The Best Apple Picking Orchards in the Bay Area

As summer transitions to fall, one of the biggest activities to welcome in the new season is to pick your own apples at the numerous orchards around the Bay. Whether you prefer to pick Granny Smiths in the North Bay or Galas in the Santa Cruz Valley, here are five apple orchards that will guarantee you will leave with your arms full.

Gabriel Farm

Becoming a member of this certified organic orchard in Sebastopol, allows you access to their McIntosh apples and Asian pears for an additional $2 per pound, after you make a one-time purchase of a case of their homemade juice for $36. There is also a store on the farm property, where you can buy jams and juices without a membership. Picking season lasts from early September through mid-November.

Swanton Pacific Ranch

Located in the beautiful foothills near Monterey Bay, this ranch is run and owned by California Polytechnic State University, and produces a staggering five tons plus of apples every season. Twelve different apple varieties are available, all with their own harvesting period (some lasting into early November).

Clearview Orchards

Specializing in Fuji and Gala, this orchard not only has delicious apples, but also has beautiful grounds that provide a stunning view of the Watsonville Valley. There is also freshly pressed apple cider and local honey to take with you for the road. Apples available for picking from early September to late October.

Pine O'Mine

Located a little further afield in Placerville, this is a no-frills apple orchard that has plenty of Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji or Red Delicious to pick up. The orchard is part of the Apple Hill Growers Association. Visit from early September through October.

Apple-a-Day Ratzlaff Ranch

A great place to pick apples like Golden Delicious and Roman Beauties that are a bargain at $1.50/per pound or $50 for 40 pounds (hello apple pies!). They are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thursdays and Saturdays when they're closed.

Julia is a freelance writer and native San Franciscan, born and raised. She is the founder of Small World This Is, and has written for Matador, Roads and Kingdoms, and USA Today.