Friday, July 24, 2020

American River Cherry Company U-Pick Cherries and Berries- A Charming Farm with Sweet Fruit and Sweet Views

2240 Dias Drive, Placerville, CA 95667

Opens Spring-Summer for U-Pick

Yelp for more reviews and information

From the time I planned on having children, I have vowed to give them the best life possible, filled with lots of love, adventures and lessons.  American River Cherry Company was the perfect place to achieve all of the above.

The drive from Reno to get to the farm was scenic.  You drive through Lake Tahoe and the El Dorado National Forest, the same drive you would take to Apple Hill, since they are in the same vicinity.  If you're coming from Reno, you'll pass a beautiful waterfall just before you arrive that can be found right next to the freeway on the left (Bridal Veil Falls, Pollock Pines).  There's a pull-over area where you can check it out up close.  It flows year-round.

Driving the streets to get to the farm was fun, with winding roads covered by shade-giving trees that lined the road.

Upon entering the farm, my eyes were caught by the beautiful "Homes & Garden" house, blanketed with beautiful flowers, tall trees, and freshly mowed green grass.  You can find a hammock hanging out in front- an ideal place for a nap.  If you go down the hill to the left of the house, it will lead you to the pond, where you will find the perfect picnic area with a classic red picnic table & swing, water lilies, Koi fish, and playful dragon flies.  My kids had fun running up and down the hills after picking fruit.

After parking, we made our way to check in at the barn.  Before arriving, I printed and filled out their liability waiver from their website to save time.  At the barn, I loved that they took the time to supply sanitized pens so as to reduce the spread of germs.  The workers (masked) were welcoming and gave us our buckets.

As soon as we entered the farm, we were greeted with berries- berries to the left and berries to the right.  The kids screamed with delight and set out to collect as many as they could.  Further down you will find whimsical cherry trees creating a beautiful landscape.

The available selections will depend on the temperature and pollinators, so make sure to call ahead of time for more information.  We went a couple of weeks after opening and found that lots of cherries had already been picked.  I would suggest following them closely on their Facebook page to keep up with updates so you can catch them right when they open.

The kids especially had fun collecting blueberries, which were perfect in height and plentiful.  I can't describe how special it is to be able to pick your own blueberries.  There's no comparison with store-bought berries.

If you are traveling with little ones, it is especially helpful that you arrive early in the morning and early in the season to avoid hot temperatures.  Just in case the little ones are only interested for a short while, you can find pre-picked selections at check-in so you don't leave empty-handed.

In the end, we all had the time of our lives and decided to make cherry and berry picking at the American River Company, a family tradition.

*hand wash station available
*Popsicles and honey for sale at check in
*Berries are super fragile (esp, fresh-picked), so if you can round up some clam shell containers from the store or Amazon, storing the berries in them would be the best way to transport and prevent damage
*check out their website for varieties and prices
*don't forget sunscreen, water, and hats
*don't forget to check the weather to plan accordingly
*If hungry, In-N-Out nearby
*Boa Vista Orchards is a Apple Hill farm that is open year-round if you're looking for goods-baked, packaged, frozen, fresh produce
*They state that there is an entrance fee($5/person, 12 yrs and younger-free) on their website, but when we went, we were not charged.  If charged, you may feel like you're not getting your money's worth, but I think the atmosphere and experience alone is worth the entrance fee and would gladly pay.
*Koi fish feed available next to pond- bring quarters
*Not too many parking spots in front of house, so if lot fills up, park outside and walk up hill
*keep berries separate from cherries due to difference in price

Categorized under "U-Pick and Seasonal/Holidays"

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Granny May's U-Pick Strawberries, A Sweet Family Tradition

2020 Rates

(2 hrs. from Reno)

Embarking on our annual tradition of strawberry picking has been a joy for my kids and me since they were toddlers. There's an unmatched delight in hand-picking fresh, juicy strawberries—nature's candy—and our tradition thrives at Granny May's.

Reservations are required in advance. Stay updated on u-pick dates via their Facebook and Instagram pages, and secure tickets through their website.

Upon admission, buckets/boxes are provided for your picking pleasure.

Admission covers all the strawberries you can gather in your bucket (provided).

  • Adults (17 years old and up): $15
  • Children (4–17 years old): $7
  • Ages 3 years & younger are free, without a basket provided.
(Admission rates as of 4/2024)

Granny May's also hosts a farm stand with seasonal produce. Call ahead to confirm their open hours and available produce, as they operate until sold out.

During my visit, they offered watermelons, jams, strawberries, blackberries, green beans, garlic, pickles, and tomatoes. The watermelon was exceptionally sweet and juicy& their jams were fresh and flavorful.

*Other recommended picking spot: Swanton Berry Farm in San Francisco

Additional Notes:

  • Tickets tend to sell out quickly at the start of the season.
  • Capture memorable photos at their sunflower patch and with a giant strawberry backdrop.
  • Shaded areas under two big trees are available.
  • Ample parking, with some shaded spots.
  • For families with kids, consider early visits or arriving during the cooler morning hours to beat the heat.
  • Bring hats, water, sunscreen, snacks, and a portable toilet for young children.
  • Explore other vegetables growing on the farm, a delight for little ones.
  • During my visit, they had four distinct blackberry varieties, clearly labeled (we favored Albion but enjoyed tasting them all).
  • Card payments are accepted.
  • Freshly picked strawberries have a short shelf life; wash them just before consumption and enjoy within 2–3 days.
  • While pre-picked berries are available at the stand, the experience of picking your own is incomparable. Look for deeply red berries for the sweetest taste.

What elevates the U-Pick experience is the wonderful people behind it. The family managing this farm is hardworking and approachable. They catered to my family's needs during our visit (I came with my 1, 4, and 5-year-olds), making it a delightful experience.

We eagerly anticipate our next visit.

Categorized under "U-Pick and Seasonal/Holidays"

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Little Truckee Ice Creamery- Quality Ice Cream You Can Taste

40 min. away from downtown Reno
Trailer closed for winter. Donner Lake Shop open year-round. Visit website for hours.

*Truck Located in Downtown Truckee (This post)

*Donner Lake Shop 
15628 Donner Pass Rd
Truckee, CA 96161

More reviews, details, and directions on Yelp

The moment I tasted this ice cream, I couldn't wait to tell the whole world about how amazing it is and immediately set out to write a review on Yelp.  

Little Truckee Ice Creamery has all of the basic flavors (made with class, for sure), with some unique gourmet ones thrown in.  

I love that they serve out of a truck located in a parking lot in beautiful Downtown Truckee and also have a charming location close to Donner Lake.  

Though it may get busy during the weekends at their Downtown location, there is plenty of street parking available nearby.

Blueberry Honey Lavender was super delicious and fresh, with the honey and lavender prominent and the blueberry subtle.  Each bite warranted a "YUM!"

Truckee Trails - pecan brittle and brownie in a sweet ice cream- was OUT of THIS WORLD! The brittle was crunchy and so flavorful and paired well with the brownie and sweet ice cream. Not to mention, I've never even had brittle in ice cream.  I could eat a whole tub of this ice cream in one sitting.

I tasted my kid's Mountain Top Mint Chip and Cookies & Cream, both fresh and delicious.  These two flavors are me and my husband's favorite go-to flavors, and I approve of them.  

From cooking at home all the time, I know that something simple could be elevated just by using the best ingredients. Here they do just that, but also do it in a way that's perfectly balanced (something not easy to achieve).  

In addition to flavor, they've achieved the thing I look for in every ice cream - great texture.  Full-bodied, smooth, creamy with a cool mouth feel, and soft enough to enjoy. 

Topping options include: brownies, cookies, coconut, chocolate/caramel sauce, nuts, cherries, chocolate chips.  

There was one vegan flavor available-roasted coconut, which was yummy because they kept it simple, with a coconut milk base, toasted coconut, and chocolate shavings... a flavor combination you can't go wrong with.  Any Almond Joy lovers in the house?

There are a few tables located at the back of the truck and one in front.  

There are also many other places around Downtown Truckee where you can enjoy your ice cream.  The walk downtown is absolutely fun, with lots of ramps, things to climb on (for kids), little shops, great views, and fresh air from the evergreens surrounding the area.  

Me and my family visited the shop after a long and fun day at Donner State Memorial Park ($10 day use fee), which was only a few miles from here.  At the park, it's beyond scenic, with water sport rentals available, happy trails, lots of shaded patches of beach, picnic areas (BBQ), and the option to camp.  Little Truckee Ice Creamery ended up being the little ice cream truck that was the biggest cherry on top of our day.

Update 7/24/2020

I went back and tasted Toffee Chip, Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Strawberry Lemonade, and Spooner Strawberry.  

All the flavors were super clean and fresh with Salted Caramel making a big impression and Strawberry Lemonade tasting super refreshing and yummy.  The chocolate flavor in Chocolate Brownie was super sophisticated with the homemade brownies adding another delectable layer of flavor and texture.  

If you're celebrating a special occasion on your visit or just celebrating life in general, their brownie sundae is the ultimate treat.  It's huge so it's ideal for sharing. 

-In a single, you are allowed two flavors.  
-They have a mini option, which is great for kids and sampling. 
-If planning on camping at Donner State Memorial Park, make sure to book your visit well in advance as the campsite books up fast. 
-At the Donner location, you can buy tacos on Fridays and coffee is available for purchase (as of 7/21/2022).

Prices as of 2020

categorized under "Good Eats"