With fall on the horizon, now is the perfect time to plan your trip to a local orchard to pick this season’s crop of apples. Apple picking is great for kids as the fruit is within kid reach and there are no thorns to deal with. Bring home a bushel and make yourself a pie and everyone’s favorite homemade applesauce (snag yourself this handy peeler, you’ll thank us later). Make sure you check the website or call ahead to find out about availability and COVID-19 precautions before you head to these u-pick apple orchards in the Bay Area!

Sonoma County

 

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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. Varieties include McIntosh, Gravenstein, Gala, Braeburn, Gilbert Golden Delicious, Fuji and Rome.

To participate in u-pick at Gabriel Farm, sign up to become members of their CSA online. This $40 cost will get you a case of their Asian Pears and the opportunity to pick apple. Once you've paid for your CSA membership online, you'll receive instructions on how to email to secure your u-pick spot. U-pick price is an additional $2.50 per pound of fruit. The farm has a store with juice and jams for sale as well.

3175 Sullivan Rd.
Sebastopol, CA
707-829-0617
Onlinegabrielfarm.com

COVID-19 Update: No drop-in u-pick is available. You must purchase your CSA membership and email for a u-pick time in advance. No large groups are allowed. 

 

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Apple-a-Day Ratzlaff Ranch

With a name like that, you know Ratzlaff Ranch is focused on apples! U-pick Gravensteins, Rome and Golden Delicious are a bargain at $2/pound or $50 for 40 pounds (now that's a LOT of pies!). They are open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (except Thursdays and Saturdays when they are closed). Check their website for the opening date.

13128 Occidental Rd.
Sebastopol, CA
707-823-0538
Online: appleadayranch.com

COVID-19 Update: Open for u-pick starting Sep. 21. Book your reservation here

 

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Chileno Valley Ranch

Apple season is going to look a bit different this year at Chileno Valley Ranch. Instead of u-pick, they are offering a pre-paid, drive-up option beginning August 23. Purchase your fruit and farm items in advance and schedule a date to pick them up. Head over to their Facebook page for more info. Varieties include Arkansas Black, Candy Crisp, Enterprise, GoldRush, Honey Crisp, Jonafree and more. You can also purchase pears, ground beef, honey and olive oil. 

5105 Chileno Valley Rd.
Petaluma, CA
Online: redtri.com

Watsonville

photo: Kate Loweth

Gizdich Ranch

The u-pick apple season at Gizdich starts Sept. 12 and lasts about a month. While not all apple varieties are available for picking (you can expect Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Pippins and Galas), they do have many varieties for sale in the barn. Visit their website to see what varieties are in season.

Make sure you make time to head to the bake shop after picking to grab one of their out-of-this-world pies to take home. If you visit on a hot day, cool down the kids with an apple popsicle or apple slush. They are open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily during picking season. Bring your own containers.

55 Peckham Rd.
Watsonville, CA
831-722-1056
Online: redtri.com

COVID-19 Update: Opens 9/12 for apple picking

photo: Kate Loweth

Live Earth Farm

This spot in Watsonville grows a small variety of apples including Gravensteins, Pink Pearls and Macintosh. The u-pick start date is still TBD as it depends on when the crop ripens. Stay up to date on their u-pick schedule via their Facebook page. Expect them in late September or early October. The picking is a bargain at $1.50/pound.

1275 Green Valley Road
Watsonville, CA
831-763-2448
Onlineliveearthfarm.net

 

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Clearview Orchards

Located in the beautiful Santa Cruz Basin, Clearview Orchards offers a huge variety of certified organic apples, specializing in Gala and Fuji, Honey Crisp and Mitsu. Pick some apples and enjoy their beautiful terraced grounds with a view of the Watsonville valley. They also sell delicious local honey and fresh-pressed apple cider. Kiddos can even pick out their own pumpkins, just in time for fall. Open Saturday and Sundays only, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

646 Trabing Rd.
Watsonville, CA
408-472-1958
Online: redtri.com

COVID-19 Update: Open Sept. 5-Nov. 1

Davenport

 

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Swanton Pacific Ranch

2020 Update: Swanton Pacific Ranch suffered significant damage in the CZU Complex Fire and will not open in 2020. 

Owned and operated by California Polytechnic 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 into October. Nestled in the foothills along the central coast and outlying Monterey Bay, this orchard is the perfect distance away for a family day trip!

480 Swanton Road
Davenport, CA
831-458-5410
Online: spranch.org

Further Afield

Apple Hill Region

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.

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

—Kate Loweth & Erin Feher

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