The best places to go apple picking in the Bay Area

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There is nothing like a tree-ripened apple. Here is a list of the best places to go apple picking in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Shutterstock)

Grab a basket, apple picking season is underway in Northern California. Many farms are opening their gates to this weekend to anyone wanting to pick their own apples. Prices range from $1.50 to $2.50 per pounds.

Here is a list of some of the more prominent apple farms that allow U-Pick on their orchards. Some farms require reservations, so check ahead for availability. Keep in mind most farms do not allow dogs.

Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch, Sebastopol
Every day except Thursday and Saturday, no reservations required
Address: 13128 Occidental Road, Sebastopol
Website - Phone: (707) 823-0538
This family farm east of Santa Rosa comes alive in late summer and early fall with ripening apples. The farm specializes in Gravenstein, Roman Beauties and Golden Delicious apples. Be sure to try their apple juice, which has won its share of medals at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.

Gabriel Farm, Sebastopol
Saturday and Sunday
Address: 3175 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol
Website - Phone: (707) 829-0617
Organic is the word at this small family farm, but be aware that if you want to pick your own apples, you need to buy a membership for $40. The good news is the membership includes six half-gallon bottles of Gabriel Farm's Asian pear and apple juice. Apple varieties include McIntosh, Sansa, Gravenstein, Gala, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Fuji and Rome.
Chileno Valley Ranch, Petaluma
Sunday, reservations recommended
Address: 5105 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma
Website - Phone: (707) 765-6664
A scenic location that also hosts weddings at its 150-year-old barn and Victorian farmhouse. You don't need to tie the knot to grab some crunchy apples, but you may need a reservation. The farm offers organically grown apples, including Orin, Pinova, Candy Crisp and Jonagold. Farm tours are available throughout the day. Reservations guarantee a time slot for picking apples. Families without a reservation pay a higher admission fee.

Swanton Pacific Ranch, Davenport
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, reservations recommended
Address: 473-475 Swanton Road, Davenport
Website - Phone: (831) 458-5410
The ranch is more of an outdoor lab disguised as a farm. The 3,200 acre property is operated by Cal Poly and includes a redwood forest and a large grassland. Students and faculty from the university do research on the ranch. Two acres are dedicated to apple orchards. The ranch produces 16 varieties of certified-organic apples, including Gingergold, Holstein, Red Delicious, Gravenstein, Royal Gala, Fuji, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Suntan and many more. It is a good place to pick apples and learn about organic farming at the same time.

Gizdich Ranch, Watsonville
7 days a week
Address: 55 Peckham, Road, Watsonville
Website - Phone: (831) 722-1056
Come for the apples, stay for the pie. The farm opened in 1937 and has been a family operation ever since. It is located just ten minutes from Watsonville City Plaza and is perfect for a family outing. Apple varieties include Red Delicious, Gala, Golden Delicious and Newtown Pippin. You can bring your own lunch and picnic next to the sales barn, but make room for dessert. The pie shop will get your mouth watering.
Live Earth Farm, Watsonville
Saturday and Sunday
Address: 1275 Green Valley Road, Watsonville
Website - Phone: (831) 763-2448
This is a certified organic farm that has been part the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program since 1995. Members can buy a weekly share of produce, but the U-pick program is open to everyone. The farm has Royal Gala and Fuji apples. And don't worry about getting carried away, the farm offers discounts if you pick more produce.

BONUS: Apple Hill
Address: Camino & Pollock Pines, Highway 50 between exit 48 (Schnell School Road) and exit 57 (Pollock Pines)
Website - Phone: (530) 644-7692
If you're up for a longer drive from the Bay Area, you can head out to apple heaven. It is located about 50 miles east of Sacramento, along Highway 50. The Apple Hill region has dozens of apple farms, ranches and wineries. You can pick your own apples, buy pies, candied apples and even savor some apple sausages with some hard cider.
From the Bay Area, take exit 48 (Schnell School) and drive east along Carson Road and North Canyon Road to visit the Apple Hill farms. View a printable map.
Related Topics:
foodapplefarmingsonoma countysanta cruz countyagriculturefoodorganicharvestoutdoor adventuresabc7 originalsSan FranciscoWatsonville (Santa Cruz County)Santa CruzSonomaSebastopolDavenportPetaluma
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