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The best of apple country The best of apple country

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Posted: Friday, October 19, 2012 7:27 am

Just hours from Lodi in Apple Hill, an autumnal adventure awaits. Here are ideas for savoring the day.

First stop: The best apple cider donuts

Get the day started with a treat at Rainbow Orchards, where the lovely ladies in the kitchen serve up HOT apple cider donuts. They come in a paper bag, and are dusted with cinnamon and sugar. They also have one of the most popular ciders on the hill.

The place for fudge-covered apples

Abel’s Apples is the place for fudge-covered apples (or peanut butter or caramel). They also have a kitchen called Terri’s Country Cuisine/Bobbie’s Terri Yaki. Here, you’ll find a little bit of everything, from soup to tri-tip and hot dogs.

The place to take a break and relax

Larsen’s Apple Barn is basically that — an apple shed with a bake shop with fresh pies and treats. They have a pioneer museum. Across the way, there is a “park” with covered walking bridge, tables and a beautiful waterfall. It’s a nice place to hang out, even though dogs are not allowed.

Best ale

There are plenty of wineries to visit on the hill, but Jack Russel Brewing Co. is a fun stop during or after apple season. The brewery — which specializes in award-winning darker, thicker, English-style ales — celebrates the season with tents, where people sell their handmade wares. In their winery cave around back, ask about their delicious blackberry apple concoction.

Best place to reel one in

Catch a rainbow trout or sturgeon from the banks of High Hill Ranch’s fishing pond. You don’t have to be a pro-fisherman or even have your own pole; you can rent one and buy bait there. High Hill Ranch also has an array of vendors, an area for pony rides, a bake shop and a huge shed where you can buy cider, apples, stuffed olives and more.

Best place to pick your own pumpkins

Cardanini’s Pumpkin Patch has been growing and selling pumpkins off the vine for 10 years. They say they’ve mastered their growing formula for the biggest and best pumpkins — 18 varieties of them. Use a wagon as you search for the perfect pumpkins on the 5-acre working ranch.

Best petting zoo

Apple Ridge Farms is known for its pies, but they also have one of the favorite petting zoos on the hill. Children can get up close with farm animals, like chickens, goats, sheep and rabbits. The petting farm is free to visit, and cups of feed are 50 cents.

Best view and eats

At Red Apple Cafe, enjoy famous eats like the chicken-apple sausage while you sit on a patio overlooking miles of country. Inside, you can enjoy the restaurants old-time Gold Rush era decor.

Best sweet treat

Whether you want fudge or candied apples, one of the best place to satisfy your sweet tooth is at Fudge Factory Farm. You’ll find more than 75 flavors of fudge, as well as English toffee and brittles.

Best place to chop your own Christmas tree

On the 160-acre Harris Tree Farm, hunt for your Christmas tree of choice: Silver tip, white fir, Pine, cedar, Douglas Fir and Grand Fir. This family farm has existed for 150 years, and continues to be a favorite.

— Lauren Nelson and Jen Howell

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