Fall is just around the corner (hello, new CSA box)—, and we all know that means apples are at the head of the class. Gather round the apples of your eye and go have bushels of fun apple picking at a nearby U-pick apple farm. From Red Delicious to Granny Smith, we know which apple orchards will have you reaping the best fruits of your labor. Not to mention, family memories your kids will always cherish (and you will too, so don’t forget your camera)! You can even top the day off with a slice of fresh-baked apple pie. Read on for all the juicy details.

photo: Diana A. via Yelp

Volcan Valley Apple Farm
Julian’s largest orchard, Volcan Valley Apple Farm, comes alive with apple trees filled with seven varieties of red and green apples including the famed Gravenstein, Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Grab a bag which holds 6-7 lbs. of apples for $12 and then head into the fields to fill it up. Also on-site: Granny’s Pies and sometimes there are food trucks that swing by to feed hungry apple pickers! Grab a bite to eat to enjoy at the shaded picnic tables.

It’s important to note the following dates/times and apples available for picking:

Volcan Valley Apple Farm will open Labor Day weekend for U-Pick Gravenstein Apples only Aug. 30th-Sept. 2 from 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 through Sept. 9, the farm won’t be open to allow for their other apple varieties to fully ripen.

Sept. 13- Sept. 16, the farm will re-open for picking of all apple varieties and continue every weekend until all apples are picked.

Note: There’s a $2 general admission charge, kids 5 and younger are free.

1284 Julian Orchards Dr.
Julian, CA 92036
Online: facebook.com/julianapplefarm

photo: Maria Lindsey via Pexels

Apples & Art Orchards
This u-pick orchard offers tours and picking for groups of 20 or more pickers. We think it’s a great idea for Scout troops, playgroups and homeschool cohorts. The adventure includes an apple fact lecture, pesticide-free apple picking, group cider making and tasting. This season’s apple varieties include: Golden and Red Delicious, Jonathon, Fuji, Gala, Prime Red, and McEntosh The cost is $12/half a peck of apples. Be sure to book your reservation soon as they fill up fast and are only open until the apples are gone. (Usually all picked by end of Sept./mid-Oct.)

Dates: Email applesandart@sbcglobal.net for a reservation. They open Sept. 7th for group appointments every day at 1 and 3 p.m.

1052 Julian Orchards Dr.
Julian, CA
Online: applesandartorchards.com

photo: Jon West via Flickr

Julian Farm and Orchard
The Owners of Julian Mining Company recently acquired a large property just across the road and have named it Julian Farm and Orchard. This year they are offering apple picking from their 1,500 apple trees starting Sept. 21st until the apples run out. Their apple picking process will be divided into time slots and will include an intro about apples and picking etiquette.

Cost: $13 for a 1/2 peck bag

4381 CA-78
Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
Online: julianminingcompany.com

photo: Jennifer Young

Apple Picking Tips

  • Go early in the season and call ahead to confirm that apples are still available for picking. Once the apples are gone, that’s it until next year.
  • Take enough cash. Many locales only accept cash and it makes transactions quicker and easier.
  • Prepare to spend (a lot) more money than you would on grocery store apples. The apple picking experience definitely costs more than a trip to the produce section.
  • Don’t fret about not being able to pick tons of apples. Nearly all the orchards have pre-bagged apples available for purchase if your little farmers grow weary of picking early on.
  • Don’t expect mountain cold weather. Just because Julian is located in the mountains doesn’t mean you’ll need a jacket. Check the temperatures before you make the trip. San Diego in autumn could be as warm as a summer day. Pack plenty of water to drink and wear hats, sunscreen and close-toed shoes.
  • Make a day out of your trip to experience Julian. This little mining town has so many aspects aside from the apple picking. Drive to Main Street, have lunch at one of the country cafes and pick up a pie to take home. Julian is best when you allow yourself an entire day to explore.
  • Try cider donuts! Don’t leave Julian without trying a cider donut. They are available at the many pie stores in town. These delectable treats are just not found in the city limits. Be sure to get a few (dozen) to go.

–– Beth Shea & Leah R. Singer


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