ARMADA, Michigan

OK. To be quite honest, other than that the population being less than 2,000 and its the main industry being something of farming, what I know of Armada outside of Blakes Cider Mill is seldom to none. But the fact that Blakes Cider Mill alone brings in thousands of excited tourist every year, and it only being about 15 miles north of my hometown (Rochester, MI) made it a mission for an APRIL IN THE A daytime adventure.

BLAKES CIDER MILL

Address: 17985 Armada Center Road, Armada, MI 48005

Blakes Cider Mill is one of the largest cider mills in the mitten and it exceeds the expectations of cider mills nationwide. Just in case you’re not used to the term cider mill, according to great Wikipedia…

A cider mill is a location and equipment used to crush apples into apple juice for use in making apple cider, hard cider, applejack, apple wine, pectin and other products derived from apples.

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It’s a regional place of interest filled with apples, giant pumpkins, donuts, and if you’re lucky, hard apple cider.  As many southern states may have never heard of such a place, here in the Midwest, it’s a mandatory visit once the air becomes cool and leaves start to change as we welcome another season of a Pure Michigan fall. So come with me, as I roll through rows of apple trees as I try to eat as much of fall treats before my belly pops open with gooey chewed up delicious donuts.

Here are 4 must-do activities while at Blakes Cider Mill.

  1. U-Pick
  2. Cider, Donuts, Beer, Snacks, etc.
  3. Train ride around
  4. Take tons of “basic” fall photos.

(If you have children, make sure to take them through the Funland portion.)

U-PICK

For someone who literally eats at least one apple a day, I had to make it a point to go pick out my OWN apples. Something about knowing just who picked it and where it came from makes me at ease in a world full of processed and questionable food. 

When rolling up to the cider mill, if you want to get right to the apple picking, skip parking and roll right into the U-PICK section where you’ll drive through fields of fresh organic vegetables until you make your way over towards the apple orchards where you’ll find dozens off rows filled with a variety of apple trees, ready for your eager hands… to pick!

To be specific, Blakes grow:

Gala 
McIntosh 

Golden Delicious 

Wealthy 
Jonathan
Cortland
Red Delicious
Granny Smith
Northern Spy
Cameo
Fuji

Who knew there were so many apple varieties grown right here in Michigan? Well I did, actually. But that’s beside the point.

When arriving into the Upick section, one must retrieve a bag from the workers, and proceed to fill the bag with whatever your soul desires. It’s that easy but you have to get to where it weighs enough for the minimum dollars spent is $15.

You can also pick your own giant pumpkins, vegetables and noses.

Cider, Donuts, Beer, Snacks, etc.

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This is truly why most people visit any cider mill nationwide. The sugary donuts, the sweet cider, and caramel glazed candy apples are an absolute MUST to get through Michigan’s autumn season. If you’re not participating in consuming any of these said above products, you’re doing it all SO WRONG.

In the main warehouse, you’re immediately greeted by a sweet aroma as the smell of freshly made donuts fill your nostrils. While walking through the thick smell of sweets,  one can actually see the process of the cider fermenting as apples are crushed and pressed to squeeze out the pure juice. According to Blakes, it takes 30 apples to make only one gallon of cider. Crazy.

Blake Cider mill uses thousands of their homegrown and picked apples and turns them into sweet cider by sending them through an apple press.

Other than viewing the apples pressing into cider and the bottling of the juice, you have the option to buy a handful of homemade snacks such as donuts, freshly roasted almonds, apple fondu, caramel apples, and a menu full of other treats. I,  being my usual fatass got all of the above and everything was finger licking, sticky and delicious.

In a separate area of the warehouse, you’ll find a store where all-natural products ranging from fresh-farm jams, pickles, and applesauce and purified, canned and ready for purchase. Blakes makes it their priority to never add artificial ingredients to their products while using the highest quality of fruits and vegetables.

Leave outside of the warehouse with room for more, because right next door you’ll find the brewery where Blakes Hard Cider is created and served.

I love beer. I’m coming back around to sweet beer so I decided to try out a flight of four of the hard ciders. I tried the Rose, El Chavo, Grizzly Pear and The Tonic.

TAKE THE TRAIN

Ok so the train, while not too adventurous takes you around the entire cider mill. Blakes sits on dozens of acres of spread out grounds ,so walking it may not be an option for some. Lucky for those, the train covers all of the lands, giving you a glimpse of everything.

You pass by the fresh vegetables still growing, a massive patch filled with pumpkins of all sizes, the apple orchard, corn stalks, and the massive farmland. The tractor- train ride runs for 25 minutes before it comes full circle back to the starting location. I believe it cost $3 per person to ride.

Ok.

This post is getting lengthy so I’ll sum this up. Blakes is an amazing place to take your family, a date, or just good friends for a daytime fall-tastic adventure. There’s something for everyone there and it’s a must-go-to if you ever find yourself in the Metro Detroit area between the months of September and November.

GO!

xo, A

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