Fall is my favorite time of year. The weather is cool and crisp, the leaves start turning brown, and the smell of pumpkin spice permeates the air. And in our house, September means apple picking.
As soon as our daughter was born I started implementing a yearly family trip to Julian every September to go apple picking. We just completed our third annual apple picking trip and it’s such a fun way to kick off the fall season for our family.
Before you go, call the apple farm you want to go to and make sure they have apples to pick. The apple farms are generally only open on the weekends or certain days of the week, so call ahead to get hours, directions, and prices ahead of time. There is multiple apple picking farms, so which one should you pick?
I am typically an organic health mom that only feeds her family organic eggs, meats, fruits, and vegetables. However, there is only one organic apple farm in Julian called Apple Starr Orchard and it typically closes mid September because they have no apples left to pick. For instance, as of September 13th all organic apples have been picked for the season and they only have pears to pick from 10am-5pm on Saturdays.
Also, because they are organic, the cost is $25 for one 12lbs bag of apples. Each additional bag is $15. They only accept cash or check. Strollers and wagons are allowed. If you go, you can picnic on the grounds so bring a blanket and or chairs just in case!
For the experience of going apple picking, we go to Volcan Valley Apple Farm every year. The apples aren’t organic, but after we pick them we generally do not eat them (gasp!). I display them on the dining room table in a glass bowl for decoration. I am not a baker, otherwise I would make a pie, but I’d rather just pick up a whole pie on my way home at the Julian Pie Company.
The Volcan Valley Apple Farm accepts cash and credit cards. You can pick one bag for $12 cash or $12.50 with a card. They typically have multiple types of apples available to pick. They are open from 9am-5pm Thursday-Monday. They were even open on Labor Day when we went this year!
They have picnic tables on site and dogs, strollers, and wagons are allowed. And even if you end up going late in the season, they typically have apples to pick until the very end of September. There is also wine tasting across the driveway from the orchard.
Apple picking has been a hit with our daughter every year we have gone since the first time when she was just shy of a year old. We typically spend 30-45 minutes picking apples, taking pictures, and strolling through the farm. I suggest looking at the 10-day forecast to see what the weather will be like before you go. The first two years we went, it was in the mid 80’s and much too hot for boots, sweaters, and scarves! Let’s put it this way, you won’t be sipping a hot pumpkin spiced latte with you as you pick apples. Luckily we went on Labor Day this year and it was only a high of 73 that day and we were able to wear long sleeves and boots, which really made it feel like fall! That being said, make sure you wear layers when you go just in case there is a breeze or if it’s warmer than you expect.
After we are done apple picking it is our family tradition to have lunch at The Julian Café afterwards for a homemade chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw! There is typically a wait because it is a small restaurant, so I suggest going in the early afternoon or late afternoon to avoid the lunch rush. I suggest putting your name in and then walking around the town while you wait for your table to be ready.
There is an amazing bookstore, museum, candy store, and cider mill right in town within a few minutes from the restaurant. Finally after lunch we walk down Main Street to the Julian Pie Company and eat a piece of warm apple pie with ice cream for dessert before heading home.