Pull out your flannels and prepare the pumpkins. Fall in Boulder County is one of the best times of year, in large part due to its agricultural background. BoCo is ripe with farms and fall flavors to spice up the season.
Here’s how to plan the perfect fall farm tour in Boulder County, centered around Longmont as the home base.
Morning: Ya Ya Farm & Orchard, 6914 Ute Highway, Longmont
Start the day at the Ya Ya Farm, one of Colorado’s rare you-pick orchards. If you’re lucky, you can score a reservation to pick apples fresh off the trees. Note: This is super popular and sells out quickly, so don’t be bummed if you can’t score a coveted spot.
There’s plenty else to do at Ya Ya, anyway.
“Ya Ya is about the experience and has a very fall aesthetic; it’s Instagram-worthy,” says Mikayla Adair, spokesperson for Visit Longmont. “They’re the epitome of fall.”
The grounds are alive with farm animals: draft horses, turkeys, peacocks, chickens. Pet donkeys and horses. Take a tractor-drawn hayride on the weekends in the fall, and then visit the farm stand with apples from the orchard. Taste Ya Ya’s famous apple cider donuts, fresh-baked daily using a secret family recipe. Afterward, shop the store for fresh honey, apple pies and apple cider, all made on site. The farm stand is open through November.
Even if you can’t pick apples, ask about wildflower picking and craft your own fall centerpiece or decorative bouquet.
Don’t miss the historic barns that dot the property (they’re the perfect backdrop for a fall photo shoot; hold your new flower bouquet for color). Look for the historic farm truck.
Ya Ya is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in October, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday in November.
The farm also holds various seasonal events, like the family-friendly Apple Fest and adult-only Boo Fest, where they show a scary movie in the barn.
Local tip: If you really want to pick apples and Ya Ya’s booked, head to the city-owned Roger’s Grove Park, 220 Hover Road, Longmont. As soon as apples sprout up in this public orchard, anyone’s welcome to pick them off the trees — for free, according Adair.
Afternoon: Sunflower Farm, 11150 Prospect Road, Longmont
Set aside at least two hours to visit the Sunflower Farm, which is ideal for families. This farm is also home to a preschool and holds kids’ camps; needless to say, it’s very kid-oriented and focused on experiential education.
Kids love visiting (and especially feeding) the farm animals: goats, sheep, llamas, chicken, a donkey, peacocks, even a tortoise.
The grounds are packed with activities for the kids: tire swings, a zipline, an old John Deere tractor, a replica of an old airplane to climb in and several barns filled with activities (some have been converted into playhouses and clubhouses). Kids can garden, relax in the hammocks, roast marshmallows by the big bonfire, and play on hay bales or try to make it through the hay bale maze.
Check the website for the specific hours (click farm fest public hours) because they vary. Sunflower Farm is typically open in the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. range Friday through Sunday in October and November. Entry is $15 per person; kids under 1 are free.
If you want to plan your fall agricultural tour when Sunflower Farm is closed or you don’t have kids, consider these other two alternatives:
- Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Patch, 9059 Ute Highway, Longmont: While this is also packed with kids’ activities, adults can enjoy it, too. This pumpkin patch is open every weekend in October, with carnival games, a pumpkin patch, pony rides, a petting zoo, hay mazes, a cornstalk tunnel, food vendors and a great scene for festive fall pics.
- Ollin Farms, 8627 N. 95th St., unit 7718, Longmont: This farm has a fall pumpkin patch, an on-farm flower nursery and a farmstand open noon-6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Ollin Farms als runs farm dinners through the end of September every year, as well as educational classes throughout the fall for kids.
Evening/times vary: The Art of Cheese, Briar Gate Farm, 11227 N. 66th St., Longmont
Longmont is home to an artisan cheesemaking school, located on a working goat farm in the Hygiene area. Learn how to milk the goats and then take that milk to turn into various kinds of cheese, depending on the class.
The Art of Cheese offers a wide range of classes at different times of day and different days of the week, and also for different levels of experience, from hard-core cheeseheads (people travel from around the world to attend the multi-day workshops) to families looking to have fun with their kids. Check the website for the full class list.
Beginners will learn how to make ricotta and chevre in Cheesemaking 101, and the challenge goes up from there, spanning hard cheese, seasonal dishes, feta, mozzarella, waxing wheels and holiday gifts and desserts. Even if you don’t eat cheese, you can learn how to make lotion and soap with goat milk. Adult classes may pair with wine or beer or a meal.
Classes are held in a garage converted into a classroom, and you’ll see goats hanging out, watched over by a protective llama — all set to the backdrop of perfect mountain views.
Set aside a few hours for a class (or longer, depending on how involved it is).
The Art of Cheese is celebrating its five-year anniversary this fall.
Late evening/night: St. Vrain Cidery, 350 Terry St., unit 130 (in alleyway), Longmont
It’s not a farm but it’s oh so fall and locally made. Visit Longmont’s local cidery, which is celebrating its three-year anniversary this fall. The St. Vrain Cidery makes its own cider, and its tasting room features ciders from many of Colorado’s other major cideries. So you can sample ciders from across the state without having to leave your chair. The St. Vrain Cidery also offers seasonal flavors, like gingerbread cider and pumpkin cider.
For more fall flavors, many of Longmont’s local breweries also do seasonal flavors. Highlights include the Chai Milk Stout Nitro at Left Hand Brewing, offered every fall, and Wibby Brewing’s fourth-anniversary Oktoberfest beer, Wibtoberfest.
Try these and more seasonal beers without having to drive by hitching a ride on the Brewhop Trolley. This inexpensive trolley loops past all of Longmont’s breweries, distilleries and the cidery every weekend. So you can hop on and hop off when you’re ready to explore some more.
Tips for Planning a Fall Farm Tour
- Plan in advance. You will have a better chance of getting what you want if you book in advance, especially for The Art of Cheese and apple picking. You can also book trolly tickets ahead of time.
- Go early in the season. Earlier is better than fall because some events are first come, first served. Plus, you never know when a big snowstorm is going to spoil it all.
- Save money with the Craft Beverage Passport. Visit Longmont offers a free, phone-based “passport” with deals and discounts for most breweries, distilleries and the cidery in town. It’s good through the end of 2020 at least, so there’s no reason to pay full price. Visit www.visitlongmont.org/craft or text CRAFT to 720-897-3574.
- When in downtown, free, all-day parking is available east of Kimbark Street in the neighborhoods. No need to pay for parking or get a ticket.