We Angelenos are a greedy sort. We have sun, surf, and skiing. We have deserts, mountains, forests, and gorgeous coastlines. But we want more. When autumn rolls around, even if it’s 112 degrees in the shade, we want our apple-picking!
There are two main areas to go apple-picking near town – Leona Valley and Oak Glen. (If you know of anything closer, by all means please leave a comment!) Both are far enough away that they require a day trip and picnic lunch or a stop at a local restaurant for snacks, but if you live in the Inland Empire or parts of Orange County, well lucky you, you’re almost there. Adventurous day-trippers will find worthy sites in other directions, too.
Parrish Pioneer Ranch
38651 Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
Not an orchard, but more of a general store, Parrish can be a stopping point for you when you make to Oak Glen. Much like wine tasting in Paso Robles, apple and other fruit-picking is the main draw for this 6-mile area, which as several farms whose wares are sold at Parrish. Grab the printable map of Oak Glen before you head out – it’s a great resource and will give you more ideas for places to explore.
Daily: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho
39611 S Oak Glen Rd.
Yucaipa, CA 92399
There’s a lot more to do here than just pick a bunch of apples, although that task could take up your whole day. There are three size options for picking: a small bag for $10 that holds about 5 pounds of apples, a medium sized for $15 bag that holds about 10 pounds, and a $30 box that holds 15-20 pounds.
Los Rios Rancho is owned by The Wildlands Conservancy, a California nonprofit that works to preserve open spaces, and offers a lovely hike through its grounds. Fun Orange County Parks blogger Michele Whiteaker profiled part of the journey on her site. Of the apple-picking, she shares some tips (quoted with permission):
• Plan to go on a weekend
• ARRIVE EARLY – as with all worthwhile trips – this place gets busy as the day progresses. The earlier you arrive, the easier time you’ll have with parking and lines for food and gifts.
• If I were to go again, I’d plan to get to the parking lot between 8 and 8:30am.
• I’m sure we’re not typical, but we only spent $15 on our bag of apples and $4 ($1 each) on the corn maze. So apart from gas, it was a really reasonably-priced family outing. A whole day of fun for just under $20! You could easily spend more on apple pies, apple cider, and some of the BBQ they were cooking up for lunch.
• LOTS of hills. Be prepared for some exercise on uneven ground. Babies would do best in backpacks, slings, or jogger strollers. We saw some families bring wagons which were good for carrying kids, apples, pumpkins, etc. – but they might be a tough trek on the hilly terrain.
• Only portable toilets out in the apple orchard. Three nice restrooms: 1) near the BBQ/Store, 2) at the start of the Nature Trail before you go uphill to the Apple Stand, and 3) at the end of the Nature Trail in Oak Knoll Park.
• You can buy food there, but just be prepared for the lines to get long after about 11:00am. If we did it again, I might buy food earlier and store it in my car/cooler. Or just bring a big picnic lunch to enjoy down in the park or on the expansive lawn.
Wednesday – Sunday only: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Riley’s Farm Fort Cross Orchard
12253 S Oak Glen
Yucaipa, CA 92399
This Riley’s has several apple varieties and other fruits to pick yourself. You purchase a container ($7 to $32) before you head into the orchard, which has rules of operation. Here’s something you might not know: “Always pick an apple by pushing up and twisting until it comes off.” If a little sprig of leaf is left on the apple, the tree will not produce in that spot the next year. Riley’s farm also has a period farmhouse, and many special events.
Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 – 7:00 PM
39400 Oak Glen Rd
Yucaipa, CA 92399
There’s something about an old red barn that is irresistible to photographers and curious wanderers. This farm sells several varieties of apple, as well as freshly made mini-dounts cooked in their homemade apple cider. Warning: do not visit their website to watch the video of their donuts being made if you are hungry!
Daily: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM through November
Willowbrook Apple Farm
12099 S. Oak Glen Rd
Oak Glen, CA 92399
Due to a light crop, the pick-your-own option is not available this year, but you can still purchase apples and partake in the usual frolicking. Press your own cider. Sample apple butter. Enjoy a fresh dipped caramel apple or purchase fresh honey, and visit the farm animals. And come hungry and thirsty, obviously.
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM until Thanksgiving
Brian Ranch Airport U-Pick Orchard
34810 Largo Vista Rd.
PO Box 355
Llano, CA 93544
Because every airport should have an apple orchard, right? The Brian Ranch Airport is private and home to small crafts, offering flying lessons and excursions by the hour. During harvest time the orchard is open for picking ripe apples, pears, and Asian pears. What a great time to check this place out!
Saturdays and Sundays: 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
See Canyon Fruit Ranch
2345 See Canyon Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Open until 2 days before Thanksgiving. Instead of picking apples right from the tree, you “glean the fields,” or pick the fruit that has already fallen to the ground. You can also book a wedding here!
Daily: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM September through November
Both of the following websites are bit clunky to navigate because they cover the entire country, so their lists are most likely not comprehensive. However, each offers a good place to start your search for a pick-your-own apple adventure even farther from Los Angeles:
What are you going to do with all those apples? This site has everything you ever wanted to know about apples and a slew of delicious-looking recipes: