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

Apple-picking is in full swing. Make reservations and check websites before you head out.

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.

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:

EARTHseed Farm, Sebastopol –

U-pick by reservation Saturdays only. Apples are ripe for picking. EARTHseed Farm offers U-Pick apples starting August 5, 2023, 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 11 am-3 pm. Each group of four pays a $35 entry fee for a 60-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. The small town of Graton is just down the road where you can visit the cute and quirky Willow Wood Cafe. [Read all about EARTHseed and its furry pigs]
Distance from Oakland: about 1 hour, 15 minutes depending on traffic.
Cost: $35 per group of 4 for a 60 minute visit; $3+ per pound; children age 3 and under are free
Website >>

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

Chileno Valley Ranch, Petaluma

The Apple U-Pick Season will open on September 3, 2023, and is Sundays only. Reservations open for September 3 on August 20 and are available two weeks in advance throughout the season. 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. Read about our past visit here >
Distance from Oakland: About one hour drive depending on traffic.
Cost: Last year, the entry fee was $10 per family; Apples and Pears were $2 per pound. Cash or credit ok.
Website >>

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

Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch, Sebastopol

Opening weekend for 2023 will likely be in 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 four-five days a week, 9 am-4 pm, and closed on Thursday, Saturday (maybe Sunday). They also process and sell yummy fresh apple juice. Read all about our visit here>
Distance from Oakland: about a 90-minute drive depending on traffic.
Cost: $2.50 per pound with no other fees.
Website >>

Toddler holding apple
Toddlers love picking apples and collecting them in their own little bags | Photo: Julie Herson

Apple Hill, Placerville

Apple Hill is a collaboration of several apple growers in the Placerville area. Several farms have apple picking while others have hayrides, pony rides, gold panning, or other family activities. Opening weekends for each farm vary (late August early September 2023 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, and social media, or call ahead for any last-minute details to ensure a fun and successful experience. Some are better known for adult or pet activities. Denver Dan’s, open on 9/2/23, has u pick, a bake shop, apple crisp sundaes, and kids’ activities.
Distance from Oakland: about two hours depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies by farm
Website >>

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

Gizdich Ranch, Watsonville

Apple picking for 2023 will begin in September, 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 the 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 >>

Luz De Valle, Aptos

Their U-Pick season usually starts on Labor Day and features tasty Galas. This family farm supplies Martinelli’s famous apple juice and ciders with their delectable apples, so you know they must be good. 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 >>

bowl of apples with child's hand
Our bounty of apples, sweet and delicious! | Photo: Julie Herson

Clearview Orchards, Watsonville

The opening day for 2023 Sep. 9, running through October. 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. A reservation is required for parking and entry. The $7 reserved ticket is good for one family-sized vehicle and an hour of apple picking for up to 8 people. Apples picked are an additional cost.  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! Check their Facebook for updates>
Distance from Oakland: about 1 hour, 45 minutes depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies
Website >>

boy picking apple off tree
My five-year-old could just about pick the low-hanging fruit | Photo: Julie Herson

Farms and Ranches that might have apples:

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. 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 >>

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 review here.
Distance from Oakland: about 45 minutes depending on traffic.
Cost: Varies

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 sunscreen and wear hats.
  4. Bring grocery totes and a wagon if you have one!
  5. 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! Oh, and if baking a pie isn’t for you, definitely check out Mom’s Apple Pie in Sebastopol. You can still say “Mom” made it.

Sebastopol apple-picking photo by Becky Matthews
Sebastopol apple-picking photo by Becky Matthews

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3 thoughts on “Apple Picking with Children Near the Bay Area”

  1. Pingback: Family Friendly Fall Activities in the San Francisco Bay Area | Around the World with Kids

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