It turns out you can find a little patch of fall in SoCal: Oak Glen. About an hour an a half out of LA you will find a picturesque town that boasts a 5 mile loop of orchards and ranches where you can see the changing of the leaves. Al and I headed out in early October (really early, as in, it was just October) on a Wednesday for a little excursion. Not only does Oak Glen boast leaf colour but also apple picking!!!
It’s been pretty warm this September so although they say the best time to go is September- November I think probably late October to November. I’ve also worked out that weekends are probably better than weekdays if you want to be able to go to all the ranches and if you have kids who want to play on all the amusement stuff (I don’t, so think even though a lot was closed or hosting private functions, the weekday was best for me).
Riley Farm was open so we pulled in there after a little drive through the trees. Sadly I missed the best trees for colour, even when trying to video – must work on my car filming skills! Riley Farm has a little colonial village where you can do activities like axe throwing, archery and other things (closed when we were there 😞) But that was ok, we wandered around a little, looked at the maze, the pumpkin patch and orchard. All very cute.
They also have a bbq and bakery. There was no way we were leaving without testing an apple dumpling. Not what I was expecting! It’s pile of cooked apple wrapped in pastry with stacks of caramel drizzled over the top! I think if I ate the whole thing it would be instant diabetes.
After that it was a drive down the road to the recommended Apple Annie’s Restaurant. This is really cute. I imagine it will be super busy on the weekend. There’s a long verandah full of tables covered in red checker table clothes- definitely felt like I was in the country. I’m not going to lie, I considered a salad and then brought myself back to reality: you don’t come to a little country restaurant and get a salad! I went for the chili bowl in the end. It comes in a loaf of bread, I want to be clear; a whole loaf, not one of those cute mini loafs you would expect. This dish is just huge. And nice, I did not realise I liked chili so much, well done America.
Al of course went for the fried chicken- was he really going to go past that? It was super, super crispy fried chicken. He contemplated taking home one of the pieces but then it accidentally jumped into his mouth. Even the fries seemed to be super fried. I think it’s fair to say this was not a healthy day for us.
In the little town center where Apple Annie’s is you’ll find a few mini shops (things you’d expect to find in a little touristy spot) and then behind is I guess what you would call a play area. A mini zoo, bouncy things and I”m not sure what else. Basically, everything aimed at kids. But as I am not a kid I went to the adult playground: the bakery!! They have this thing called a 5lb apple pie, and even though there are only 2 of us we had to have it. It was giant!
Later on, when we tried it at home I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t as sugary as I have found the pies we have tried so far- more like a massive mound of stewed apple. I think in reality, maybe I just like cooked apple rather than pie because I tend to not eat the pastry.
Of course we didn’t stop at a 5lb pie- that would be sensible. We also got a giant cinnamon bun and an apple loaf. The cinnamon bun wasn’t the best I have tried, a little dry. But that did not stop me from freezing 3/4s for next time I have a cinnamon bun hankering. The apple loaf was delicious! In Europe, at a breakfast buffet you will often see what Al & I call breakfast cake which we love. This apple loaf was good breakfast cake with small bits of apple in it. The only sad part was that the loaf was about 1/3 of the size I thought it would be (I know, we didn’t need anymore). In the general store they actually have bags of make your own apple loaf which I am now regretting not buying.
Also worth noting : Riley farm does these dinner event things that you need to book into. Right now it is the legend of the Sleepy Holliw but I believe it changes throughout the year. I reckon if you are staying out here you should do it one evening.