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.
Julian Apple Days Festival
1150 Julian Orchards Drive
Julian, CA 92036
For an extra dose of apple-picking adventure, plan your trip to Apple Country during the famous Julian Apple Days Festival. 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.
Rileys at Los Rios Ranchos
39611 Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
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.
Willowbrook Apple Farm
12099 S Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
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.
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 Examiner.com, she has produced more than 30 published articles covering regional getaway destinations and charitable events. Follow her onTwitter @publiclyloved.