One of the best fall ou destinations in California is Apple Hill. These are the best things to do, the farms you can’t miss, and all of the sweet treats to try. For me, Apple Hill is a childhood staple, now an adult favorite day trip.

I grew up in the foothills of California and every year we would take a seasonal family trip for the day. Up Highway 50 just south of Lake Tahoe is the small town of Placerville where Apple Hill is. Apple Hill is a concentrated area of ranches, apple farms, and local growers. It’s the place to go to for all the fall things from apple picking to lots of apple treats.

Now as an adult, my husband and I often take at least one day trip a year to get a dose of autumnal fun. It has changed a lot since I was a kid, now home to several wineries and cideries which make it fun. Still to this day I have my favorites and have added a few to the list.

So if you’re planning a fall day excursion to Apple Hill, don’t miss this guide on all of the best things to do when visiting.

A Guide to Visiting Apple Hill, California

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Apple Hill

When is the best time to visit Apple Hill?

The best time of the year to visit Apple Hill is early to mid-fall season. Most farms are open for picking apples, the weather is mild, and there is plenty to do. During the week, Monday to Friday are the best days to visit in the early afternoon before the traffic. Come weekends, the traffic gets really busy, and can be very challenging to get around the farms. If you do visit on the weekends, I would recommend starting early.

My preference if you don’t want to pick apples is to go in early November or later October. There are fewer crowds and it is not nearly as hot as it is in September.

When is Apple Hill season?

From August 13th To December 23rd, 2022 is Apple Hill season for the main farms. The Apple Hill High Hill Ranch is open between 9 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday between 8 am and 5 pm.

What city is Apple Hill in?

Apple Hill is located in the countryside city of Placerville. It’s a wonderful getaway from Sacramento (~45 minutes drive) or San Francisco (~2-hour drive). Check out this guide on Gold Country to help plan your trip.

What is Apple Hill famous for?

The area of Apple Hill is famous for its apple farms, u-pick farms, and sweet treats. It’s the largest concentration of apple farms in California and is super popular for families to visit during the harvest season.

My Top Tip For Visiting Apple Hill

It can feel overwhelming when you drive up to Apple Hill and start to see the queue of cars lining up to exit on Highway 50. That’s ok! Drive right past them, make a U-turn at your next possible left, and start your experience from the other direction. Most cars are coming northbound from Sacramento/Bay Area so you can easily start from the opposite direction. It’s a great way to cut out the traffic.

And again, if you can visit midweek, I highly recommend opting for this. Most of the farms are open until 5 pm, so worth checking ahead of time.

The Best Things to Do in Apple Hill, California

Go Apple Picking Yourself

One of my favorite activities to do while visiting Apple Hill is the chance to actually pick your own apples. It’s so fun with the family and makes for a great way to spend the morning. There are so many farms where you can pick your own as well (the full list here). Below are just a few of my favorites. The one we go to every year is Smokey Ridge Farm and I love it because they always have unique varieties. Then later in the season, you can actually pick your own chestnuts as well!

My suggestion is to check with each farm first as many close down the You Pick by late September.

Farms Where You Can Apple Pick:

Smokey Ridge Farm (May-Aug: Sat-Sun, 11-5; Sept-Nov: Fri-Sun, 9-5)
Harris Family Farm (open Thursday-Sunday 9:00 am- 4:30 pm)
24 Carrot Farm *certified organic (April-Aug: Thu, Fri, Sat 10 am-5 pm
Sept-Nov, Daily 10am-5pm)
Denver Dan’s (Friday through Sunday, 9 -4 pm) *NOT OPEN FOR PICKING 2022
Goodness Orchard (closed for 2022 season)
Pine-O-Mine Ranch (July – Dec, Thursday-Sunday 10 am – 6 pm)

Try the Cider and Walkin’ Pie at Delfino Farms

This is hands down my favorite stop in Apple Hill. The location is absolutely gorgeous with epic views from the top of the hill. It’s set on Edio Vineyards, there’s an outdoor space, a nature walk, farm animals, and a big grassy hill. But the best part is the cider and their walkin’ pie. I also love that it is family-run.

It is SO yummy — the pie is like a personal-size cinnamon, apple pie topped with a caramel sauce and ice cream. I want to go to Apple Hill every year JUST for this. The pastry is from Joan’s Apple Bakery and it’s right at Delfino Farms where you can also get apples. I would also recommend trying the Henrietta Stitch Cider too while you’re there.

If you go before Halloween, they usually have a pumpkin patch set up as well which is lovely.

Things to love at Delfino Farms:

  • farm animals
  • outdoor space + grassy hill
  • baked goods
  • apples for sale
  • pumpkin patch
  • cider or wine

For hours: Joan’s Apple Bakery open Friday-Monday, 10-5, September 2 through November 21 and November 23.

The Best Things to Do in Apple Hill in the Fall

Stock Up at Boa Vista Farms and Try Apple Cider Donuts

For a more “farmer’s market” experience, Boa Vista Farms is home to a big open, indoor/outdoor shop. You can find so many things sold here from the region from nuts to apples, pies, and produce. One of the highlights though is definitely the apple cider donuts. It’s part of their baked goods and is made fresh daily.

Go Wine Tasting in Apple Hill

Apple Hill may be known for its apples and farms, but it is also home to several wineries. Over the last decade, more and more keep opening which makes it a great part of any day trip there. There are breweries, wineries, and places that specialize in cider.

My favorite spots that I love to wine taste at in Apple Hill are:

  • Boeger Winery
  • Starfield Vineyards
  • Edio Vineyard at Delfino Farms
  • Lava Cap Winery

When you’re planning your day, it is worth calling in advance to make a reservation. During the week, you may be able to just pop in but not guaranteed. If you’re looking for the full list of wineries, be sure to check out the list here.

Grab a Carmel Apple at Abel’s Apple Acres

There are so many places to get a caramel apple in Apple Hill but my favorite is always Abel’s. The line can be long but it is so worth it. Inside the shop, there are several baked goods to pick from as well. I love getting an assortment of apples coated with almonds or just plain caramel.

For hours: Daily, 8-5:30 pm August 26 through November 30, Daily 9-4:30 December 1- December 23, weather permitting.

See the flowers at Apple Ridge Farms

One of my favorite things to do is to go for a walk through the flowers at Apple Ridge Farm. It is part of their “nature walk” and it is open seasonally to enjoy. This last year they planted hundreds of dahlias and other varietals. Well worth a stop for this!

For hours: Mon-Fri 10-5 & Sat-Sun 9-6, Season: September 1 – December 5.

Pop into High Hill Ranch

It’s not my favorite spot to go to but we did grow up coming here. It’s the largest of the ranches in Apple Hill and there are several shops, boutiques, and things to see here. High Hill Ranch feels almost like a mini fair in its own way. There is also the famous fishing pond where you can rent fishing equipment for catch & release.

Part of the shops here are for the crafts fair, so you may enjoy perusing the stalls as well.

For hours: Mon-Fri 9 am-5 pm, Weekends 8 am-6 pm during the dates of August 13 – December 24.

Other Experiences in Apple Hill

A few other experiences to consider while visiting Apple Hill:

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