There’s nothing like the taste of a fresh-picked, crisp apple. Well, except for maybe a slice of hot apple pie with ice cream melting in all the nooks and crannies. Or the smell of apple sauce bubbling on the stove with a dash of nutmeg. Or the warmth of a glass of hot apple cider, stirred with a cinnamon stick . . .
Apple season is here! And if your kids are like ours, who in one year alone eat enough apples to keep the doctor away until, roughly, 2030, then apple picking is pretty much a mandatory activity.
Even if your children would not happily subsist on apples alone, the wonderful thing about this fruit is that it can keep for a long time. Fresh-picked apples can stay crisp in the fridge for a few months, or be processed into apple sauce and remain good for years (not that we ever even make it to the spring with our supply).
Plus, there’s just something wonderful about getting outside on one of those clear-blue days with the smell of leaves in the air, and teaching your children about where their food comes from. Here are a few of our favorite places to do just that.
Be sure to check farm websites or social accounts for crop updates before you go.
We first visited Sherwood Orchards because of its relative proximity to Portland. We love Hood River, but it is a schlep. Sherwood Orchards is only about 30 minutes away, but still offers the feel of being far away from town.
Located just off 99W, this 26-acre farm boasts 70 varieties of apples. The trees offer low-bearing fruit that even the youngest kids can pick, as well as crab apples perfect for little hands. Every time we’ve come, we’ve also been incredibly impressed with the staff. They are knowledgeable, friendly, and happy to give you tips on finding and picking the most delicious fruit — and they have much more than just apples. There are peaches, plums and pears to be had too.
23995 SW Pacific Highway, Sherwood, OR
Once your kids can handle an hour-plus drive into Hood River, this is a great choice. Take your time and enjoy the drive out there. I never feel so lucky to live in Oregon as I do when driving down 84, the Columbia River on the left, towering cliffs with the occasional waterfall on the right, views of Mount Hood straight ahead.
The farm is a bit more rule-heavy than many of the other U-pick farms (for instance, excessive sampling of the fruit is prohibited), but they have a lot of kid-friendly extras to make up for it. Chief among them are the goats, which you can feed for a few dollars. They also have a wooden swing, and picnic tables set up for enjoying a snack while admiring the view of Mount Hood. And what a view: On a clear day, Mount Hood looms startlingly large, much larger than we are used to seeing when catching a glimpse over the Ross Island Bridge.
They carry a number of varieties of apples (and other kinds of fruit), many of which hang low enough for kids to reach. Plus they have a good supply of wagons for carting around tired kiddos. Draper Girls also has a well-stocked farm stand, which, in addition to the obligatory honey sticks, also carries a good variety of (unpasteurized) apple cider.
Draper Girls Country Farm
6200 Hwy. 35, Mt Hood, OR
The name may sound familiar if you’ve been to a local farmers market lately — they set up stands at thirteen around town, including the Portland Farmers Market at PSU. But there’s nothing quite like getting the apples right from the source.
Located in Parkdale, just off the Fruit Loop, the farm boasts 200 acres of well-maintained, easily walked orchards, bursting with more than 80 varieties of apples, as well as many varieties of pears, cherries and peaches (to name just a few). This orchard is a favorite for families not just because of the friendly staff and delicious apples, but also because of the kid-friendly perks. They have hay wagon rides, live music on some weekends and a kids’ play area. Pro tip: Plan snack time to coincide with your visit, since they offer free samples of all varieties.
Kiyokawa Family Orchards
8129 Clear Creek Road, Parkdale, OR
This addition to Ali Wilkinson’s post added by PDX Parent Staff.
Another great choice for those looking to U-Pick without having to drive out to the Fruit Loop is this family-owned and family-friendly farm in Beaverton. This orchard is pruned to be short. This means no ladders are needed, and kids of all sizes can be involved in the harvest. Beaverton
In addition to being one of the oldest farms in the Portland area (est. 1885), Jossy Farms is also a great choice because it is a sustainable farm that uses integrated crop management and pest management practices to grow crops. Hillsboro
Mt. View Orchards
Another Hood River Fruit Loop favorite, this family farm has been in operation for over 60 years. They offer u-pick, photo ops, farm-to-table dinners and more. They are pup-friendly, too! Mt. Hood
On Sauvie Island, check out this 5th generation family farm specializing in u-pick. Sauvie Island
Beilke Family Farm
Head to Salem for this u-pick apple orchard established in 1950. They offer 15 varieties of apples, so check their blog or sign up for email updates to know when your favorite is ripe. Salem
Oregon Heritage Farms
PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a u-pick farm. This fourth generation farm has over 200 acres of apples, animals to visit, and a well-stocked farm store. You may bring your dog on leash, but not into the orchard or farm store. All apples are sold in the farm store, and the public is not allowed in the orchards. That said, we include this farm on the list because people love their farm store goodies, including fresh caramel apples, apple slushies, cider donuts and more. Stock up on fresh apples and enjoy a farm visit. Hillsboro