast marshmallows over an open fire. And don’t forget to design your own scarecrow for entry into the 4th annual Scarecrow Contest.

At Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve north of Niles, Mich., family fun is what their eighth annual Autumn Air festival, held this Sept. 21 and 22, is all about.

“The crisp air and striking fall colors greet visitors to Fernwood with shouts of purple and gold in the prairie, and an autumn mix of leaves turning to red, yellow, orange and burgundy along garden paths and down to the St. Joseph River,” said Carol Line, executive director of Fernwood. “The Railway Garden and new Nature Adventure Garden continue to draw families. It’s also a great time to check out the colorful and curious displays of locally grown gourds and squash and pumpkins, and a whimsical blown glass pumpkin exhibit by Water Street Glassworks.”

Line also notes that during the festival, there are such kid activities as face painting, crafts and rides through the gardens on Wither’s Choo Choo.

For an educational fall ramble, trace Abraham Lincoln’s journey in Spencer County, Indiana where he lived between the ages of 7 and 21.

“Visitors can explore sites dedicated to Abraham Lincoln's 14 formative years in Indiana,” said Melissa Brockman, Executive Director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau. “With a national park, state park and several attractions featuring outdoor recreation, the fall season offers a wonderful time to visit. The scenery is gorgeous and the temperatures are perfect for exploring.”

Lincoln sites to see in the jewel colored woodlands and hills of rural Southern Indiana include the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial with its large interpretative center and pathways leading to the gravesite of Lincoln’s mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln and the Living Historical Farm, a re-created and working pioneer homestead with a cabin, outbuildings, split rail fences, animals, gardens and field crops based on the way the Lincoln family lived back then. Rangers in period clothing perform a variety of activities typical to those of the early 1800s. Just down the road is the Lincoln Amphitheatre located in Lincoln State Park as well as the Colonel William Jones homestead in nearby Gentryville, a restored 1834 Federal-design home of Abraham Lincoln's merchant employer. The later offers guided tours, themed talks, exhibits, a self-guiding nature trail, picnic area and a restored log barn and, of course, a gift shop. Enjoy a buffalo burger at Buffalo Run, a buffalo preserve where the log cabin belonging to Lincoln’s cousin Dennis Hanks has been restored. Drive south to the Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum in Rockford, a river port town where Lincoln used to ferry horses, wagons and visitors to and from Kentucky.

But country isn’t the only way to enjoy the outdoors in fall. The 250-acre White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis is the only urban state park in Indiana and has lots of activities both outside and in. Rent a Segway, bike or pedal carriage and ride along the old Whitewater Canal. Jump into a gondola and glide along the smooth waters. Visit the NCAA Hall of Champions Museum. Catch an IMAX movie at the Indiana State Museum, stroll through the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art and watch the Indianapolis Indians play AAA ball.

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