We couldn’t actually do any apple picking the first time we were there (all the apples are gone by the end of September, news to me), although we did go rogue and pick some off the ground on the side of the road. There were a ton of them and they looked like they were going bad! So I was doing them a favor! Otherwise they’d attract deer and other unwanted pests and the like…
The second time, however – I made SURE we would get to pick them apples. All of them. And you bet we did.
Read on for what you need to know about Apple Hill in fall 2020, and my favorite Apple Hill itinerary! Click here for a 2020 map.
IS APPLE HILL OPEN DURING CORONAVIRUS IN 2020?
Yes, it is! However, not all farms are open, and some are only taking people by reservations. Therefore, you’ll need to double check with the specific farm you want to visit to see if there’s anything you need to know before your visit.
Apple hill does require you to wear a mask, so be sure to bring one. You can find more information on their policies here.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO APPLE HILL?Apple Hill’s fall season runs from early September to December. Some establishments are open year round, so be sure to check the particular place you want to visit on the Apple Hill website for exact dates and times. Some farms even offer berry picking in the summer!
Here are my tips if you want less crowds (as you can imagine, it’s a pretty popular place and gets busy on weekends):
- Drive in the opposite direction – Most people are coming from Sacramento, and tend to start at the closest farms then work their way back. Instead, you can start at the furthest side (as if you were coming from the Lake Tahoe area) and drive towards Sacramento for less traffic.
- Go when the weather is less than ideal – It was rainy when we went and there was basically no one there.
- Go after 2:00PM – Most farms close at 5:00PM, so if you visit in the afternoon, it’s much less crowded.
- Don’t go on a holiday weekend – Possibly self explanatory, but it gets crowded over Labor Day!
I’ve been to Apple Hill twice, once in November and once in September. I liked visiting in November better because September is still so HOT in Placerville! Plus we got to see some fall colors in November. It won’t cool down until mid-October or later.
Unfortunately, all the U-Pick apples will be gone by the end of September, so if you want to do that just be aware it will still be hot. So, August/September = HOT but you can still pick apples; October/November = cooler, fall colors, but no apple picking.
I’ll go over places to go apple picking below. Apple picking is quite popular so apples go QUICK, and not all of the farms offer it. Just be sure to call the farm you want to go to beforehand to find out which apples are in season and if there are even any left.
WHAT TIME DOES APPLE HILL OPEN?It depends on the farm, but in general, most farms are open from 9AM-5PM. Some are only open on weekends, while others are open 7 days a week. Double check with the specific farm(s) you want to visit, as the hours can vary.
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, I found that most of the crowds were gone by 2PM on weekends. On weekdays, you can pretty much go anytime and expect less people. Just be aware that you may hit traffic getting to and from Apple Hill during commute times Monday-Friday (around 8-9AM or 4-5PM).
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN APPLE HILL IN FALL
This list is curated to drive the opposite way of traffic. Click here for an Apple Hill 2020 map.
DENVER DAN’S APPLE PATCHDenver Dan’s Apple Patch rocks! It’s open 7 days a week, and has a TON of different apple varieties to pick. Here’s what I recommend doing:
- Apple picking, of course! Apples are $2/pound. I would suggest calling first since U-Pick apples tend to run out fast, typically by the end of September. Do know that Denver Dan’s does not have organic apples. See the full list of U-Pick farms, with both organic and non-organic options, below.
- Do the apple peeler demo! Walk to the back of the store for a free demonstration with one of the old fashioned apple peelers that they sell. Afterwards, they’ll give you the apple and you can eat it off your thumb!
- Try the Apple Crisp Sundae (it’s SO GOOD).
- Shop for apple-related products, like jams, jellies, frozen pies, and more!
Other farms that offer apple picking:
- Goyette’s North Canyon Ranch – open weekends only
- Harris Tree Farm
- Argyres Orchard – open weekends only, must have cash or check
- Goodness Orchard – ORGANIC, must call ahead and reserve a spot
- 24 Carrot Farms – ORGANIC
- Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard & Garden – ORGANIC
RAINBOW ORCHARDSRainbow Orchards has the cutest labels – I love the rainbow. I liked Rainbow Orchards because they have a “farmer’s market” feel, but still isn’t too big of a place.
Here’s what I recommend doing:
- Try their hard (and regular) apple cider! Both versions are delicious. I may or may not have picked up more than a few bottles of each to bring home…
- Their apple cider doughnuts are delish and I don’t even usually like doughnuts. So try those, too!
- They also have apples you can purchase, among other baked goods.
JACK RUSSELL BREWERYEven though Jack Russel Farm Brewery is named after a dog breed, they don’t allow dogs. LOL. Go figure.
We did the beer sampler, and tbh their beers weren’t that great. BUT they have pumpkin beer which is fun (although they were out when we were there!), and the apple beer was cool.
There’s also a “cave” winery (pictured above) attached to the brewery which was super cool. However, the wine was pretty terrible if ima be real wit chu, and the cave looks a lot cooler in the photo.
I don’t really recommend this place unless you really want to go to a brewery. Otherwise, skip it.
Delfino Farms was by far the prettiest location we went to. Here’s what you should do there:
- They have a little nature walk (which we didn’t do because mud), but it’s located on a hill overlooking a vineyard and a ton of trees, so I can imagine the walk is really pretty.
- They also have farm animals like sheep, chickens, and rabbits! They all seemed well cared for and happy.
- Check out the pumpkin patch if you visit before Halloween! We went after, and only found decomposing pumpkins lol.
- Their little bake shop is cute and sells delicious baked goods like pie!
- I loved browsing the boxes of fall gourds and mini pumpkins for sale.
BOA VISTABoa Vista is a really large farmer’s market type set up. They have lots of veggies/fruits and specialty items, like pickles in vinegar and old fashioned apple slicers.
I’d say only stop here if you have specific items in mind you’d like to buy, otherwise I preferred the smaller shops.
There’s also wine and beer tasting, but I’m not sure how good it is. My friend and I were going to try it, but my dad is a wine snob and insisted we go to a real winery instead.
HIGH HILL RANCH
Make sure you go to High Hill Ranch and NOT High Hill Farm – they’re different places! This place is HUGE. Lots of vendors selling things (that you probably don’t need, if I’m being honest, lots of little decorations and kitschy items etc.) and lots of food/desserts to buy. I wasn’t the biggest fan and would probably skip this if pressed for time.
MADROÑA VINEYARDSWe mainly went to Madroña Vineyards because it was close to High Hill. And it was free! We did quite a lot of tastings for it being free – I was impressed. However, the wine was not our favorite, although the location is really pretty!
We liked the wine better at Jodar Winery, and the tastings were also free! And the location was also really pretty, too. To be honest I haven’t really ever visited an ugly winery, so….
You should 10000000% go here – we loved Chateau Davell! It’s outdoors, but they have heat lamps when it’s cold. Plus you’re drinking wine so is it ever really cold?
And the stand is ADORABLE (see above). This wine tasting costs money ($5) but they give you food samples to try with your wine! Each wine is paired with a little bit of cheese, crackers, or chocolate.
And the wine is goooood. But that also could have been due to the fact that this was the third winery we visited…
However, they have apparently moved locations since the last time I went! I’m not sure if it’s still as cute, but the photos they have up on Facebook still look really nice.The whole Apple Hill area is just so damn cute and pretty. Driving on the roads (especially during fall with the pretty colors, eeeeek) is basically a destination in itself! In summary, my favorite stops were:
- Denver Dan’s for their apple slicer experience, apple picking, apple cider sundae, and overall atmosphere
- Delfino Farms for their pretty scenery and nature walk
- Rainbow Orchards for their hard cider
- Chateau Davell for their delicious wine, good pairings, cute stand, and pretty scenery
If you really want to shop, go to High Hill Ranch and Boa Vista. They’re both huge markets with lots of items to choose from! However, they weren’t really my scene as they were both giant and more crowded.You should definitely go to Apple Hill at least once for the experience. Have fun and tell me your favorite stops in the comments!