The best apple picking locations in Iowa

A child picking Apples

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Bryan Etchen, the owner of Iowa Orchard, explains why Honeycrisp apples are expensive, delicious, and why they make experienced growers want to pull out all their hair. We also ask why some orchards looks more like a vineyard, what local growers DON’T spray on their apples, and he names the best apple picking locations in Iowa. (Skip to that part.)

Bryan Etchen, Iowa Orchard

Etchen’s father started Iowa Orchard in the 70s, so his family has been in the Apple industry for a while. It turns out there’s a LOT more that goes into growing apples than you can imagine. For example, he has opted to use a trellis system, which requires training the trees. It’s not common in the USA, but some European countries have had great success. 

The trellis design makes for faster growing and as a side benefit, easier picking for the consumer.

Everyone loves Honeycrisp apples, but why are they so pricey? According to Etchen, they’re the bane of every grower’s existence. Not only do the apples take 3 to 4 years to produce fruit, everyone wants them, from human consumers to deer, to Japanese beetles. One struggle Iowa Orchard has growing Honeycrisp apples is due to their geographical location. Developed in Minnesota, Honeycrisp thrive farther up North, with lower amounts of sun. Iowa Orchard is working diligently to find the best and most efficient ways to protect the apples, including potentially installing hail nets. 

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If you find yourself at Iowa Orchard, make sure to check out their homemade pies at their Urbandale location. These pies, along with other goodies, are sold all year-round in their bakery. Bryan also sells apples throughout the winter until he runs out, including the coveted Honeycrisp. Bryan and the rest of the orchards in Iowa grow their produce for consumption, not for commercial production and storage, which is why if you have ever had freshly picked apples they taste better. 

Take a virtual stroll down Iowa Orchard.

Take a virtual stroll through Iowa Orchard on a nice sunny Iowa fall day. To learn more about Iowa Orchard’s Apple picking locations in Iowa go to their official website.

Best Apple picking locations in Iowa

Although there are many options, the best apple picking locations in Iowa can be found right here. Did we miss one? Let us know.

Wilson’s Orchard in Iowa City (Eastern Iowa) 

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Wilson’s Orchard & Farm is located in Iowa City. They have a Cider house and serve food as well. They also have a bakery where they mill their own flour and bake their own bread from scratch daily. They offer online ordering from their market, bakery, and restaurants for pick-up and local delivery to Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty. Wilson’s chooses locally-grown produce to reduce their carbon footprint believes in sustainable and environmentally responsible practices by their growers and farm partners. They are among the best apple picking locations in Iowa for eastern travelers.

Community Orchard in Fort Dodge (Northern Iowa)

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Community Orchard is a 50-acre apple orchard located in Fort Dodge, Iowa. It is owned and operated by first-generation farmers, Denny and Emily Stucky. The orchard has 5,000 trees and includes 15 varieties of fresh from-the-tree picked apples. “The Marketplace” is filled with great food finds and many of their very own products including bakery items made fresh in their Apple Orchard Bakery. “The Back 40 Playground” was added in 2012. Of apple picking locations in Iowa that feature fun activities for kids, put this on your list.

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Deal’s Orchard in Jefferson (Central Iowa)

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Deal’s Orchard is a family-owned and operated farm located in center west Iowa. The orchard began in 1917 when Frank Deal moved his family from Illinois and purchased the land that the orchard now occupies. For over 100 years, five generations of the Deal family have been committed to growing quality apples and vegetables for their customers. The farm has grown and diversified over the years, adding fresh produce such as sweetcorn, tomatoes, and pumpkins, as well as agri-entertainment activities like a corn maze, jumping pillow, and pick your own apples. Ideal for the kiddos.

Small’s Orchard in Mondamin (Western Iowa)

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Small’s Fruit Farm is a 33-acre orchard located in Mondamin, Iowa. The farm has been in the Small family for five generations, starting when the founder purchased some apples from a local grower in 1894 and decided to start his own orchard. The farm grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, starting with strawberries in June and ending with apples in the fall. They also offer pick-your-own strawberries, apples, and pumpkins, as well as tractor rides through the orchard. In addition to their fresh produce, they also ship apple gift boxes nationwide from August through December.

Ditmars Orchard in Council Bluffs (Western Iowa)

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Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard is a family-owned U-Pick apple orchard and vineyard located in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Since 1994, they pride themselves on their beautifully maintained apple orchard and fun family activities. Over the years, Ditmars Orchard has expanded to include their own vineyard, wine, pumpkin patch, and a focus on specialty food items that you can’t find anywhere else. They also host a variety of events such as “Make your own Bouquet Night at the Orchard” and live music with various artists. Of the best apple picking locations in Iowa, they are quite unique.

Center Grove Orchard in Cambridge (Center Iowa)

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Center Grove Orchard is an apple picking and family farm located in Cambridge, Iowa. They offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, including a Sunflower Meadow, Apple Orchard, and Pumpkin Patch. The Sunflower Meadow consists of 7 acres featuring multiple varieties of sunflowers. In the Apple Orchard, visitors can purchase admission and pick their own apples to take home. The Pumpkin Patch offers visitors the chance to pick their own pumpkins or choose from pre-picked pumpkins near the Country Store.

Wills organic Orchard in Adel (Western Iowan)

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Wills Family Orchard is an organic apple orchard and pumpkin farm located in Adel, Iowa. The farm is owned by the Wills family and has been in operation since 1991. They offer a variety of organic produce, including peaches, apples, and pumpkins. The farm also hosts an Apple & Pumpkin Fest. The farm is located 20 minutes west of the Des Moines metro in the rolling hills of Dallas County, Iowa and has approximately 6 acres of apple trees and one acre of peach trees, as well as four acres of pumpkins and one acre of a variety of vegetables and fruit.

The Big Apple Orchard (Eastern Iowa)

The Big Apple Orchard has been a family owned and operated by Monte and Mollie Marti since 2004. Known for its barn mural of the Statue of Liberty holding an apple and Americana decor, they’re open weekends in September and October. Guests can pick from 2,000+ apple trees and 22 varieties, including Zestar, Sweet 16, Red Wealthy, Honeycrisp, Gala, McIntosh, Cortland, Red / Golden Delicious, and Snow Sweet. Local products are available in their store alongside apple cider donuts and many other baked goodies.

Did we miss an orchard in our list of the best apple picking locations in Iowa? Please tell us at

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