All About Apples: Apple Picking in Oak Glen, California
You wouldn’t necessarily think that LA and apple picking go hand in hand. For one thing, it’s a million degrees here in “Fall” and it’s generally a little rustic for the glamorous lifestyle of our population of Hollywood-ites. But, for some of us, the idea of fresh pressed cider, apple cinnamon donuts, and a desire to get away from all things processed pumpkin, leads us on a 2 hour drive to the apple farms, a stretch of road 90 miles away in Oak Glen, California. Maybe it’s the fact that the apples are organic, but apple picking has become THE fall activity here in Los Angeles.
I now definitely get the hype. I don’t even like apples (I’m a weirdo, I know), but it was such a fun day trip activity away from the big city. Now you may be wondering why I chose a weekend day on opening weekend to go apple picking since that clearly must just be the busiest time of year to go. And you would be absolutely right. But, the U-Pick season for apples is one month out of the year in October. You want to make sure you go at the beginning of the season to ensure that there are still apples available to pick. Furthermore, most if not all of the apple farms in Oak Glen may be open during the week, but only allow U-Pick on the weekends in October. Hence, why we went opening weekend in October.
Things I had read online that turned out to be totally true:
1) You need to get there EARLY. The farms open at 10:00AM. I am not a morning person and so even though I read multiple reviews saying that I needed to get there right when it opens, I still left my house at 8:00, got gas, and picked up my friends knowing I would be there around 10:30. Too late. Way too late. Now we can entertain ourselves just fine, so the 1 hour and 15 minute wait to get into the apple farm wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t ideal either. You really should be there by 9:30/10:00. The farms really regulate how many people they allow inside at a given time to give it a more authentic feel, so the earlier the better.
2) The apple farms are all right next to each other. I had read over and over again that all of the apple farms were on the same street, but me being the perfectionist that I am continued to dwell over which one to go to and exactly how far apart they are. Well…it’s literally like a row of homes, one right after the next. You don’t have to find separate parking for the different farms, you just need to find parking in general and then all are in walking distance from each other.
3) Which farm should you go to and in which order?
I am no expert on this. I only went to one because it would have been impossible to go to multiple orchards on the Sunday that we went. We chose Willowbrook Apple Farm because it had the best reviews on Yelp and was the least commercial. Willowbrook had especially long wait times to get into the farm because they wanted to make sure you have an authentic apple picking experience once you get inside. The staff was incredibly friendly and came out to talk to us while we were in line and even gave us some apple slices to sample. For all ya apple aficionados out there, the variety of apples you will pick at Willowbrook are called Stamen Winesap. A small bag of apples cost you $9 and a large bag is $14. You can also U-Press your own cider here at Willowbrook and pet the farm animals they have around. Riley’s Farm is the most well-known and has the most going on in terms of activities. I had hoped to apple farm hop but the crowds were just too much, it wouldn’t have been worth it to stand in line again. Another popular farm is Los Rios which almost has a country fair type feel to it along with great hiking trails.
4) There isn’t any cell service on this stretch of apple orchards. I heard that if you have Verizon, you may have service, but I wouldn’t count on it. All in all, it was a nice respite and you can always upload your Instagram Stories when you get home later that day. And yes, this will be an all day event. We left Brentwood in Los Angeles at 8:30 AM, arrived in Oak Glen at 10:30 AM, went inside the apple orchard at 11:45 AM, stayed there for about an hour and stood in line for 20 minutes or so to pay. We left around 1:00 PM to meet a friend for lunch in Colton which is on the way home. Lunch was 1:30-2:30 and it took us about 2/2.5 hours to get back from there…so 8:30-5:00.
5) Bring cash if you can. Willowbrook accepted credit card to pay for the apples and the other treats in the gift shop, but it’s definitely much faster if you have cash with you. My only major qualm with Willowbrook was that they only had 1 cashier for the entire farm. It would seem to be to be in the best interest of everyone if they hired at least one other temp worker to help with the sale of apples.
Things I had not read online that also turned out to be totally true:
1) Apple trees are tall and all of the good apples are typically near the tops of the trees. So bring a tall partner, friend, anyone really who can reach or maybe even a step stool. I joked about this in my video, but I actually don’t think this idea is half bad.
2) While in line, I overheard the group behind me talking about their lunch reservation. I doubt that all restaurants take reservations, but this might be a good idea to look into as everyone will either be finishing up apple picking and heading to lunch or driving up stopping for lunch and then heading to the orchards.
3) Porta-potties. There were no public restrooms, so prepare yourself for porta potties. There were only 2, so if you are a germaphobe like me, dehydrate yourself so you won’t have to go. Kidding, kind of. And if you do need to go, bring hand sanitizer or wipes!
Ugh, I shouldn’t end on a porta potty note!
Make sure you give the apples a twist, not a pull as you take them off the tree and don’t forget to enjoy a cider, candied apple, or some bbq meatballs during your day trip to Oak Glen!
Happy Picking 🙂
Have you watched my apple picking vlog on my YouTube channel yet?
Planning other day trips/overnights in California! Check out all of my posts on Cali here! And if you have been to any of the other apple farms in Oak Glen, please share your experiences below!