Your Ultimate Guide to U-Pick Hotspots in Iowa

Photo courtesy of Center Grove Orchard

By Katie Giorgio

One of the many benefits of living in an agricultural state like Iowa is being in constant proximity to fresh produce, flowers, and other farm products. While farmers markets and roadside stands abound, plenty of farms big and small across the state invite residents and visitors to stop by and try their hand at picking their own fruit, veggies, and blooms.

Some say the food tastes better when you pick it yourself, and we’re of the opinion that the flowers are more beautiful too. So grab a sun hat, gardening gloves, and a bushel basket to check out these U-pick farms across Iowa where you can spend the day gathering the bounties of the land.

Wilson’s Orchard & Farm

Iowa City

Your Ultimate Guide to U-Pick Hotspots in Iowa
Photo courtesy of Wilson’s Orchard & Farm

Wilson’s Orchard & Farm has long been a favorite apple picking spot for Eastern Iowans. Since opening just north of Iowa City in 1985, they have cultivated a farm featuring dozens of varieties of apples. Today, owners Paul Rasch and Sara Goering are focused on farm diversity and sustainability while having broadened the U-pick options. There are raspberries, flowers (including zinnia, yarrow, cosmos, and dahlias just to name a few), cherries (pre-picked), blueberries, pumpkins, and more. Several years ago, they also opened the Ciderhouse, a charmingly rustic restaurant where they serve delectable locally sourced food alongside great cider. And there’s a farm market and bakery. It’s definitely worth making a day of it at Wilson’s. Stay tuned for a location coming to the Des Moines area in 2024.

The Sunflower Experience

Van Horne

Your Ultimate Guide to U-Pick Hotspots in Iowa
Photo courtesy of Pheasant Run Farm

Ask anyone who has stopped by this unique Iowa attraction and they will tell you that if you haven’t wandered through a field of sunflowers at least once in your life you haven’t lived. Managed by Pheasant Run Farms, the Sunflower Experience opens in August each year and invites visitors to come and see acres of sunshine-y blooms. There are photo ops and activities set up throughout the farm, plus an overlook spot to see the full field of sunflowers that just happens to be a perfect spot for a selfie. Each paid entry includes cutting one giant sunflower to take home (you can cut more for $2 a stem). There’s also an additional flower field, including some 2,000 dahlia plants, where you can pay per stem to make a cut flower bouquet to take even more beauty home with you.

PepperHarrow Farm


Your Ultimate Guide to U-Pick Hotspots in Iowa
Photo courtesy of PepperHarrow Farm

If you love flowers, you simply can’t miss out on a visit to PepperHarrow Farm. Situated on 20 acres just outside of Des Moines, in the picturesque setting of the famed bridges of Madison County, this flower farm is a wannabe florist’s delight. Owners and master gardeners Adam and Jenn O’Neal have cultivated an idyllic farm. While PepperHarrow is not open regularly to the public, they do take orders online. Plus there are regular classes and events where you can sign up to wander through six acres of cut flowers to bring home your own blooms. Spots fill quickly so check them out online to get signed up.

Center Grove Orchard


Sunflowers, apples, pumpkins, oh my! Starting in August, Center Grove Orchard buzzes to life with activity as visitors come out to this farm for picking fall favorites. The family-run farm has been a fun family favorite since opening in 1994. Check out the corn maze, race down the combine slide, feed the baby goats, or watch a pig race. There’s a seven-acre field to wander through where you’ll see a variety of sunflowers. The 20-acre apple orchard is filled with 34 varieties of apples and you can check their website to see when your favorite is ready. Then as the calendar turns to fall at the end of September, you can wander through the 25-acre pumpkin patch to find just the right pumpkin or gourd for your fall festive decor.

Berry Patch Farm


Your Ultimate Guide to U-Pick Hotspots in Iowa
Photo courtesy of Berry Patch Farm

It may have started as a berry farm in the 1970s, but today a visit to Berry Patch Farm can offer the opportunity to pick a wide variety of produce. At their market stand on the farm, at various points in the harvest season, you’ll find apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, currants (red and black), gooseberries, haskaps (honeyberries), pumpkins, raspberries (black and red), rhubarb, and strawberries. Check their helpful website to see what’s being offered at any point in the year. The Henry family runs a quiet farm, which will also allow you to stop and take in the beauty of the Iowa farmland.

Appleberry Orchard


Your Ultimate Guide to U-Pick Hotspots in Iowa
Photo courtesy of Appleberry Orchard

Open in the fall, Appleberry Orchard is a great stop in southeastern Iowa for picking apples, pumpkins, gourds, and squash including spaghetti, butternut, and acorn. You can also grab cornstalks and hay bales for fall décor on your porch. A highlight for kids of all ages is the petting farm in the historic barn (built in 1882) that features goats, pheasants, miniature ponies, chickens, and rabbits. With apple trees planted in 1852, Appleberry Orchard is the oldest working orchard in the state of Iowa.

Loess Hills Lavender Farm

Missouri Valley

Your Ultimate Guide to U-Pick Hotspots in Iowa
Photo courtesy of Loess Hills Lavender Farm

Among the rolling Loess Hills in western Iowa, you’ll find a field filled with purple. And you’ll know by the sweet aroma in the area that you’ve found Loess Hills Lavender Farm. Started in 2009, the farm is a passion project for Tim and Mary Hamer, who fell in love with the lavender field experience while visiting one in Oregon. They started with 1,200 plants to bring the opportunity of visiting and picking some of the magical and mystical herbs to Iowans. The farm has new varieties in the field, including Rosea (a beautiful, pale pink English Lavender) and Riverina Thomas (a taller, purple French Lavender). Visitors are invited out to enjoy the walking trails among the native grasses and flower fields. You can also pop into their craft store featuring lavender products and items from more than 40 vendors.

If you are looking for other farms to visit near you, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers a great resource.

READ MORE: Where + How to Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Iowa

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