This article was written and paid for by Yates Cider Mill.
When the air turns crisp and a little breezy, and the leaves start changing colors and you realize it's time to pull out your favorite pair of broken-in boots, that's when you know: autumn has arrived in Michigan.
Fall is synonymous with so many of our favorite things: sweater weather, hot drinks, football season, tailgates, Halloween, pumpkin-carving, delicious treats and the cider mill.
Speaking of that last item, going to the cider mill might be the ultimate fall activity, right? It's the perfect destination -- you can go with your family, your friends, a small group or a big one. You could even make a date out of the occasion.
We thought we'd break down all the best things we look for when it comes to finding that perfect cider mill.
A slew of food and drink options
Starting with the obvious: Any cider mill worth your time needs to have top-of-the line cider and doughnuts. You want freshly baked, hot doughnuts and crisp, just-pressed cider. Even better if you can watch the process in action. At Yates Cider Mill, their water-powered, double table press can produce 300 gallons of fresh cider per hour. Visitors can look on as cider is made most fall Wednesdays through Sundays.
How about a doughnut sundae? Yes, you read that correctly: doughnut sundae. Need we say more? Check out this one from Yates.
Food trucks. Yates offers Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen (no reason to go all the way up I-75!) and General Dogs for hot dogs and chips, along with some other seasonal options that vary by weekend.
All the apples. At Yates, you'll want to visit the apple tent, where you can find a few products that aren't available inside the mill. Every week, they buy fresh apples from a local orchard grower, so you can bag your own and pick the size, shape, colors and varieties you like the best.
A river walk
How else will you burn off those calories from the doughnut sundae?
At Yates, the trail is about a half-mile long, so it can easily be enjoyed by just about anyone. Who wouldn't want to take a relaxing stroll and scope out the richest colors that fall has to offer? This is a Michigan view you'll certainly want to take in and savor.
When you visit this Metro Detroit staple, you'll find goats throughout the summer months for you to visit and feed. When fall is in full swing, many goats, sheep and maybe a llama or two fill the petting zoo.
You can even let your children take a ride on one of Yates' gentle ponies.
Other fun activities
Yates has entertainment scheduled all fall with different performers scheduled each weekend. Check their Facebook page for details and specifics. Families can also watch cider being pressed fresh throughout the week and weekends.
For the children, Yates is known to hide an old-school Fisher Price Happy Apple around the grounds for the children to find in exchange for free doughnuts.
Later this month, Yates is hosting an event called Princesses at Yates, which is a meet-and-greet with two very special princesses. This free event would set the stage for a lovely afternoon.
The cider mill has done events for adults as well, such as one featuring local breweries, wineries, and artisan and food vendors. People love to relax with friends while enjoying live music on the banks of the Clinton River.
Yates started pressing apples in late August. Now that September is well underway, it's safe to assume we're now entering peak cider mill season. Which is your favorite? Drop your answer in the comments section below.