For many people, the end of summer and the beginning of fall can mean only one thing: it’s time to head out to a local orchard and grab a basket to start enjoying some apple picking. Picking apples is one of the best ways to spend time outdoors in September, October, and November, which are the three key months of apple picking season in the United States. At this time of year, apples are reaching that perfectly ripe moment when they’re just ready to be tugged free of their trees and placed in your bag or basket to be munched on at home or used in all kinds of exciting recipes.

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Apple orchards and farms are found all around the nation, including in the sunny state of California. Apples tend to be associated with rainy, cool environments, but they can also thrive in warm locations too, as evidenced by the excellent apple farms and orchards all around the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, the Bay Area produces some of the juiciest apples in America, and you can try them out for yourself at several U-Pick spots. Many of the Bay Area’s best apple picking locations also offer U-Pick services on other fruits and veggies including pears, pumpkins, and more.

Best Apple Picking Spots in Bay Area

The Bay Area is blessed with a nice range of apple orchards and farms that open up to the public at various times throughout the year for U-Pick and special events. During apple picking season, it’s easy to find an orchard in the Bay Area just waiting to welcome you in and take you on a hayride over to the apple trees. Here are some contact details and overviews of the very best apple orchards the Bay Area has to offer.

- Chileno Valley Ranch - 5105 Chileno Valley Rd, Petaluma, CA 94952, Phone: 707-765-6664

Located just outside Petaluma, Chileno Valley Ranch is a super apple picking spot in the Bay Area that also hosts private events like weddings and parties. A lot of tasty varieties can be found at Chileno Valley Ranch through September and October, including Candy Crisp, Orin, and Jonagold. Additional services include farm tours and simply enjoying the 600-acre ranch itself, which plays home to some prize Black Angus cattle. This location is very popular, so it often pays off to reserve ahead of time to be sure of a spot among the apple trees.

- Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch - 13128 Occidental Rd, Sebastopol, CA 95472, Phone: 707-823-0538

The name of this Bay Area apple picking spot tells you all you need to know. The Apple A Day Ratzlaff Ranch is all about apples and is situated quite conveniently just an hour away from San Francisco. Unlike other apple picking spots which can have unpredictable hours, this ranch is open 5-days a week when the apples are ripe and offers some of the tastiest Rome, Golden Delicious, and other varieties of apples in all of California. Fresh produce and homemade goods including some top quality apple juice are also available.

- Swanton Pacific Ranch - 473-475 Swanton Rd, Davenport, CA 95017, Phone: 831-458-5410

Another excellent ranch location in the Bay Area that also provides U-Pick apples, Swanton Pacific Ranch covers an enormous area of over 3,000 acres in total, including part of a redwood forest. It's an astonishing place to visit for a lot of reasons, including the many delicious apples grown on the land. More than a dozen apple varieties can be picked at this Bay Area orchard, including Royal ala, Granny Smith, Gingergold, Red Delicious, and Holstein. In addition, Swanton Pacific Ranch is a highly educational area, with university students often spending time here to learn all about agriculture and eco-friendly farming techniques. You can learn all about that too, so you'll head home with a whole lot of apples and some valuable new knowledge.

- Gizdich Ranch - 55 Peckham Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076, Phone: 831-722-1056

This apple farm and ranch opened up way back in the 1930s, so it's been in business longer than many other apple orchards in the state, and all of that experience has been used to grow some of the best apples in the Bay Area. This is a family-owned ranch offering a warm welcome to all visitors and also having its own gift store and antique shop. Lots of different apples can be found at Gizdich Ranch include the classics like Golden Delicious, Gala, and Red Delicious. Be sure to try a slice of homemade pie too!