One of the first Fall traditions for many is Apple Picking in nearby Julian! This is a GREAT activity for kids to show them where food comes from and they can even pick their own apples right from the branch. Don’t forget your cameras and make sure they’re fully charged because there will be some cute photo ops in the orchards.
When you've got all the apples you can carry, come back here to turn them into the Best Apple Pie In The Universe and Apple Raisin Muffins!
But First, Some Tips:
Most orchards are only open on weekends for a limited time until their apples are all gone (usually end of Sept. or mid-Oct.) and they usually only accept cash.
WHEN TO GO:
Go early in the season before the apples run out (early to mid-Sept if they’re open), and go early in the day while it’s cooler. September & October still have pretty warm summer temps, even in Julian.
Make sure their apples are ripe before you go - they’ll usually announce it either on their websites, facebook or instagram pages.
Each of them have different apple varieties as well, so if you’re an apple connoiseur or want to pick those Galas or Gravensteins, check to see which orchards have what you want to pick. I made note of the apple varieties for each orchard below, but it may change. ;)
WHAT ELSE IS THERE:
Check with each orchard first to find out which one you’re interested in because some even have pears, berries & pumpkins to pick!
There is only ONE certified ORGANIC Apple (& Pear) Orchard, others are in the process of getting organic certified, some don’t spray their trees & some don’t mention anything. I’ve noted this info below for each orchard, so if that matters to you then be sure to take note.
Apple picking costs a bit more than what you’d pay for at the grocery store, but it’s worth it to have the experience and memories with your kids. Costs vary from $5, $12, $13, $25 for about 5 lbs.
WHAT TO BRING:
Be sure to bring water, snacks, hats & sunscreen; these are always at the top of my list! But also wear sensible shoes like sneakers (not flip flops or sandals), bring a picnic lunch, blanket (some places have picnic tables) and cash because that’s all that most apple picking places will accept.
We find it best after 1.5 hours in the car to stop at one of the cafes in Julian BEFORE going to the orchards. My kids usually need the bathroom and to fill up their bellies with food so they don't get hangry or pee their pants in the middle of the orchard.
Each orchard has a bathroom option, most likely a port-a-potty, but bring a pee bag with you (and a change of clothes!) in case your kids start doing the potty dance in the middle of the orchard and it's a long walk to the bathroom...
There are lots of bugs in the orchards, mostly little flies and some bees. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and long socks to cover up well. The little flies bothered my kids the most but I kept them moving and picking so after a while they forgot about the flies.
If you’re not too tired, check out the cute little town of Julian! There are lots of great bakeries (for fresh apple pie), cafes to grab a meal, antique shops and the Julian Mining Company is a fun place for kids to pan for gold! There's an old jail cell you can walk up to, same for the old school house and a carriage house. We even saw some wild turkeys roaming about!
Try to get your cute pictures at the start of your apple picking; otherwise, you'll end up with some tired, hungry kids who have to pee and they won't stand still for any bribe. Action shots are great and better than begging your kids to "stand still for just one more time I promise".
Here are the Apple Orchards in Julian:
Remember to check with them directly before you go to make sure they still have apples left to pick!
The info below is noted for 2019. If you have any updated information about organic or pesticide spraying practices or anything else to update please let me know and I'll make the changes. :)
APPLE STARR ORCHARD
This is the only noted Certified Organic orchard for both Apples AND Pears. They have lots of trees with low branches that kids can reach! Lots of parking, picnic tables, bathrooms, BYO chairs or blankets, red wagons are available for small children or BYO strollers and wagons.
What: Apples & Pears until all sold out
When: Starting Sept. 20th - Weekends only Sat/Sun 10a-5p
RSVP: None needed
Cost: $25/bag, $15/additional bag/family
Payment: Cash or Check with ID
Chemicals/Pesticides: Certified ORGANIC Growers (CCOF) since 1996
Variety: APPLES - Granny Smith, Jonagold, Roma, Arkansas Black, Red Delicious, Wealthy, Fuji, Gala; PEARS - Bosc, Anjou, Comice, Red Bartlett, Green Bartlett
Directions: 1020 Julian Orchards Dr.
CROSSCUT FARM & ORCHARD
Organic practices are used and they don’t spray their trees.
When: Only open for TWO weekends this year: Sept. 28 & 29; Oct. 5 & 6
Times: Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5
RSVP: None needed
Cost: $5/person includes u-pick bag for 3.5 lbs apples. Kids 8 & under are FREE.
Payment: Cash only
Chemicals/Pesticides: “Organic practices used. We do not spray our trees!”
Variety: Empire, Johnathan, Golden Delicious
Directions: 1209 Farmer Rd. Just below Volcan Mountain and directly across Menghini Wineries on Farmer Rd. Park on Farmer Rd, enter at trailhead and a short walk to the orchard. Gate entry to apple shed for sign in and maps.
VOLCAN VALLEY APPLE FARM
This is the most popular and largest orchard in the area and is where most people come to pick apples. There are lots of low branches that make it easy for kids to pick. They also sell fresh apple cider & cold water. They have a few picnic tables & Porta-Potties. Leashed, well behaved dogs are welcome.
When: Sept. 13-17, 2019 and all 4 days each weekend Fri-Mon until sold out, check their Facebook for updates
RSVP: None needed
Cost: $12/bag (6-7 lbs) + $2/person; kids 5 & under are FREE
Payment: Not noted, but bring cash
Chemicals/Pesticides: Not noted
Variety: Empires, Pippins, Jonathans, Galas, Golden Delicious, Gravensteins
Directions: 1284 Julian Orchards Dr. Between wineries at Wynola Rd. and Julian Orchard Dr.
JULIAN FARM & ORCHARD
Same owners as Julian Mining Company, they’re now opening their new farm for u-pick apples, berries & pumpkins! They also have tractor drawn hayrides, farmer’s store, farm animals to visit, cider pressing, archery & axe throwing.
What: Apples, Berries (Raspberries & Blackbe