Looking for places in town that feel a bit removed from the crowds of the metro area, but are well within city limits? When you’ve hit your limit on...
Pick your own!
There are more than 60 U-pick or pick-your-own farms in the greater Twin Cities area — and that includes farms with fresh berries!
Minnesota strawberry season usually begins in early to mid-June, followed by raspberries and blueberries — beloved fruits for kids of all ages — in July and August. (See minnesotagrown.com for a complete list of farms and a harvest schedule for all fruits and veggies.)
Here are six pick-your-own farms that are off the beaten path, courtesy of sKIDaddlers.net, a searchable directory of local, kid-friendly destinations for families:
Northeast of the Cities
This new-in-2015 U-pick berry farm is in Taylors Falls, about an hour northeast of the Twin Cities overlooking the scenic St. Croix River Valley (Stilla dal means “peaceful valley” in Swedish.)
It’s near the Wild Mountain rec area, so it’s easy to make a day of this destination: Bring a cooler to keep your strawberries chilled while you pit stop in the rec area for a hiking, alpine slide rides or a visit to the waterpark.
Bonus: This farm is offering certified organic pastured poultry (by preorder) for the first time this year.
Headed to Stillwater? Stop by this picturesque blueberry farm, about 4 miles northwest of the quaint riverside town.
Focused on sustainable growing practices and intergenerational mingling, this farm invites you to pack a picnic and find yourself a shady spot for lunch.
If you have little kids, be sure to stop by the beloved Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater to complete your adventure.
Northwest of the Cities
Though this Greenfield farm — about 30 minutes west of downtown Minneapolis on Lake Sarah — is best known for having more than 100 different varieties of pumpkins available in the fall, it also offers a cornucopia of pick-your-own options, including strawberries (new this year), raspberries (a specialty), apples, cherries (yes, U-pick cherries!), pears, plums and flowers, too.
About 50 minutes northwest of Minneapolis off I-94 you’ll find this lovely Monticello farm, offering pick-your-own strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.
Bonus: Visit the far end of the strawberry field to see the honeybees. Local honey and honey sticks are available for purchase.
South of the Cities
This organic Northfield farm actually encourages sampling while picking. Yeah!
And here the blueberry rows are set far enough apart for strollers to make it through. Roll your way in for a memorable family fun time.
Don’t miss your chance to visit to this organic farm in Hastings, offering fruits, vegetables, plants, free-range eggs, local honey, homemade preserves and CSA shares.
Pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries, cherries, apples, plumsand even veggies.
Tips for berry hunters
- Berry picking availability can change daily. Always check the farm’s website or call ahead before heading out the door.
- Not all farms are setup for credit card payments. Bring cash or call to confirm payment options.
- Bring a cooler to cool down your berries and gallon zipper-close bags to make sure they don’t spill on the ride home.
- Supervise your children. Children can easily trample plants or cause other farm damage without parental oversight.
- Don’t forget sunblock, hats, wipes and plenty of water. It can get surprisingly hot and sticky in the fields.
- Plan ahead for what you’re going to do with all the berries you pick by doing a little recipe research and ingredient shopping. You can easily throw berries into a freezer bag to stock up for summer smoothies (click here for strawberry-freezing tips). But with a little planning, you can really show off their fresh flavor by making ice cream, pie, freezer jam, shortcake or even simple parfaits (layers of yogurt, granola or vanilla wafer and sugar-tossed berries)!
- Check out our recipe for fresh strawberry pie and strawberries and cream parfaits, too!
Renee Piersa, a Bloomington mother of two, is the co-founder of sKIDaddlers, a free online directory featuring thousands of local, kid-friendly outings. Parents can search by location, keyword, category, season, distance and more. Spend less time researching where to go and more time creating memories. See sKIDaddlers.net.
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