Fall is a perfect time of year to pick apples. Not only is it a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your family, but it also can teach kids about where food comes from and give you a hearty supply of apples for making pies and juice or just eating an apple a day.
There are some great orchards around the Bay Area where owners allow apple picking -- plus also places to pick berries and other fruit when spring and summer roll around. We suggest you call ahead to make sure there is a good supply of fruit when you want to go picking. .
Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch. Offers Gravenstein, Golden Delicious and Rome apples. Fresh apple juice is made and sold. Picking season is Sept, and Oct. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed on Thursdays and Saturdays. 13128 Occidental Road, Sebastopol. 707-823-0538.
Chavez U-Pick Cherries. This is solely a U-pick cherry orchard. Opens May. 23800 Marsh Creek Road, Brentwood. 925-625-3994.
Chileno Valley Ranch. Home to Mike and Sally Gale, it is primarily a grass-fed beef ranch that also offers u-pick organic apples, art workshops and a beautiful venue for weddings. There’s a large variety of apples available for picking. Reservations can be made on the website. Apple season is Sept, and sometimes runs through October. Open 9 a.m.-2 p.m. every Sunday. 5105 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma. 707-765-6664.
Clearview Organic Orchards. Located in the beautiful setting of the Santa Cruz basin, this orchard specializes in Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, Mitsu and Pink Lady apples. It also has local honey, dried lavender, organic pumpkins and squash and fresh pressed apple juice. Season is usually Sept. and Oct. 646 Trabing Road, Watsonville. 408-472-1958.
Gabriel Farm. This family farm specializes in apples, persimmons, raspberries, flowers and pineapple guava. Its u-pick program is reserved for farm members. To become a member, you must purchase a case of the farm’s juice. Fruit picking is June through Nov. Open weekends 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug.-Nov. and by appointment Dec.-July. 3175 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol. 707-829-0617.
Gizdich Ranch. This ranch has Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Newtown Pippin and Royal Gala for picking, as well as a variety of berries. There are also tours of the apple orchards and berry farms. Berry picking is usually May-July and apple picking is in Sept. 55 Peckham Road, Watsonville. 831-722-1056.
Peter Wolfe Ranch. Pick cherries, loquats, apricots and peaches. The season opens in late May. 700 Creek Road, Brentwood. 925-634-1308.
Smith Family Farm. Features peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and tomatoes. Open every weekend from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for u-pick in Aug. through Sept. 4430 Sellers Ave, between Delta and Sunset Road, Knightsen. 925-625-3544, 925-625-5966.
Swanton Pacific Ranch. This ranch is owned and operated by California Polythecnic State University and produces more than five tons of apples every year. The 16 distinct varieties ripen progressively throughout the fall, allowing for an extended picking season. Apples include Holstein, Red Delicious, Royal Gala, Cox Orange Pippin, Fuji, Jonagold, Newton Pippin and more. It’s estimated the picking season this year is from Aug. to Nov. (call or check website for exact dates). 125 Swanton Road, Davenport. 831-458-5410.
Swanton Berry Farm. Features a farm stand selling baked goods and organic strawberries, as well as u-pick strawberries. The season starts in April/May. Open daily, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. 25 Swanton Road, Highway 1, 2 miles north of Davenport (about 12.5 miles from Santa Cruz). 831-469-8804.
Webb Ranch. Pick your own raspberries, boysenberries and blackberries. The season starts in late May/early June. Open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. 2720 Alpine Road, Portola Valley. 650-854-5417. .
Teresa Mills-Faraudo is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.