It's California Apple-Picking Season at These Stunning Orchards

It's California Apple-Picking Season at These Stunning Orchards

By California.com
October 01, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Make your way to California’s five major apple-growing regions and experience the great health benefits of America's second-favorite fruit: apples. Create lasting memories with family and friends, stroll through acres of local apple orchards, support organic farming practices, and reduce your carbon footprint one apple at a time by going apple picking this season

According to the California Foundation for Agriculture, eating a medium-sized apple covers 20 percent of your daily requirement for dietary fiber and 8 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin C. Apples also contain no fat, cholesterol, or sodium and are a healthy source of potassium—maybe an apple a day does keep the doctor away after all. With nearly 13,000 acres dedicated exclusively to apple production and 1.5 to 2.5 million boxes of apples produced each year in California, there’s no better place to test the theory. 

This is the best time to go apple picking

Each one of the many apple varieties grown in California ripens at a different period. The apple harvest season begins in mid-July and continues throughout late summer and fall, so now’s your chance to pluck your own the fruit right off the tree—it doesn’t get fresher than that.

Whether your apples are destined to become a part of a tasty pie, served in a savory stuffing, or dried for your morning muesli, California’s A-list apple-picking orchards welcome you to experience a farmer’s life for a day

Where to go Apple Picking in Southern California

Grab your basket and explore California's bountiful apple orchards to pluck your own fruit off the trees.

Visit Riley’s Farm for an apple- and pumpkin-picking extravaganza. With over 30 varieties of apples and new varieties of pumpkins every year, this farm is sure to have whatever you’re looking for. Join the Living History Tour throughout the week, or stop by on a Saturday for tomahawk throwing (ages 8 and up), archery (ages 8 and up), candle dipping, blacksmithing, and corn-husk doll making that will transport you into the 18th-century lifestyle of Oak Glen. For a more intimate atmosphere, head to the family-run Willowbrook Apple Farm nearby. Press fresh apples to make unfiltered juice, and meet the farm animals while you’re there. 

Apple Starr Orchard is one of the most popular organic apple-picking farms near San Diego. With a rustic barn and hundreds of trees up to 70 years old dotting the property, you’ll be reminiscing of the simpler days in no time. Make yourself comfortable at the picnic tables under the black oak after picking a full bag (12 pounds) of apples and pears for $25.

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The nearby Calico Ranch Orchard has been welcoming flocks of families from SoCal since 1930. Whether you can’t get enough of apple picking or you’re on a quick drive to the easy-pick fruit stand, this certified-organic farm awaits you.

You can also invite your colleagues for an outdoor bonding experience at Crosscut Farm and Orchard, which specializes in group (at least 10 people) U-picks. Collect Golden Delicious, Empire, and Johnathan apples from the 350 mature trees and make it an unforgettable work outing.

U-pick apples in Northern California

Find numerous varieties of apples as well as pumpkins, lavender, organic veggies, and other treats at Northern California's apple farms.

Venture off to Apple Hill and soak in the authentic small-town vibes. Tucked away in the Sierra Nevada foothills, this quaint agricultural region has flourished from near ruins to more than 50 thriving apple farms. Pick your own apples at one of the U-pick Apple Hill farms and bring home fresh produce along with juices, pies, jams, and veggies.

You can also escape the city and go apple picking at Bay Area farms. Plan a weekend trip to the nearby Clearview Organic Orchards overlooking the valley of Watsonville. Stroll along the terraced rows between the trees that guarantee the best apple-picking experience for humans both big and small. Munch on aromatic Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Mutsu apples every weekend from September until November. Shop for fresh apple juice, delicious apple turnovers, organic squash, pumpkins, dried lavender, and local honey after your organic apple-picking adventure. Observe the passionate dedication that goes into maintaining the orchards, take a ride on the farm truck, and recharge in the great outdoors. 

Apple-picking places in the central valley

Spend a day with the family handpicking ripe apples and enjoying California produce together.

Visit Murray Family Farms at the foot of the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County.  The certified-organic and GLOBALG.A.P. farm offers one of the greatest varieties of fresh, non-GMO produce in the Central Valley. (When in the area, check out the Central Valley's best attractions). Pick your favorite fruits and veggies year-round—from Buddha's hand, pomegranates, and avocados in January; cherries and berries in mid-summer; and apples and pumpkins in fall, the farm has it all. One bite into the unique Arkansas Black apple is enough to send you to seventh heaven. This dark beauty takes on a burgundy hue when ripe and has a sweet taste with notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and coriander. Come to the pumpkin patch for an exciting getaway with the whole family. (Don’t forget to say hello to the farm’s very own goats and sheep at the Animal Garden.)

For more apple picking, pack your bags and boxes and make your way to the family-owned Knaus Apple Ranch. Make it a new family tradition to visit the apple orchard that’s been welcoming apple enthusiasts for nearly 50 years now. Pick Red and Golden Delicious apples straight from the trees yourself or ask for them to be handpicked for you. Stop by the barn shop for baked goodies, jams and jellies, butters, apple chips, gifts, and crafts before taking your fresh batch of locally grown produce home.  

Additional Apple-Picking Places

More than 70 apple varieties are grown in the Golden State, so there's no shortage of types to pick and taste.

Take the apple of your eye on a romantic getaway to San Luis Obispo. The magical lands of these hills bear an abundance of fruits and vegetables—from miles of grapevines, to miles of olive groves, to acres of apple orchards. The local produce is truly mouthwatering.

Winding roads take you to SLO Creek Farms. Grab an apple basket and choose from the array of Jonalicious, Empire, Early Fuji, Gala, September Wonders, Sundancers, Granny Smith, and Braeburn apples. The best time to go apple picking at this family-owned, 33-acre certified-organic farm is from August 30 to the end of November. Stop by the Gopher Glen Apple Farm stand, too, and choose from 65 apple varieties already picked for you.

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