While in school, it can be difficult to find places (and the time) to celebrate the changing of the seasons in the coziest, most traditional ways. As of right now, that's getting into the fall spirit for Halloween and Thanksgiving! I recently went home for midterm break, and one of the best memories I made during the time was going to Edward's Orchard in Poplar Grove, IL with my family. The tasty treats and the falling leaves brought me right back to feeling like a little girl again, and I'm sure I speak for many when I say that those special traditions growing up always hold a very special place in your heart.

No one can deny the wonderful feelings day trips like this can invoke, and in case you forgot, here are some of best parts that'll get you in the fall mood in no time!


APPLE. CIDER.

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Most know that the feud over whether apple cider or the PSL qualifies as the superior fall beverage will never end, but for this post, we'll say that the former is (and TBH-- it is). Whether enjoyed fresh from the orchard or store brought, apple cider invokes that cozy, home-grown feeling with it's fresh, crisp apple flavor and a sprinkling of those traditional fall spices we all know and love. The possibilities of mix-ins are endless and enjoyed hot or cold, there's no denying the feeling of being right at home, no matter where that is for you.

Apple Cider Donuts!

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These are best enjoyed with a cup of cider, but are equally as delicious on their own. Coated with delicious cinnamon and sugar, it doesn't take more than one bite to instantly fall in love. For me and many others, no trip to the orchard is complete without a good batch, and taking a few back to school helps to bring back that comfort of being at home, even if only for a few days. My favorite way to enjoy them? Warm one up for 15 seconds in the microwave, and you'll be savoring it down to the very last bite.

Hayrides

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Most would agree that on a breezy, crisp fall day, there is truly no better way to experience the orchard and it's surrounding cornfields. Through bumpy, it makes for great memories down the road and laughable moments to be cherished forever. They can be enjoyed during the day or nighttime, and serve as a great way to take in the changing colors of the season and feel that warmth of spending time with the best of family and friends. This is one ride for everyone, from 3 to 98!

Picking the Apples, of course!

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This has always been a treasured childhood memory for me, as it probably is for so many others as well. It serves as a great way to bond with others, from climbing the ladder, picking the best ones, and that accomplished feeling of being able to bring home a full basket of crisp, delicious apples ready for eating! There are so many varieties, and being able to mix and match is another added bonus as well. It is one of my best memories growing up with my dad, and no matter how old I get, will always remain timeless to me.

Pumpkin Patches

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This is especially exciting in the month of October, when it's all things spooky and ghostly! At this point in fall, most, if not all, orchards across the country will have pumpkin patches to pick from, and being out in nature with the crunching of leaves beneath your feet is right where it's at! The best thing about picking your special, just right pumpkin is that there's no one "right" type to go with! You could pick a very tiny one, wither to display or decorate, or pick the biggest one you can find to create the most impressive jack-o-lantern on your block. No matter which way you lean, pumpkins are an essential to getting in the fall spirit, and going to your nearest orchard is a good way to start.

The Orchard Goods Store!

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While this may not be the exact term (I also couldn't think of any other way to describe it), most orchards are sure to have a store near or on the farm itself at which you can buy all their yummy dry goods, apples, or other treats to bring home to enjoy with family and friends. Especially being in college, I really appreciate getting to take a few goodies back to school with me because A.) They're DELICIOUS and B.) They remind me of that wonderful, precious time with my family that I don't always get a lot of, unless I'm on holiday. It is absolutely true that food tells a story, and I think that is really one of most beautiful things about it, in that it helps us to never forgot those special moments that just make life that much sweeter. From cider, apples, donuts, dips, apple butter, candles, soaps, or other dry goods, you're sure to find something to keep that fall spirit in the air!

Crunchy leaves!

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If you were in Ohio during the month of September, you know that summer just did not want to leave. Those 90 degree days just would not budge. one. bit. But finally, when that first chilly nip of fall snuck in, everyone I knew could not be happier that we were finally in the proper season. However, despite how wonderful this felt, it was still missing something else to really complete that true, fall feeling: falling leaves that you could crunch to your heart's content. When I visited an orchard last week, I finally was able to do that in Illinois, and it was then that I knew it all was finally right. So, if this is totally your thing, your boots will be able to crunch all the leaves to your heart's content.

I can honestly say that I've never met anyone who didn't have a good time at an orchard, and who wouldn't? It's a classic way to welcome and embrace all things fall, and yes, it does serve as a good backdrop for all your basic Instagram post needs. I think that one of the best things about going to an orchard is the fact that it reminds you that the simplest memories serve as the most treasured, even if it's just sipping on hot apple cider with a friend or family member. For me, it's picking apples with my dad. It was one of the first memories with him and makes me that much more grateful for the gift of having him as a father. Orchards are a shared joy, and if you're about that, then orchards are a perfect way to exemplify and feel that joy during this season of warmth, giving thanks, delicious food, falling leaves and creating lasting moments of laughter and joy with the family and friends who mean the most to us.