Local U-pick berries: the best taste of summer
There's been a hint of summer in the air for a bit, and now we're ready to celebrate the season by picking some juicy, sweet, sun-ripened berries straight from the vine, right? As of early June, many strawberry farms are opening for U-pick, and raspberries are next in line, then blueberries later in the summer.
Editor's note: This article was originally published several years ago. To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, farms have instituted many new safety guidelines and procedures, including hand-washing and picking with only your own household. Please check with the individual farm you want to visit and plan accordingly before heading out.
Key tips for a successful berry-picking outing with kids:
- Most important: Check farm websites and Facebook pages or call ahead on the day you want to go to make sure U-pick is happening and to confirm times.
- Double-check the farm's website for address and directions, as some map apps don't work as well for more rural locations.
- Arrive early, as fields can get picked out by noon. If a farm has plenty of U-pick availability, show up in the late afternoon to avoid crowds and direct sun.
- Keep in mind that fields typically have little shade, so bring hats, sunscreen, water, snacks and — for little kids — some alternative toys, such as bubbles.
- Wear closed-toe shoes.
- Bring cash or make sure that the farm accepts credit (the bigger farms usually do).
- Strawberries, because they grow close to the ground, are most physically demanding to pick. Raspberries and blueberries are easier pickin' (at least for grown-ups).
- Especially with small kids in tow, keep your picking expectations low. And remember: You can usually buy pre-picked berries at a farm as well, often for only a bit more than U-pick prices.
- Boxes or pails are sometimes provided, but check first or bring your own.
- Typically, farms don't mind if kids eat as they pick (or as they run around) but double-check. You could also offer to weigh your child before and after picking (kidding).
Use the arrows above the image to find U-pick berry farms around Snohomish and Skagit counties, around the Eastside and around South King County and the South Sound, followed by U-pick blueberry farms in the same areas.