|In California's vast fresh produce department, Napa still leads the market on grapes, Gilroy has garlic and Castroville its artichokes. And while its production may have fallen off some in recent years, the Julian area still grows a mighty tasty apple. And for visitors who believe that popping into one of the small town's many bakeries for a slice of hot apple pie is a little too tame, there is Calico Ranch.
Julian's only pick-your-own orchard boasts 120 varieties of trees, and many are ripe for public plucking in the fall. The family-run orchard has been a Julian staple since it was first planted in the early 1930s, encompassing 30 acres of low-hanging fruit that lends itself to a fun, kid-friendly day in the clean mountain air. When the weather turns snappy in late September or early October, families flock to the ranch to fill their bags and grab a prime picnic spot on the cool, pine-scented property. There are also plans to turn some of that sweet crop into special ciders.
In 2006, the first day of apple picking is Oct. 6, and the ranch will stay open for visits from 10AM to dusk on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until there's nothing left to pick. You can fill a five to six-pound bag for $10, and you can include some of the farm's pears, which are pre-picked but available for mixing.
4200 Highway 78
Julian, CA 92036
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