It’s our favorite time of the year – U-pick cherry picking at local farms in Brentwood, California (70+ miles northeast of San Jose and 56+ miles from San Francisco).
This city is known for various fruit and vegetable picking opportunities, and cherries are popular!
When is cherry picking season? The short cherry picking season is from mid-May (around Mother’s Day) to mid-June, depending on the rainfall and crop availability. U-Pick cherry farms have plenty of cherry varieties available such as Tiogas, Hazels, Rainers, and Bing varieties.
We know you can easily purchase cherries at the grocery stores. Yet, it’s an amazing feeling of putting the hard work and effort into picking the perfect cherry with the right sweetness, color, size, and firmness, and devouring the “fruits” of your labor.
If you’re interested in learning more, here are some helpful tips to pick your own cherries in Brentwood, California. It’s a perfect day trip from San Francisco, San Jose, or any city in the Bay Area. Plus, it’s a good learning experience for children and young adults to see their fruits grown on a farm.
Bring the entire family and consider spending an entire or half-day at various farms. You may even consider bringing lunch to have a picnic at the farms if the farms allow it.
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What to Know Before Your Cherry Picking Day Trip in Brentwood
Stay up to date with the cherry season.
Check out the Harvest Time in Brentwood Facebook page for current updates on U-pick cherry farms and what varieties of cherries they’re offering.
Also, check out the website for information on open U-pick farms. You can call the farm in advance if you need to make a reservation.
Plan which farms you want to visit.
As mentioned above, refer to the Harvest Time Facebook and website for up-to-date information. By planning, you’ll know where to go exactly and can account for travel time and distance.
Some farms require reservations in advance, so you want to account for that.
If you don’t want to plan, you can easily drive to one of many farms in the area. As you enter Brentwood, multiple signs point in all directions for picking cherries, other fruits, and vegetables. Feel free to go cherry picking hopping at different farms.
Call the farms to confirm the hours, availability, and cherry variety, and ask if pets are allowed.
The varieties include Sweetheart, Rainers, Champagne, Bing, and more.
With the limited season, most people visit the cherry picking farms on the weekends.
It’s recommended to avoid the holiday weekends such as Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.
The roads are congested due to the 1-2 lane roads in the city, and you will be stuck in traffic for a while.
Visit the farms on the weekdays.
If you have the opportunity to take a day off work or work a half-day, then it’s recommended to go cherry-picking on the weekdays. The cherry picking is more enjoyable and less stressful with fewer visitors on the farm.
Go early in the morning to beat the traffic, get a nice parking spot, and avoid the heat.
Most of the farms open around 9am and close in the mid-afternoon (3pm – 4pm), or when cherries are sold out for the day. We’ve seen cars parked along the side of the roads which may be tight for cars passing by. We recommend arriving at the farms before 10am.
Brentwood also gets hot (over 80°F) as the day progresses so it’s in your best interest to start early in the morning.
Consider bringing a car that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Many of the farms have only dirt parking lots, so it gets very dusty in the area. You’ll need to wash your car after your day trip here.
Wear comfy clothes, a hat, and closed-toe shoes.
You want to be comfortable during your cherry picking time. Since you’re surrounded by orchards and farmland, the farm is dusty.
Things to Bring
- Lots of water. It can be hot in the mornings and afternoons, so you don’t want to dehydrate. You can also use the water to wash off the cherries for sampling. We recommend purchasing this water bottle to keep your drinks cold.
- Extra sunscreen. Although there is shade from the cherry trees, the sun will shine through the cracks, so don’t get burned on your face or arms. We recommend this sunscreen and use it often.
- A hat. Protect your face with a full-coverage hat. You can go wrong with buying this hat.
- A foldable step ladder or stool for hard-to-reach cherries. You may not find one on the orchard farm, so it’s easier if you have your own. The cherries on the taller branches are sweeter as they receive more sunlight. Purchase this step ladder for your daily use.
- Bring cash to pay for your cherries. Although, some farms may accept credit cards.
- Bring food and beverages if the farms have a picnic area. You’ll need to verify with a farm in advance.
- Pack a cooler with ice for transporting cherries back home. Buy this cooler! It’s hot in the late mornings and afternoons in Brentwood. You wouldn’t want your cherries to overheat on the ride back home.
- Bring wet napkins. You may need them to wipe your hands, face, and neck after picking cherries. Buy these highly rated wet napkins.
- Bring an extra set of clothes or shoes for the car ride home. It’ll feel refreshing to wear clean clothes and shoes.
Recommended U-Pick Farm: Nunn Better Farms
The orchard is huge and the areas are sectioned off depending on the cherries’ ripeness. Plus, the farm consistently offers high-quality cherries that are firm and of large size. We usually pick the Bing cherries here.
Nunn Better Farms offers free parking in their dirt parking lot and doesn’t require reservations to enter.
As of 2022, the cherries cost $4.00 per pound. We think it’s a fair price as the cherries are big and sweet.
For updated information such as operating hours and schedule, check out their Twitter.
- Location 1: 5500 Balfour Road, Brentwood
- Location 2 (main farm): 2777 Sellers Avenue, Brentwood
How To Pick Your Own Cherries in Brentwood
1. Identify your perfect cherry and flavor and taste cherry samples.
Once you visit a farm, it’s easy to start your U-pick cherries!
How do you pick cherries? Grab a bucket at the entrance of the farm, choose a tree, and start sampling.
What is your perfect cherry? What is the texture, color, or firmness that you’re looking for?
Tasting/sampling the cherries to ensure that they meet your criteria. Plus, there will be less waste if they are picked randomly. Sampling cherries is filling so spread out your sampling accordingly!
When we first went cherry picking in 2007 (not at Nunn Better Farms), we ate them straight off the tree. However, they were dusty and our throats were scratchy and irritated. That is what we get for getting overly excited about trying cherries.
Afterward, we learned to bring a water bottle to wash them off before tasting.
2. Start picking cherries.
Use your hands to pick the large and ripe cherries off the tree. If you go earlier in the season, the cherries on the lower branches are easier to reach.
Otherwise, bringing a step ladder is helpful as the darker, sweeter cherries are higher up on the tree.
The farms may have ladders scattered throughout their orchard. However, you’ll need to wait for the ladders as they are used often.
3. Pick the ripe cherries that you’ll buy and eat.
This is important!! Do not waste them.
We saw a lot of discarded cherries on the ground. The farmers spent a lot of time taking care of the trees and it’s such a shame that people would leave buckets of picked cherries around.
4. Stay at the farms for as long as you’d like.
Feel free to pick cherries as long as you want.
It’s a fun bonding experience with family and friends. We usually spend about 2 hours picking over 10 pounds during each trip. It is worth the trip as all of the cherries are devoured in one week.
As mentioned earlier, some farms have benches for picnics.
We hope you consider visiting Brentwood, California for the cherry picking season. It’s a fun activity that is easy to do and is perfect for all ages. Go cherry picking now!
If you’re looking for other adventures to do in California, check out our other posts here.
Have you picked cherries before? If so, where is your favorite farm to get cherries?
Read More: Picking Strawberries in Miaoli, Taiwan
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