If you thought you’d have to book tickets to Maine this summer to get busy in a fresh blueberry patch, you’re wrong!  There’s a beautiful patch of u-pick sweet blueberries, just an hour drive north of Los Angeles.  Pick and sample these sun-kissed antioxidant laden treats, then picnic, play and feed the farm animals. It’s time to hit the road for a blueberry picking adventure at Underwood Farms.

photo: Eliza Raxi via Flickr

Nope, Not that One
Not the Underwood Farms where you pick strawberries, visit the pumpkin patch and get your Christmas tree.  That’s in Moorpark.  Today you’re heading to the other location in Somis—the one that is smaller, less crowded and has no entrance fee (making it a much easier trip with little ones).  A straight shot up the 101 and you’re there.  Easy-peasy.

blueberry2photo: Meghan Rose

Pick a Peck
These sweet little blue gems are addictive!  Warm from the sun, bursts of sweetness, they’re perfect, and a nice change from the beloved strawberry. They’re also hard to resist—chances are your little ones will employ the time honored “one for the basket, eleven for me” approach to picking.  Luckily, there are plenty of pre-picked baskets at the farm stand for purchase, so no matter how un-helpful your little helpers are, you’ll go home with a full peck or so. Just don’t forget to bring hat, sunscreen and water, as it gets quite hot out in the fields.

feed alpacaphoto: Meghan Rose

Donkeys and Alpacas and Pygmies, Oh My!
Much as they’ll love picking, most kids favorite part of a trip to the Underwood Farms is always the farm animals, and in that respect, this location is no different than the big farm in Moorpark.  Donkeys, alpacas, rabbits, chickens and pygmy goats live on a farm surrounded by citrus trees and fresh grass.  Bring quarters to get food from the machines to feed the animals; kids are delighted by the ticklish sensation that accompanies these friendly animals licking or pecking the food right from your hand. And if the car wash ate your quarters, you can always get bags of carrot pieces at the Farm Stand to feed the bigger animals.

wooden-truckphoto: Meghan Rose

Post Picking Play & Picnicing
They also have a sandbox and wooden fire truck for climbing and play, and picnic tables to rest and refuel. Speaking of refueling, grab some fresh fruits and veggies at the Farm Stand—and snack on some of those berries you’ve just picked.  They’re pesticide free, so you can enjoy them right away.  And weekends you can take a tractor out around the berry fields.

photo: David D. via Yelp

Berries and More Berries
Depending on when you visit, you can overlap your blueberry picking with strawberry (March-August) raspberry (May-November) or blackberry (June-December) picking, too… just be mindful of kiddos with bare legs as raspberries and blackberries have prickles.  But oh, think of the possibilities for mixed berry cooking and eating.

The fields are open for picking from End of April-June from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.  Blueberries are $3.99/pound for what you pick.  No admission fees.

Underwood Family Farms
5696 Los Angeles Ave.
Somis
805-386-4660
Online: underwoodfamilyfarms.com/pick_your_own_blueberries.html

blueberry girlphoto: Shannon McGee via flickr

Berry Books
Get ready for your adventure by reading these favorite blueberry books.  They’re also perfect to bring along in the car to occupy kids on the drive:
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Blueberry Shoe by Ann Dixon
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
Blueberry Mouse by Alice Low

photo: Sophia L. via Yelp

Berry Worth the Drive
If this whets your berry picking appetite, here’s a road trip you’ll love. Take a trip to Temecula for a berry picking adventure on this 10 acre blueberry farm. And while you’re in town, hop aboard a hot air balloon (most companies require that your young adventurer be 48” for a balloon ride)!

What’s your favorite spot to pick berries?

—Meghan Rose