Guess what time of year it is? It’s not only Fall, but we are amidst all things pumpkin spice and caramel apple flavors. Lucky for you, we live in one of the BEST areas to experience the season’s perfect weather, gorgeous fall foliage, and the famous APPLE HILL. If you haven’t heard of Apple Hill or if you have not had a chance to go, you absolutely need to. Doing so might just encourage you to turn this into an annual tradition like it did with our family.
In the past, we have visited a few including High Hill Ranch, Jack Russell Brewery, and Larsen Apple Barn. However, this year, we decided to check out Abel’s Apple Acres, Denver Dan’s Apple Patch, and Mill View Ranch. I promise, though, that no matter which one you go to, you won’t be disappointed! Choose a few from the 40 plus businesses and start planning your trip.
When is a good time to get to Apple Hill? Usually mid-September most places are open. That being said, I highly recommend that any time after October 1, to arrive at your first destination before 10:00 AM. This is especially the case if you plan to visit a few different farms. I know. It seems awfully early, but trust me. Weekends are packed full of visitors and traffic can be horrendous. Multiple exits are also closed off to better manage influx. We made the mistake of leaving Elk Grove around 11 AM one time, and the hour drive turned into over 90 minutes long! So, take my advice. Get there early and read on to see our recommendations and reviews of Apple Hill orchards and farms.
Abel’s Apple Acres
We arrived at our first stop Abel’s Apple Acres around 10:30 AM, and could already smell the tri-tip from the parking lot. This place is ready to go! I have to say, as far as activities to do for kids and adults, it may be one of my favorites. If it gets too hot during the day, there are multiple gazebos set up to shelter you from the sun. There is also plenty of seating and open lawn. Aside from the tri-tip, there are burgers, hot dogs, and of course, all the apple goodies in their bake shop. There are apple pies, apple fritters, apple donuts, apple butter, caramel apples, and so much more! Pretty much apple heaven here!
Alongside the bakeshop, there are other food options like burgers, fries, hot dogs, tri-tip, pulled pork, and chicken. After you have had your fill on the food, take a walk around and scope out the craft fair for your shopping needs. There are about 18 vendors which include aromatherapy items, accessories, art, and more. If your kids need to run around, not only is there a huge lawn, but the maze there is a decent size for the younger children. Arts and craft activities like sand art and a mining area for kids to sift through for gems as well. And don’t forget the pony rides! There is a small fee for these activities, but it will keep the little ones occupied. We completed our visit to Abel’s Apple Acres with some apple donuts, cider, and caramel apples.
Abel’s Apple Acres
2345 Carson Rd.
P.O. Box 2204
Placerville, California, 95667
Open Daily Labor Day to Christmas Eve
from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Open Thanksgiving day from 10 AM-12 PM
Mill View Ranch
We almost always stop off here on our visit. Why? Because it has THE BEST play area for children. A maze, swings, and the “New Kids Town” which is a miniature town for the littles. The play area even boasts a huge pirate ship that the children love to climb all over. Right behind “New Kids Town” will be shopping options thanks to the craft vendors who come out every fall.
After this, we ventured to the rest of the area and saw that it did have considerably less attractions than it does every year we’ve gone. I did, however, notice the Apple wine their shop now has! I discovered that Mill View Ranch is under new ownership, so that explains their new set up. Usually, there’s a very busy Bake Shop full of apple turnovers, pies, candy apples, and donuts. They also had their pumpkin patch out and ready for visitors to pick from. In the past, this ranch has several backgrounds set up for fall portraits, but it looks like we were early in our visit this year. We may end up going back in the next month to pick up some more Apple wine.
Mill View Ranch
2740 Cable Road
Open Thursday thru Monday
8 AM-5 AM
Denver Dan’s Apple Patch
Denver Dan’s Apple Patch is about a five minute drive from Mill View Ranch, well, at least when there’s not a ton of traffic. It’s not exactly a huge lot, however. We got in and of course, the place was packed full of people enjoying their apple desserts. A line for children lined up to use the “spiralizer.” This is always a highlight of the patch! The little ones stare in wonder at how simple it is to not only peel and core an apple, but to spiralize it and eat it right off one’s thumb.
We walked out back to the orchard and saw that the trees still have a TON of apples on them! This is usually not the case, so Mill View Ranch provided us with two buckets and we started picking apples. We noticed a few different varieties of apples, and the orchard seems never-ending. We spent an hour roaming about, picking apples, and taking photos. Afterwards, we walked back to the shop and picked up some apple turnovers and cider to enjoy in their picnic area. I have to comment on that their customer service is excellent. They all seemed to really enjoy their roles there and were very friendly towards the visitors. Overall, while this was our fourth visit to the farm, it was our favorite! We finally got to pick our own apples!
High Hill Ranch
Another Apple Hill gem is High Hill Ranch. The last time I went to was two years ago, and it was raining. However, this did not deter any visitors as parking was still packed! Rightfully so with all that this farm has to offer. They have a large vendors fair with a variety of products ranging from wine glasses to jewelry to sports paraphernalia. In fact, it’s the largest craft fair in all of Apple Hill with over 75 artists.
In addition to the craft fair, High Hill Ranch also has a variety of delicious food. They are known for their cider being made there as well as for their caramel apple crunch pie. That one comes highly recommended! Other dessert items include pumpkin pie, pecan pie, as well as apple donuts. Of course, they have candy apples available, too. If sweets aren’t your thing, they have locally sourced tri-tip, wagyu ranch burgers, and hand-made sausage links. Their grill even serves up a vegan spicy black bean burger.
Aside from food and shopping, High Hill Ranch has a variety of other activities that are family friendly. They offer apple picking, pony rides, and tractor hay rides. They also have a pumpkin patch as well! One activity this location has to offer that others cannot is trout fishing right there on site. Adults and children love this part of the ranch. Aside from this, adults can participate in apple wine tasting in addition to a guided tour of the ranch. Visitors may want to spend the whole time visiting and exploring all that High Hill Ranch has to offer.
High Hill Ranch
2901 High Hill Rd
Placerville, CA 95667
Open Monday-Friday 8 AM-5PM
Open Saturday & Sunday 7 AM-6PM
Boa Vista Orchards
Another quite popular Apple Hill destination is Boa Vista Orchards. This family-owned farm has tons to offer including an orchard, vineyard, pumpkin patch AND Christmas tree farm! They are different from many other farms since they are open year round. They’ve also been around or over 100 years. Seasonal festivals are hosted on site, but currently, crafters are present until mid-November. A favorite for visitors is the Fall cutouts. It’s the perfect picture opportunity for everyone!
This orchard has about 20 varieties of apples and 9 kinds of pears. In addition, they have berries, peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots. Aside from their harvest of fruits, Boa Vista has other yummy goodness. They have a huge selection of items in their bakery like pies, pastries, caramel apples, apple brownies, and more. You would think that would be it for food items, right? Well, not exactly. This Apple Hill delight also has pantry items like salad dressing, jams, jellies, fruit butter, bbq sauce, soups, honey, hot sauce, and syrups. Can’t make the drive up? Some of these products along with their wines and ciders can be ordered directly from their website.
Boa Vista Orchards
2952 Carson Road
Placerville, CA 9566
Phone: (530) 622-5522
Hours: 7:30 AM – 6 PM Daily
Our last Apple Hill site we recommend is Rainbow Orchards. If you’re going to grab an apple cider donut anywhere in Apple Hill, I have to say this is the place. They are made to order and come out piping and and absolutely delicious! This place is known just for their donuts. Add some apple cider to that, and you’ll be golden! Other sweets besides apple pie that are available here are their apple cream cheese tarts, triple crown blackberry pie, peach cobbler, pumpkin pie, and berry cobblers. Rainbow Orchards also makes corn dogs from scratch and has weekend Tri-Tip Barbeques from September 28-October 27. Don’t forget to try their hard cider brewed on site as well as their fresh-picked fruit of peaches and apples while you’re visiting.
While food seems to be popular up in Apple Hill, Rainbow Orchards strives to make sure they are known for more than just that. They have a “Haybale Hop-a-Crooked-Mile” where children can roam about as well as an open grassy area to sit down and enjoy the crisp, fall air or to even let the kiddos play. A bit different from most of the other Apple Hill destinations, Rainbow Orchards hosts a 4 day event for Day of the Dead weekend. That’s an event you will not want to miss!
2569 Larsen Drive
Camino CA 95709
Hours: Open 9-5 August 31, September 1, 2; Daily 9-5 September 6 thru November 3; Daily 9-4 November 4 thru Nov.24; 9-4 November 30, Dec. 1, 7, 8
We could go on and on about all that every Apple hill site has to offer, but take our word for it. Plan a trip, get out, and check out one of the orchards. Try something from the bakeshop and grab a seasonal drink while the kids enjoy a pony ride or a maze. Escape from 100 degree summer days. You’ll see why an Apple Hill visit has become such a popular annual tradition for many Northern California residents.
For more information on Apple Hill and to learn about the other 40+ orchards, check out:
Apple Hill® Growers Association
PO Box 494, Camino, CA 95709
Office Message Phone: (530) 644-7692