So sometimes it is good to get out on a chilly day and explore. Apple picking was the name of the game so we bundled up and drove to Afton Apple Orchard. It seems to be a good value due to the activities included in the entry fee.
There were tractors to explore, a pumpkin maze for the little ones and massive rocking chairs to climb. A combined harvester up-cycled into a massive slide was thoroughly enjoyed by Kid Willow. It was amazing to see the items that were created using old farm equipment. This orchard also had massive pumpkin patches, raspberry bushes and 16 varieties of apples. It was great that they had a sampling station for the apples so you knew which you wanted to pick.
After taking a hay ride back to the main building we enjoyed a hot apple cider (US style not UK style. AKA no alcohol) They even had apple cider doughnuts. The shop was full of treats and locally made goodies. Due to the chill the outdoor tables were not the best for enjoying any edible treats on this day. However on a warmer day there would be plenty of seating available. Kid Willow and Baby willow have declared they like apple cider (not hot) and the doughnut.
Afterwards we were back to the playground and the petting zoo. There are many signs stating to not feed the animals apples. There was ample space for the animals but seeing the goat in the middle of the hay amused me. The lamas looked to be contently enjoying a bite as well.
I think overall it was a great experience with a few just in case you go things to know. There are no public restrooms in the building just rows of porta pottys. The enormous corn maze is across the road from the apple orchard. (We did not try the maze due to being with the kiddos and cost for all of us to try it.) Picked apples were sold at about $3 a pound and the picked pumpkins were 50cents a pound when we visited.
On our way back to the twin cities from Iowa we made an impromptu visit to Owatonna. We specifically went to a park we enjoyed a few months before Kid Willow was born. It was a wee bit chilly and breezy so we did not walk as much as the last trip. Despite this the kiddos loved playing on the playground in the park. It was a good reminder that fall is here.
So we drove to southern IA and wanted to see if we would see the California ZephyrAmtrak train. Unfortunately we missed it, but really liked a short visit at the old depot in Osceola, IA. The kiddos really enjoyed the quiet depot and ensured it sounded as if a train was barreling through.
Then we went to explore the rest of the downtown square. Osceola is the county seat of Clarke county which means that many services for the county occur in Osceola. In county seats there is a square rather than a main street/high street. While walking along the square, we heard the familiar sound of a fast freight train coming and turned to see the three engines and all the train cars going by on the tracks.
Afterwards, we discovered a really nice gift shop that also was a cafe that sold locally made goods. I did not take photos of the food, but it was so tasty we gobbled it up for our picnic on the courthouse grounds. This is a great place for a food based gift basket.
It was nice to be out and about in a new area. Maybe next time we’ll see the massive Amtrak train to LA another time.
Normally a single playground does not impress me, but in a town this size and a playground this fun, I needed to share.
We also discovered from another parent present that happens to be on a cross country RV/Caravan journey with their kiddos that there is an app for playgrounds. This was a great discovery.
The rest of the town park is well kept and the restroom/toilets were not automatic which is helpful with young children. If we were prepared, we could have had a snack time picnic after our play time at the playground.
There seems to be more than meets the eye to this corner of Minnesota. I would be excited to try to see more of this area one day.
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