Behind The Butter/ Travel

Our Weekend at Apple Hill


Last Thursday night I had a somewhat crazy idea that I presented to Adam. Let’s book a last minute place and head over to Apple Hill for the weekend! Now, this would be something we wouldn’t have thought twice about in our “old life” {aka pre-baby}. We lived for spontaneous weekend getaways when we would explore all California had to offer.

However, we haven’t gotten out much since Grayson was born. Womp womp.

I mean, obviously we haven’t gotten out much! We had a newborn. It was just the season we were in and that was totally fine. But lately all of our weekends we’ve been doing the same ol’ thing of just sitting around the house all day. It was time to jump in and explore again! So explore we did.


Apple Hill is about an hour from Sacramento, and about two hours from our house. It’s up in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Mountains and pretty close to Tahoe. There’s about ninety apple orchards in the area and during the fall, they all open up to the public to sell their goods.

The best analogy I can give is think of Napa or Sonoma…replace wineries with apple farms. That’s Apple Hill. You basically just drive around, go to all the different farms and orchards and stuff your face with delicious apple products. There’s apple cider donuts, apple dumplings, apple pie, apple beer, apple wine, apple fritters, apple cider, apple cider milkshakes, caramel apples, apple brownies, apple cookies…oh, and lots of APPLES to buy to take home. Duh.


Speaking of take home, don’t judge when I tell you what I carted the hundred and fifty miles home….

14 pounds of apples

1 frozen blackberry pie

1 frozen apple pie

frozen blackberry dumplings

cinnamon honey

two acorn squashes

1 growler of hops n’ honey beer from Jack Russell Brewery

4 pumpkin spice beers

2 quarts of apple cider

….we had to buy a cooler and ice to bring everything home. SO WORTH IT.


Needless to say, we just loved Apple Hill! I liked it more than wine country because I don’t really care about drinking…I’d rather just drive around and eat delicious baked goods all day.

We had the most delicious apple cider donuts (fried to order!) from Rainbow Orchards, along with the best apple cider I have ever tasted. Now, I’m not a huge apple juice girl so this is saying a lot. I bought some to take home and plan to make some spiced cider with it during the holidays (it’s in our freezer now).


My kind of place. During winter, the area is full of Christmas tree farms where you can chop your own tree down. Growing up in south Florida, I never really got to experience anything like that. How fun!



Our two favorite orchards were Rainbow Orchard and Boa Vista. We went back to Rainbow three times and Boa twice so that should tell you something. At Rainbow, there were lots of hay bales set up outside for the kids to play on. Grayson loved the hay!


He kept digging his hands in and trying to eat it. Figures.


At El Dorado Orchards, we rode the little kiddie train around the lake. Grayson loved it!!


And back at Rainbow, he loved feeling all the squashes and pumpkins. I can’t wait to take him here next year when he’s walking around!


He’s already so curious about EVERYTHING. It’s adorable to watch!


We stayed at the best airbnb spot! Apple Hill is only two hours away so technically we didn’t need to spend the night but I’m so glad we did. It would have been a loooooong day with a four month old if we didn’t. If you’re in the area and need a place to stay, I highly recommend the place where we stayed! It was much cheaper than any of the hotels in the area and so, so, so much better. The place was absolutely spotless and huge with two bedrooms, a big living room and a full kitchen. It was really nice to have the extra space so we could put Grayson in his own room to sleep {that way we don’t all have to go to bed at 7pm. Hah}. We are already planning our next trip — it was that great.


We were only gone for about 30 hours but it was perfect. We definitely had our moments including some unavoidable pre-naptime meltdowns, but for the most part everything went well. Grayson slept great last night in his travel crib and we got our fill of chilly fall weather, seasonal beer and, of course, apples.

If you go to Apple Hill, here are our favorite stops!

Rainbow Orchards – best apple cider donuts and fresh milled apple cider

Boa Vista – best deals on apples and frozen pies. They also apparently have amazing corn dogs but we didn’t get to try them.

Jack Russell Brewery – delicious beer and food! We loved all the beers and ate lunch there on both days we were there.

El Dorado Orchards – fun little train to take kids on that wraps around the lake and apple orchards

Hey Day Cafe in Placerville – we got take out from there last night and it was fantastic! I had the barbecue chicken pizza and Adam had pork chops. Both were divine.

I’ve also heard great things about High Hill Ranch, I think it’s pretty popular, but we didn’t go there because it seemed the craziest out of all them. Maybe next year.


I can’t wait to make applesauce with all the apples I brought home! I’m going to be a late-night canning machine this week!


Edited to add: since many of you have asked, here’s where my outfits are from:

Green Hoodie – Evy’s Tree

Striped Sweater – JcrewΒ  Factory <—- woah, the gray version is on mega sale right now!

Boots – Sole SocietyΒ  <—comfiest ankle boots I own. I want them in another color already.

Jeans – Stitchfix

Baby Carrier – Lillebaby




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  • Meghan
    September 29, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Looks like fall perfection!! Where is your stripe sweater from in the last photo? I love it!

    • Laura @ Raise Your Garden
      October 1, 2014 at 4:14 am

      I love that striped sweater too, soooo cute. Looks like stitch fix to me. And I love the jeans, no surprise they are stitch fix!!! Haven’t tried the service yet…but would like too, someday…sigh.

      Love the photo of Grayson with the gourds and the hay bales, adorable. Enjoy that little guy.

  • Julie @ Run Away Freckles
    September 29, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Grayson looks so cute in your photos! I also visited an apple festival this weekend. Fall is the best time of year. I didn’t get any apple donuts though and am feeling a bit jealous, they look delicious!

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs
    September 29, 2014 at 4:38 am

    Grayson’s expression in that last photo is too cute!!

    Sounds like you had a fantastic weekend celebrating Fall πŸ™‚

  • Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    September 29, 2014 at 4:39 am

    That sounds like a wonderful weekend!! (Who doesn’t love apple season?) I’m sure it’s not *quite* as easy taking weekend trips like that anymore but it looks like you had a blast!

  • Tiffany
    September 29, 2014 at 4:48 am

    This place sounds like a DREAM! All of my favorite apple products in one beautiful place. Glad you had fun.

  • Tara
    September 29, 2014 at 4:51 am

    This looks like so much fun!!! It’ll be added to the list of places to visit on my next trip to Cali. Thanks for sharing! Also, your green top looks so cozy!

  • jan
    September 29, 2014 at 5:00 am

    Don’t you just look back on your child-free life with amazement at how easy it was to pick up and go places? I still think that and my kids are 10 & 4. Now of course we have to coordinate who’s taking the kids where and to what event, etc. SO DIFFERENT! But so fabulous of course. Glad you had a fun weekend away. He’s going to really love those places in a couple years!

  • DessertForTwo
    September 29, 2014 at 5:13 am

    You are making me miss Apple Hill something fierce! I loved reading about your trip πŸ™‚

  • Chicago Jogger
    September 29, 2014 at 5:39 am

    So sweet!! That sounds like my kind of weekend. πŸ™‚

  • diana
    September 29, 2014 at 5:53 am

    omgosh. now i want to go go apple picking! pretty hard to do in 80 degree weather though. πŸ™ it looks like you guys had such a great time! will definitely be bookmarking this page in case we get to go to norcal in the fall. πŸ™‚

  • Erin
    September 29, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Sounds like a such a fun weekend, I would love some details on where your outfits are from, especially the sweater and booties!

  • christina
    September 29, 2014 at 6:27 am

    oh my gosh, these pictures are adorable. the last few! ahh! the very last one…you must frame that. so sweet.

  • Emily
    September 29, 2014 at 6:31 am

    So sweet!! Also, where are your light tan boots from??

  • Becky
    September 29, 2014 at 6:51 am

    The apple pictures and fall foliage were so beautiful to look at buy Grayson stole the show. Those cheeks go on for days!

  • Emily @ Fit as a Mother...
    September 29, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Looks like so much fun!! It still doesn’t really feel like fall here in Atlanta! πŸ™

  • Caroline H
    September 29, 2014 at 7:12 am

    I ADORE apply hill!!! Rainbow Orchard is one of my favorites too. Actually they also have amazing made by order corn dogs mmmmm! And if you need to pick up a bottle of wine and have 20 extra minutes, Holly’s Hill vineyards on the other side of the freeway has absolutely fantastic wine and an amazing view to boot!! Jodar wine on Apple Hill are good too and they have a nursery right by them that has great plants for your garden πŸ™‚ Love this post and the pic, it’s quintessential fall! <3 I think it might be time for our Annual Apple Hill trip!

  • Laura
    September 29, 2014 at 7:44 am

    First off, I have to admit my jealousy over those apple prices!! Ours are like double that price per pound.
    Secondly, what a fun family weekend! Did you guys go back to the bnb for naptime? Such beautiful pics and it must have been so nice to get away and shake up the routine!

    • jenna
      September 29, 2014 at 8:15 am

      He mainly just napped in his car seat or stroller. Not super ideal but it worked!

  • Kelly
    September 29, 2014 at 8:06 am

    My family and I have been going to Apple Hill every year since I was young. We always go to High Hill Ranch and order their chicken salad sandwiches for lunch! You should definitely try it next year πŸ™‚

  • Bryony @ Bryony Cooks
    September 29, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Grayson is too adorable! Sounds like you all had a wonderful weekend!

  • Theresa Meacham
    September 29, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Looks like the perfect Fall weekend! I’m living overseas and love being able to vicariously live my favorite fall pastimes through wonderful blogs such as yours! Ps. You look awesome post-baby πŸ™‚

  • Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
    September 29, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Definitely want to go on a date with my beau to Apple Hill this fall πŸ™‚

  • Kara
    September 29, 2014 at 9:04 am

    I live in Sacramento and have grown up going to Apple Hill for 25 years! Such a great family experience. You should come at Christmas time to Apple Hill… They have Santa and tree chopping and hot chocolate and it’s much quieter because it’s closing to shutting down for the winter. Our family loads up all our kids and go every year for winter. There is usually snow too so it’s magical!

  • sonia the mexigarian
    September 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

    If memory serves me correctly, Rainbow Orchard goes to a lot of local farmers market’s here in the bay area. I know several south bay locations Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale….. I know that cider. It’s freaking delicious! Now I really have to make it out that way to explore the orchards. Looks like a fun time!

  • Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner
    September 29, 2014 at 10:15 am

    What a fun fall trip! I probably would have left with just as many apples and goodies–the hops & honey beer sounds really interesting, too!

  • Stardancer
    September 29, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Honeycrisp apples for $14.99/10-lb box?? So lucky! I live in Orlando (Central Florida, hey!) and Honeycrisp apples are never below about $2.50/lb. And of course they have such a short season here. I’d love to roam Apple Hill someday!

  • Miranda G
    September 29, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Love apple hill! I’ve been going there since I was a baby. We live in roseville so it’s not too long of a drive for us. Next year you should go to kids inc. such a fun place for kids. They have crafts and a corn maze. They also have a giant hill that’s fun to sit on and eat your dessert. They have a huge variety of desserts here. We went this past weekend and I already want to go back. πŸ™‚

  • Miranda G
    September 29, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Also, high hill ranch is a fun one. It is definitely the busiest but probably the most to do. Lots of booths and yummy cider samples. πŸ™‚

  • Bri | Bites of Bri
    September 29, 2014 at 11:59 am

    This looks like so much fun! I love those apple prices too. Good for you guys on making a last minute decision and jumping in! And going back to the same place for lunch…we do that too, and we especially love breweries.

  • ellen
    September 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    WOZAAA! what cheap apples you have! i just saw Honey Crisp in the store here and they were $3.99/pound. nope, they didn’t come home with me!
    thanx for sharing your “adventure”!

  • Aileen
    September 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Loved this post! Your family is beautiful and I am so glad ya’ll got to get away!

  • Carrie
    September 29, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    It sounds like you had a great trip! I love the picture of you with Grayson sleeping in the carrier. You have the motherly glow. And the family “selfie” is cute too. Happy canning!

  • Heather Mason
    September 29, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Those apple donuts look amazing, I want some! I’m with ya, I would rather go to an apple farm than a winery any day! I lived near Sac in college and I’m sad I never visited this place!

  • Sherrah
    September 29, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Jenna… Love your photo with your baby At El Dorado Orchards, with little kiddie train around. Simply amazing. I suggest you have it frame.

  • A.
    September 30, 2014 at 3:40 am

    nice to see how autumn over there looks like!
    thanks for sharing this wonderfull weekend.

    i love the apple time here as well so much!

    best regards from germany,

  • Rosey Rebecca
    September 30, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Sounds like a perfect fall weekend! Those donuts sound incredible. I’m with you–I’d much rather go on apple orchard tours than winery tours. Though both would be nice!

  • Rebecca Hanlon
    September 30, 2014 at 8:15 am

    LOVE Apple Hill! I used to live in Placerville, my parents still do. I moved to Southern California for school a few years ago. Souther California is nice, but I completely miss Northern California, mainly the seasons and especially Apple Hill season!! I was so excited to see your post! πŸ™‚

  • Dana @ fresh simple five
    September 30, 2014 at 8:54 am

    What a wonderful place! It sounds like an incredible weekend. I’m so excited it’s apple season… and pumpkin beer season. Cheers to fall!

  • Amy Winkeljohn
    September 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Fun! What a little cutie you have! LOVE THOSE CHEEKS!!!!

  • Rachel Jaggers
    September 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Great memories Jenna! πŸ™‚ What size did you get in the jcrew sweater? I’m 2 months post partum with my little peanut and nursing….

    • jenna
      September 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      an extra small πŸ™‚

  • Anna
    October 1, 2014 at 7:10 am

    You guys are super cute!! In some of the pictures Grayson actually looks more like you πŸ˜€

  • Sarah
    October 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I was just thinking that I needed to plan a trip up there soon too. We’re about 2 hours away from it too (but in Nevada). Last time we went up there, we got so into Jack Russel Brewing that we missed all the apples (they all close at 5). I need some better planning this time around!

  • Alyssa
    October 1, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    What a wonderful weekend! I grew up in New Hampshire where our falls consisted of apple orchards, cider, pumpkins and donuts out of cute red barns. How I miss it this time of year! Who knew CA had such a similar area? Of course I’m right in the middle (in CO) but would love to plan a trip to Apple Hill one day to share the memories with my little one! Thanks for the info and great post!

  • Caitlin @ teaspoon
    October 1, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    I feel like I’m learning about all these great places near the bay area now that I’ve moved away! But I’ll be back and have plenty to see when I do. This looks like so much fun- and good for you for getting away for the weekend with a baby!

  • Catherine
    October 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Hi, Jenna –

    I am thinking of taking my family here when they visit next week (my nephew is 6 months old!), but my friends have told me that a lot of Apple Hill burned in the fire. Did you think that the fires affected your trip at all? It looks like you had a lot of fun!

    Thanks so much!


  • Kelly
    October 4, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Hi Jenna,
    I’ve been following your blog for years…. Just love it and your book:). I have a 9,12 and 14 year old and seeing Grayson makes me miss those days SO much! He might be one of the cutest babies I have ever seen????. You look great and I’m glad you aren’t freaking out about fitting into your old jeans:). Love the pics from your trip and am wondering what size green hoodie you got? Think I need to get one but the pics in the catalog make it look really loose in the front? Worried about the sizing? Thanks….. And keep putting up the cute pics of your cute family! Thanks:)

  • Sandy@ReluctantEntertainer
    October 8, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Love this post, Jenna. So happy for your family!

  • wendyb
    October 11, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Congrats on your first Apple Hill trip! We live in the eastern suburbs of Sac and have fond memories of taking our kids to get apples, baked goods, fish, ride the train, and (yes, that sign you posted belongs to an orchard/market open year-round with awesome stone fruit and frozen pies), annual cutting of the Christmas tree, and stops every time we ski at Tahoe which continue to this day. Though I rarely drink, the local Amador wineries are great places to take a picnic lunch and meet the vintners. I hope you are able to take advantage of the local bounty: the asparagus, peach, strawberry festival, and incredible beauty of Lake Tahoe. Glad I found your blog through PBS.

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    […] kicking myself for not buying more of this delicious cider when we visited Apple Hill a few weeks ago. I have never been much of an apple juice fan but there is just something special […]

  • Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
    October 15, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I went last weekend: what farms did you stop at!? πŸ™‚

  • Karen @ The Food Charlatan
    October 23, 2014 at 2:08 am

    This looks like so much fun! Your little boy is sooo adorable! I just want to jiggle his chin πŸ™‚ I didn’t know you were in Sacramento, Jenna! Me too. We haven’t made it up to Apple Hill yet this year but you are certainly making me jealous!

  • Carrie
    October 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Hay is for horses! Those are straw bales in your pictures:-)

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    […] all things cozy. And fall is cozy! Every September, I go apple crazy. Usually, ever year we head to Apple Hill for a weekend and get our share of apple mania. However, last year it was sort of a hard trip […]