Six sweet spots to visit in Apple Hill this season
For Sacramentans, the onset of fall means one very important thing: Apple Hill season is upon us. Labor Day weekend marks the official opening of the foothills apple farm region, and we've plucked six delicious destinations to check out this year.
Abel’s Apple Acres
Why it’s special: Pony rides? Picnic tables overlooking a peaceful pond? Homemade caramel by the quart? This four-generation family ranch in Placerville ticks all of those boxes, and also offers a craft fair with items like jewelry, candles and stained glass art, as well as a book nook with children’s stories and cookbooks of Apple Hill family recipes.
What to try: Abel’s buttermilk apple pie, made with fresh buttermilk custard, a secret blend of fall spices and a mound of crisp apples topped with brown sugar streusel.
When to go: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily until Dec. 24.
Where to find it: 2345 Carson Rd. Placerville. 530-626-0138. abelsappleacres.com
Apple Ridge Farms
Why it’s special: Little ones can mine for gems in sluice boxes or roam around the hay maze and pumpkin patch, while adults can browse fall craft tables and get their fill at a barbecue house with smoked pulled pork sandwiches, chicken pot pie and homemade chili.
What to try: The farm’s deluxe caramel apples are a hot-selling item every fall. Granny Smith apples are hand-dipped in homemade caramel, then decked out in festive designs with frosting and candy, like pumpkins, spider webs or gummy worms in chocolate “dirt.”
When to go: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekends until Nov. 14.
Where to find it: 1800 Larsen Dr. Camino. 530-647-0613. appleridgepies.com
Why it’s special: The Delfino family’s 20-acre ranch is home to an orchard, vineyard and bakeshop. On Sept. 17 and 18 (10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day), the ranch will host a Kids Day with activities like pumpkin decorating, egg races, a scarecrow-making contest and a mini cooking school.
What to try: Henrietta Stich hard apple cider, named for ranch owner Chris Delfino’s grandmother, is back for its second year. Delfino uses homegrown apples like tart Arkansas Black and sweet Fuji, ages the beverage in oak barrels for five months before bottling it.
When to go: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Mon. until Sept 16; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily from Sept. 16-Nov. 11; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Mon. from Nov. 12 to Dec. 9.
Where to find it: 3205 North Canyon Rd. Camino. 530-622-0184. kidsincapples.com
Larsen Apple Barn
Why it’s special: Founded in 1860, this spot is the oldest family-owned Apple Hill farm and carries over 20 varieties of handpicked apples, such as Red Delicious, Braeburn and Winesap. Visit the bakeshop for whole pies and apple desserts, check out the museum with turn-of-the-century farming equipment, or explore the bucolic grounds with apple trees, bridges and waterfalls.
What to try: Larsen’s homemade apple dumpling—a whole peeled and cored Jonathan apple with cinnamon, butter and sugar inside a steamy blanket of flaky folded dough. Tip: ask for yours à la mode with vanilla ice cream.
When to go: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. every day except Saturday until Dec. 4.
Where to find it: 2461 Larsen Dr. Camino. 530-644-1415. larsenapplebarn.com
Mill View Ranch
Why it’s special: Mill View may sound like a typical Apple Hill pit stop, with a bakery, craft barn and pumpkin patch, but it’s also home to Kid Town, a unique play area mimicking Old West streets, with a vintage school, sheriff’s office, soda shop and playground.
What to try: Four words: caramel bacon apple doughnuts. Sweet, savory and addictive, these fried apple cider dough rings are topped with caramel frosting and bits of bacon.
When to go: 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
Where to find it: 2740 Cable Rd. Camino. 530-622-6885. millviewranch.com
Why it’s special: This colorfully painted farmhouse offers bushels of fruit and goodies like homemade jam inside its Apple Barn, along with haystacks and picnic tables spread on a grassy lawn and an apple orchard you can meander through for photos.
What to try: Those in the know flock to Rainbow Orchards for the apple cider doughnuts, which many consider to be the best in Apple Hill. (They get our vote!) Made with cider from the farm’s own apples, the freshly fried treats are served piping hot and sprinkled with sugar.
When to go: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Nov. 27. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 3 & 4 and Dec. 10 & 11.
Where to find it: 2569 Larsen Dr. Camino. 530-644-1594. rainboworchards.net
For more information, call 530-644-7692 or visit applehill.com.
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