Bushels of Fun! 7 Orchards to Go Apple Picking in Julian

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You and your apple-picking squad will have bushels of fun picking apples this fall near San Diego!  From the orchards with the most variety to ones with certified organic crops, we know which apple orchards will have you reaping the best fruits of your labor. There are two that only allow groups; which are perfect for homeschooling, scouts or play-groups. Apple season is generally from early September to mid-October, so read below for all the juicy details on where to go apple picking in Julian.

Note: Check individual orchard’s websites and socials before you go because they all provide updates during the season about any picking date changes and supply availability. You don’t want to drive out there only to find one apple left on the tree!

Julian Farm & Orchard

Many people choose to pick from Julian Farm not only for their delicious apples but for the array of other fun to be found there. They usually have a pumpkin patch that opens towards the end of September, along with hayrides, apple cider pressing and you can even stop into their Julian Mining Company where kids will love to pan for gems and gold!

PICKING DATES: None announced yet for 2021. They report their Honeycrisp and Crimsoncrisp apples “should be ready for picking beginning late September”.

PRICING: Not announced yet for 2021.

Julian Farm & Orchard
4444 State Hwy 78, Julian
Online: julianminingcompany.com
Instagram: @julianminingco_and_julianfarm

Volcan Valley Apple Farm

With ten acres to roam, Julian’s largest orchard, Volcan Valley Apple Farm, comes alive with apple trees filled with varieties of red and green apples including Empire, Jonathan and Red Delicious. Purchase a bag that holds 6-7 lbs. of apples and then head into the fields to fill it up.

PICKING DATES: Fridays-Mondays from 9 am-5 pm, starting on Sunday 9/5. They'll be open until all the apples are picked, usually before Oct. 1st.
Check their socials for changing hours + updates, and as the season comes to an end.
PRICING: $15/bag + 1 admission; $5/per person admission; FREE for kids 5 and under. Credit cards only, no cash is accepted. They're following CDC safety guidelines.

Volcan Valley Apple Farm
1284 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian
Online: volcanvalleyapplefarm.com
Instagram: @volcanvalleyapplefarm

Ranchita del Reo

You’ll get more than just a u-pick bag of apples from this 4th generation family farm. You’ll get an experience like no other in Julian when you book your private 30-minute slot to have the entire orchard to yourselves.

Choose a reservation package that comes with a hands-on peanut butter making (because nothing else goes better with apples), fresh jam, a loaf of local bread, snacks, and for dessert you’ll get a fresh apple sundae! And yes, you’ll still get a ¼ peck u-pick bag each of apples.

You can also opt for a smaller experience package for two people (so fun for a mommy and me date!) where you’ll receive personalized bottles filled with fresh-squeezed apple cider for toasting, snacks and a ¼ peck bag each of u-pick apples.

PICKING DATES: opens October 2, 2021, and runs through Thanksgiving weekend, only Sat.-Tue. between 9 am-4 pm.

PB&J lunch with apple sundaes, $100 for 4 people; add 2 extra people for $25 ea.

Toast to Apple Season, $50 for 2 people

Ranchita del Reo
1711 Hwy 78, Julian
Email: ranchitadelreo@gmail.com
Online: visitjulian.com

The Peacefield Orchard

Pick from where the rumored oldest apple tree is in Julian (the “Granny Gravenstein”) and you’ll find over 220 other trees on 2.5 acres, so you’re bound to find some juicy pickings here.

PICKING DATES: opens August 28, 2021; every Saturday and Sunday 9 am-2 pm. Check their socials to keep up when the season is coming to an end.

PRICING: $16 per ½ peck size (about 8-10 apples). An entrance fee will be charged on days with musical performers.

The Peacefield Orchard
3803 Wynola Rd., Julian
Online: 3803wynolaroad.com
Instagram: @3803wynolaroad

Sarah Lenssen

Calico Ranch Orchard

You'll definitely want to mark your calendar for a visit to this family-run Calico Ranch near Julian. Calico Ranch Orchard is a USDA certified organic apple and pear orchard and hard cidery and it has been in production since the early 1930s. U-pick may only be open for a weekend or two since their crop has been lighter in the last few years. Go enjoy a glass of their bone dry, (not sweet) cider, while you or your kids pick apples.

PICKING DATES: None announced yet for 2021. Check their socials for updates in early Sept.

PRICING: Not announced yet for 2021. Cash is preferred.

Calico Ranch Orchard
4200 Highway 78, Julian
Online: calicoranch.com
Instagram: @calicocidery

Jim and Selena Middleton via Flickr

Apples and Art Orchards

This orchard is for large groups only that will pick 20 bags of apples or more per reservation. This would be perfect for a homeschooling group, scouts, sports teams, neighborhood blocks or play-groups, etc. They run an all-natural, pesticide-free, non-GMO orchard with many apple varieties including McIntosh, Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Green Pippen, and some Heirlooms. Since they ripen at different times, not all varieties will be available at your reservation time.

NOTE: They do require all guests to be vaccinated. Contact them for info regarding verification.

PICKING DATES: opens September 10, 2021, with two time slots per day at 1 pm and 3 pm

PRICING: $12 for ½ peck (about 5 lbs) with a minimum group purchase of 20 bags. Cash only. A $60 deposit is required to hold your reservation.

Apples and Art Orchards
1052 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian
(GPS is usually wrong, see directions on website)
Email for reservations: applesandart@sbcglobal.net
Online: applesandartorchards.com


Crosscut Farm and Orchard

This is a group apple picking site only with a minimum of 10 people per group and a maximum of 50 people. Make your reservations early at this family-friendly “mom and pop operation” because they’re only open for 1 week of apple picking. They have about 700 trees to choose from including golden delicious, Jonathon and Liberty apples. They are not certified organic, but they do use “organic practices” and they don’t spray their trees.

PICKING DATES: September 11-19, 2021 for picking times of 10am-12pm, 1-3pm and 3-5pm. Reservations are required for U-pick and cider-making demonstrations.

PRICING/Entrance Fee: $5 for ages 13+; $2 for ages 3-12; Free entry for kids under 3. Fees include an apple cider press demo, a short intro to apple farming, parking and a picnic site.

PRICING/Apples: $15 per ½ peck (about 7-8 apples)

Crosscut Farm and Orchard
1209 Farmer Rd., Julian
Online: crosscutfarm.wixsite.com
Instagram: @crosscut_farm_and_orchard

Apple Picking Tips

Go EARLY in the season and check ahead to confirm that apples are still available for picking. Once the apples are gone, that’s it until next year. Most report updates on their socials or website.

Take enough CASH. Most orchards only accept cash, but some do take cards and even Venmo.

Prepare to spend (a lot) MORE MONEY than you would on grocery store apples. The apple picking experience definitely costs more than a trip to the produce section.

Don’t fret about not being able to pick tons of apples. Nearly all the orchards have PRE-BAGGED APPLES available for purchase if your little farmers grow weary of picking early on.

Don’t expect mountain cold WEATHER Just because Julian is located in the mountains doesn’t mean you’ll need a jacket. Check the temperatures before you make the trip. San Diego in autumn could be as warm as a summer day. Pack plenty of water to drink and wear hats, sunscreen, close-toed shoes and maybe a little bug repellant.

Make a day out of your trip to EXPERIENCE JULIAN. This little mining town has so many aspects aside from apple picking. Julian is best when you allow yourself an entire day to explore––but due to Covid-19, research which shops and restaurants will be open during your visit and plan accordingly.

—Bonnie Taylor, Beth Shea & Leah R. Singer


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