Image Source - Flickr, Mitch Lorens (MLorens)
As summer starts to come to a close, you can take solace in the fact that the approaching autumn heralds the start of apple season. And there's no better place to enjoy apple season than at Apple Hill, in the Sierra Foothills of El Dorado County in Northern California.
You'll find Apple Hill located around an hour east of Sacramento on Highway 50, around halfway to South Lake Tahoe, in the area of Camino, just Northeast of Placerville. Here you'll find over 50 farms and artisans offering apples and apple products, as well as other fruits, baked goods, wine, and even Christmas trees. The Apple Hill area is also home to a spa and a craft brewery.
Some members of the Apple Hill Growers association are open year-round, but things really kick off over Labor Day weekend and continue throughout the fall to Thanksgiving.
One of the primary activities people come to Apple Hill for is to visit the apple and other fruit farms. There are more than fifty growers in the Apple Hill area, and along with apples, many of them also grow pears, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. At least a dozen of the growers even offer the opportunity to pick your own fruit, an activity that is always great fun for families. Mountain berries are typically best for picking in the late summer, while apple picking is at its peak in September. Most farms offer plenty of other activities for your family, and picnic grounds to enjoy the products you pick and purchase on your visit.
Apple Hills soil is great for growing fruit, and this extends to the fruits of the vine as well. There are seven wineries within the Apple Hill Growers association, located in Placerville and Camino. While the wineries are open year-round, the early autumn period is perfect to visit as it coincides with the annual wine grape harvest. Many of the wineries have special events that coincide with the harvest, and some even offer dedicated wine harvest tours. On Saturdays, Lava Cap winery puts on its Wine and Sunsets Music Series.
Once fall has taken full hold and the fruit harvests have mostly concluded, Halloween season starts to kick in at Apple Hill. Many of the fruit growers also grow pumpkins, and October is the perfect period to come and pick your own pumpkins. Throughout October, other traditional Halloween activities are present in Apple Hill, such as scarecrow contests, a haunted nature trail, and haunted mazes. The annual Apple Hill Harvest Run takes place on Halloween weekend.
Apple Hill's location in the Sierra Foothills makes it a perfect location for growing Christmas trees. From the end of November through Christmas, visit Apple Hill to pick a pre-cut tree, or find your perfect tree still growing on a farm and have it cut for you. Apple Hill Growers and Christmas Tree Growers produce a number of Christmas tree varieties from which you can choose, including multiple fir species, cedar, and sequoia.
Weekends can be extremely busy up in, and around, the Apple Hill area. If you plan to drive through the area, do it early in the morning otherwise you will find yourself stuck in traffic and nowhere to park. Follow the signs as you get up into the area as there are often parking lots open with free shuttle service to Apple Hill itself during the busiest of weekends. If you're curious what is happening during the time of your visit, the official Apple Hill website has a calendar of events for the full season. And remember, no drinking and driving if you plan to visit the wineries or breweries in the Apple Hill area.
Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver, as your RoamRight policy does not cover loss resulting from or caused by being under the influence of alcohol.
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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