If it’s fall, it’s time to cool off, head up the mountain, and pick some apples in the tiny village of Oak Glen, California. When it’s time for you and your family to head up to the apple orchards, stores, and restaurants, here’s what you need to know.
What is Oak Glen?
In short, it’s a really charming mountain spot, basically made for your autumn Instagram photos. You’ll find it in the mountains of the Inland Empire.
Oak Glen’s elevation and cooler temps are ideal for apple orchards, and this area produces a variety of apple varieties including the Vasquez and King David varieties, which are grown only in Oak Glen. Most of the orchards do apple tastings, so you can try out the different varieties and see which one you like best, before heading out to pick your own apples, or buying a sack of apples from one of the many stores.
Oak Glen began getting popular with tourists in the 1940s. Before then, the apples were mostly grown and sent out, but then several farmers got together and began selling all things apples – like cider, pies, butter, juice, and more. They also began letting visitors come to the area to pick their own apples – which is fun, but more on how to do that in a bit.
And while apples are the star of the show at Oak Glen, you can also pick your own raspberries or pumpkins, as well as enjoy other activities, grab some food, and take a ton of pics for social media.
Where is Oak Glen?
You will find Oak Glen 10 miles north of Beaumont, not to too far of a drive from the 10 Freeway. If you are coming from the west, Oak Glen is about 15 miles east of San Bernardino and 80 miles east of Los Angeles. Those coming from the desert will find Oak Glen to be a quick 38 mile drive from Palm Springs.
The drive up the hill isn’t too bad, with Oak Glen Road having a few turns here and there and the road narrowing a bit, but nothing too crazy.
Do beware of traffic and people in the street though, especially during busy weekends, as the parking situation can get a bit crazy from late September through early November.
So How Does the Apple Picking Work?
At Oak Glen, you will find orchards ready and eager for you to visit and pick some apples. You can get more info on each by clicking on their name just a bit below. They all work pretty much the same way:
- You check in and get a bag and grab fruit tree picker (you should really make sure to get one of these as the low lying fruit is almost always gone and the higher ones always look better anyway).
- Head out to the orchard and have fun picking your apples.
- Return with your bag full of apples and pay for your haul by the pound.
- Take your apples home and eat them or make pies that you can then send to me!
Easy enough, huh?
Here are the orchards you will find in Oak Glen. While they all have orchards, some are bigger, some are smaller, some have restaurants and stores, some have petting zoos, some have stations to press your newly picked apples into a cider, and, well, just have a look and see which one is right for what you are looking for:
- Los Rios Rancho
- Riley’s Apple Farm
- Riley’s Farm
- Snow-Line Orchard
- Stone-Soup Farm and Heritage Orchard
- Stone Pantry Orchard
Is there anything other than apple picking to do in Oak Glen?
Why, yes there is. In addition to the orchards, there are also a few restaurants and stores selling apple items like pies, decorations, oh, and you have to get yourself some Apple Cider Mini Donuts from Snow-Line!
There is also Oak Tree Village – where you will find the popular Apple Annie’s restaurant, crafts, activities for kids, a museum, and, let’s just get crazy here, trout ponds. You can get more info on this spot here.
There are also plenty of stores to visit offering everything from apple cider made in Oak Glen (tastings on weekends!), plenty of home decor, and, every time I visit I make a visit to Mom’s for their super-tasty Guinness Mustard.
For those who just want to chill in the mountains, you have plenty of pretty open spaces to do that. If you are looking for a little something more, there’s a pirate show at Parrish Ranch on weekends and Riley’s Farm always has events going on – including a Sleepy Hollow dinner show.
Riley’s also is home to the Hawk’s Head Tavern, where you can kick back in the colonial setting and enjoy a beer, mead, or cider while filling up on dishes like sausage and apples:
And comfort classics like chicken pot pie:
When should I go to Oak Glen?
Well, the place is there all year. But, since you are probably wanting to experience fall and apple picking, that gets started in early September and gets in full swing by October. The season typically wraps up on Thanksgiving Weekend, when the town plays host to an Apple Butter Festival.
Also, and this is important, Oak Glen can get super-crowded on weekends (especially in October). Do yourself a favor, call in sick, take the kids out of school for a day, and go experience Oak Glen during midweek.
Sure, there are far fewer activities open, but it’s sooooo much more relaxing and enjoyable.
What? Was this not enough info for you? How ungrateful!!! I kid, I kid. You can get plenty of info about Oak Glen here.