Go Strawberry Picking at Family Farms near Los Angeles: Where Kids Can PYO Berries
Berries always taste better when you pick them yourself, and there are several farms within an hour or two of Los Angeles where families can play farmer for a few hours and come home with a basket overflowing with berries. As a rule, the first berry ripe for the picking in spring is the strawberry and its arrival is usually heralded with massive festivals. While those are canceled in 2021, the berries are still ripe for the picking! SoCal pick-your-own farms have a long strawberry picking season (usually though mid-summer), so there's plenty of time to bring kids to the farms for a taste of still warm-from-the-sun sweet berries.
Read on to discover our favorite pick-your-own strawberry spots, all an easy day trip from LA.
Sometimes it's best when your outfit matches the berries. Photo courtesy of Underwood Farms
Be sure to check the farm's hours and the availability of fruit before heading to these farms. There's nothing worse than driving excited kids to a farm just to find that the fields are picked over; a quick phone call to the farm before hopping in the car can save a lot of tears. All of these farms are open for the 2021 season, but many have social distancing requirements and/or require reservations. You may have to wait a few minutes upon arrival this year before being allowed to pick, to keep the fields from overcrowding.
And one more thing: picking berries is hot work! Don't forget to slather on the sunscreen, don a wide-brimmed hat, and bring full water bottles.
Strawberry Picking Farms in LA & Ventura County
Underwood Family Farms—Moorpark
Strawberry picking typically runs from mid-March to early July.
A fully functioning farm, Underwood is a place where children can get a real sense of daily life on a farm—and come home bursting with fresh, sustainably grown berries. The pick-your-own heaven is more than just picking, though you can pick dozens of different fruits and vegetables here year-round. The farm hosts summer camps and seasonal weekends on the farm, including a pumpkin patch in the fall, Christmas trees in the winter, and springtime with the Easter Bunny in the spring.
The Animal Center, with baby goats, chicks, Pete the baby pig, Sassy the mini cow, ponies, alpacas, emus, chickens, ducks, baby turkeys, sheep, and bunnies, is mostly viewing only at the moment, but two small petting areas and a baby duck feeding center have opened for spring of 2021. Hop on a wagon to the fields to pick strawberries and other fruits and veggies (depending on availability), and be sure to wear a mask and maintain social distancing while on the farm.
Row after row of gorgeously ripe berries, just waiting to be picked. Photo courtesy of The Abundant Table
Strawberry picking is scheduled to begin late this year, in mid-April. Call before visiting to make sure they are picking when you want to go.
The Abundant Table is a farm collective. The 5-acre organic farm and farm store works with the community, to teach people about sustainable farming practices (they usually have Open Farm days, where people can volunteer time and work in exchange for learning about sustainable farming). Coming here isn’t just an adventure, it’s an education in growing, food justice, and the earth. In the spring, come visit the farm store and the u-pick strawberry fields to pick any of the 5 kinds of strawberries grown here. Entry to the fields is $7 for kids over 2 and gets you over a pound of berries, too. Additional berry baskets are available. Strict safety protocols are in place (masks and gloves must be worn in the fields); please check the website for details, and to ensure the fields are open.
Underwood Family Farms—Somis
Strawberry picking typically runs from mid-March to early July.
This is the smaller Underwood Family Farm, and to be honest, my family greatly prefers it for our berry picking adventures. The farm has berries only for PYO and rotates through crops of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from March through November. Walk to the nearby fields, and pick any ripe fruit to your heart's content. There's a slight fee for everyone over 2 who enters the fields to pick, plus paying for the berries by the pound.
On the way to the fields is a small play area with a wooden truck and sandpit, plus sheep, alpacas, chickens, and plenty of pygmy goats. They live in pens in the middle of a citrus grove and are surrounded by fresh grass and picnic tables. So bring a picnic (or get snacks at the farm stand), quarters to get food for the animals, and spend a relaxed day at this smaller farm.
Picking your own means earning every juicy bite. Photo courtesy of Tanaka Farms
Pick Your Own Strawberry Farms in Orange County
Strawberry picking typically runs from early March to late June.
Strawberry picking is on for the 2021 season, but reservations are required, to assist the farm in observing social distancing. Strawberry picking is dependent on availability, as Tanaka is a working farm, and fruit and vegetable growth all depends on the weather! But kids can always take a u-pick wagon ride to the fields to pick something, and in the height of strawberry season, the u-pick fields strawberry fields are open for all the strawberries you can pick.
Southcoast Farms—San Juan Capistrano
Strawberry picking is scheduled to begin late this year, in mid-April. Check the farm’s Instagram to make sure u-pick is open when you’re ready to visit.
This is an unusual pairing: u-pick strawberries and potatoes! But this farm is loads of fun, and the kindest, most welcoming family-run business you’ll find. U-pick here is by the pound, with a $5 admission fee per car. There is no separate per person admission fee to the fields, making it a great place to take younger kids (if you don’t know how long their attention will hold and don’t want to pay admission for a 5 minutes visit!) or big kids (who dream of picking enough berries for jams and pies all summer long). This small, local, organic farm grows some of the sweetest berries you’ll ever taste, and if you can’t get over to the farm to pick, all their fresh produce is for sale at the Dana Point Farm Stand.
Strawberries as big as your hand, and as sweet as candy. Photo courtesy of Kenny's Strawberry Farm
Where To Pick Strawberries in San Diego County
Kenny’s Strawberry Farm—Fallbrook
Strawberry picking typically runs from mid-March to late June.
It couldn’t be easier at Kenny’s this year. First, you make reservations to pick berries. When you arrive and check in, you pick up your basket ($16 for a large bucket and $7 for a small one) and pick strawberries. Both the website and phone line are updated daily so you can check to see if weather or berry supply will affect the day’s hours. On weekends Kenny’s Farm Kitchen is open, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on the strawberry lemonade, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry ice cream bars.
Carlsbad Strawberry Company—Carlsbad
Strawberry picking is scheduled to begin late this year, but the farm is usually open for u-pick from February to mid-July. (It’s warmer down south, and the season starts earlier!)
This 25-acre farm will have you singing “Strawberry Fields Forever” as you pick. Everyone must wear masks to enter the fields. It’s a little pricier here; a small bucket is $10 and admits one person, a large bucket (2 lbs of strawberries) is $20 and admits two people. Be sure to call ahead and make sure the fields are open before visiting (the farm does not take reservations) as the fields close when it rains.
Originally published June 15, 2012