Apple Picking (credit: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s apple season so why not head out to pick your own organic apples? Not only is apple picking a great outdoor activity in the Bay Area, but it practically ensures you’ll be receiving the freshest and highest quality of produce grown by family-operated businesses. Although this popular fruit with many uses seems to be a common crop throughout the region, apples are only grown north of San Francisco and south of San Jose. Here are five of the best places to pick your own apples in the Bay Area.

Chileno Valley Ranch
5105 Chileno Valley Road
Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 765-6664

Located about 11 miles west of Petaluma, Chileno Valley Ranch has an organic apple orchard featuring new varieties for apple picking. The ranch is open for u-pick apples on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October. Among the certified organic apples available for u-picking are Orin, Pinova, Molly’s Delicious and Jonathan’s Pride. The 600-acre property is hosted by Mike and Sally Gale and operates primarily as a cattle ranch but also offers Plein-Air art workshops and wedding services.

Clearview Organic Orchards
646 Trabing Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
(408) 472-1958

Located in a gorgeous agricultural region just outside Watsonville, Clearview Organic Orchards offers u-pick apples from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends through October. In addition to certified organic apples, the farm sells local honey year round, dried lavender and pumpkins from its “Apple Hut.” The farm specializes in growing organic Fuji and Gala apples but also offers Cameos, Johnny Gold and Granny Smith apples when in season. Clearview Organic Orchards is located a few minutes north of Watsonville off Highway 1 at Buena Vista Drive.

Gabriel Farm
3175 Sullivan Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 829-0617

Gabriel Farm offers u-pick organic apples to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members. The 14-acre ranch offers several varieties of apples including McIntosh and Fuji, as well as blackberries, persimmons and pumpkins in the fall. The u-pick season runs through the end of October. Weekend hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but the best days for u-pick are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Due to farm and family responsibilities, Gabriel Farm is not able to host visits on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Gizdich Ranch
55 Peckham Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
(831) 722-1056

Arguably the most popular place for u-pick apples in and around the Bay Area is the Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville. Drawing generations of residents and visitors alike, Gizdich Ranch offers “Pick-Your-Self” strawberries, olallieberries, boysenberries and apples, with picking season information available online or by calling the ranch directly. Watsonville’s apple season begins in September and Gizdich Ranch features popular apple varieties like Red-Delicious, Golden-Delicious, Newtown Pippin and Royal Gala. Gizdich Ranch is also widely acclaimed for its fabulous home-baked pies, as well as its gift shop and antiques. On Saturdays from September to May, visitors can also enjoy watching fruit juices being pressed in the pressing barn.

Swanton Pacific Ranch
125 Swanton Road
Davenport, CA 95017
(831) 458-5410

Owned and operated by California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), Swanton Pacific Ranch is open seasonally to the public, alumni and grade-school groups for u-pick organic apples. The ranch’s two-acre farm offers 16 different varieties of organic apples including Royal Gala and Red Delicious in the early season, Fuji and Newton Pippin in mid-season and Golden Russet, Granny Smith and Yellow Newton Pippin in the late season. In addition to growing certified organic crops, the 3,200-acre ranch also operates as a world-class educational and research center. Swanton Pacific Ranch is located 14 miles north of Santa Cruz off Highway 1 and 38 miles south of Half Moon Bay.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on