With the arrival of spring, nature paints the landscape with vibrant colors, and one of the most delightful treats of the season is fresh-picked strawberries. Fortunately, for residents of St. Louis, Missouri, and surrounding areas, there are several fantastic locations within a one-hour drive where you can immerse yourself in the joy of fruit picking throughout the growth season. From family-friendly farms to picturesque orchards, these destinations offer not only the opportunity to harvest your own produce, but also a fun-filled day amidst beautiful rural settings. So, grab your baskets and get ready to embark on a delightful adventure near St. Louis.
Know What’s Ripe When
Always check the farm’s website or Facebook page to see what is on their growing schedule to make sure what you want is available. This can vary from year-to-year depending on weather.
- Strawberries can be picked before they’re entirely red, but be sure each berry is at least halfway there.
- Blackberries are ready when they drop off at the slightest touch.
- Raspberries can be harvested when easily separated from the plant.
- Pears should be picked early—when they’ve turned from green to yellow—and kept indoors to ripen.
- Blueberries will have a uniformity of color to indicate ripeness.
- Cherries are ripe when they’re heavy, shiny, and sweet in taste.
- Apples are ready when you cup it in your hand and give it a slight twist, and it comes off in your hand.
What to Bring to the Pick-Your-Own Farms
When heading to a pick-your-own farm for a day of fruit picking, it’s important to be prepared to make the most of your experience. Here are some essential items to bring with you:
- Containers: Bring your own containers or baskets to hold the freshly picked strawberries. Opt for containers with open tops or shallow baskets that allow air circulation to prevent the strawberries from getting squished.
- Sun Protection: Depending on the weather and the farm’s layout, you may be exposed to the sun for an extended period. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
- Comfortable Clothing and Shoes: Wear comfortable clothing suitable for outdoor activities. Choose breathable fabrics that allow you to move freely. Additionally, consider wearing closed-toe shoes, as some farms may have uneven terrain or require walking through fields.
- Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated during your visit by bringing a reusable water bottle. Fruit picking can be physically demanding, and having water on hand is essential. Pack some light snacks, such as granola bars or fresh fruit, to keep you energized throughout the day.
- Insect Repellent: Depending on the location and time of year, insects such as mosquitoes or flies may be present. Bring insect repellent to protect yourself from bites and make your picking experience more comfortable.
- Cash or Payment Method: Check the farm’s website or call ahead to confirm their accepted payment methods. Some farms may only accept cash, while others might have options like credit cards or mobile payments.
- Hand Sanitizer or Wet Wipes: Maintaining proper hygiene is essential, especially when handling food. Carry hand sanitizer or wet wipes to clean your hands before and after picking.
- Camera or Phone: Capture memories of your adventure by bringing a camera or ensuring your phone is fully charged. The picturesque surroundings and the joy of picking fresh fruit make for great photo opportunities.
- Positive Attitude and Patience: Lastly, bring a positive attitude and patience. Fruit picking can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it may also involve waiting for your turn or searching for the ripest produce. Embrace the process and enjoy the journey.
Pick-Your-Own Farms Near St. Louis, Missouri
Eckert’s Farms – Belleville, Illinois
(Approximately 30 minutes from St. Louis)
Eckert’s Farms, a beloved family-owned establishment, has been a go-to destination for fruit picking for generations. Located in Belleville, just a short drive from St. Louis, Eckert’s Farms offers a delightful fruit-picking experience. Their expansive fields are perfect for both seasoned pickers and families with children. After gathering your fruit, explore the farm market, indulge in freshly baked goods, or enjoy a tractor ride. Eckert’s Farms offers an all-encompassing experience that promises fun for the whole family.
Thies Farm & Greenhouses – St. Charles & Maryland Heights, Missouri (Approximately 35 minutes from St. Louis)
Nestled in the scenic countryside of St. Charles, Thies Farm & Greenhouses invites visitors to pick their own strawberries in a picturesque setting. Boasting rows of perfectly ripe strawberries, this charming farm offers an idyllic setting for a day of fruit picking. The friendly staff is always ready to assist and provide guidance. Once you’ve picked your strawberries, explore the farm’s market, stocked with fresh produce, local honey, and other goodies. Thies Farm & Greenhouses promises a delightful and fulfilling experience for strawberry enthusiasts.
thierbach orchards – marthasville, missouRI
(Approximately 60 minutes from St. Louis)
Located near the beautiful Katy Trail in Marthasville, Thierbach Orchards is your place in the country for fresh fruit and family fun. They grow a variety of fruit, usually starting with strawberries in May and continuing into June with the blueberries, cherries and blackberries. July and August feature peaches and in the fall, apples. Hayrides to the apple orchards are a tradition.
Braeutigam Orchards – Belleville, Illinois
(Approximately 45 minutes from St. Louis)
A family-owned orchard since 1831, Braeutigam Orchards is a picturesque destination that offers a serene setting for fruit picking. The tranquil ambiance and breathtaking views make it an ideal spot to enjoy the beauty of nature while filling your baskets. Afterward, don’t forget to explore the orchard’s market, where you can find fresh produce, homemade preserves, and other farm goodies.
centennial farms – augusta, missouRI
(Approximately 50 minutes from St. Louis)
The farm has been owned and operated by the same family since 1854. The first orchards were planted in 1969 on what had been a grain and livestock farm and you can pick from five varieties of apples. The Centennial Farm market is in the 160-year old timber framed barn which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Centennial recently renovated its playground area to include a bounce pad and a giant spider web.
Indulging in the pleasure of fruit picking is a delightful way to embrace nature’s bounty. Fortunately, within a 90-minute drive of St. Louis, Missouri, there are several fantastic destinations where you can embark on this fruity adventure. These locations offer not only an opportunity to gather your own fruit but also an experience filled with family fun and a connection to the land. So, gather your friends and family and get pickin’.