Top 10 Reasons You’re Going To LOVE Lane Packing Southern Orchards

When you’re in the Peach State, you know there’s got to be some wonderful and locally grown peaches — and Lane Southern Orchards in middle Georgia is the perfect place to find them!  Started in 1908, the place locals refer to as Lane Packing, or just Lane’s, is so much more than a peach farm and packing plant these days.

First, they grow all sorts of produce here: pecans, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries just to name a few. And second, their market and tours are just awesome.  Lane’s has so much to offer, and is the absolute perfect place to stop with your family when you’re traveling through middle Georgia on I-75.

With an amazing restaurant, a roadside market that offers every locally grown product you can imagine, a playground that includes vintage tractors, fun tours, and more, Lane’s isn’t just a southern orchard — it’s the southern orchard!

I grew up coming to Lane’s every summer, and I’m so happy I was able to bring my kids here for a visit in June, because we had the best time!  I think the kids loved every, single thing we did at Lane’s that day.   Here are 10 reasons I know you will love a visit to Lane Southern Orchards, too!

Packing Line Tour

The summer is peach season, and the “can’t miss” thing to do at Lane’s is also a free thing to do at Lane’s!  It’s called the Packing Lane Tour and it is incredibly fascinating.  You’re able to use the raised walkways to view the inner workings of this peach packing plant.

You can see the trucks bringing the peaches in, you can watch them first get sorted by the machines, getting sorted by the employees, getting waxed, getting stickers, and then getting boxed.  And y’all?  It’s awesome!  I’m completely guilty of not putting too much thought into how my groceries make it to me, and this was just eye-opening and incredibly interesting.

Watching the peaches roll down and begin to get sorted was sort of…mesmerizing, and we accidentally spent so much time just watching that part!  Also? If you love the smell of peaches, you’re going to love the smell of this room.  Peaches, peaches everywhere!  And the employees were so, so nice.  It probably helped that we had two cute kids with us, but they were so quick with a wave and a smile for them.  To summarize: It was interesting, a teaching moment, fun, and smelled good. What more could you ask for?  (This tour is offered mid-May through August.)

The Corn Maze

As I mentioned earlier, we were there in June, but I’d love to head back this fall and check out their corn maze.  In 2016, their maze was the image of Otis Redding!  I mean, how cool is that?!  They also had a selfie scavenger hunt, and a trivia questions throughout the maze about Redding.  So fun!

To top it all off, they they also have a corn cannon, rubber duck racing, pumpkin picking, and hayrides in the fall.  I’d definitely consider combining a visit to the Georgia National Fair in Perry with a visit to the maze!  I mean, it would pretty much be a crime not to.

And don’t worry if you get lost in their 6 acres of corn — apparently you can call one of their “corn cops” to text you hints or help lead you out! I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year.  (Fee required, ranging from $3-$14.  Ages 3 and under free.)

Farm Tours

Lane’s Southern Orchards is a 6,000 acre farm — and you can see some of it on their Farm Tour.  The Farm Tour is a bus tour  that takes you through some of the peach orchards and pecan groves, so you can see them for yourself.  For a small fee, the Farm Tour takes place on a small, open-air bus where the guide shares the history of the middle Georgia peach and pecan industry and the farm itself, while you’re able to sit back and take it all in.

On the tour, you’re able to see the peach and pecan trees on the farm, you can watch some of the peaches being harvested, and you’re able to take a peek at the living quarters of the employees.  And the bus itself is a replica of the very first Blue Bird Company school bus from 1927!  (Fun fact: The Blue Bird Corporation is also located in Fort Valley.)

The Farm Tours are seasonal, taking place in June and July. (Ages 3-12 $4, Seniors $5, Adults $6)

Peachtree Cafe and Bakery

If I had to briefly summarize their cafe and bakery, I would just say: It’s amazing!  This is no small roadside little place. This is an incredible restaurant with some of the best food featuring locally grown produce you’ll find.  They’ve got it all: savory main courses, great southern cooking, and mouth-watering desserts.

Here you’ll find ample indoor seating, or you can find yourself a rocking chair on the front porch to enjoy a quick bite.  They offer all sorts of good eats, like meatloaf, pecan-crusted catfish, and southern fried chicken.  They have an array of awesome sandwiches too — BBQ, a southern slaw dog, burgers, and paninis.

They also have an awesome kids menu.  And dessert?  Just STOP.  There is nothing like a dessert from Lane’s Peachtree Cafe! They’ve got some of the best peach and blackberry cobblers in the south. They have pecan pies, fried fruit pies, fritters, pecan bars, breads, muffins — you name it, they’ve got it.

But the real treat here is their famous peach ice cream.  It’s a must.  It’s the thing you HAVE TO HAVE while you’re there.  Take my word for it, and go ahead and get it in the waffle cone.  Now find yourself a rocking chair on the porch and enjoy.  You’re welcome. (Menu HERE.)

The Market

The Lane’s Southern Orchards market is so much more than a gift shop.  This is a place where you can buy their peaches, pecans, all sorts of Georgia-made food products, and a cute shirt while you’re at it.  (Or in my case, a cute baseball cap that says, “Georgia Forever!”  Obviously.)

Walking into their market, I felt like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep — just putting all the things in my basket.  But it was all so good!  We got our peaches, Vidalia onions, some sweet peach wine, some jams, a couple of cute trinkets for the kids, the aforementioned hat, and even with all that — I wanted more.  They had some of the cutest southern shirts I’d ever seen, and such cute vintage toys.  So many choices!

The cool thing about their market is that although they do have all of their own products, they also offer other produce that’s grown at neighboring farms.  And, if you’re like me, and regret not getting more — they have online ordering with free shipping.  It’s like they know and love me.

Jams, Jellies, and Salsas

It had been a few years since I visited Lane’s when we went this summer, and I cannot tell you how blown away I was by all the amazing products they offer now!  I mean, they have everything. They have jams, jellies, syrups, cider, fruit butters, breads, pies, salsas, and so much more.

They have gourmet treats and candies, Georgia Sweet Peach wines, craft beers, and many jarred goods that are offered year round.  I just kept thinking that this is the place to pick up gifts!  While I was there, I sampled their peach salsa, and oh my goodness — it was awesome.  This is the kind of place where you pick up two of everything — one to gift a friend, and one to gift to yourself.

The Playground and Tractors

Lane’s also has an awesome playground for the kids, and a series of vintage tractors for the kids to climb on for a photo op.  And this is going to sound silly, but when I think of the playground here, I think, “they have an actual merry-go-round!”  They do!  You guys, my kids are 7 and 5 and had never seen one until we got here.  I mean, you should stop here just for that piece of history.  It was awesome.

Their playground is actually really great, and a wonderful place for the kids to blow off some steam.  And they have several vintage tractors on display in the same area, and the kids are definitely allowed to explore them at will. The tractors are set up with markers explaining their makes and models, and we loved telling the kids how old they were.

My kids really loved this area, and it was really neat to see them climbing and playing with the peach trees behind them and the strawberry fields beside them.  Such a truly fun experience.

Pecans

Not only do they grow peaches, but they’re also experts at growing pecans!  The pecans are harvested in the fall and winter, but are available at their market and online store year-round.  They offer them whole or shelled, roasted or salted, in halves or pieces, in pies, and dessert bars, candied, and crusted on their catfish.  This Georgia farm knows their pecans, and they are the best!

Strawberries, Blueberries, and Blackberries

This place is not just peaches and pecans — it’s strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries too!  They have a six-acre strawberry patch that is open from mid-April through May for picking.  And in June and July, guests can pick blueberries and blackberries. And, of course, they can pick the berries for you too.

When we were there, we also saw that they were growing kiwis.  My son thought racing down with the path with the kiwi vines on either side of him was awesome, so if you’d like to test that out yourself, my son highly recommends it.

Its Location 

Lane’s Southern Orchards has the perfect location if you’re looking for a stop along I-75 in the heart of Georgia.  It’s located 5 minutes west of I-75 off exit 142 in Fort Valley.  FIVE. MINUTES.  I-75 is such a busy interstate, but five minutes later you could be in a completely different world.  It’s a great stop between Atlanta and Florida, for a quick bite and leg stretch.  You can’t beat it!

If you find yourself in middle Georgia, I think Lane Southern Orchards is the best.  This is one of those places that really does have something for everyone in your family.  It’s been over a month since our visit, and my kids still bring it up. We loved our time at Lane’s, and cannot wait to visit again in the fall.

And I can personally attest to the fact that if you bring home a box of their peaches, you will go through the box in record time.

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Here are 10 reasons Lane Packing Southern Orchards is the perfect place to find those delicious and locally grown Georgia peaches!

Kate Gelsthorpe is a former TV news writer, and a born and raised Georgia girl who grew up camping with her family at state parks around central and south Georgia. After 18 years in Atlanta, her family recently moved to Athens, and in their spare time you can find them exploring their new hometown. She and her husband, Kevin, are the proud parents of an 8-year-old dinosaur expert, and a 6-year-old outdoor-loving fashionista. You can follow her family’s quest to go on 100 hikes in 2018 on Instagram @loveandkate.

 

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