Apple Picking with Children Near the Bay Area - 510 Families
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Apple Picking with Children Near the Bay Area

Early fall is the perfect time for apple picking with children in the Bay Area. I mean, the ONLY time. Looking for a place to get your hands on a bushel of apples? Always double-check with the farm in question before you pack up your hungry posse of children. Apples might grow on trees, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.

When planning your day be sure to bring snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, sun hats, grocery totes, and a wagon if you have one. For 2021, be sure to wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer and prepare to social distance. Some farms will continue to require reservations.

Apple-Picking -Gabriel-Farm-Sebastopol
Low hanging fruit is easy pickings for little hands | Photo: Julie Herson

Bay Area Apple Orchards

Apple-picking in the Bay Area reaches its peak in September and October. Here are a few fun ideas for your farm-visiting and apple-picking sorted by approximate drive distance from Oakland:

Cloverfield Organic Farm, El Sobrante

A small bio-intensive urban farm with U-Pick offerings throughout the year. Apple U-Pick happens “in the fall” according to their friendly farmers, so best to plan on going in late September and October 2021. Wear sturdy shoes and bring your clippers (if you have them). They have onsite free parking. Read more about our visit there here.
Distance From Oakland: About 20 minutes
Cost: Varies
Website>>

Giant sunflowers at Cloverfield
Cloverfield Farm in El Sobrante | Photo: @ocjenrad Jennifer R. Johnson

Chileno Valley Ranch, Petaluma

The Apple U-Pick Season will open on September 5, 2021. Reservations may be made for September 5 and 12 ON AUGUST 15. Reservation dates will usually occur 2 to 3 weeks in advance through October. Reservations will be taken for each hour; 8, 9, 10, and 11. All guests must have proof of reservation and vaccination to enter Chileno Valley Ranch. Guests will be asked to stay only an hour and 15 minutes, beginning when they arrive. Only 15 families will be able to make reservations per hour. Masks and social distancing will be required for everyone over the age of two. Tours will be self-led. An added attraction this year is 16 chicks and 7 guinea hens, in addition to our friendly older hens. Plus they will be selling honey, lavender, and Veronica’s baked goods. Check their Facebook page for updates.
Distance from Oakland: About one hour drive depending on traffic.
Cost: Entry Fee $10 per family; Apples and Pears $2 per pound.
Website >>

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boys picking apples
Apple picking is the perfect family weekend activity | Photo: Julie Herson

Casari Ranch, Valley Ford

For the 2021 Apple Trail, U-pick apples are by reservation only beginning the first week of September, 11 am to 4 pm. Email ariana@casariranch.com to RSVP and for directions.
Distance From Oakland: About 1 hour 15 minutes
Cost: varies
Website >>

EARTHseed Farm, Sebastopol

EARTHseed Farm, which was until recently Gabriel Family Farm, offers U-Pick apples starting August 14, 2021, by reservation only. This 14-acre solar-powered organic farm and orchard is operated and rooted in Afro-Indigenous permaculture principles and built on a long legacy of traditions of people of African descent. New appointments are released Tuesdays prior to Saturday U-Pick days. Hours are 10 am-5 pm. (Latest check-in time is 3:30 pm to allow an hour for visitors before the farm closes to the public at 5 pm). Each group of six pays a $25 entry fee for a 60-90 minute visit. Bring reusable containers to take home your fruit, including smaller baskets or Tupperware for your berries! They also have baskets for sale in the farm store. Masks are required for everyone over the age of two. The small town of Graton is just down the road where you can visit the cute and quirky Willow Wood Cafe. [Read all about our trip to Gabriel Farm for an idea of what the farm is like]
Distance from Oakland: about 1 hour, 15 minutes depending on traffic.
Cost: $25 per group of 6; $3 per pound
Website >>

boy with basket of apples
Bring along a basket or bag to carry your apples | Photo: Julie Herson

Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch, Sebastopol

Opening weekend for 2021 will be in early September, and picking continues through October. You’ll need to check with them for up-to-date days and times since things are always changing with apple ripeness and availability. Their trees produce Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, and Rome apples. Apple-A-Day is open five days a week, 9 am-5 pm, closed on Thursday and Saturday. They also process and sell yummy fresh apple juice.
Distance from Oakland: about a 90-minute drive depending on traffic.
Cost: $2 per pound with no other fees.
Website >>

Swanton Pacific Ranch, Davenport

The Swanton Pacific Ranch U-Pick Orchard is currently closed due to the damage caused by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires. The orchard will remain closed until further notice.
Website >>

Clearview Orchards, Watsonville

The opening day for 2021 is September 11. This Organic Apple Orchard has Fuji, Gala, Honey Crisp, and Mutsu apples ready to pick through October, every Saturday/Sunday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. Double-check hours and dates online before you go. The orchards are in a beautiful terraced setting overlooking the valley of Watsonville and only three miles from the ocean and La Selva beach. And don’t forget to try their famous fresh baked apple turnovers!
Distance from Oakland: about 1 hour, 45 minutes depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies
Website >>

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boy pointing at trees
Finding the perfect apple is always fun for kids | Photo: Julie Herson

Apple Hill, Placerville

Apple Hill is a collaboration of several apple growers in the Placerville area. Several of the farms have apple-picking while others have hayrides, pony rides, gold panning, or other family activities. Opening weekends for each farm vary (early September 2021 is a good bet though), so check the specific U-Pick farm information.  Visit the Apple Hill website to read summaries of the farms and plan your trip. Some farms and wineries are taking reservations for visits and U-Pick activities or may have additional measures in place for their busiest weekends in October. As you make your plans to visit, we recommend that you check member websites, social media, or call ahead for any last-minute details to ensure a fun and successful experience.
Distance from Oakland: about two hours depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies by farm
Website >>

Gizdich Ranch, Watsonville

Apple picking for 2021 will begin in September 2021, no reservations are required. They will only allow a certain number of guests into the U-Pick area at a time, so be prepared for a longer wait than usual and you may be asked to wait in your car. The different varietals available are Pippin, Fuji, Red, and Golden Delicious. They also serve apple slush and homemade pies and ice cream. Check details before you visit. {Make a weekend of it by camping at Mount Madonna State Park}
Distance from Oakland: about two hours depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies
Website >>

Watsonville camping and fruit picking
The epic apple pie and ice cream at Gizdich Ranch | Photos provided by Peggy, all rights reserved by 510families

Luz De Valle, Aptos

This family farm supplies Martinelli’s famous apple juice and ciders with their delectable apples, so you know they must be good. Their U-Pick season usually starts on Labor Day and features tasty Galas. These are followed by the Fujis which begin to ripen the first week of October. Check their website for specific dates and times.
Distance From Oakland: about two hours depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies
Website >>

Farms and Ranches that might have apples:

Smith Family Farms, Brentwood

Our closest option, Smith Family Farms, is super fun for kids with wide-open spaces and many different varieties of fruits and veggies. They have a little bit of everything including pre-picked apples from Sebastopol at the stand through October. As for U-Pick, they should have persimmons and pomegranates by mid-late September. Check them out on Facebook for current details on U-pick. Read our pre-Covid-19 review here.
Distance from Oakland: about 45 minutes depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies
Website>>

Parent tips before you head out on your apple-picking adventure:

  1. Double- or triple-check with the farm in question.
  2. Pack up snacks or a hearty lunch. Bring water bottles.
  3. Slather on the sunscreen and wear hats.
  4. Bring grocery totes and a wagon if you have one!
  5. 2021: Bring masks for everyone over two years old.
  6. 2021: Hand sanitizer is a good idea as well.
apple peeler corer
Heather has one of these apple peeler corer thingies and it only gets used for baking pies in the fall, but she loves it!

Have fun out there and save me a slice of your apple pie!


[Photo credit Julie Herson as indicated]
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  1. Pingback: Family Friendly Fall Activities in the San Francisco Bay Area | Around the World with Kids

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