Best Places To Go Apple Picking This Fall In Orange County

September 21, 2012 6:00 AM

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Apples are to autumn as watermelons are to summer – you can’t have one without the other. With apple orchards throughout southern California celebrating their harvest this fall, make it a family getaway or even a day date and head to the farmland to rediscover a fall tradition that’s as old as our country. Keep in mind that apple picking doesn’t stop at the tree – think fresh apple pie, apple butter and apple cider. And remember, southern California is home to one of the most-loved apple pie bakeries in the U.S. – Julian Pie Company.

Apples and Art Orchards
1052 Julian Orchards Drive
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 310-6368

When was the last time you squeezed your own apple cider and picked fruit from a tree? For a one-of-a-kind, outdoorsy experience, head just about 90 minutes east toward the Cuyamaca Mountains to the town of Julian – the hallmark of apple pie. For just $10, wander through stunning green pastures and fill your basket with about five or six pounds of pesticide-free apples. Included in the experience is a personal apple cider making and tasting experience.

Julian Apple Days Festival
Menghini Winery
1150 Julian Orchards Drive
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-2072

For an extra dose of apple-picking adventure, plan your trip to Apple Country during the famous Julian Apple Days Festival – October 6 and 7, 2012. Even better, the festival takes place at Menghini Winery, assuring that both adults and kids will have a fruitful time. Expect games, contests, music and a gold-panning demonstration for the kids – and of course lots of handmade apple pie. Another option is to head straight to the oven at Julian Pie Company and experience what the apple pie rave is all about – straight from the source.

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Rileys at Los Rios Ranchos
39611 Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
(909) 797-1005

For a year-round getaway treat that even four-legged furry friends can enjoy, drive just under 90 minutes toward the San Bernardino Mountains to the historic town of Oak Glen. Get an early start along with some exercise and stop at The Wildlands Conservancy/Oak Glen Preserve for a nature hike before the farm opens at 10 a.m. For a fun Thanksgiving weekend departure, celebrate the annual Apple Butter Festival and partake in an old tradition: cook up apple butter in a big copper kettle and enjoy the last apples of the season.

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Willowbrook Apple Farm
12099 S Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
(909) 797-9484

While there are several apple-picking orchards in Oak Glen, for a smaller, more quaint experience, visit the Swanson family apple farm of Willowbrook. For a unique date idea, call ahead and reserve its romance package for a private table for two under the trees in a 100-year-old apple grove. Sip champagne and savor an assortment of cheeses, garden-fresh fruit and bread. Afterwards, press your own cider and visit the farm’s gatekeepers – Blossom the pig and Comet the pony.

Stetson Creek Ranch
P.O. Box 192
Angelus Oaks, CA 92304
(909) 389-9410

Stetson Creek Ranch orchards make for the perfect stop along the way if you’re heading to Big Bear this fall. One hundred percent organic, this farm delivers the best when it comes to Red Macintosh apples. Another bonus for apple aficionados – this farm features “old fashioned” varieties such as Romes and Stayman, once popular over 100 years ago when the farm was born.

Jessica Blotter has 10 years experience in the advertising industry and is founder of Publicly Loved – at the heart of brands, causes and events. As an author of two regional travel blogs with CBS Local and, she has produced more than 30 published articles covering regional getaway destinations and charitable events. Follow her onTwitter @publiclyloved.

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