‘Tis the season for U-pick berries. One of my favorite springtime traditions in Central Florida is blueberry picking (and the monumental amount of baking that takes place afterward). This year alone I’ve gone blueberry picking three times, and while I’d like to think that I’m done, I’m not making any promises. There’s no shortage of U-pick spots for blueberries and over the years I’ve gotten to sample several locations around Orlando.
No matter where you live in Orlando, there’s probably a blueberry patch closer than you realize. I haven’t made it to all of the blueberry patches around Orlando, but the ones I have visited are great! U-pick blueberry season in Central Florida typically runs from April through May or early June, but be sure to double-check the operating hours and schedule for each location before making the drive.
This is the one that started it all for me. The first U-pick blueberry experience I had in Central Florida was at the Beck Brothers patch. I was a nanny for several years in Windermere, where I fell in love with the beautiful neighborhood and picturesque houses. But it got even better when I learned that there was a bustling blueberry patch right smack dab in the middle of one of Windermere’s coziest neighborhoods.
One day, the kiddos’ sweet mom and I packed up the little ones and headed off to the blueberry patch. We drove, but it was so close that we could have biked or walked if we wanted to. If you live in the area, this is the perfect healthy family adventure. The kids loved snacking on the fresh berries while their mom and I reveled in offering them an alternative to the TV.
Fair warning for families: It can take a while for little ones to fill up an entire bucket of blueberries. After the initial excitement wears off, it may seem like more of a chore to some tiny blueberry pickers. Plus, blueberry buckets can get heavy after a while, so be prepared to help your little one carry their treasures and be prepared to pack up early if it’s a little too hot out. For families with more than one kid, though, instead of boredom, you may be dealing with some fierce competition resulting in some overflowing blueberry buckets!
I’ve returned to Beck Brothers several times over the years and they never disappoint! Make a day of being in the Windermere area and take advantage of the outdoors at Tibet-Butler Preserve, right off of 535. Beck Brothers is also ideal for those visiting Disney World who may want to venture slightly off the beaten path for some tasty treats.
Southern Hill Farms
16651 Schofield Rd.
Clermont, FL 34714
If Disney owned a blueberry patch, it would be like Southern Hill Farms. This place is massive and magical! I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into when I visited Southern Hill Farms to pick blueberries and peaches and I can’t wait to go back. It feels like a world away because of Clermont’s gentle hills — something you don’t normally experience in flat Florida. But this blueberry patch isn’t just a u-pick farm. Southern Hill Farms is an operation. It’s so far off the beaten path that the road to reach it is covered in dusty red dirt. But when you do finally, arrive, it’s as organized as the local theme parks. From the parking attendants directing your car perfectly into a spot to the kind peach and blueberry experts offering tips on how and where to pick the best produce, this farm does it right.
Did you know that there are different kinds of blueberries? I sure didn’t until I came here. The fields as Southern Hill Farms are organized in sections and there are maps posted at the entrance annotating the different types of blueberries. A friendly employee directed us to some of the sweeter varieties of blueberries and we got to pickin’. I also picked peaches here for the first time, which is slightly embarrassing since I’m from Georgia. They were divine!
In between the blueberry and peach patches is a beautifully decorated activities area with a playground for kids, a shop, live music, food trucks and lots of shade. This is also where you pay for your produce, so don’t make the mistake that I did by returning to the entrance where you originally collected your bucket. Southern Hill felt like a community and I could have stayed there for hours because of all the actives they offered. While I was picking blueberries with friends, there was a yoga class in between the fields. In addition to fresh berries, peaches and flowers to pick, Southern Hill Farms also hosts weddings and other events. It’s a stunning little gem in Central Florida, and I can’t wait to check out their fall festival later this year.
Far Reach Ranch Heavenly Blueberries
1255 South Dora Blvd
The drive to Far Reach Ranch is well worth it. The blueberries here are just so dang good! Not only do they have delicious berries and baked goods, but it’s close to Mount Dora, which makes for a lovely day. The two times I’ve gone blueberry picking here, I’ve spent the afternoon strolling the timeless streets of Mount Dora afterward. It’s a perfect spot to grab lunch after stocking up on pounds of blueberries.
A close-up image of fresh-picked blueberries from Central Florida.
I’ve found that the operators of all the blueberry patches in the area are welcoming, kind and friendly, but the people who run Far Reach offer fantastic service. When you arrive, you have to check your party in and sign a waiver that includes hygiene rules. That may sound extreme to some, but I appreciate the extra step to ensure the health and safety of all the blueberry patrons out there. They provide a harness to help you carry your bucket if you’d like, and they offer clamshell containers at no extra cost to help you transport your treasured fruit.
And while I haven’t participated, there are fun activities like a truck ride for families and grown-ups alike. This year, Far Reach Ranch even had an Easter egg hunt for kids while I was there picking berries.
While you dream of all the tasty creations you’ll make with your blueberries, take a stop at some of Mount Dora’s charming antique shops or taste your way through the city’s old-timey streets. If you want even more blueberries in your life, hold out for the Mount Dora Blueberry Festival.
75 Nolte Rd.
St Cloud, FL 34772
This charming little stop is nestled in what looks like a soon-to-be hotspot in St. Cloud. I’m not too familiar with the area, but it’s not far off from Kissimmee and there are several large housing developments in the works right next door. If you live in the area, Chapman’s Berries is in your neighbor’s backyard — literally. It’s family owned and the generous blueberry patch lies right behind the family home. The owners were immensely friendly and passionate about their blueberries. They even sell a large assortment of plants to take home! On the day I visited, a pop-up thunderstorm forced us to take shelter with the owners under their covered retail area, which was lovely because they were so friendly. My friend and I were able to wait out the rain while enjoying their company and learning about how a single blueberry plant inspired the whole business.
Undeterred by the last few sprinkles of the rainstorm, we finally ventured back out into the fields along with a few other brave patrons. My hands got a little dirty, but there were so many ripe blueberries that you could pick them by the handful. Chapman’s Berries has some of the highest and well-grown blueberry bushes I’ve ever seen, so if you want to Instagram yourself against a wall of blueberries, this is the place.
Spend the rest of the day in the area at St. Cloud Lakefront Park and enjoy the striking lake views and play area for little ones. Or just go straight home and start baking blueberry delights. I don’t fault you either way.
Late Bloom Blueberry Farm
115 Scenic Hwy.
Haines City, FL 33844
I discovered Late Bloom Blueberry Farm while driving home from Bok Tower Gardens a couple of years ago. While it closed for the season on April 28, 2019, it’s worth adding to your list for next year, especially if you’re out and about in the Lake Wales area. It’s right on the way back toward Orlando and is a great stop to help break up the drive and get a snack.
We parked under a shady tree before getting down to business to collect some blueberries. This patch is not far off the main road but maintains the charms of a country roadside attraction. It reminded me of the simple country roads of North Carolina where I’d visit my grandma growing up. This blueberry patch is simple, no-fuss and delightful. While I probably wouldn’t make the drive all the way out here from my side of town just for this patch, it’s the perfect stop on the way home from any of the area’s attractions. If you live close by, it’s well worth a stop to stock up on blueberries!
While springtime in Florida can feel a lot like summer, there are so many refreshing activities to help you get out and explore the outdoors. Blueberry picking is one of my favorites, and the fun doesn’t stop when you leave the u-pick patch. I’ve been snacking on berries for weeks now and love coming up with new ideas and recipes. And the best part is that you can never over pick because blueberries freeze so well. Plus, the frozen berries can bring fond memories of your blueberry picking experience all year long.
I have two cartons of berries in my fridge and yet I’m already lamenting the fact that blueberry season will be over soon. I’m going to have to come up with an alternative snack pretty soon, but until then, I’ll continue to chow down on fresh, hand-picked blueberries for as long as I can.