This article is part of a series aimed at helping families of four find activities in the area for under $25.
Like most Michigander's I love fall, the colors, the smells, the crisp clean air and most of all cider and donuts! I love cider so much, that the family and I go on a yearly pilgrimage of sorts to find the best cider around... Personally I like the un-pastorized ciders, but have come to accept that it is increasingly difficult to find unless you press your own cider; which we also do yearly, but that's for another story!I have passed this love of fall activities onto my children - They also seem to look forward to visiting the cider mill, picking out their pumpkins and eating the donuts. Last fall though, we were on a pretty tight budget. As I was lamenting about the cost of going to many local cider mills, a neighbor told me about Jenny's Farm Stand in Dexter.
What I liked:
When we pulled up the stand, we had no trouble parking - Actually we went twice last year because the kids enjoyed it so much, and neither time did we have difficulty parking! The walk from the parking lot was simple as well; we only had to yield to the horse drawn hay-wagon as it came through.
Jenny's is a very picturesque location. There are an array of colorful seasonal baskets of mums, shades of shining orange pumpkins, many gourds, corn stalks, Indian corn and a small gazebo next to a quaint pond with a small water fall. There is also a small petting-farm on the property. It makes the perfect back-drop for the many fall family photo-ops you desire!
If you ask my son, he loved the glistening golden hay-bale "pile" that beckons to children of all ages and sizes. At first I was a bit leery that my children might become stuck among the hay-bale tunnels, but as any good parent would do, I conquered that fear by suffering the potential indignation and laughter if I became stuck - Oh who am I kidding, I am a big kid at heart and fully enjoyed clambering through the underground maze of tunnels and "peek-holes". For concerned parents though rest-assured the pile is not simply bales of hay, but a carefully constructed series of platforms with hay bales piled on top! My children enjoyed climbing on top, around and through the myriad of tunnels within.
My family also thoroughly enjoyed the REAL horse-drawn wagon rides. The wagon was loaded with plenty of straw, driven by a very friendly driver and two beautiful draft horses. The best part was, the $4.00 pp ride lasted over 20-minutes, and was pulled out over the fields of a scenic neighboring farm and surrounding hillside. We especially loved the gentle bumping as the horses moved into a trot as we rode down the gently rolling hills; I think my son's reaction was "Yea a roller coaster, can we do that again?"
Of course it would be remiss of me to neglect mentioning the wonderfully delicious cider and homemade donuts we purchased as well. You just can't go wrong with fresh cold cider out of a wax paper cup and donuts so fresh they melt in your mouth!
Honestly, there wasn't anything I found on my visits that I DIDN'T like! I suppose if I had to complain, I would say that the pony rides may be a tad on the expensive side - Considering they are front and center, they are very difficult to avoid. What child wouldn't try to gently coerce a parent that they MUST ride a pony? If you are a parent averse to paying $4.00 per child for a ride, then find an excuse before you go... The first time we went my daughter wanted to ONLY ride a "pink pony" - "Gee honey I'm sorry but they don't have a pink pony to ride..." She was much wiser the next go-around, so now I just expect to pay up, and am ready with a few dollars on hand!
Jenny's Farm Stand has something for everyone from fresh produce, to cider and donuts to Halloween and seasonal decorations and flowers. Take a break from the typical and make sure to stop by; you'll be happy that you did!
Jenny's Farm Stand
8366 Island Lake Road
Dexter, MI 48130
For the convenience of my reader's I have also compiled a list of all the Cider Mills and Orchard's in Washtenaw County.
All photos by Tammy Mayrend. In photos Zach, Gabby and Tammy Mayrend taken at Jenny's Farm Stand, 2008.