Weekend Plan: Berry Picking

Hand_picking_blueberries As summer days give way to autumn nights, we’re squeezing in our favorite summer activities before it’s back to work and school. Lucky for us, it’s still berry picking season for the next few months. Blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries, huckleberries, thimbleberries… grab a bucket and fill it up with the sweet stuff. A good rule of thumb when picking wild berries is let it be if you don’t recognize the berry type. It’s not too late to plan a quick weekend getaway, so here are our favorite U-pick berry farms around the country: Mountainview Blueberry Farm - Snohomish, WA Mountainview lives up to its name: Nestled against a hillside in the Snohomish River Valley, on a clear day you’ll see all the way to Mt. Baker. This picturesque farm dates back to 1940 and grows 20 varietals of blueberries. Pop into the market for some killer preserves and syrups or get recipe ideas for your own sweet concoctions. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 8-5, $2/lb. Santa Barbara Blueberries - Gaviota, CA Located in the magnificent rolling hills of Santa Ynez Valley just 35 miles northwest of our hometown, Santa Barbara Blueberries at Restoration Oaks Ranch is just as sweet to look at. Spend a few hours gathering blueberries, raspberries, watermelon and cantaloupe, then toss them into your picnic basket and head to nearby Gaviota Sate Beach for a seaside picnic. Open Monday – Thursday, 10-3; Friday – Sunday, 10-6, prices vary. Lakeview Orchard - Lanesborough, MA We’re partial to spectacular views, and Lakeview Orchard does not disappoint. Overlooking Hoosac Lake, good luck focusing on berry picking when you’ve got panoramic views of the surrounding valley and Berkshire Mountains. Cherry season is over, but raspberries, red currants and blackberries are in full swing (and maybe a few apple varietals too). If you’re not a sweet tooth, their homemade pierogi, ravioli and gnocchi are the best kept secret in the area. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 9-4, prices vary. Willow Oaks Berry Farm – Midland, VA Blueberries, thornless blackberries and raspberries are in abundance at this postcard worthy Southern farm. Pack a lunch for the communal picnic green or stop off to get road trip snacks on your way to DC. Great for kids and dreamy for adults – just don’t forget the mosquito repellent. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 9-5; Sunday, 12-5, prices vary. Dexter Blueberry Farm - Dexter, MI The closest thing to picking wild berries, Dexter Blueberry Farms is not for the faint of heart. Keep your eye out for wild rabbits and turkeys while you stroll the blueberry lanes, sifting through wickets for the biggest, fattest, juiciest blueberries. An old-school cash-only enterprise, $2 will get you a bucket and all the blueberries you can harvest – just be prepared to work! Monday – Saturday, 8:30-7:30; Sunday 12-6, $2/lb.