September 1st arrives and I’m ready for all the fall activities! Although there is not many options for apple picking in the Bay Area, there are plenty of apple picking in Northern California. Perfect trip for your family or a girls day to get in fall spirit. Last year I got to check out Apple Hill for the first time. Keep reading for my tips before visiting Apple Hill California.
What to expect before Apple Picking
Here are some tips I wish I knew before apple picking for the first time.
-Check it the orchard has u-pick available.
Due to COVID-19 there are certain guidelines we must follow, please check online or contact the farm you plan to visit to see if they allow U-Picking. As far as I know, U-Picking is still allowed.
-Wear good walking shoes!
I would recommend boots or sneakers. If you are U-picking, you want good sturdy shoes since you will be walking on dirt. The ones I’m wearing here are from Sutro Footwear. They are the perfect balance between style and stability.
Most of the farms only accept cash. Make sure you stop by an ATM in your city before head out to the farms.
-Pack a hat
One accessory I love packing is a hat, and when the sun is bright, it protects my face from the scorching heat!
-Have an itinerary with a map of all the orchards you plan to go to
If you go to Apple Hill website, you can see all the apple orchards that are near. Have a planned route so you can make the most of your day.
-Bring a cute basket!
Most farms give you buckets they have but I suggest bring your own cottage core basket to add to the look.
-Please be safe and follow the COVID-19 Guidelines
Wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer and keep 6 feet distance, we all must do our part to reduce the spread. Be a kind human being, wear a mask.
What to wear to go Apple Picking
Depending when you go visit, the weather will always differ. Northern California gets a second heat wave around September and then gets colder by the end of October. Below is what I wore to visit at the beginning of September last year.
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How to get to Apple Hill
Apple Hill is located in Placerville, Dorado County, about 45 minutes East from Sacramento and about 3 hours from San Jose. If you are driving from anywhere in the Bay Area, I would recommend leaving early to avoid traffic and the heat. If you don’t want to spend most of your day driving, plan on to stay near Sacramento for a night. Wake up early the next morning to make most of day at Apple Hill.
Is Apple Hill open during coronavirus?
According to their site, yes but plan as head and check in with the orchard you plan to visit ahead of time. Of course please wear a mask! The more I drive away from the city I notice people are more relaxed about masks. Please do you part and wear your mask, packing sanitizer, wash your hands, and keep 6 feet apart.
Best time to go to Apple Hill
Apple picking begins the first week of September and usually end at the end of the month. But the festivities don’t stop there. In October most farms have pumpkin patches. so really any time from September to October is a great time to visit. Plan to arrive right when they open to avoid crowds so you can get photos with less people, plus social distancing!
Places to Check Out on Apple Hill
The orchard I visited last year and I highly recommend is Denver Dan’s. You could literally spend hours here being that apple acres are huge! The staff here are very friendly. One of the staff members took the time to explains what kind of apples were in season and where they were located in the orchard. Onsite you can smell and see them make fresh apple pies, sauces and baked goods. This is a U-Pick location. Pick as much as you want and pay for what you want as well. By choosing to U-Pick you are helping the orchards collect their inventory. By buying their produce, you are helping a business continue to stay open.
-Goyette’s North Canyon Ranch
I heard through the apple vine… (lol get it) that Goyette’s Ranch is the place for that picturesque apple picking spot! They also offer U-Picking and areas to set up for a picnic. And from what I gathered from friends that have visited, they owners are very kind and the apples are really good!
One of the best Apple Donuts I tried was at Rainbow Orchards. With that said, I have some thoughts about this establishment. This is just my experience so take it as you please but I thought it would be important to share my experience.
I was really excited to tried the apple donuts because they are known for these donuts. Once we arrived it smelled sooo good! Kara and I waited in line and looked at their menu. Debating if I should order a dozen to bring home, or just get the one to try.
As I was waiting I made eye contact with the lady at the register. Politely like always I said hello, and continued to try to make a decision. The lady kept looking at me specifically with a face of disgust and was really short with me if I had any questions. I thought at first, maybe she is having a bad day, or she is just a little cold. But quickly noticed how the same lady was treating Kara when she would ask a question or responded to her nicely. She also was quite concerned with Kara and her dress. She kept insisting that her dress was unbuttoning when in fact that was the style of the dress ( it was cute red gingham dress with a cut out just the bust area see in our photos). After four times of her constantly telling Kara to “fix” her dress she was tired and gave a firm answer saying “it is fine thank you”
I definitely felt uncomfortable because for then first time in my life I really felt discriminated because of my ethnicity. I paid quickly in cash and went to sit by the open picnic tables.
I’ll be more cautious about vising this place again but man, their donuts where delicious! But I don’t know if they were delicious enough to come back after that experience. Apparently we were not the only ones either feeling like this. We went to Yelp to see if it was just us, and there were comments saying how rude the costumer service was. Now back to the fun stuff.
This was on our list to check out that day, but unfortunately they were closed when we arrived and only open on the weekends. We were there on a Friday (trying to avoid huge crowds). Although looking at the hours online currently it says they are open on Friday. I suggest calling ahead to make sure before heading out there. That day we did see them baking all their delicious apple pies. After doing some research they are also known for their wines and hard apple cider! Just for that I gotta go back to check this place out.
-Larsen Apple Barn
One thing we notice wile driving around Apple Hill is that there was not a ton on places to grab food for lunch if needed. I suggest packing a lunch and set up picnic at one of these locations. But if you are in need of lunch like we needed, go to Larsen Apple Barn. They are the longest owned family farms on Apple Hill. They specialize in their baked goods but have a deli section on site where they sell sandwiches. I got the turkey sandwich with potato chips, it hit the spot after spending hours apple picking.
-Jack Russell Brewery
Since Delfino Farms was closed Kara and I wanted to place to grab a drink, and we saw a sign with a cute Jack Russell terrier on it and it was a sign! We drove in and to our delight it was a brewery! They were nice enough to let us taste some of the beer and ciders before deciding which one we wanted to order. The staff was soo nice and took the time to answer any question we had. We got to enjoy our food and cider on their patio outside in the 90 degree weather with the lunch we got from Larsen. Bonus we saw the the Jack Russell Terrier walking around!
Other activities to do at Apple Hill
I had no idea Apple Hills has soo many wineries! If apple picking is not your thing, consider making a day tip just checking our all the different vineyards along Apple Hill. After we finished lunch we drove over to two wineries. The great things about the wineries here is that the tasting fees are much cheaper than Napa Valley. Check out my friend’s Kara of Whimsy Soul and Genn from Gennifer Rose for more tips on visiting Apple Hill.
This winery had a beautiful view of the vineyards. because it was a Friday afternoon, it was just picking up in traffic. We waited a bit to get a tasting started and we spotted a table outside to enjoy our wine tasting. It was not long till a cat found Kara and grabbed our attention. Wine, great views and cats; what more could you ask for?
I love the set up of this winery, it had major Cottage Core vibes. From the houses and the greenery surrounding it and spotted some cats too! This is also a great place to have lunch. Get a cheese place to go with your wine tasting on one of their picnic benches. I have the mention that this winery has dessert wines in their tasting which… I love desert wine so it was such a treat! Highly recommend.
Something to keep in mind if your are in the area after apple picking season is over… pumpkin season starts! ! Most of these orchards transition over to becoming a pumpkin patch for the month of October so Apple Hill is great day tip to do this fall season. If you are looking for other pumpkin patches in the Bay Area check out my post here. In December certain farms become a tree farm for the holiday season.
Hope this post get you in the fall spirit. If you have any questions, send me a DM on Instagram @designbybrianna