For most kids, munching on fruit snacks means grabbing a pack of gummies and plopping in front of the TV. To revamp your snack time, why not make it interactive (and keep the doctor away while you’re at it)? Take a spin through Hood River’s fruit loop, a 35-mile trek through local orchards and U-pick farms, and make a day of apple picking for the whole family. Below we’ve detailed some of the best stops on the loop for kids and a family-friendly day of picking everyone’s favorite Fujis, petting furry friends, and relaxing in the autumn sun.
Know before you go:
First things first, the fruit loop is huge and can take a full two days to explore all of the farms and stands, so if you’re just planning a day trip from Portland, print off the fruit loop map and plot your course. In addition, visit the websites of each orchard to ensure the cherries or apples you want are available now. The growing season can go from late August to early October for apples, so plan accordingly. Below is a small sampling of what you can do with a September day on the loop.
Kiyokawa Family Orchards
This Orchard is a bit off the beaten path but will be well worth it when your kids see the hay rides and kid’s activity area. It also serves as the perfect spot to kick off your fruit loop tour. Check out their website before your visit to see what crops are available and then send the kids scampering through the orchard to find their bounty. Don’t forget to look for the American kestrel boxes placed throughout the farm. By the end of the day, the kids will have totally had their fill of hay rides and apples plucked right from the tree.
8129 Clear Creek Rd.
Draper Girls Country Farm
With 35 different varieties of apples and rows upon rows of fruit trees, your kids are sure to find one apple variety that will tickle their taste buds. As soon as you set foot on the family-run farm, you’re directed to the farm store, handed a bucket and told where to find the trees bearing the apples of your choice. Just keep in mind, the buckets get heavy when filled with apples, so make sure little hands only pick as many as they can carry back. The buckets are weighed (20, 25 or 30 pounds worth) to figure out the cost. Check out basket sizes and prices here. Afterward, visit the farm’s goats, chickens, and pigs. Draper Girls has a beautiful picnic area among wildflowers and a picture-perfect tree swing. Pack a picnic lunch and relax in the shade of their towering trees for a mid-day siesta.
6200 Hwy 35
Mt. Hood Parkdale, Or
After hauling all of those buckets of apples, those sore little arms may yearn for the feel of something soft and Cascade Alpacas doesn’t disappoint. The farm often has little alpaca babies running around and the owners welcome little hands to pet until their heart’s content. Once the yearning for a creature encounter subsides, visit their store, Foothills Yarn and Fiber, for awesome gift ideas from socks to blankets made from the farm’s own alpaca yarn.
4207 Sylvester Dr.
Hood River, Or
The Gorge Whitehouse
What would a day in the country be without a little pick-me-up at the end, compliments of The Gorge Whitehouse in Hood River? Relax with a glass of wine or microbrew among the lush gardens and front patios that surround this home, listed on the national registry of historic places. The kids can run around, shaded by the enormous trees surrounding the house and with the backdrop of Mount Hood and Mount Adams behind them. A must before you leave is picking out a fresh bouquet from the U-pick flower garden to take the memories of your day at the fruit loop home with you.
2265 Hwy 35
Hood River, Or
What are your fave spots on the fruit loop?
– Laurie Halter
Photo courtesy of Draper Girls Country Farm Facebook page, and gitsul, woodleywonderworks, and Ernst Vikne via Creative Commons