There are many great reasons to live in St. Louis or its suburbs. The metro area has world-class attractions, fine restaurants and beautiful parks, but urban living means few of us have big yards and even fewer of us take the time to grow our own fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, the fine people at Eckert’s Orchards do the growing for us. So grab your kids and head out to Eckert’s where it’s always picking season.
What To Know About Eckert’s:
Eckert’s is the largest pick-your-own orchard operation in the United States. The business started as a roadside stand in 1910 and just kept growing. Today, Eckert’s has smaller farms in Millstadt and Grafton, and the original farm in Belleville, Illinois.
What and When to Pick:
Eckert’s is the kind of place you’ll want to take your family several times a year. That’s because each season has its own delicious fruits to pick. Late spring is the time for strawberries, summer means sweet blackberries and peaches, and in the fall you can fill your basket with apples and pumpkins. The price per pound is often less than what you find for produce at local grocery stores, so go ahead and stock up. You can also visit in December to pick out your family Christmas tree.
More Than Just Picking:
You’ll work up an appetite in the orchards, but you don’t have to go far for a hearty meal. At the original farm in Belleville, the Country Restaurant is famous for its fried chicken. You can also satisfy your child’s sweet tooth at the Custard Stand or buy a pie to take home from the Country Store. And, don't forget the Garden Center where you can buy plants or get expert advice on growing.
How to Get There:
It’s easy to get to Eckert’s from St. Louis. It’s about 25 minutes from downtown to the Belleville farm, located at 951 Green Mount Road. Cross the Poplar Street Bridge and follow the signs for I-64 East. Exit on 255 South and drive about 4 miles to exit 17A for Illinois Highway 15 East. Continue on 15 for approximately 11 miles and Eckert’s will be on the left.
Hours of Operation:
Country Store: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily
Country Restaurant: 7 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. daily
Custard Shop: 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. daily
Garden Center: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily