Is there any better way to celebrate fall than by spending an afternoon in the shade of an apple orchard and coming home with a basket full of sweet, autumn fruit?
We certainly can’t think of one. And while we’re proponents of living an active lifestyle, that also includes picking your own seasonal produce.
So without further ado, here’s our list of the best ten apple-picking farms in California.
As always, make sure you check in with the farm before you go for hours, rates, cash-only, and other housekeeping needs.
U-pick season doesn’t start and end on a set calendar day. It starts when the apples are ripe and ends when the trees are bare.
1. Calico Ranch Orchard
At Calico Ranch, apples and ciders are serious business.
Their resident, head cider maker has a degree in pomology, the study of fruit, and oenology, the study of wine. A degree which, incidentally, sounds so cool it makes us question why we also don’t have that hanging on our walls.
2. Riley’s Farm
Oak Glen, CA
Riley’s is a popular spot for kids’ field trips, with historic reenactments spanning from the Colonial era to the Gold Rush.
But you don’t have to be a school kid to embrace your inner history nerd. Check out their special events page, or go “glamping” in a colonial style tent in the middle of the orchard.
3. Brian Ranch Airport
If you have the means to do so, you can fly in and taxi right up to Brian Ranch’s orchard. Depending on the time of year you’ll find apples, pears, peaches, and more. They even have a pumpkin patch every year, just in time for Halloween.
4. Los Rios Rancho
Oak Glen, CA
If you’ve got little apple pickers, this may be the place to go. At their Little Seedling Ranch, kids can take a hayride, pet barnyard animals, or playhouse in their pint-sized log cabin.
5. Parrish Pioneer Ranch
Parrish Ranch got started back in 1866 when Enoch Kidder Parrish traded four mules and a wagon for 160 acres of land. These days they specialize in unique apple varietals like Vasquez, Arkansas Black, and Pink Pearl.
6. Snow-Line Orchard
Apple picking is great but you know what makes it better? Booze.
Snow-Line has a winery where they make wines and hard cider. They’ve also got jams, mini cider donuts, and a fresh pressed cider they claim is the best in Oak Glen (but you should really try them all just to be sure).
7. Volcan Valley Apple Farm
Volcan grows seven varieties of apple, all ripening at different times. They’re mad about sugar content and check their apples daily to make sure they’re at maximum sweetness before they let you go pick them.
8. Willowbrook Apple Farm
Pick your own Stayman Winesap apples and then squeeze them into cider on Willowbrook’s old-fashioned press. Be sure to save room for a caramel apple, and say hi to their miniature horse and a miniature donkey.
9. Peacefield Boutique Orchard
Great for botany enthusiasts! Peacefield offers guided tours of their orchard and farm that take “fifteen to forty-five minutes, depending on interest.” They also have farm-to-table events, and classes on grafting, pruning, composting, and more.
10. Windy Ridge Ranch
Leona Valley, CA
Besides crisp Gala apples, at Windy Ridge, you can pick your own Bing and Rainier cherries, Asian pears, and plums. Park down at the base of the hill and enjoy a tractor tram ride up to the orchard.
While these may be some of the best apple orchards in the Golden State, they’re certainly not an extensive list of amazing places to visit during the fall.
One of the best ways to enjoy the expansive beauty of California is to road trip from one end to another. Take a look at these five great stops along the way from LA to the Oregon border.