The 5 Best Places for SoCal Strawberry Picking
Discover some of the sweetest spots near Los Angeles to take your little ones strawberry picking.
If you live in Los Angeles and want to teach your kids where strawberries come from, you’re in luck! California is the top producer of strawberries in the U.S, and there are plenty of places around L.A. where little ones can roam the fields and fill their baskets (and bellies) with berries. These working farms tend to offer all sorts of extras that kids adore, too, like petting zoos and tractor rides. Plus, the folks on staff are eager to share their extensive agricultural knowledge via educational tours, making them the perfect spot for parents, babysitters, and nannies to sneak in some fun you can feel good about.
A few quick notes before you head out: Closed-toed, comfortable shoes are always a good call, especially if they’re old ones that you don’t mind getting dirty. Hats and sunscreen are also crucial, as there’s no shade out in the fields. Most farms provide baskets for the berries, but you’re also welcome to bring your own. Finally, it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm the fields have enough fruit. Assuming that’s the case, then you’re good to go! Grab the family, hop in the car, and get to strawberry picking while the picking’s good!
Distance from L.A. City Center: 45 miles
Address: 5380 3/4 University Drive, Irvine, CA 92612
Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: No entry fee | Strawberries are $5 per pound
With its mission of “educating, entertaining and feeding families,” Tanaka Farms is well worth the drive south to Irvine. Run by third-generation Japanese-American Glenn Tanaka, along with his wife and son, the working farm has a market stand with an incredible selection of freshly harvested seasonal produce. Your family can pick strawberries in the patch just behind the market stand. However, since the plants in that patch are limited, a better bet is to take the Strawberry Tour, which runs from March through early July.
During the Strawberry Tour, visitors are treated to a wagon ride around the 30-acre farm, complete with opportunities to sample and learn about the fruits and vegetables grown there. It wraps up at the strawberry patch, where guests pick and eat berries and take home a 1-pound basket as part of the $18 tour fee. Tours are offered every half-hour on weekends, with no reservations required. Check the website calendar for details on whether or not you need to book tours during the week, as well as for additional offerings at other times of the year, including a “Farm to Table” Cookout Tour in June and July.
Distance from L.A. City Center: 50 miles
Address: 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark, CA 93021
Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Cost: Entry is $3 on weekdays, $6 on weekends | Strawberries are $1.99 per pound
Thanks in part to its close proximity to L.A. (you should easily get there in less than an hour, traffic willing), Underwood tends to be one of the local farms most frequented by families. Strawberries, among other produce, are available for picking from March through July. In addition to all the fruits and veggies, there are tons of other fun things to keep kiddos busy, such as farm-themed climbing structures, an enclosed playground, and the opportunity to hang out with, and even feed, much of the menagerie, including alpacas, chickens, goats, and horses. For an additional fee, there are also pony rides, gem mining, a petting corral, electric train rides, a moonbounce, mini electric tractors, and more.
The fun isn’t done when the summer ends, either. You can pick all sorts of seasonal produce from March through November, and you won’t want to miss the multitude of kid-friendly activities at the Springtime Easter Festival and the Fall Harvest Festival. Underwood also has a Somis location, about 10 miles east of the Moorpark farm, with berries available for picking from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily.
Distance from L.A. City Center: 60 miles
Address: 1012 W. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Hours: Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: $10 entry fee | Strawberries are $2.50 per pound
If you prefer your produce to be certified organic, then this is the place for you. The Irish-American McGrath family has been committed to pesticide-free, sustainable farming practices for five generations. Visitors can pick strawberries there during the spring and summer. Bear in mind that because they’re organic, the berries tend to be smaller, but they’re also some of the sweetest in the area.
Other fun stuff for kids at McGrath’s includes bonding with the barnyard animals and educational tours. Plus, if you haven’t exhausted the kids on the farm, you can ensure a good night’s sleep by hitting the trampolines at Sky High Sports, located less than a mile south en route back to L.A. The Camarillo Premium Outlets are also just a few miles back down the 101 if you’re not already beat.
Incidentally, if you’re craving more of McGrath’s berries but can’t fathom the 60-mile drive, their produce and fresh-cut flowers can be found at plenty of popular farmers markets around Los Angeles, including Santa Monica on Wednesdays, South Pasadena on Thursdays, and Hollywood on Sundays.
Distance from L.A. City Center: 80 miles
Address: 12261 S. Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA 92399
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Cost: No entry fee | Strawberries are $5 for a half pint, $7 for a pint, $11 for a quart, and $37 for a gallon
Take a drive due east of Los Angeles and you’ll discover what the life of Riley is really about. Although Riley’s Farm (and Oak Glen itself) has long been known for its endless acres of apple orchards, their strawberry fields are giving the original forbidden fruit a run for its money. Strawberries are the farm’s longest-running crop, too, typically in season from late April to November, weather permitting.
Of course, you’ll probably want to stay for more than the berries. The sprawling farm offers everything from living history adventure tours to a petting zoo to a bakery with the best fresh fruit pies you’ve ever tasted. Be sure to carve out enough time to enjoy a meal at the Hawk’s Head Public House, the on-site restaurant modeled after a traditional 18th century tavern. Check their online calendar for more seasonal events, too, like the Colonial Faire taking place on Saturdays in June, summer day camp for kids, and themed music nights that change every month.
Distance from L.A. City Center: 90 miles
Address: 953 Rainbow Valley Blvd., Fallbrook, CA 92028
Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Cost: No entry fee | Strawberries are $4 per pound
Located just outside Temecula, Kenny’s Strawberry Farm has been a prime spot for picking produce since late 2014. It’s run by second-generation farmer Kenny Fietz and his wife, who have a little one of their own and were intent upon creating a place that would be especially fun for kids. They love to lead tours and teach visitors about their hydroponic farming practices, which aren’t just limited to strawberries but also include a variety of vegetables and watermelons in the spring and summer, as well as pumpkins in the fall. All are available for picking when in season.
Strawberry season typically runs from March through July. Be sure to pack a lunch so you can relax at one of the shady picnic tables after you’ve filled your berry baskets. You’ll also want to pop into their adorable red barn to buy some strawberry jam, syrup, and other locally made goods before you depart.
P.S. If you’re a blueberry lover, check out the Temecula Berry Company. It’s a short drive north of Kenny’s, where your family can pick blueberries for $6 per pint.
Did we name all your local favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
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