Fall U-Pick: Pumpkins, Peaches and Pluots, Oh My!

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Kids often have to live in a “Do Not Touch!” world, whether it’s breakables at a store, paintings at LACMA, or other people’s food. Thankfully, autumn brings some awesome opportunities to let those tiny hands grab with gusto. We’re talking about picking your own produce, of course. So round up your little rascals and let them touch, pick, and taste to their heart’s content. You’ll all be thrilled with the delicious results.

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photo credit: Kevin Bedell via Creative Commons

An Apple a Day
Create lasting memories with your kiddos and take them to an apple orchard, where you can indulge in some fresh outdoor fun. Your wee ones can scout for the crunchiest apples, and even sample all the varieties, from sweet to sour to spicy. A vitamin C boosting adventure, directly from leaf to lips…heeding the doctor’s orders never tasted so good. There are two superb spots to pick your own apples in So Cal:

Oak Glen 

Our favorite spot in this desert town is Riley’s Farm, which offers way more than just apples (there’s berries, u-pick flowers, tons of kid-friendly activities, the list goes on). But there are about a dozen orchards in this mile high town, so plan a day-trip (or weekend adventure) here and tucker your little ones out on crisp air and even crispier fruit.

Julian

For another great apple picking option, there are more orchards in Julian, a quaint mountain town about 60 miles northeast of San Diego. It’s worth the drive. After all, it could lead to fresh-baked apple pie!

apple picking

photo credit: Tim & Selena via flickr

Fruit & Veggie-tastic
Having trouble getting the tiny tots to try the green stuff?  Take them right to the source, where they can hand-pick their own farm-fresh veggies. You may find those greens taste a lot sweeter when they’re the treasures of a hand-selected harvest. Or if you’re only feeling fruity, these places offer loads of juicy options too.

Tanaka Farms

One of the only family-run farms in Orange County, Tanaka Farms is definitely worth a visit. Your kiddos will love the tractor pulled farm tours, where they’ll get to see different fruits and vegetables and even get to sample some fresh from the field. There’s a pumpkin patch from September 27th through October 31st, so you can get your Halloween goodies and organic produce all at once. On weekends in October, your brood can take part in the Fall Harvest Festival activities while you daydream about that pumpkin bread recipe you’ve been dying to try.

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photo credit: Aaron Brinker via Creative Commons

Underwood Farms

Get ready for the 17th annual Fall Harvest Festival at Underwood Farms from September 27th – October 31st, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Each weekend has something new and interesting for kids, from fire trucks and K-9 demonstrations to cowboys and a flea circus. Added bonus: anyone in a costume will receive free entry on Halloween. Beyond the festival fun, you can also pick all kinds of veggies, fruits and pumpkins. Don’t worry about bringing lunch – every festival weekend features food vendors selling tasty treats like roasted corn on the cob, fresh pie, kettle corn, hamburgers, hotdogs and Mexican food. The Festival is also a fantastic place to host a birthday party, since you can reserve your own spot in the Party Area and enjoy the surrounding activities, too. They’re also open every day of the week, so if your little one is itching to try something new before the weekend, this would be an exciting day out (and it’s far less crowded on the weekdays).

Cathie Ericson

photo credit: Cathie Ericson

Brian Ranch Airport U-Pick 

Brian Ranch, by Palmdale, is the place to go if your kid is obsessed with all things aircraft. A private airport specializing in light sport aircraft, your kiddos will get to gaze at some cool looking planes before heading out to the orchard to pick delicious fruit. And if you’re feeling brave, you could even schedule a 15-minute introductory flight ($40, for adults only) while the kiddos pick. Plums are in season now, and they have a pumpkin patch in October. They have a hay wagon for tots to enjoy, and a picnic area where you can savor the fruits of your labor. Also, they sell unusual fruit butters made on site, like apricot, Asian pear, nectarine, peach and pear. (Note: the farm closes in mid-October.)

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photo credit: Adam Dachis

Murray Family Farms
Located in Bakersfield, Murray Family Farms is a bit of a drive (but most of these are – that’s the downside to living in the big city!).  But it’s worth it to check out October Fest (from October 1st to October 31st), where your little ones can explore corn mazes, go on hay rides, get their faces painted, jump in bouncy houses and more. Oh, and of course you can pick your own fruits and veggies, with many varieties available most of the year. Check the calendar to see what’s in season…from pluots and corn to apples and pumpkins. With so many yummy selections, your kiddos will be happily munching in the car all the way home.

M&M Peach Ranch

Do you and your little ones have a sweet tooth? Skip the chocolate and go for nature’s candy instead. Freshly plucked peaches at M&M Peach Ranch are a super sweet treat you can all feel good about, and you don’t have to go to Georgia for these peaches, you only have to head a little farther than Valencia. You’ll enjoy a carefree afternoon wandering through the trees and filling your bucket with the best and brightest of the season. Peaches are only available through October, so make sure you don’t miss out. All fruit here is certified organic, so you can rest assured that the natural sugar your kiddos are getting is pesticide-free.

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photo credit: Bruce Tuten via Creative Commons

Jack-O-Lanterns A-Plenty
It wouldn’t be October without a little pumpkin carving. There are too many to list here, so check out our comprehensive list of awesome pumpkin patches where your mini monster can hand-select the most terrifying pumpkin of all. Gather some mini pumpkins too, since they make gorgeous table decorations to complete the festive mood.

Now get picking and enjoy the yummiest harvest of the season. Let us know where you end up visiting, or if there are any great U-Pick farms we missed.

-Elena Wurlitzer