Musings: It Isn’t Fall Without Apple Hill

Do you have Fall traditions?!

If you live in or near Sacramento, I’m sure you travel to Apple Hill at least once a year. If you’re lucky (and brave), you go more. What is Apple Hill, you may ask? It’s rolling hills of apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms in Camino, California. Home of apple fritters the size of your face and an endless supply of apple donuts and apple cider. Among other things…such as arts and crafts for sale, homemade everything, and a classic Fall day with family and/or friends.

It’s basically a Fall staple for any Northern Californian. From Sacramento, it’s only about a 45 minute drive…on a good day. I could have sworn I blogged about Apple Hill, but my quick search proved otherwise. You can come year-round, but most people come at the end of Summer and beginning of Fall.

If I can offer a pro tip, let it be to go after Halloween and before Veteran’s Day weekend. If you go before Halloween, it’s crazy crowded with those seeking the perfect pumpkins. Well, to be honest, it always seems crowded. But, its especially crowded during those weekends. If you’re lucky enough to have ample free time, go on a weekday to avoid most of the crowds. But most of us cannot, so crowded weekends it is.

There is so much to do in the little town of Camino, California, more popularly known just as Apple Hill. AH is made up of farms and wineries, both of which can satisfy almost any family, couple, or group making the trek up the hill. Here is a quick snapshot of all the different locations available to visit in Apple Hill:

Map found here.

There are different things to do during different seasons of the year, however, there are some year-round activities too. That is part of the lure of AH, we can go wine tasting with the gals or for a birthday, BUT we can also head up here for some G-rated fun, full of apple donuts and apple cider. Being here with family and/or friends is always a fun time. There is always something for everyone to do, especially if you bring the lovebugs too.

We decided to make a quick, last-minute trip up last weekend. Lil was in town and wanted to go too, so we all made it happen. We had plans at 2PM that day, so we decided to leave town early, like 8AM on a Sunday, early. We drove to the Parentals to head up there together. We grabbed a quick Sbux for the early wakeup call, then made our way to our first stop. However, we didn’t realize we chose to go on the day of the yearly Apple Hill Harvest Run. I’ve only run this once (if I remember correctly), read about it here. It made for a little detour to get to High Hill, but we got there.

High Hill Ranch is one of the most popular, if not the most popular. I truly go for the apple fritters the size of my face AND the other apple donuts, but there is so much more to do: crafts for sale, fishing, hayrides, wine tasting, BBQ, face painting, and the Fudge Factory. How could I forget the caramel apples? They are also sooo good here too! The land is huge and they’ve adapted their property to welcome all the guests. There is parking when you enter, but they’ve also added additional parking in the orchard, which adds a fun little touch. This has the most things to do in one location. The donuts are worth the drive up the hill! But perusing the crafts, which I never buy, are fun (re: laugh at) to peek at. There are some interesting things for sale 😉 We also love to visit the little wine house to sip on a Apple Wine spritzer or another adult beverage. Also, depending on the day, the taco shop attached may be open. I’ve never tried them, but they don’t look too bad.

The kids love the pond and the area surrounding it. They drop fish in the pond and some pay to fish in there. Kidlets love the face painting too, but bring cash. There are ponies to ride, but on our last trip they looked so run down and sad, I truly felt bad for them. Once you pass the pond you find yourself at the Fudge Shop. Yup, a store full of a variety of candy — from chocolate to rock candy. They make almost everything in their shop. If you want more of a variety for caramel apples, wait until you get in here to make your purchase. Overall, this is a must stop for most that visit Apple Hill…if you don’t mind crowds.

It was cold. Really brisk for those who are used to 80 degrees in October. So we didn’t stay there too long. We ate our donuts, looked at the crafts, and of course visited the Fudge Shop. And of course I made us take endless photos, J loved it 😉 After a quick trip here, we decided to hit up one more spot, Rainbow Orchard.

Perfecting the selfie!

The next fave spot that we usually stop at is Rainbow Orchards. They have large barn with a rainbow painted on the street side part of the structure. They have a parking lot when you immediately pull into the location, but there is additional parking in the orchard if the lot gets full. Behind the barn is a wooden stage for performances. There are picnic tables and hay bales used for seating, but more so used for kids to jump on/over and play with. This area also has a few trees scattered throughout. 

They sell warm apple cider, more donuts, apple pies, and fresh a la mode slices of the pie, and of course a plethora of apples. This is a fairly small property, but tons of people are attracted to this location. They’ve had a food truck before, but I didn’t notice it this time around. Overall, its a great place where the lovebugs burn some energy running around a somewhat contained area, while also enjoying some tasty apple treats.

Since we’d already indulged in all the donuts at High Hill, we weren’t too hungry for anything at Rainbow. The apple donuts are really good here too, but we didn’t need any more. We hung out in the barn and Lil copped the cutest mini apple cider. We took more pics because of my insistence and then we headed home. There wasn’t much else for us to do and no one was looking to buy more apple based foods, so we decided to head home and get brunch.

Although we didn’t go to any other farms, I thought I’d share another popular spot, Abel’s Apple Acres. This one is also fairly popular with those with families. There is so much to do here and all things are family friendly: crafts (re: craft fair), candy, grill for dining, bake shop (re: apple pies), mazes, fruits for purchase, and a gift shop for all sorts of trinkets. 

Find map here.

There are many more fun spots that I’ve been too over the years, but these are the two that we always go too and one additional one that may be helpful if planning a trip to AH soon. Also, if you’re into adult beverages of the wine variety there are a few lovely spots to visit while up here too. Also, the have a brewery that is really popular with the millennial crowd, and it also has a cave in the back that tastes cider and mead!

Boeger Winery – This winery is beautiful and perfect for pictures. The wine is good and the service is awesome. They have different layers to their property and one year we stumbled upon a cool tasting event. This is a popular winery in the area and is so for a reason!

Jack Russell Brewery – Gotta love this spot to switch up all the wine tasting. They are super dog and family friendly. They serve beer in their front tasting room and they usually have a food truck out front too. Venture toward the back, where you see the rolling hills of vines, and you are led to a room turned into a cave. They serve cider and mead back here. Grab a glass or a flight, but try to find space as it is always pretty busy. The front is where all the seating is and where most hang out. Great spot to break up your trip to eat all the donuts.

Madrona Vineyards – It’s been awhile since I’ve visited, but this is a lovely location. If I remember correctly, they have some fun trinkets to look through.

Here are the other wineries, of which I cannot for certain remember, if I’ve been too or not. Never the less, here they are for you and myself to go check out (or revisit) soon: 
Fenton Herrriott VineyardsLava Cap Wineryand Wofford Acres Vineyard.

On our way back down the hill, I Yelped us  a place to stop for brunch Cafe El Dorado. It was random and a little out of the way off the freeway, but it had four stars 😉 It ended up being a decent hole in the wall, besides of one of J’s pancakes being so burnt on one side he couldn’t eat it. Even though we’d killed donuts, we all still indulged. Three of us ordered the pork chops and eggs. They were tasty, albeit a little tough. I was a little worried about how country this place was, but it wasn’t that bad…

Although it was a very quick trip for us, it did it’s job. We saw the beautiful, natural fall decor of Apple Hill and stuffed ourselves with apple donuts! I don’t really remember coming up here as a kid, but this place feels more nostalgic than most. Maybe it’s from all the trips over the last decade OR because we come here as a family at least once a year now. Anywho, I’ll never turn down a trip here. Donuts or wine, it’s always a good time!

Whether it’s a whole day trip or just a couple hours, Apple Hill is worth the drive, the traffic, and the crowds all put together. Make sure to bring some cash, most of the vendors prefer that. However, most all take cards now too. It isn’t truly a Northern California Fall until you’ve made a trip up to Apple Hill with kids, family, or friends in tow!

An apple (donut) a day keeps the doctor away!

Leave a Reply