Nestled in the foothills between California’s Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada mountains, the town of Camino, better known as Apple Hill, is a perfect microclimate to grow apples, pumpkins, wine grapes, and Christmas Trees alike. Welcoming farms and vineyards dot gently winding roads and offer breathtaking views across the American River canyon. Best yet, there’s so much to do in Apple Farm with kids–Camino sits near Placerville right off HWY 50, a main thoroughfare connecting Sacramento with South Lake Tahoe.
Top Spots in Apple Hill for Kids and Families
Whether you’re passing through on your way to the High Sierras, picking a pumpkin, or hunting for the perfect Christmas tree, these stops guarantee a great Apple Hill adventure.
1. Hidden Star Camino
With 16 hard ciders on tap, locally famous Shorty’s doughnuts (yum!), and a massive adventure playground, Hidden Star Camino is the ultimate spot for family fun. The playscape is imaginative and engaging even for older kids; get ready for a maze, climbing trees and a bench swing, tire towers, a pirate ship, and a kid-sized western village. The cider barn is open for tastings all year and food trucks are seasonally on site.
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2. Rainbow Orchards
Boasting the best HOT apple cider doughnut on the hill, Rainbow Orchards is a 3rd generation family farm and a beloved local favorite. Offering incredible house-made pies, tarts, jams, the best-ever pumpkin butter, and from-scratch corn dogs, this spot is well worth a visit. Cider is pressed daily in the apple barn and kids love watching apples transform into yummy juice in front of their eyes. Seasonally, there is wine tasting on-site and weekend BBQ – perfect for a picnic under the apple trees while kids can enjoy running free on a crooked mile made of hay bales. Call ahead to see if they’ll have mulled wine available for the perfect post-Christmas-tree-hunt aperitif.
3. Harris Family Farm
Harris Family Farm has been in the same family for seven generations and in operation for 150 years. Situated just to the east of Apple Hill, this spot is off the beaten path and is your best bet for avoiding any Apple Hill traffic.
Hidden bonus: a slightly higher elevation equals happier trees. Best known for its gorgeous holiday trees, the Harris family knows how to ensure their visitors get the pick of the forest: tree cutting reservations are required beginning the weekend before Thanksgiving. Remember to visit the farm’s charming bakeshop for frozen mini-pies, holiday jams, and flavorful salsas.
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In the spring and summer pick your own berries and flowers, then camp overnight in the orchard or under the pines.
4. Edio Vineyards and Delfino Family Farms
With a terrasse looking across the valley and into the distance, the view from Edio Vineyards at the much-loved Apple Hill Delfino Farms can’t be beat. Sip a flight of wine as the sun begins to set and nibble a perfectly curated cheese and charcuterie box provided by Kerry Dolan of Grazing Grouse. Aside from perfectly complementing the wine offerings, her grazing arrangements are visually stunning, inspired by Baroque still life paintings.
The Delfino family really knows how to run an apple-centric bakery, offering pies packed with 5 pounds of apples. Joan’s Apple Bakery, named in tribute to the farm’s late matriarch, maintains original recipes that probably win the prize as the region’s most indulgent; Delfino’s famous “walking pie” is drenched in cider syrup and topped with rich vanilla ice cream.
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For year-round fun, be sure to check out the farm’s summer concert series, “Folk on the Farm.”
5. Indian Rock Tree Farm
Indian Rock Tree Farm is as charming as they come. As you drive in, you’re greeted by a picturesque creek stocked with jumping rainbow trout. Staff keeps a roaring fire stoked and hot cider at the ready to warm your bones after traipsing the acreage in search of the perfect tree. The Christmas tree cutting experience at Indian Rock Tree Farm is the perfect combination of adventure and comfort. Climb to the top of the mountain for rewarding views and the most coveted trees. Parking is limited, so without a reservation, be prepared for a decent wait.
6. Jack Russell Brewery
For beer lovers, Jack Russell Farm Brewery is an all-time favorite. One of the oldest continuously-operating breweries in the Sacramento area, the taproom features exclusive offerings brewed with estate-grown hops. With plenty of room to run and explore, a fresh kettle corn vendor, and food trucks that show up from Friday through Sunday, kids and adults alike can settle in for a perfect Apple Hill afternoon.
7. Smokey Ridge Ranch
This sweet farm has been in the same family for three generations. Smokey Ridge Ranch‘s claim to fame is its beautiful grove of chestnut trees, whose chestnuts are lovingly harvested by hand each week. Get there early because the farm sells out of chestnuts every weekend in the fall! With plenty of U-pick harvest options, kids can connect with small-batch agriculture and earn a sense of pride in their own farm-abilities.
Smokey Ridge also partners with Grazing Grouse, so keep your eye out for special events and offerings.
Pine-O–Mine Ranch is one of the last U-pick apple ranches in the area, with 1,000 mature apple trees to pick from. If you’re looking for a full-on apple-picking adventure, this farm is your one-stop shop. With Smokehouse BBQ, apple cider shakes, and delicious local Solid Ground Brewery hard cider and beer on offer, you have plenty of ways to replenish your body and spirit after a day in the orchard.
9. 24 Carrot Farm
Stop at 24 Carrot Farm’s rustic farm stand for the crispest salad greens and richest organic veggies in the region. Committed to sustainable and restorative farming practices, this farm is at the vanguard of the local food movement.
Located just east of Main Street Placerville and across the street from Starfield Vineyards, this is a great spot to grab picnic munchies, have a U-pick pumpkin/flower afternoon, or stock up on supplies for a stay in Tahoe. Open Wednesday through Monday, word around town is that the farm also occasionally hosts the area’s tastiest taco truck.
Find a complete map, harvest calendar, and contact information on the Apple Hill Grower’s Association website.