As summer comes to an end, we had a few more items to check off on our summer bucket list! We have done lots of berry picking in the past, but wanted to try peaches since we missed the peach truck that came through Columbus last month.
Day Trip to Utica
We had heard many great things about Branstool Orchards and decided to load up the van and take a day trip to Utica! From Columbus, it took us just 50 minutes to arrive and it was a quick and easy drive. The orchard also offers apple and pear picking depending on the season.
The market itself is clean and inviting! It has a large variety of produce selections and goodies to choose from. They had cobbler mix on hand to assist you in making the perfect summer dessert. There was even a Little Library on the grounds too, so bring a book to donate!
When we arrived, we were greeted by a welcoming staff that explained the best route to take when picking. It was a hot and humid 90-degree day, so we arrived early in the morning to try and beat the heat. We suggest bringing water and sunscreen with you, as things got a little sweaty! You may want to wear closed-toe shoes or rain boots, as it may be wet with the morning dew or if it has rained. Rookie mistake: we wore sandals! This made things a little unpleasant for a 3-year-old.
There were two types of peaches on site the day we were there and a lot to choose from on the trees. They had wagons available for little ones or to use to transport your peaches. You will want to grab one since you do have to travel up a road with an incline to get to the peaches. It took us just 45 minutes to walk and complete our picking. Peaches are $1.75 per pound, and the baskets they provided will help you reach your $10 minimum requirement. The picking is expected to run until mid-September. The sampling that we did let us know that our peaches actually tasted like peaches! They were so sweet and juicy. We had a great time, and the cobbler turned out delicious!
Velvet Ice Cream Factory
We cooled off in the car, and we decided to travel less than 2 miles up the road to visit the Velvet Ice Cream Factory. I knew that they had free tours that started on the hour, so arriving at 11 a.m. was perfect. We watched a short video on the history of Velvet Ice Cream and then we got to explore the Mill.
After the Mill, we were taken to the actual factory where we learned about the process of making ice cream and even got to see the workers preparing sherbet. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and was full of information for kids too. The girls remembered the essential ingredients in ice cream: milk, sugar, water, and cream! The tours only run during the week from 11 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (May 1st- October 31st) at the top of the hour. Some Fridays are included, but not all so be sure to check their website for updated information. As of now, it says tours on Fridays in October will not feature live production. Groups of 20 or more need a reservation.
After the tour, we headed to the museum and gift shop. The museum was tiny, but still had a variety of things to keep the girls engaged. The piano was a big hit, as well as the ice cream simulator. Next, we decided to have lunch at the Ye Olde Mill restaurant. The staff was very friendly and accommodating to families.
If I had known the grounds had picnic areas, we could have packed. However, the food was tasty and convenient! Our waitress suggested taking the leftover crust to feed the ducks in the pond on property. The girls enjoyed feeding the ducks, as well seeing other kids catching fish at the catch and release pond.
With full bellies, we headed to the playgrounds behind the restaurant for more fun. There is also a nature trail on the grounds that we did not venture to, but many families did partake in this. We spent a lot of time on the swings and decided we needed to get our ice cream!
They offer a variety of kid’s sundaes and milkshakes along with an array of samples. 🙂 A mint chocolate milkshake was the winner today!
I couldn’t believe it was three o’ clock when I looked down at my watch. I had hesitated before to make the drive to Utica, but we had a blast and would recommend this as a great day trip. Don’t forget to take a picture by the banana split on the way out! The drive home was a perfect time for naps too. 🙂
Things to remember about Branstool Orchards and Velvet Ice Cream
- Branstool Orchards is open M-S for picking from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Market is open an hour past the orchards. (Always call ahead before you go to make sure there is fruit available to pick that day.)
- Dogs are permitted if they are on a leash at the orchard.
- Bring a fishing pole to Velvet if you are interested in catch and release.
- Pack a lunch or eat at the restaurant at Velvet Ice Cream.
- Wear closed-toe shoes to the orchard.
- Bring sunscreen, hats and water for both spots.
- Tours at Velvet Ice Cream are only 11 to 3 at the top of the hour during the week. (Be sure to call on a Friday.)
It’s official. A quick road trip that includes peaches and ice cream is a win for all! Enjoy and don’t forget about the Ice Cream Festival each year over Memorial Day Weekend!