For years we have had friends extol the virtues of Apple Hill. Once fall weather begins, they all go to this location and eat apple cider donuts, tour apple orchards, buy apple cider, play in the kid spots, buy apple candles – they basically make a whole day of it and always come home satiated with all things APPLE.
This year we decided it was time to see what this thing was all about. We went up on Columbus Day since there was no school. Sadly when we left we still did not know how serious the Atlas Fire was surrounding our beloved Napa Valley and eventually bleeding into our own Green Valley. When we headed up to Placerville there was a ton of smoke around us and we were just happy to LEAVE for cleaner air…but we had no idea just how serious the Atlas Fire would become or how it would threaten our home in Green Valley (we are 10 minutes from Napa). But I will save that for another post because it deserves its own post :). For now, on to the Apple Hill experience.
First of all, the Apple Hill “complex” is quite large and spread out. We drove a little over an hour and started at High Hill Ranch since that is where our friends encouraged us to start. Because it was a school holiday this place was PACKED. We parked our car among the apple orchards (that was a first for me) and bee lined it over to the apple cider donut area because, priorities. Obviously.
The line for the donuts moved quickly and I kind of lost my mind when it was time to order. Basically I ordered two dozen warm apple cider donuts and we ate all of them within 24 hours. I am not kidding, this donut was one of the best donuts of my whole entire life.
Then we bought four giant apple fritters and a gallon of apple cider. DELICIOUS. Every single last bit of it. Honestly, my kids weren’t in the finest of moods and I was seriously questioning my idea to even bring them to Apple Hill but after those donuts and cider? I would have driven up and back JUST for the food. It was that tasty. My friend gave me a tip about the donuts: order their freshest, warmest ones. Oh my gosh. I want more just looking at these photos.
I will say, however, that Harvest Hill was completely packed with tourists just like us…which isn’t my favorite scene. We had a good time but it was crowded and due to all of the people it didn’t feel as quaint and authentic as I had been hoping. It felt super commercialized, which was a bummer. Food=9. Ambiance=3. So we headed out in search of another apple place further down the road that was supposed to have great apple pies.
After driving maybe 2-3 miles I came upon Mill View Ranch. Not only did it have most of the same baked goods and cider as what we had found at Harvest Hill, but it also had giant apple pies! And tri-tip sandwiches and pizza! And a large pumpkin patch and a HUGE kids town. But best of all, it was not crowded at all and truly felt quaint and authentic.
The “Gold Rush Era” feel Kids Town was fantastic. Even my teenagers loved running around and pretending they lived in the little kid-sized homes. The air was clean and clear, there were minimal people and we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. HEAVEN.
Because we had all satiated our hunger with a million donuts and fritters and helpings of cider while at Harvest Hill we took our time moving through Kid Town and the rest of Mill View. Our main reason for stopping was to pick up a pie and after verifying that they did indeed have pies, we just chilled out and played.
I’m so glad that we finished our Apple Hill time at Mill View. Food=8. Ambiance=9. Plus, we came home with a HUGE apple pie and full bellies. Being in the clean air was wonderful. I would say that for the donuts alone, Apple Hill is a repeat for me again next year :). Happy Fall, ya’ll!