When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby and that his birthday would be sometime in October, I knew right away that when I planned his first birthday party it would be an autumn theme. Fall is my favourite season so I am thrilled to have a reason to plan an autumn party!
When I think of fall, I always think of going to pick apples in an apple orchard, wagon rides, warm apple cider and fresh-baked apple pie! Similarly, these are also all fun things to do for a fall birthday party.
We have some great orchards in London however, with unpredictable fall weather, I needed to find a place with an indoor space that could accommodate all of our guests. Luckily, I came across Great Lakes Farms in Port Stanley, Ontario, which is only a short (and beautiful) drive from London.
Great Lakes Farms is a family run orchard with over a sixty-year history in the Port Stanley area. Farmer Joe and his wife Mary Anne run the farm and orchard. They also expanded in 2014 to include four acres of peach trees, along with the apples, pumpkins, pears and strawberries that are also available seasonally. They are open for pick-your-own, baked goods and farm fun!
When arriving at the orchard, it is such a picturesque setting as you drive up the long driveway toward the cornfields, orchard and barn that you just want to spend all of your time strolling around the beautiful grounds picking your own fruit. Yet, the aromas emanating from the barn lure you inside where fresh-baked apple pies are baking!
When you step inside the barn where the bakery and café are located, you are instantly consumed by the scrumptious smell of fresh baked apple-y goodness! Here they make their famous fresh baked apple pie where they use their own freshly picked apples. The pastry is made from scratch on site as well. They also offer apple crisp, apple strudel, apple muffins, and apple cookies along with apple cider and ice cream! They have a rustic covered porch area that overlooks the sprawling orchard where you can sip on a beverage and indulge in a freshly baked treat.
THE FUN FARM
Great Lakes Farms has created an “agri-destination” by including attractions such as their corn maze, and fun farm area for children and parents alike. The fun farm is a child’s dream playground! They have a “sand box” for the kids to play in, but instead of it being filled with sand, it is filled with kernels of corn! My one-year-old son loved feeling the texture of the corn.
Another bonus, they don’t get all sandy after! They also have sand diggers that the kids can operate themselves which proved to be a big hit among our crowd. They even offer a pumpkin launcher in October! The corn maze is not only a fun activity for both parents and kids but it is also currently supporting a great cause as well by promoting anti-bullying messages that can be found throughout the maze.
Kids will also love their pirate ship play structure with a slide, lookouts, ropes and ladders, as well as “straw mountain” where kids can climb on, crawl through and swing from barrels of hay. Strollers are welcome but they offer cute little green wagons that parents can pull their children around in as well.
Entrance fee into the fun farm play area is $5/person and children under 2 are free. Parents are also free Monday-Friday. They even offer a season pass for only $10, which gives you unlimited access to their play area!
There is so much to do at Great Lakes Farms; they host different events throughout the summer and fall season like Peachfest, Applefest and Pumpkinfest, which is coming up at the end of October. They also host weddings, school tours and birthday parties.
OUR BIRTHDAY PARTY
As mentioned, I was drawn to Great Lakes Farms because it was the only orchard experience I could find in the local surrounding area that also offered an indoor space to host the party in case the weather decided not cooperate with us that day.
When I walked into the barn and in the café area where the parties are held, I was extremely pleased with our choice of location to host our son’s apple-themed birthday party! The exposed barn board walls, wooden tables with the quintessential red and white checkered orchard table cloths and aroma of fresh apple pie and cider in the air gave me the instant farmhouse.
We had about 35 people with 18 kids and there was more than enough room for us to sit. They have a beautiful, long wooden harvest table that could accommodate all of our food and lots of extra tables for desserts, apple cider station and gifts.
They have a rustic high chair as well for the birthday boy to sit in and have his first taste of birthday cake! Then, when our group was finished opening presents, Farmer Joe took us on our private wagon ride around the orchard. This was a highlight for me. Having our family and friends all together on our son’s first birthday, being taken around a beautiful orchard on a beautiful day on our private wagon ride was just the cherry on top of the whole experience for me! I am so thankful to Great Lakes Farms for creating such a wonderful day for us.
Great Lakes Farms will work with you to design the exact type of birthday party you are looking for. They offer packages as minimal as simply renting out the room with no staff intervention, to a package that includes a fully guided experience with one of their staff who will entertain and lead your group through the various activities around the orchard.
I would like to thank Great Lakes Farms for hosting our group for my son’s first birthday party and making it such a special and truly unforgettable experience.
IF YOU GO
And you should…their fall season runs from September 12-November 1 and they currently have apples, pears, and pumpkins available. They are open daily (including Thanksgiving) from 10am to 5pm and Sundays from 11am to 5pm. Pick-your-own admission is free and prices for apple varieties are available on their website at www.greatlakesfarms.ca.
I hope you enjoy this beautiful fall weather the best way possible at Great Lakes Farms…you won’t regret it!
Disclaimer: we received complimentary services in exchange for our feature. These opinions our completely our own and really, it speaks for itself!