Portland can be an awesome town, filled with fun things to do, places to go and numerous ways to get there, but sometimes all of the noise and excitement can be a bit overkill. When you’re ready to slow down and enjoy a bit of country air, head straight to Draper Girls Country Farm in the Hood River Fruit Loop. After a week of city noise, Draper Girls provides the perfect cherry on top to a nice, peaceful day in the country.

What to see:
In a word: Orchards. Rows and rows and rows of them. There are cherry trees ripe with what seems like dozens of varieties of cherries, complete with stepladders to help with the picking and acres of apple trees of every size, color and variety growing on site. And in the middle of all of this bounty, a country farm store chock full of just-harvested fruits and veggies and Draper Farm’s specialty – unpasteurized apple cider.

It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed as you step out of the car and take in the sites of this family farm. So let’s make it easy. First things first, you just MUST pick are the cherries. What’s the fun of coming all the way out to Draper Girls without grabbing a bucket from the store and letting little hands pick (or more often than not, pick off the ground) all the cherries their little arms can haul?

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Once you’ve had your fill of picking and have weighed and paid at the country store, grab some of the cider and settle into Draper Girl’s beautiful flower gardens for a picnic. There’s an awesome tree swing right in the middle of the meadow of flowers, with sweeping views of Mount Hood behind.

Once everyone is stuffed with cherries and cider, head toward the front of the farm to snort at the pigs and pet the sheep. At different times of the summer and fall kids can also spot the farm’s horses and other animals.

Where it’s at: Draper Girls Country Farm is located about an hour from Portland in the Hood River Fruit Loop, off of Highway 35. Take I-84 to connect with Highway 35.

When to go: U-pick cherry season began July 21, 2012 and at the time of publication, cherries are still available for picking. Note: Now that cherry season is coming to a close, apple season will soon be in full swing. So be sure to get a head start on all the fall offerings!

Farm is open from Saturday to Sunday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm during U-pick season.

Price: The price of a container full of fruit depends on the amount and type of fruit picked. Most buckets hold 25-35 pounds of apples. See examples of bucket sizes here.

Where to Grab a Bite: By far the best spot for lunch in town is the Draper Girls flower-filled meadow. Take a picnic lunch, add some cherries, cider and fresh veggies to the mix and enjoy the sounds and sights of the farm.

Dress: Dress appropriately for the weather. The only cover at Draper Girls is under the roof of the farm stand, so make sure to bring sunscreen, hats, plenty of water and clothes that can get dirty.

Online: drapergirlscountryfarm.com/

Insider tip: Ready to do more than spend an afternoon at the farm? You can now book the country cottage that sits on Draper Girls Country Farm for overnight visits! For more information, click here.

In addition, kids may be able to feed the farm animals. Ask at the farm for more information.

Have you picked your own fruits and veggies this summer? If so, where?

— Laurie Halter

photos courtesy of the Draper Girls Country Farm Facebook page