Saturday, September 13, 2014

Family Adventure: Apple Picking at Clearview Orchards (Watsonville)

Originally published on my Facebook page

We just had the most WONDERFUL afternoon apple-picking at Clearview Orchards in Watsonville! Thank you so much to all the readers that recommended this adventure -- it will definitely become an X Family fall tradition!

For those who haven't been, Clearview is a delightful family-owned organic apple farm (they also raise bees for honey and grow squash), located at the top of a hill right off Highway 1, just a bit south of Aptos. The orchards are set on hills and feature a bunch of different varieties -- the Galas and Fujis are my favorites, and boy, did I pick a bunch. Fortunately they sent me home with lots of recipes! They give you a sack, advise you on the best spots, and send you out to pick to your heart's content. Feel free to ask questions of the super-helpful staff, many of whom are related to the owners (who are amazing!) -- for example, I didn't know what shade of red was desirable for the Galas, and one of the workers gave me a great lesson.

Up at the top, they have a wonderful farm store selling apples, squash, lavender, honey, strawberries. They have tasters of everything -- and yep, honey ON an apple is as delicious and sweet as it sounds! They also have apple specialties -- fresh pressed juice (amazing!), apple turnovers (even better) and frozen apple pops (didn't try, but looked yummy). They have great entertainment for the kids -- fun swings and teeter totters at the top, and then a separate, somewhat hidden swing area at far end of the road, where we found total peace and quiet to eat the one-apple-apiece sample you're allowed.

Besides the beauty of the setting, the weather was lovely -- sunny, breezy and 70, versus 91 at home.

So, my tips:
  • Bring closed-toe shoes for sure. You're on inclines and there's deep dirt under the trees. I think even Crocs might be hard to manage -- I'd say sneakers would be best. 
  • There are a few paved roads/paths, but the rows between the trees are dirt. I wouldn't bring a stroller -- most toddlers will be fine to walk/be carried uphill if necessary. People who had infants generally had them in wraps/carriers and that seemed to work great. Super young toddlers might not get as much out of the visit as older toddlers who can enjoy the swings, teeter totters and hills. 
  • Bring a picnic lunch to eat at the lovely tables, and buy a cup of apple juice to accompany it, and a turnover for afterwards. Yum!
  • No dogs allowed. 
  • No fees for parking or to pick. Apples you pick are $2/lb and you can mix varieties. They also sell already-picked apples. 
  • Ask for picking advice if you need it! They are super helpful!
  • Be sure to visit Jethro, the apple-eating tortoise. 
  • Search out the swing area at the far end of the orchard, up against the property's fence. It's shady and peaceful, and the horse tire swing (see picture) is super cool. 
  • Clearview is open 10-5 Saturday and Sunday through the end of October. 
  • They take cash and all major credit cards. 
If you like family adventures of this sort, I'd say this is a must-do. I can't believe I'm just now discovering it!

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