(Updated 9/13/20 to reflect COVID changes as noted in italics)
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:
COVID Updates: Face masks and social distancing are required at each of these orchards. Some require face masks to be worn AT ALL TIMES, while others will allow you to remove them if you are not within 6' of another household. Please check directly when you arrive to ask what their policy is.
Most of these orchards have a port-a-potty and hand-washing stations, but it's a good idea to BYO hand-sanitizer in case they run out of soap or if it's not available.
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 connoisseur 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 are only a few certified ORGANIC Orchards, 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. You may want to consider rolling on some essential oils or other bug deterrent to keep the flies away. (Cinnamon, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Lemongrass are the most effective oils against pesky 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 of course), 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, except maybe for some apple pie. Action shots are great and better than begging your kids to "stand still for just one more time I promise" photo. My trick: ask the kids to hug each other or take a bite of or to smell their apple for a cute candid!
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 2020. 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
(updated 9/13/20 for COVID changes: Apple Starr is NOT doing their annual U-Pick this year, but they will have pre-packaged fruit ready for pick-up from their orchard later this season. Check website for updates and details.)
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: check website for pick up times
RSVP: None needed
COST: check website for cost
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
ADDRESS: 1020 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian
CROSSCUT FARM & ORCHARD (Group U-Picking)
(updated 9/13/20 for COVID changes: Crosscut Farm & Orchard is OPEN this season! Face masks and social distancing are required. Info below has been updated. Check website for updates and details.)
WHEN: Only open for ONE weekend this year: Sept. 21-25, 2020 for Groups
Due to a low production this year, will likely prevent public U-Picking, but if it is available that will be on Sept. 26-27, 2020.
Call Sue for details, 605-430-9791
TIMES: by RSVP only for groups with 10 people minimum
RSVP: required; include parking, narrative of apple farming & local history, cider demo & picnic site
COST: $2/person with a 10 person minimum and $15 for a 5 lb bag
PAYMENT: Cash only
CHEMICALS/PESTICIDES: “Organic practices used. We do not spray our trees!”
VARIETY: Empire, Johnathan, Golden Delicious
ADDRESS: 1209 Farmer Rd., Julian
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
(updated 9/13/20 for COVID changes: Volcan Apple Farm is OPEN this season!. Face masks and social distancing are required. Info below has been updated. Check website for updates and details.)
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 & Port-a-Potties. Leashed, well behaved dogs are welcome.
WHEN: starting Friday 9/11/20 until the apples are gone
TIMES: Monday-Friday each weekend from 9am-4:30pm
check their Facebook for updates
RSVP: None needed
$15/bag (6-7 lbs) includes 1 admission
$5/person who don't buy a bag; kids 5 & under are FREE
$10/bag for law enforcement and active duty military, includes 1 admission
PAYMENT: Cash is preferred, but also accepts cards
CHEMICALS/PESTICIDES: Nothing noted about this
VARIETY: Empires, Pippins, Jonathans, Galas, Golden Delicious, Gravensteins
Fresh apple cider for $4 cash only; selling apple wood too.
They have a few picnic tables to enjoy if you BYO food, using social distancing.
Well behaved dogs on leashes are welcome, please pick up after them
DIRECTIONS: 1284 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian
Between wineries at Wynola Rd. and Julian Orchard Dr.
JULIAN FARM & ORCHARD
(updated 9/13/20 for COVID changes: Julian Farm & Orchard is OPEN this season! Face masks and social distancing are required. Info below has been updated. Check website for updates and details.)
Berry Picking and Fall at the Farm! Picnics, goat corral, tractor drawn hayrides, farmer’s store, farm animals (weekends only), cider pressing, archery & axe throwing. They have a seasonal farm store called "The Farmer's Wife" featuring Gina's farmhouse and vintage decor, homemade candles, potpourri, goat's milk soap and all things country.
WHAT: Apples, Berries (Raspberries & Blackberries), Pumpkin Patch, Fall Activities
RASPBERRY & STRAWBERRY U-PICK
WHEN: Sat & Sun Sept. 12-13, 2020
TIMES: Sat 1a-4p; Sun 12-4p
COST: $6/container + $1/admission. $3/person to go into the goat corral with a guide
OTHER: Guests are welcome to picnic, walk the paths and see the farm animals.
FALL AT THE FARM
WHEN: Sept. 19 - Oct. 25, 2020
Weekends - $10/person admission includes 10 tickets for activities or pumpkins
Weekdays (Mon, Thur or Fri) - $1/person admission + individual activity prices
Kids 2 and under are free
PAYMENT: Not noted, but always best to bring cash
CHEMICALS/PESTICIDES: Nothing noted about this
VARIETY: Honey Crisp, Liberty apples
OTHER: Head over to their original location at the Julian Mining Co. on the weekends for gold panning, gem sluicing and a fossil dig pit. WHEN: 10a-5p Saturday, 12-5p Sunday
ADDRESS: 4381 Hwy 78, Julian
On the Santa Ysabel side of the highway next to Julian Mountain Bakery & Wynola Pizza.
APPLES & ART ORCHARDS
(updated 9/13/20 for COVID changes: Apples & Art Orchards is OPEN this season! Face masks and social distancing are required. Info below has been updated. Check website for updates and details.)
This U-pick is for large groups only who buy and pick more than 20 bags. It’s a great option for groups of homeschoolers, neighborhood families, scouting/girl scouts groups, etc. This includes an orchard tour and free apple cider making & tasting. (They will not be doing apple cider making this year in 2020 due to inability to be socially distanced during this activity.)
GROUPS ONLY: They're only open for groups that are together, who pick 20+ bags! Not for individuals or small families.
WHEN: Starting approx. Sept. 24, 2020 (check website to confirm).
Picking times are daily at 1pm and 3pm.
COST: $12/half peck (about 5 lbs); Deposit of $60 required to hold reservation 2 weeks before
PAYMENT: Cash only
CHEMICALS/PESTICIDES: "Pesticide Free, All Natural, Non-GMO - they have never been sprayed. Our soil has not been contaminated with pesticides or weed killers...apples are not perfect…so there may be spots or tiny holes.”
ADDRESS: 1052 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian
CALICO RANCH & CIDERY
(updated 9/13/20 for COVID changes: Calico Ranch & Cidery is OPEN this season! Face masks and social distancing are required. Info below has been updated. Check website for updates and details.)
This is a smaller orchard and they usually only have enough apples for 1-2 weekends each season due to their lighter production.
WHEN: Sept. 11 & 12, 2020 from 11am-sunset
Another weekend will open up if there are any apples left.
COST: $10/bag (about 7-8 lbs)
PAYMENT: Cash is preferred
CHEMICALS/PESTICIDES: USDA Certified Organic
OTHER: Their cidery is open for tastings and carry out Friday-Sunday from 11-sundown
ADDRESS: 4200 Hwy 78, Julian
originally published 9/22/19