Battle of the Orchards: Spicer’s Vs. Parshallville

Skylar Dye and Ricky Gottschalk

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Whether you’re in the mood for Michigan grown apples or fresh and delicious cider and doughnuts, then Spicer’s Orchard or Parshallville Cider Mill are both good choices. You can find the two cider mills in Fenton, Michigan, both about 20 minutes away from Howell. While they’re both considered pretty popular, they’re very much different in the sense of what they have to offer.

The first orchard we went to was Spicer Orchards. From a first glance, the place was spacious, but very crowded. So crowded, that finding a parking spot was an issue. When we crossed the street to dive into what Spicer’s had to offer, we noticed they had a winery, a gift shop, and a huge playground for kids to play at. For obvious reasons, we skipped the winery and went straight to the gift shop.

Overwhelmed by the smell of doughnuts, and a huge wave of people, we scuffed our way through the door and took in everything that was shoved onto the walls and shelves. Not knowing where to start, we took account of all the candy, honey, and dozens of different kinds of apples; gala, honeycrisp, red delicious, granny smith, and more. That wasn’t even close to all that they had. They had pies, popcorn, pumpkins, and our favorite part, cider and doughnuts. After picking up a half gallon of cider and a dozen cinnamon doughnuts, we made our way to the cash register. Before we could do that though, we were distracted by the ice cream and made-from-scratch fudge. The gift shop had lots of things you could purchase, but was very cramped, so we gave the gift shop a 6/10.

We paid for the cider and doughnuts and sat down at a picnic table. While enjoying our sweet snack, we saw many kids with their parents picking out pumpkins and couples snapping pictures in front of the Spicer’s Orchard logo and the scenic view. We gave the cider and doughnuts a 10/10 because they were fresh and full of flavor.

Before we left, we made our way over to the playground. The hayride drove by, on it’s way to the apple orchard where you can pick apples, raspberries, blackberries, and pumpkins. We admired all the kids playing and walked over to the petting zoo. We noticed donkeys and goats begging for food as kids shouted with excitement and pointed at all the animals. The activities of the orchard were fun, but catered more to children, so we rated it a 7/10.

On our way back to the car, we read the signs that were posted on the gift shop. We were amazed that what we saw at the orchard wasn’t all they had to offer. Spicer’s also had a corn maze, farmer’s market, a zipline in the fall, and lots more.

We got in the car to get ready for our next Orchard adventure. Spicer’s had tons of stuff to do and we had a great time. We both agreed that we definitely would be going back fairly soon to get more of those addicting cider and doughnuts and to check out their fall and winter activities that would be coming up pretty soon. Overall, Spicer’s got a grand rating of 8/10.

After Spicers, we visited the Historic Parshallville Cider Mill. Although it was only about a two minute drive from our last stop, it seemed like a completely different area. The cider mill itself was set on the shore of a small creek, which had a dam at the start to separate it from a pond. The mill was a big brown building stacked four stories high.

When walking in, we were utterly disappointed. We realized that Parshallville was more of a side the road gift shop, rather than the traditional cider mill we have come to know and love today. When trying to read the information sign about Parshallville, we were swarmed by bees and unable to continue. We then ran back into the shop to get more cider and donuts.

The donuts were average, nothing comparable to Spicers. While cider is basically the same everywhere you go, Parshallville’s wasn’t anything special. The donuts and cider were rated 7/10 because they weren’t anything special. As soon as we walked into the gift shop, we were disappointed because all there was to choose from was a lousy selection of things like mugs and T-shirts, so it was rated 4/10.

When heading down a trail on the banks of the creek, we saw the construction of the new parking lot, which somewhat ruined the view. There was also a trail that you could walk down that ultimately lead to nowhere in particular. Because the scenery was so drab besides the small creek it offered, we rated it 5/10.

Overall, Parshallville wasn’t all that great; it got a grand rating of 5/10. If you’re just driving by and are in the mood to stop for some cider and doughnuts, then Parshallville is the perfect spot. But if you’re looking for something fun to do, then Spicer’s is your best bet with all the activities it has.

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