The Best October Apple Picking in the Bay Area

Posted by Luda Berdnyk

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Ahh, fall.
While other parts of the country are jumping into a crisp pile of leaves or getting lost in a corn maze, those of us in the bay area are enjoying some of the warmest months of the year. But who says that New Englanders get to have all the fun?

When we think of fall, one of the first things to pop in our heads is the quintessential apple pie. Soft on the inside, flaky on the outside, and topped with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream. This treat might be perfect for a chilly day, but the real fun is actually in the ingredients. Here are the best apple picking orchards that are still open for the season.

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South Bay

While the North Bay may produce more apples each season, the Santa Cruz basin is the place to go if you’re looking for late-season apple picking. With so many different apple varieties growing in the area, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for whenever you go. In October, you’ll typically find sweet and crisp Golden Russets, classic Granny Smiths, and one of the best baking apples: the Yellow Newton Pippin.

Swanton Pacific Ranch

Located an hour and a half south of SF on route 1, this 3,200 acre ranch is managed by the College of Agriculture at Cal Poly. The valley has redwood groves, river valleys and all the beauty of the CA coastline, not to mention over 12 varieties of apples. This is their last weekend open for the season (Oct. 17-18), catch them before they close.

Details:

  • U-Pick Price: $1.75 per lb
  • Hours: Friday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
  • Distance from SF: 1.5 hours
  • Season ends: Oct. 17th

Day trip: combine a trip to Pacific Ranch with a stop at the nearby berry farm, or to see the sea lions at Ano Nuevo. Ask your Scout to help plan it!

Clearview Orchards

Tucked in the rolling hills of Watsonville, Clearview Orchards is a family-run orchard that has been producing apples for over 15 years. The owners, Mel and Carol, are usually on site helping out. Ask them for a taste of the local honey — they make it right on the orchard! The apple turnovers also aren’t to be missed.

Details:

  • U-Pick Price: varies, usually ~$2 per lb
  • Hours: Friday (12 – 4pm), Weekends (10am – 4pm)
  • Distance from SF: 1.5 hours
  • Season ends: Oct. 31st

Day trip: Clearview is not far from the hokey, but endearing Mystery Spot. It’s also less than a mile from the beautiful La Selva beach. Swing by Cowboy’s Corner Cafe for a hearty brunch, or ask your Scout for more ideas.

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North Bay

Known to some as the Gravenstein Apple Capital of the World, Sebastopol is Santa Rosa’s cuter little sibling. With farmland to the East and the more mountainous Russian River Valley to the West, it’s a great place for a day trip.

Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch

Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch is best known for their fresh-pressed apple juice (which more than one Yelp reviewer has described as the best they’ve ever had). The ranch was founded by the owner’s grandfather in 1924, and has been producing varieties like Golden Delicious, Roma Beauties and Gravenstine ever since. If visiting a pumpkin patch is on your to-do list, look no further — there’s one next door!

Details:

  • U-Pick Price: $1.50 per lb
  • Hours: Closed on Thursday and Saturday, open every other day from 9am – 5pm
  • Distance from SF: 1.5 hours
  • Season ends: Nov. 1st

Day Trip: it’s worth a detour to visit Wild Flour Bread bakery in nearby Freestone. The pumpkin patch next door is also worth a visit. Perhaps you’re looking for dog-friendly spots, or places to go with children. Your Scout can help.

Now that you have 20 pounds of apples, what do you do? Put those apples to good use and bake an ol’ fashioned apple pie — check out our favorite recipe!

Which apple orchard are you planning on visiting? Reply to us on Twitter and let us know.

Post by Luda Berdnyk. Photos by Tom Gill and Luda Berdnyk.
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