What’s that sweet smell in the air? It’s the berry varieties ripe for the picking. Follow your nose to the below u-pick farms where you can put your kids to work (after all, they are much closer to the ground than you are). Right now, strawberry season is in full swing with other varieties like blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries and that oh-so-sweet olallieberry (it’s a cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry) coming in June and July. Whatever you fancy, you can find it within driving distance of home so get out and try this favorite spring activity while the vines are full and the berries are plump.

Gizdich Ranch
Drive south to Watsonville where the berries are a-plenty! Gizdich Ranch has ample parking right by the berries – perfect for the littles who don’t want to walk too far to the fun. Strawberry season is open now. Check the website for the opening days for olallieberries, raspberries and blackberries.  Arrive early in the morning for the biggest selection and bring your own containers for picking. Before you head home, check out the bake shop where they offer a dozen pie options (go a la mode, of course), berry popsicles and even sandwiches for those looking to lunch at the indoor or outdoor picnic tables. Don’t forget to come back in the fall for apple picking!

Hours: daily, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

55 Peckham Rd.
Watsonville, Ca
831-722-1056
Online: gizdich-ranch.com

Crystal Bay Farm
This organic farm is located just around the corner from scenic Sunset State Beach. Head to Crystal Bay Farm for sweet strawberries in the spring. Raspberries, tayberries, olallieberries and blackberries make their appearance in late summer. You can also head out to the flower fields to pick your own flowers (cost $0.50-$1.50/stem). There is a $2/person entrance fee, kids under 3 are free.

Hours: Wednesdays and weekends, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

40 Zils Road
Watsonville, Ca
831-724-4137
Online: crystalbayfarm.com

Photo: Live Earth Farm

Bacchini’s Fruit Tree
Head 60 miles east from San Francisco to Brentwood where you can find Bacchini’s Fruit Tree, a fruit stand and u-pick farm that has been open since 1945. Blackberry and olallieberry picking is expected to start in late May, or try your hand at picking delicious apriums (a cross between an apricot and a plum). Parking can be tricky so arrive as close to the 8 a.m. u-pick opening as possible.

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., some Sundays when available

25175 Marsh Creek Road
Brentwood, Ca
925-634-3645
Online: brentwoodfruit.com 

The Berry Best
Berry Best Family Farm offers U-pick and picked strawberries, olallieberries, boysenberries and four different varieties of berry delicious blackberries. They also have an on-site farmstand with locally produced veggies for sale.

Hours: daily 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

7450 Balfour Rd.
Brentwood, Ca
Online: harvest4you.com/farm/berry-best-farm

Pease Ranch brentwood

Photo: Malissa D. via yelp

Pease Ranch
Also in Brentwood is Pease Ranch where you can find u-pick berries and cherries. Pease Ranch is exclusively u-pick (no farm stand) and offers blackberries, loganberries, boysenberries and olallieberries. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the shaded picnic area. You may even see some chickens or a tortoise roaming the grounds. Bring cash as they don’t accept credit cards.

Hours: Thurs., Fri. and Sat. 8 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sun. 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

25175 Marsh Creek Rd.
Brentwood, Ca
925-634-4646
Online: peaseranch.com

Wolfe Ranch
This family-run farm produces cherries, apricots and peaches available for picking throughout the summer. The farm takes up four locations in Brentwood, so check their website for currently availability and directions to the location where picking is available. Grab some farm-fresh honey while you are there!

Hours: varies depending on availability, see website

4 locations in Brentwood, Ca
Online: peterwolfe.com

Gizdich ranch watsonville ca

Coastways Ranch
Coastways Ranch can be found on scenic Highway 1 in Pescadero. They offer u-pick strawberries at a beautiful coastal location (which can get windy so make sure you bring a jacket). If you are driving south from Half Moon Bay, the entrance is on the left just past Ano Nuevo State Park. If the weather behaves, you can pick kiwis here in the winter.

Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

640 Highway 1
Pescadero, Ca
Online: swantonberryfarm.com

Swanton Berry Farm
Keep heading south from Coastways Ranch and you will hit Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport. Swanton Berry Farm is open every day for u-pick and also has a great farm stand where you can buy pies, chocolate covered strawberries and other treats. Plus, free jam samples! Strawberries are available now and later on in the summer you can also pick olallieberries, blackberries and tayberries. Payment is by cash or check only.

Hours: daily, 8 a.m.–7 p.m.

25 Swanton Rd.
Davenport, Ca
Online: swantonberryfarm.com

Gizdich Ranch Watsonville

Webb Ranch
Located in Portola Valley, Webb Ranch will be open for u-pick berries on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting in May 30. There is a $4 per person entrance fee (unless you are 4 and under or 65+ in which case you get in free), and fruit is $5 a lb. to take home (but they do encourage you to eat all you can in the field) . Blackberries and raspberries are available at the moment, but call ahead to see what the picking is like. Little ones will enjoy a picnic on the lawn or a jump in the (free!) bouncy house, and all berries are CCOF organic!

Hours: Tues., Thurs. and Sat., 8 a.m.–1 p.m. (as available)

2720 Alpine Rd.
Portola Valley, Ca
650-854-5417
Online: webbranchinc.com

Live Earth Farm
This Watsonville farm offers u-pick opportunities when its fields have an abundance of product (they mostly grow to supply their CSA and farmer’s market customers). May brings strawberry picking and in June – blackberries. Check their website before you go as dates can move or be cancelled depending on availability.

Hours: check website

1275 Green Valley Road
Watsonville, Ca
Online: liveearthfarm.net

Do you have a favorite berry picking location?  Let us know in the comments below!

—Kate Loweth

All photos by the author unless otherwise noted