Pick Your Pleasure: A Guide to California’s Best U-Pick Farms


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Pick Your Pleasure: A Guide to California’s Best U-Pick Farms

April 16, 2024
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Pick Your Pleasure: A Guide to California’s Best U-Pick Farms

Pick Your Pleasure: A Guide to California’s Best U-Pick Farms

California, a state celebrated for its agricultural diversity, offers an abundance of U-pick farms. Here, visitors can gather their fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. These hands-on experiences provide a direct connection to the land, its bounty, and the people who grow it, making them perfect for family outings, educational trips, or just a fun day in the sun. Here’s a guide to some of the best U-pick operations across California. From the lush fields of Northern California to the sunlit orchards of Southern California, these family-friendly spots offer special events and travel experiences.

our favorite u-pick apple farm - apple ridge at apple hill

Jessica from Big Delicious Life picking blueberries at Fairfield Farms

Where you can find U-Pick farms in California:

Sacramento Area: Apple Hill and Beyond

Apple Hill in El Dorado County is a collective of farms known for apples, berries, stone fruits, and pumpkins. High Hill Ranch offers apple picking and fishing, making it a perfect spot for families. Another spot to try is Apple Ridge Farms which offers apple picking, a mining sluice, and other activities. The 24 Carrot Farm also in Apple Hill, provides a more diverse picking experience with organic strawberries, vegetables, and flowers. Their farm stand is a great place to pick up freshly harvested produce if you’re short on time. The entire area bursts into a festive mood come fall, with each farm offering something unique, from apple donuts to hayrides.

Davis Ranch located in Sloughhouse is a working farm and produce stand. They offer U-pick vegetables, including their famous sweet corn, as well as pumpkins in the fall. They also host a variety of seasonal events.

South of the Sacramento area, Brentwood is renowned for its numerous U-pick farms. There you’ll find a variety of fruits including cherries, peaches, nectarines, and berries during their respective seasons. Farms like 3 Nunns Farm, Bacchini’s Fruit Tree, and Cherry Time, are part of this vibrant agricultural community. Before you go, check the Brentwood U-Pick website or individual farm websites for opening times and available produce.

Bay Area U-Pick Farms: Coastal Delights

Earth Seed Farm in Sebastopol is a family favorite for organic apple and Asian pear picking. This farm also offers a unique lavender U-pick experience during the summer. Their annual harvest festival is a hit, featuring hayrides, cider tasting, and more, making it an ideal family outing.

Blue House Farm in Pescadero opens its fields for strawberry and flower U-pick. The farm’s scenic backdrop and organic practices make it a joyous and eco-friendly outing. Their special events, like the Strawberry U-Pick Festival, highlight the joy of harvesting your own food.

Located in Healdsburg, Preston Farm and Winery offers U-pick vegetables and fruits as part of their CSA program. They also have a winery and a bakery, providing a comprehensive farm-to-table experience.

you pick strawberries in a white box on the ground in a row of strawberries

Central Coast U-Pick Farms

Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, which offers U-pick strawberries and occasionally other berries, is unique for its organic certification and scenic coastal location. They also have a farm stand with delicious berry products.

Far West Fungi stands out as a unique gem in California. They offer folks an opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of mushroom foraging. Through their hands-on workshops and foraging tours, participants are guided by experienced mycologists to explore the lush landscapes of California, discovering and learning about the wide variety of fungi that flourish in the region. This immersive experience not only educates on the ecological roles of mushrooms but also on how to safely identify and harvest them. It is a must-visit for both novice and seasoned foragers. If you’re not ready to forage – or they don’t have a class when you’re in town – visit the Santa Cruz or San Francisco stores for lots of culinary delights. 

Live Earth Farm in the Watsonville area offers a U-pick program as part of its CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership. They provide a variety of organic fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season, including strawberries, tomatoes, and apples.

Earthbound Farm Organic Farm Stand in Carmel offers U-pick organic herbs and flowers from their garden. It’s a great spot to learn about organic farming and enjoy fresh, seasonal produce. While primarily known for their pre-packed organic salads nationwide, the farm stand and garden offer a more hands-on experience.

Crystal Bay Farm is nestled between Watsonville and Santa Cruz. This small, picturesque farm is known for organic strawberries and pumpkins. They offer a U-pick experience in a tranquil setting, making it a perfect outing for families.

Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville is a popular spot for picking apples, berries, and pumpkins. Their apple-picking season is particularly well-loved, with a variety of apples available for U-pick. The ranch also offers pie-baking and juice-pressing activities, adding to the overall experience.

Just outside of San Luis Obispo in Avila Beach, Avila Valley Barn is a delightful destination for families. During the fall, they offer U-pick apples and, in the summer, U-pick berries and flowers. The farm also has a variety of animals, a country store, and a bakery that makes delicious pies and ice cream.

Located in Templeton, Jack Creek Farms offers a traditional U-pick experience. You’ll find a variety of fruits throughout the season, including apples, peaches, and pumpkins. The farm also features a hay maze, a wooden train, and a farm stand selling local honey, jams, and more.

Near Santa Barbara, in the town of Buellton, Restoration Oaks Ranch/Santa Barbara Blueberries offers blueberry picking in the late spring and early summer. The picturesque setting among ancient oaks makes for a peaceful day of picking. They also often have other fresh produce available at their farm stand.

Rancho La Patera & Stow House, located in Goleta, is a historic site that offers U-pick citrus events during specific weekends in the winter and spring. While not a traditional farm, it’s an opportunity to pick oranges and lemons in a historic setting.

Sweet Thistle Farms welcome sign

Central Valley U-Pick Farms: The Heartland’s Harvest

In Turlock, R.A.M. Farms offers pumpkin picking in the fall, a corn maze, and other family-friendly activities. While not offering a wide range of U-pick options, it’s a great seasonal outing.

Hunter Farms in Atwater is not only an amazing pumpkin patch, but a place where kids and adults alike can enjoy ag education via a fun animatronic puppet show, train rides, ziplines, and a corn maze. 

Mountain Brook Ranch in Clovis specializes in cherries and berries. They offer U-pick cherries around May and June, with a variety of berries available for picking throughout the summer.

Sweet Thistle Farms, nestled on the outskirts of Clovis, California, offers vibrant fields of flowers and diverse produce. This family-operated farm is beloved for its charming u-pick flower experiences. Here, visitors can wander through rows of blooms, creating their own unique bouquets. Beyond flowers, the farm hosts seasonal events and workshops.

Situated in Fresno, Simonian Farms offers a range of U-pick fruits throughout the year, including seasonal berries, stone fruits, and more. They also have a farm store filled with local products and historical farm equipment on display.

Murray Family Farms near Bakersfield allows visitors to pick cherries, berries, stone fruits, and more. Their October Fun Fest features a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and petting zoo, making it an exciting family destination.

Southern California: Sun-Kissed Bounty

Underwood Family Farms (Moorpark and Somis locations) is known for its wide variety of fruits and vegetables available for U-pick, including strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and more. They also host seasonal festivals and events, offering fun activities for the whole family.

McGrath Family Farm in Camarillo offers organic U-pick berries and vegetables, along with a farm stand selling a range of organic produce. They also provide educational farm tours focused on sustainable farming practices.

In Fallbrook, Kenny’s Strawberry Farm offers U-pick strawberries and, occasionally, other berries depending on the season. It’s a family-friendly destination where visitors can enjoy the lush scenery and fresh air.

Temecula Berry Company offers U-pick blueberries typically from late spring through early summer. The farm also hosts various events and is a popular spot for families looking to experience berry picking.

Located in Oak Glen, Riley’s Farm is a working apple orchard and living history farm. They have U-pick apples, pumpkins, and berries, depending on the season, along with historical reenactments and educational programs.

Also in Oak Glen, Snow-Line Orchard offers apple picking in the fall, along with raspberries. The orchard is also known for its cider and mini donuts, making it a perfect fall destination.

Tanaka Farms in Irvine is renowned for its strawberry tours and watermelon tours during the summer. The farm also hosts a Pumpkin Patch festival in the fall, complete with wagon rides, a corn maze, and, of course, pumpkin picking.

Julian Farm and Orchard is located in Julian, a town known for its historic gold mining and apple pies. This farm offers U-pick apples during the fall, along with other seasonal activities like hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and axe throwing.

Quixote Farm is tucked away in the lively valleys of North San Diego County. Set amidst a welcoming citrus grove, this haven is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Created from the vision of Lara and Skip Lanfried, it merges the rustic charm of nature with the contemporary comforts of their bed and breakfast—and soon, glamping! All this unfolds on an authentic, working farm with seasonal U-Pick produce, providing a truly memorable experience.

Fort Cross Old Timey Adventures, situated in the scenic Julian area of San Diego County, offers a unique blend of outdoor educational activities for all ages, including music, art, survival skills, and agriculture workshops. Originally focused on living history, the family farm has expanded to host a range of programs and private events that promote hands-on learning and fun. 

Located in Carlsbad, Carlsbad Strawberry Company offers U-pick strawberries and, during the fall, a pumpkin patch. It’s a great place to enjoy the coastal scenery while picking some of the freshest strawberries you can find.

Also in Carlsbad, at The Flower Fields, visitors find a delightful new blueberry-picking experience amidst the breathtaking beauty of sprawling floral displays. This seasonal activity invites families and friends to gather sun-ripened berries by hand, offering a taste of farm-fresh sweetness against a backdrop of vibrant colors. 

Fresh from the Field

California’s U-pick operations offer more than just the chance to gather fresh produce; they provide a day of fun, learning, connection to the earth, and importantly, a newfound respect for the hardworking people who grow and harvest food. Whether you’re foraging for strawberries along the coast, wandering through apple orchards in the hills, or enjoying the fall festivities in a pumpkin patch, these experiences bring the bounty of California’s agriculture to life. So, grab a basket and set out on an adventure that’s ripe for the picking!

Article written by Alison Needham for California Grown. Images by James Collier and Hillary Rance.

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