Now is the perfect time to plan a trip to a local orchard to pick this season’s crop of apples. From Sonoma to Apple Hill, we uncover the best spots to pick your own.Less
If eating organic is important to your family, head to EARTHseed Farm located in Sebastopol, a town practically synonymous with the fruit. In addition to picking your own apples, you can schedule a tour of the certified organic orchard. Varieties include McIntosh, Gravenstein, Gala, Braeburn, Gilbert Golden Delicious, Fuji, and Rome.
With a name like that, you know Ratzlaff Ranch is focused on apples! U-pick Rome Beauties and Golden Delicious are here for the picking. They are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except Thursdays and Saturdays when they are closed) and there is no parking fee. No reservations are needed and you can stay as long as you want.
Chileno Valley Ranch starts its U-pick season on Sept. 3, available Sun. only from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. Time slots are available every hour and admission is $10 per family if pre-booked online. Check the website and Facebook as spots fill up quickly. Apples are $2 per pound and you can expect to find varieties such as Orin, Pinova, Candy Crisp, and Jonagold. Beyond apple picking, you can also shop for free-range eggs, honey, and baked goods.
The U-pick apple season at Gizdich starts mid-Sept. (check their website for exact dates) and lasts about a month. Their pie and deli shop offers a boxed picnic meal, so stop by for lunch and then take one of their out-of-this-world pies, apple dumplings, or puff pastries home (is your mouth watering yet?). On hot days, the kids can enjoy a homemade apple slush. They are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during picking season. Bring your own containers.
This spot in Watsonville grows a small variety of apples including Gala and Fuji. Their U-pick apples (as well as strawberries and tomatoes) are available on the weekends only, with schedules posted on their website. The picking is a bargain at $1.50 per pound. Bring buckets, boxes, or other containers to harvest into, or purchase containers from them for a small fee.
Located in the beautiful Santa Cruz Basin, Clearview Orchards offers a huge variety of certified organic apples, specializing in Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, and Mitsu. Pick some apples and enjoy their beautiful terraced grounds with a view of the Watsonville Valley. They also sell delicious local honey, and fresh-pressed apple cider, and the kiddos can even pick out their own pumpkins, just in time for fall.
The Hale family farm has been around for about 120 years and Dave Hale is involved in the growing and harvesting of over 40 varieties of heirloom apples, continuing the time-honored tradition of apple farming within both his family and the Bay Area. The roadside stand is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but you should contact the farm in advance to make arrangements for U-Pick.
The USDA-certified organic farm in the East Bay has a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. U-pick is open Friday-Sunday from 12-5 p.m., and no reservations are needed, making this a great impromptu weekend trip. Parking is free, and there is no entrance fee. While you’re there, you can book a private tour or guided horse activity that the kids will definitely love.
For a bit of a longer trek, you’ll get no better apple selection than in the Apple Hill Region, about fifty miles east of Sacramento. Visit this peaceful historic farm (150+ years, 7 generations), the farthest east Apple Hill ranch away from the congestion and traffic. Seasonally they have u-pick berries, flowers, apples & pumpkins.