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Apple Picking in North County San Diego (2018 Guide)

apple picking san diego north county

Fall fruit is abundant in San Diego. Apples, pears, persimmons…we’ve got it all. For just a few weeks out of each year, orchards around the county invite the public to pick their own seasonal fruit. Spend the day in a nearby orchard picking fall fruit to your heart’s content. While you can certainly pick up apples at any local grocer, picking your own can be a fun fall outing and a great way to step out into nature and learn about seasonal fruit. Many apple orchards offer educational experiences and private tours.

We’ve also included some of our favorite fall u-pick locations for seasonal fruit and even hops. Our number one tip? Go early in the season. Here’s our guide to Apple Picking in North County San Diego.

1. Volcan Valley Apple Farm

Volcan Valley is considered one of the largest and most abundant orchards in the area. Volcan Valley Apple Farm boasts a whopping 7,300 apple trees on its property. This is a great family orchard. Pet owners rejoice! Volcan Valley is dog-friendly. The farm grows 7 different varietals of apple trees including Gala, Jonathans, Empire, Gravenstein, Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Pippin. They’ve got low-lying fruit available for kiddos of all ages. They are open Friday through Monday from 9 am to 5 pm for U-pick of their crop. Apples are $12 for a huge multi-pound bag.

2. Apple Starr Orchard

Apple Starr is a certified organic fruit orchard. They’ve got 8 acres of pears and apples. They have Bartlett, Comice, Anjous, and Bosc varieties of pears. Their apples include Jonagold, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious. No reservations are required, however, groups should inquire about availability. We’ve heard great things about Apple Starr. Red wagons are available for the littles (Can you say photo opp?) but they also encourage you to bring strollers and your own wagons if you wish. There is plenty of parking, picnic tables and the all important restroom facilities. One picking bag that holds 12 pounds is $25. That’s roughly just over $2 per pound. Cash and Check only.

3. Calico Ranch Orchard

Calico Ranch Orchard is back open this year after 2 years of drought damage. They are a long time family-owned apple and pear orchard. Planted in the 1930’s the orchard is owned by the Young family. Calico offers a variety of apples and pears, a different one each weekend depending on when they are in season. In total, the ranch is a whopping 30 acres. They also offer cider made from the apples and pears in the orchard. Call to confirm their opening date which is TBD as of the writing of this article.

4. Peacefield Orchard

Peacefield Orchard is a unique blend of orchard and farm. If you want the small family owned orchard experience, peace field is for you. Apples include Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Red Delicious, Jonathon, Jonagold, Macintosh, Braeburn, Rome, and Strawberry Ladies They also grow Crab Apples, Asian Pears, Bartlett Pears, and French Plums. They have grower-led farm tours, farm-to-table dinner events, and educational agriculture classes. Tours are available by advanced appointment only on Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 am, 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm (Private groups can ask about other days available). They are a pesticide free farm. They accept cash only.

5. O’Dell’s Organic Pear Orchard

O’Dell’s grows organic pears on their small family run farm. Carl and Camille will show you around and get you started picking your own pears in no time. This Julian pear orchard can be a great alternative if you are looking for something different from apples. If you have a fruit picking pole or clippers of your own, we suggest you bring them. It’s $10 per bag and a bag can hold roughly 6 pounds. Also? Not only do they have yummy pears, they have adorable goats as well!

6. Apples & Art Orchard

Apples and Art is only open for groups of 20 or more. So, this orchard is perfect for a company party, team building, sports team, community club, play group, or scout troop. They provide tours, time for picking, apple education, as well as cider making and tasting. Tours are daily at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. Cost is about $10-$12 per person and that is for around 5 pounds of apples.

7. Fuyu King Persimmons

This unique persimmon orchard is only open for four weekends in November, so if this is on your fall bucket list, make plans soon. Fuyu King persimmons are very sweet and can be eaten like an apple. The farm is open 9 am to 3 pm only on the weekends. Persimmons are $1.50 a pound. Its good to know that while they have clippers, you may want to bring your own if you have them.

8. San Diego Golden Hop Farm

Lastly, If you are in the mood for something a little different, why not try a hops farm? Have you ever wanted to see how hops are grown and cultivated? Beer and hops lovers will enjoy a tour of San Diego Golden Hop Farm. They grow 11 different varieties of organic and naturally grown hops on the farm including Chinook, Cascade, Horizon, Glacier, Northern Brewer, Nugget, Sterling, Perle, Crystal, Zeus, and Galena. Hops Harvest Parties and Tours are by appointment only.

Tips For Apple Picking In North County

  • Always check with the individual farm or orchard before you go, as fruit availability varies from week to week.
  • Go as early as you can in the season, as the fruit becomes less plentiful as the season goes on.
  • Wear closed toed shoes and bring clippers or a fruit picking pole if you have one. Please leave ladders at home.
  • Bring cash with you on your trip. Many places only take cash or check.
  • If you are headed to Julian for u-pick apple picking, why not make a day of it and visit the charming downtown area. There are plenty of little shops, restaurants, and of course, you will need to sample some world famous Julian apple pie.
  • Finally, GPS can be wrong on some of the farm locations. Our suggestion is to have GPS available, but also write down the directions given for each orchard via their websites.

Want to discover more about Julian, see our guide to planning a winter day trip to Julian.

Now it’s your turn! Do you know of any missing apple orchards that should be included in this guide? Contact us here or comment below.

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Michelle Sybert: Michelle also writes at her blog Be Brave, Keep Going and lives in the North San Diego area with her husband and two children. When she's not writing, Michelle loves to go hiking, discover new breakfast spots, and photography. Follow Michelle on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram