October 16, 2012

31 Trips in Cali, Day 14: Oak Glen & Riley's Farm

I wasn't kidding yesterday when I said today we'd be heading to my family's favorite road-trip destination everrrr.  If you're counting by sheer number of visits over a lifetime, Oak Glen wins, hands down.

This summer my sister was going through some old family photos, and she found and texted me this hazy Polaroid of my grandpa and me at Oak Glen Village, circa the early 1970s:
I've probably just eaten, or am about to go eat a carmel apple. (Because I cannot visit Oak Glen without eating a carmel apple. And no crap like M&Ms or Oreos stuck to it, either. I'm a carmel (caramel?) apple purist.)  I'm sure this wasn't my first visit, especially since my grandpa had been driving my family up there for many years before I was ever around. 

When you notice the days are suddenly a lot shorter, that the wind is blowing a little cooler and you need a sweater in the morning for the first time in autumn, that's Oak Glen weather.  And they say California doesn't have seasons. 

Oak Glen is a little community of apple orchards, farms and ranches, near the town of Yucapia, in the San Bernardino mountains.  The elevation in Oak Glen is high enough that it gets snow, hence the good apple-growing weather.  I've visited Oak Glen in November, when it's been mighty chilly, but I've never been in snow.  The heart of the area is Oak Tree Village, a small outpost of shops and restaurants that also has a nice little zoo to walk though. Up the hill is an odd little museum with dusty taxidermy animals and equally dusty craft booths that's one of my favorite spots to visit.

The photos I'm sharing here are exactly 2 years old, to the day. October 16, 2010, is when we visited Riley's Farm, a popular stop in Oak Glen.  And that visit marked the first time in all my visits that I ever actually picked apples
Over the years, both my extended family and my own little family have driven out to Oak Glen for the day to buy bags of apples, apple butter, apple cookies, apple pie, and apple cider. But pick our own apples?  Nope. 
But 2 years ago, my own family drove out for the day. We met up with my mom, aunt, sister and nephew. (My sister refused to break tradition, and so while we headed off to pick apples,the rest of my family drove down the road to the village.)

At the end of the day, it's also been our tradition to eat at Law's Coffee Shop. The line usually snakes out the door, the wait is long, the service slow, and the food is definitely "coffee shop," but when I'm served my slice of apple pie at the end of my meal, it's like a little symbol that life is pretty much okay again, at least for another October. 
Thanks for coming along! Come back for Day 15 of my 31 Trips in California series, when we'll visit another favorite family destination, back when I was a kid.

Don't miss a single trip: Head over to Day 1 for all the links, or Like me on Facebook. 


  1. I am totally enjoying this series! I've got a few ideas for visits now :-)

    Apple picking in the fall is one the things i miss most about NJ.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I'm running a few days behind, but glad it's giving you some idea. There are 2 good apple areas in SoCal: Oak Glen, and Julian, in San Diego county. Both have their die-hard fans.


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