My sister looked like she was about to vomit.
“I can’t do it. I’m done.” She lamented, furrowing her brow and clutching her stomach.
No. NO. We’re doing this.
“We can’t give up,” I tried to encourage, while neglecting her discomfort.
Her eyes dropped, surrendering her gaze to the round O of fried batter coated with sweet cinnamon and sugar.
“I’m gonna barf.”
To anyone else, consuming a cinnamon-sugar donut and Michigan apple cider at the height of autumn is a delightful experience. But for my sister, who was now on, well, probably donut #6, that sweet donut indulgence turned sickly. Too. Much. Sugar.
You see, this wasn’t a challenge to eat as many donuts as gluttony would allow. No, we were on a mission to visit as many southeast Michigan cider mills in a day. We HAD to find the best cider mill in metro Detroit. We needed to determine who ranked as our favorite cider mill. We wanted to map out a Michigan Donut Trail or Michigan Fall Cider Crawl and discover the little nuances in atmosphere and flavor that make each cider mill unique.
And, to add to the torture, we filmed it.
While there are plenty of cider mills in Metro Detroit, we chose a particular area with an increased concentration of donuts and cider, which we lovingly and creatively coined the “Apple Corridor” (get it? Apple “Core”-idor?).
Ranking among the top apple producers in the country, it’s no surprise that an abundance of cider mills operate in Michigan.
During the fall, families, lovers, and friends flock to these cider mills. And why wouldn’t they? It’s the most quintessential autumn activity. Yet every cider mill is different and ever donut and cider tastes different.
So I wanted to challenge myself.
Visit as many cider mills as possible in a single day.
Determine which cider and which donut is my favorite. Everyone needs to have their go-to cider mill, right?
So I invited my sister to join me on a mini adventure to visit as many southeast Michigan cider mills in a day. We called it the Sisters Fall Cider Crawl (or the Michigan Fall Cider Crawl).
Advice for Visiting Multiple Cider Mills
The spend range at each cider mill will be $2-5. Most cider mills require a minimum $10 spend for credit cards. Bring small denomination bills.
Eat and drink in moderation.
Remember, the goal for the cider crawl is to visit as many Michigan cider mills in a day. If you have a whole donut and cup of cider at every single cider mill, you’ll never make it – you’ll get a sugar hangover by the time you get to your fourth stop. If you’re going with a companion, split the cider and donut.
Snack between cider mills.
A sugared palette craves a salty intermission. Ever been to a beer festival and see people wearing pretzel necklaces? Same applies for the cider crawl. Trust me, your taste buds will want a break from all the cider and donuts. Bring something like popcorn or pretzels.
Map of Michigan Cider Mills
I created the map below to help you with your own Michigan fall cider crawl. Zooming into southeast Michigan, you’ll see the cider mills we visited in a different color. If any orchards/cider mills were missed, please send me a message or add it to the comments below and the map will be updated.
The Fall Cider Crawl: A Route of Southeast Michigan Cider Mills
For the sake of good puns, we’ll call it the Apple Corridor. You get it, right? Apple Core-idor?
There’s a stretch of cider mills that straddle the borders of Oakland County and Macomb Country (zoom in on the map above to get a better view). This concentration of orchards and cider mills create an efficient trail to easily visit over 10 cider mills in a day. And if you’re extra ambitious, depending on where your journey begins, more can be added.
For the sake of this post, we’re starting south and working our way up.
- Total drive time between cider mills: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Total miles driven between cider mills: 44 miles
Middleton Cider Mill
Shelby Township, est. 1956
A family-owned cider mill that makes its own products. Middleton Cider Mill is a smaller, less busy alternative to the popular Yates up the road. A duck pond keeps children entertained. Middleton’s cider is light and refreshing.
Yates Cider Mill
Rochester Hills, est. 1863
One of the most popular cider mills in Michigan, Yates Cider Mill has been a community staple since the 1800s, following the same cider recipe that families have enjoyed for over a century. Walk along the Yates Trail adjacent to the Clinton River. Yates’ cider is a flavorful burst of apples. The donuts are puffy and soft, like dumplings.
Rochester Cider Mill
Rochester, est. 1981
The most photogenic cider mill, Rochester Cider Mill is seasonally decorated with pumpkins, mums, cornstalks, and golden leaves to complement its antique farm equipment. While its charm stays the same, the cider does not. The flavor varies week to week depending on the apple inventory.
Paint Creek Cider Mill
Rochester, est. 2012
Paint Creek Cider Mill is nestled along the Paint Creek Trail and Paint Creek. The cider’s apple flavor is strong. The donuts are crispy, with cinnamon mixed in the batter.
Goodison Cider Mill
Rochester, est. 1970s
A small cider mill with big flavor! only a quarter away from Paint Creek, Goodison Cider Mill creates an incredible product using a century old apple press. The cider is rich and smooth. The donut tastes like an elephant ear, with cinnamon and sugar that coats the dough to create a crunchy layer. Delicious.
Verellen Orchards & Cider
Washington, est. 1970s
Originally a 1920s dairy farm, Verellen Orchards added cider and donuts in the 70s. Sit among their fruit trees as you enjoy their cider and donut. Their donut has a hint of orange blossom flavor. The cider is sweet, definitely the sweetest of the ciders listed here!
Westview Orchards Winery
Washington, est. 1813
A fall family fun-zone. There’s so much to do and see at Westview Orchards (especially for kids!). You can taste the six-generations of family in their cider and donuts. The best way I can describe their cider is thick and opaque. It’s good!
Miller’s Big Red
Known for their u-pick fruits! Unfortunately I skipped this place on my cider crawl (needed a sugar break, see advice above) so I can’t comment on their cider and donuts. Let me know what your experience with Big Red was like in the comments.
Stony Creek Orchard & Cider
Just up the road from Big Red, Stony Creek Orchard is the contrast to the crowded, overwhelming super mills. Stony Creek is small and intimate, with more of a family farm ambiance. PSL lovers, sometimes this orchard will make pumpkin spice donuts!
Hy’s Cider Mill
Romeo, est. 1970s
Dirt roads lead to good things. Like Hy’s Cider Mill. Hy’s has that classic cider mill vibe, with a massive stretch of apple trees and empty fields and trees as far as the eye can see. Their donuts are very soft and puffy and their cider has a hint of tartness.
Armada, est. 1946
One of my family favorites. Nobody can go wrong with a visit to Blake’s Orchard. Beyond their amazing cider and donuts, they have u-pick, family activities, and my favorite, HARD cider.
My Michigan Fall Cider Crawl
As I mentioned earlier, I challenged my sister to visit as many Michigan cider mills as possible in a day. We recorded the entire adventure, so you can watch our live reactions to the different cider mills. Hope you’re entertained! Watch out, Travel Channel. The Carnagie Sisters are the next big thing in video production!
And the Best Southeast Michigan Cider Mills?
And the award goes to…
Fluffiest, puffiest donuts: Yates Cider Mill & Hy’s Cider Mill
Crispiest donuts: Paint Creek Cider Mill & Goodison Cider Mill
Most cinnamon-y donut: Paint Creek Cider Mill
Tastiest cider + donut combo: Goodison Cider Mill
Sweetest cider: Verellen Orchards
Tartest cider: Hy’s Cider Mill
Best family-fun cider mill: Westview Orchards, Blake’s Orchards
Most instagrammable cider mill: Rochester Cider Mill