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6 U-Pick Apple Orchards to Visit This Fall

Kids in the Bay Area have the best of both worlds: not only do they get to take advantage of everything that the city has to offer, but they’re only a short car ride away from the country, where even the most urban kids can explore the rustic life for a day. Is there a better way to eat locally and enjoy the outdoors than apple picking? Not to mention this family-friendly Fall activity will only cost you about $2 per pound.

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Gabriel Farm
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. The farm has a store with juice and jams for sale as well. For 2013, Gabriel Farm is asking all u-pick visitors to become members of their CSA by purchasing a case of their juice for $35. U-pick prices cost an additional $2 per pound of fruit.

Gabriel Farm
3175 Sullivan Rd.
Sebastopol, Ca
707-829-0617
Online: gabrielfarm.com

Chileno Valley Ranch
Petaluma’s scenic Chileno Valley Ranch also offers certified organic varieties of everyone’s favorite autumn fruit, such as Orin, Pinova, Molly’s Delicious, Jonafree and William’s Pride, until the end of October. Check out the organic pastures and restored creek, where they have done habitat restoration for the local birds and fish. During the tours, families can get up close and personal with the critters, feeding calves, petting pigs, and collecting eggs. Round out your visit by taking home some of the farm’s natural grass-fed beef for a regular fall feast.

Chileno Valley Ranch
5105 Chileno Valley Road
Petaluma, CA 94952
707-765-6664
Online: chilenobnb.com

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Swanton Pacific Ranch
Owned and operated by California Polythecnic State University, Swanton Pacific Ranch produces over five tons of apples every year. The two-acre orchard hosts 12 different apple varieties, all with individual ripening periods, meaning that the picking season lasts well into late fall. Nestled in the foothills along the central coast and outlying Monterey Bay, this orchard is the perfect distance away for a family day trip!

Swanton Pacific Ranch
125 Swanton Road
Davenport, Ca
831-458-5410
Online: spranch.org

Gizdich Ranch
The u-pick apple season starts September 8th and lasts 4 weeks. While not all apple varieties are available for picking, they do have many of them for sale in the barn. Visit their website to see what varieties are in season. Stay for a self-guided tour of the apple orchard and berry farms.

Insider Tip: If you’re visiting on Saturdays (September-May only), you can watch the apples get pressed for juice!

Gizdich Ranch
55 Peckham Road,
Watsonville, Ca
831-722-1056
Online: gizdich-ranch.com

apple picking

Clearview Orchards
Also located in the beautiful Santa Cruz Basin, Clearview Orchards offers a huge variety of apples, specializing in Gala and Fuji, during their mid September – early November season. Bring a picnic, pick some apples, and enjoy their beautiful terraced grounds with a view of the Watsonville valley. They also sell delicious local honey, and kiddos can even pick out their own pumpkins, just in time for fall.

Clearview Orchards
646 Trabing Road
Watsonville, Ca
408-472-1958
Online: clearvieworchards.com

Twin Hill Ranch
Twin Hill Ranch is apple-crazy. The u-pick season starts in August and lasts through the fall until the apples are all gone. You’re only going to pay $1 per pound here, so grab as many apples as your little ones can carry. They have a nice picnic area for relaxing or running around after your kids have picked their lot. Before you leave, visit the store to pick up some apple goodies like apple bread, pie, cookies, fresh apple juice, sauces, honey, and more. Everything is priced very reasonably, so feel free to fill your basket.

Twin Hill Ranch
1689 Pleasant Hill Road
Sebastopol, Ca
707-823-2815
Online: twinhillranch.com

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.

One of the Apple Hill Farms that is worth visiting is Pine O’Mine, which offers no-frills non-organic u-pick apples. You’ll be able to wander through the beautiful apple orchards of Pine O’Mine picking your own Fuji, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith varieties from mid-September through November.

For more farms in the Apple Hill Growers Association, check out their site or call their number at: 530-644-7692.

Now that fall is here, where does your family go to pick the fruits of the season? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

– Sarah K. Choi & Claire Schillings

photo credit: McKay SavageBrian Birke, & Tim & Selena Middleton via flickr

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