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The Southern California Apple-Picking Farms You Can’t Miss

The Southern California Apple-Picking Farms You Can’t Miss

By California.com
October 31, 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.

Apple-picking season is here, so it's time to sink your teeth into one of SoCal’s freshest, crunchiest apples. Though you may miss those warm summer evenings, don't fret because the fall season brings cozy nights, pumpkin spice, and plenty of ripe apples ready for pickin'. Sure, apples are available year-round, but nothing compares to taking a bite of a locally grown apple handpicked by you. It's pretty clear: There isn't a better way to spend your autumn Saturday than by sipping hot cider and plucking fresh apples, so head to these hot spots for apple picking in Southern California now.

A Guide To Apple Picking In SoCal

Enjoy the crisp fall weather and stunning foliage of Southern California by taking a trip to the region's U-pick farms for fresh apples. Apples that grow in SoCal are usually ripe and ready to be picked from September through November. Whether you want to turn your apples into a tasty fall dessert or incorporate them into a healthy dish for your autumn picnic, Southern California's best apple orchards beckon. Here are the apple-picking places in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas that you need to visit during the apple harvest season.

Apple-Picking Places Close To Los Angeles

Spend the day with the family picking apples, taking hayrides, and feasting on handpicked apples. Photo courtesy of Los Rios Rancho.

Los Rios Rancho

Apples at Los Rios Rancho are available for picking from September until late November. You'll find apples of all shapes and sizes, including Macintosh, Gala, and Spartan; just make sure to check which varieties are ready for picking before heading to the ranch in Yucaipa. Apples are available for both U-pick and bulk purchases.

Make it a whole family affair, and let the kids pet their favorite farm animals in the petting zoo before feasting on steak sandwiches. Keep your energy levels stabilized with a cup of joe from Wilshire’s Apple Shed. Fall in love with Los Rios Rancho's fall activities: Hayrides, packing house tours, and live music await. Before heading out, press your very own fresh apple cider—an absolute must during the apple-picking season.

Turn your haul of fresh apples into tasty fall desserts or a healthy snack. Photo courtesy of Willowbrook Apple Farm.

Willowbrook Apple Farm

The fun never stops at Willowbrook Apple Farm. You can enjoy more than apple picking here, so venture to the Oak Glen farm for a day full of fall fun. After filling your basket with fresh apples, press your very own apple cider or indulge in a tasty caramel apple. Once you’ve had all the apple treats your body can take (if such a thing even exists), stroll through the farm’s petting zoo for an up-close meet-and-greet with the animals. Come during berry season, too, because raspberries and blackberries are also begging to be picked. 

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so go apple (and pumpkin) picking this fall. Photo courtesy of Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard.

Stone Soup Farm and Heritage Orchard

Another ranch in Yucaipa, Stone Soup Farm and Heritage Orchard opens its doors for apple aficionados on October 1. Lose yourself in the acres of heirloom Stayman Winesap trees, which await your visit during the apple-picking season. But, why stop at apples? Pick pumpkins, press cider, take an orchard tour, and feast at the farm's restaurant: The Box Social.

Kids will love their time at the ranch, too; between the interactive garden and activity center, there's never a dull moment for the youngsters. For a full day at the apple orchard, sign up for a workshop or plan your visit during one of the exciting events such as the Pick n' Treat Halloween Fest, Apple Butter Festival, and Christmas Market. 

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Pick a box (or two) of apples and sip on handcrafted cider at Riley's Apple Farm. Photo courtesy of Riley's Apple Farm.

Riley’s Apple Farm

Grab your coats and farm boots for an afternoon at Riley’s Apple Farm in Oak Glen. Part apple orchard and part living history farm, this extraordinary property gives visitors the opportunity to pick their own fruits, sip cider, partake in living history education, and experience an evening of dinner theater. Archery is another exciting activity to do with the fam at the farm. With events such as the Colonial Faire and Adventures in the Old World, a day is never enough at Riley’s. Turn your apple-picking event into a weekend adventure by booking a room at one of the property’s historically-themed rooms.

Revel in a day spent plucking delectable, crunchy apples in San Luis Obispo. Photo courtesy of SLO Creek Farms.

SLO Creek Farms

Take a day trip to San Luis Obispo for organic apple picking. Boasting 44 acres of organic apple orchards, SLO Creek Farms welcomes visitors to pick their own fruits at its beautiful location. Better yet, don't leave with just apples. Three acres of organic herbs, flowers, veggies, and pumpkins—which are a must-have for the fall season—also await your picking. Hard cider and apple brandy are available for purchase as well. Indeed, you won't leave SLO empty-handed.

If you need another reason to visit this U-pick farm, SLO Creek Farms is committed to making a difference in the community and has an organic community garden, which is available for locals to rent and enjoy.

Apple Picking Near San Diego

Don't hesitate to show off the apples you pick yourself. Photo courtesy of Julian Mining Company and Julian Farm.

Julian Farm And Orchard

Apple picking isn’t the only thing that keeps guests flocking to Julian Farm and Orchard. Aside from apple and pumpkin picking, the farm also offers an array of fun activities for adults and kids to enjoy. There's never a boring moment at this Julian farm, between the tomahawk throwing, gem sluicing, gold panning, and pit digging. Plan an entire weekend at the farm and book your private cabin on the grounds for a relaxing stay. Best of all, you don’t need to leave Fido at home—dogs are allowed at the farm and even inside the cozy cabins.

Wander across 10 acres of apple orchards and pick your favorite varieties. Photo courtesy of Volcan Valley Apple Farm.

Volcan Valley Apple Farm

Volcan Valley Apple Farm boasts 10 acres of apple orchards to roam, making it Julian’s largest orchard. The farm offers a variety of red and green apples such as the Empire, Jonathan, and Red Delicious. Purchase your bag at admission ($12), which will hold about six to seven pounds of appley goodness. Take home fresh apple cider and apple logs, too, so you can savor delicious apple treats later.

Stroll through the serene apple orchards and savor fresh-pressed cider at Calico Ranch. Photo courtesy of Calico Ranch.

Calico Ranch Orchard

Calico Ranch Orchard is a certified-organic apple and pear orchard that's been in operation since the early 1930s. The 30-acre family-owned farm is the place to take your kids for an organic fruit-picking adventure; the farm grows a large variety of apples and several types of pears. Visitors can pick their own apples from the tree or opt for the easy-pick fruit stand. No matter how you get your apples, make sure to enjoy a cup of warm cider as your kids run around one of the oldest remaining orchards in Julian. The ciders are house-made using Julian-grown apples and native yeast, so you won't want to miss out on this 100-percent naturally sourced treat.

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