Visiting an apple orchard in SoCal is one of the best ways to welcome fall. While the other side of the country welcomes the season with a cool breeze, leaves changing colors, and the smell of fireplace in the air, Southern Californians are wearing fall sweaters and fall dresses in sunny 85 degree weather. We have to create extra fall vibes if we want them. I usually do this by decorating my home with fall decor and buying everything pumpkin spice I can get my hands on. This year, despite the current pandemic, I was determined to chase and embrace my favorite season by taking it one step further: finding and visiting an apple orchard.
Oak Glen: Apple Haven
After much online research, I’ve determined the city of Oak Glen is an apple haven and the best place to visit an apple orchard in SoCal. About an hour away from both LA and Orange County, Oak Glen sits up in a higher elevation near the San Bernadino mountains. We made the journey on a Saturday morning in early October.
As you get to Oak Glen and head up into the hills, the roads begin to wind and you see signs for the upcoming orchards. This year, the lovely rolling hills had sadly just been scorched by California’s annual yet unpredictable wildfires. In fact, one of the apple orchards we had planned to visit that very weekend, Los Rios Ranchos, had suffered a devastating structure fire only nights before. When visiting Southern California in fall, be sure to check the fire danger warnings.
Oak Glen Farmers Market
We saw a small farmers market going strong at about 10am when we drove through town. Rows of colorful pop-up canopies offering produce and Halloween costumes were attracting a crowd of locals. The market was walking distance from the surrounding stores and restaurants, making it a perfect area for a weekend stroll.
Snow Line Orchard
We followed the signs for Snow Line Orchard, and ended up on a little road which led to the main entrance. Open seven days a week from 9am- 5pm, Stone Line Orchard grows 36 different types of apples and makes 3 different flavors if fresh cider on site. We parked in the large dirt parking lot by the rows of apple trees and headed straight to the main attraction, the orchard store.
Snow Line Orchard Store: Cider and Mini Donuts
Situated in a big red barn, the orchard store emanates the irresistible scent of freshly fried apple cider donuts. As you enter the store, employees can be seen making the mini donuts as you get close to the checkout. Besides selling fresh cider and donuts, they also offer pie by the slice, apple cider floats, and apple cider slushies. The store carries every type of homemade apple product you can think of, including apple jams, cookies, and pies, as well as seasonal souvenirs and decor. I got half a dozen mini donuts and a raspberry apple cider.
Snow Line Orchard Back Room Wine Saloon
I also wanted to also try the hard cider, so, fresh donuts in hand, I headed to the wine saloon at the back of the store. In the quaint little bar with wine-themed decor on the walls I was welcomed by a friendly bartender. Unfortunately they were out of the hard cider, but she let me sample the apple brandy and made me some sort of cocktail resembling a delicious apple cider mimosa. It was a little early for wine tasting, but I admired their several different types of wines. They offer wine flights that look worthy of a return visit.
Snow Line Picnic Area
Outside the orchard store are picnic tables in a lovely area shaded by chestnut trees. I was happy to see the tables spread out enough to allow for plenty of distancing between guests. Based on the crowd present that Saturday morning in early October, the orchard seemed to attract all types of visitors, including families with kids, couples, groups of friends, and even dogs. Some of the families had picnic blankets laid out on the grass.
Apple and Raspberry Picking
Snow Line didn’t offer apple picking at the time of my visit. Many neighboring orchards do, but Snow Line’s main feature is raspberry picking. I saw the rows of tall raspberry plants, but it turns out I was a little late to experience the raspberries in bloom. It turns out peak raspberry season is in August and September. Lucky for visitors, the orchards in Oak Glen are located close enough together that it would be possible to visit more than one in a single day.
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Snow Line Apple Trees
After our food and drinks, we spent time wandering the grounds. There were no ropes or signs that kept us out of the trees, but there were signs asking guests to refrain from picking the apples. We strolled amidst the trees for shade, and stopped for photos along the way with uniform rows of trees, blue skies, and fresh apples as the backdrop.
- Get there early to avoid crowds and heat
- Bring sunscreen if you’re going to do the raspberry picking
- Prepare for bees around the apple trees
- Bring your own cute basket if you’re looking for photo ops while picking the fruit
- Don’t leave without trying those donuts
Other Oak Glen Apple Orchards
- Los Rios Rancho: Apple picking, fresh cider, country kitchen, live music, nature trails, kids activities, petting zoo, corn maze, and more. This is also the orchard that just suffered bad fire damage. It is already partially back open, so be sure to check the website for updates.
- Stone Pantry Orchard: Apple picking along with pears, blackberries, pumpkins and fresh cider.
- Willowbrook Apple Farm: Apple picking, cider, wine, blackberries, and miniature animals.
- Stone Soup Farm: Apple picking, autumn workshops, and orchard tours.
- Riley’s Farm: Apple picking, along with strawberries, blackberries pears, raspberries, and pumpkins. This farm also specializes in historic reenactments popular with school field trips.
So whether you’re a local or from out of town, visiting an apple orchard in SoCal is a great way to bring some fall to your sunny weekend. Put on the fall sweater, grab a PSL on the way, and enjoy.