While the transition from summer to fall may feel different this year, one thing still remains – Apples are back in season! With October being the peak apple-picking month, now is the perfect time to plan a trip to one the many local apple orchards. Whether you’re looking for the perfect bushel for homemade applesauce or fillings for your Thanksgiving pies, apple picking is a fantastic kid friendly activity for all. Make sure you check the website or call ahead to find out about availability and COVID-19 precautions before you head to these u-pick apple orchards in the Bay Area!
#1: Gabriel Farm – Sonoma County
If eating organic is important to your family, head to Gabriel Farm (located in Sebastopol, a town practically synonymous with the fruit) where you’ll get a tour of the certified organic orchard in addition to the opportunity to pick your own apples through mid-November. Varieties include McIntosh, Gravenstein, Gala, Braeburn, Gilbert Golden Delicious, Fuji and Rome.
To participate in u-pick at Gabriel Farm, sign up to become members of their CSA online. This $40 cost will get you a case of their Asian Pears and the opportunity to pick apple. Once you’ve paid for your CSA membership online, you’ll receive instructions on how to email to secure your u-pick spot. U-pick price is an additional $2.50 per pound of fruit. The farm has a store with juice and jams for sale as well.
3175 Sullivan Rd.
COVID-19 Update: No drop-in u-pick is available. You must purchase your CSA membership and email for a u-pick time in advance. No large groups are allowed.
#2: Apple-a-Day Ratzlaff Ranch – Sonoma County
With a name like that, you know Ratzlaff Ranch is focused on apples! U-pick Gravensteins, Rome and Golden Delicious are a bargain at $2/pound or $50 for 40 pounds (now that’s a LOT of pies!). They are open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (except Thursdays and Saturdays when they are closed). Check their website for the opening date.
13128 Occidental Rd.
COVID-19 Update: Open for u-pick starting Sep. 21. Book your reservation here.
#3: Chileno Valley Ranch – Sonoma County
Apple season is going to look a bit different this year at Chileno Valley Ranch. Instead of u-pick, they are offering a pre-paid, drive-up option beginning August 23. Purchase your fruit and farm items in advance and schedule a date to pick them up. Head over to their Facebook page for more info. Varieties include Arkansas Black, Candy Crisp, Enterprise, GoldRush, Honey Crisp, Jonafree and more. You can also purchase pears, ground beef, honey and olive oil.
5105 Chileno Valley Rd.
#4: Gizdich Ranch – Watsonville
The u-pick apple season at Gizdich starts Sept. 12 and lasts about a month. While not all apple varieties are available for picking (you can expect Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Pippins and Galas), they do have many varieties for sale in the barn. Visit their website to see what varieties are in season.
Make sure you make time to head to the bake shop after picking to grab one of their out-of-this-world pies to take home. If you visit on a hot day, cool down the kids with an apple popsicle or apple slush. They are open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily during picking season. Bring your own containers.
55 Peckham Rd.
COVID-19 Update: Opens 9/12 for apple picking
#5: Live Earth Farm – Watsonville
This spot in Watsonville grows a small variety of apples including Gravensteins, Pink Pearls and Macintosh. The u-pick start date is still TBD as it depends on when the crop ripens. Stay up to date on their u-pick schedule via their Facebook page. Expect them in late September or early October. The picking is a bargain at $1.50/pound.
1275 Green Valley Road
#6: Clearview Orchards – Watsonville
Located in the beautiful Santa Cruz Basin, Clearview Orchards offers a huge variety of certified organic apples, specializing in Gala and 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. Kiddos can even pick out their own pumpkins, just in time for fall. Open Saturday and Sundays only, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
646 Trabing Rd.
COVID-19 Update: Open Sept. 5-Nov. 1
#7: Apple Hill Region – Sacramento
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. With over 55 ranches offering different apple varieties and activities, you are bound to find the perfect experience for the kids. The Apple Hill Growers Association lists orchard details including U-pick hours, picnic areas, local attractions, and more. The u-pick ranches tend to be very small and very popular, so it is a good idea to call the ranches themselves to make sure they have the apple variety you want and that the fruit is available.
For more farms in the Apple Hill Growers Association, check out their site or call their number at: 530-644-7692.
Information in this post was primarily from a fantastic article written by RedTri, check it out below!