This past Saturday, we made a trip that we’ve been waiting three and a half long years for: Oak Glen, California, to pick apples, wander the gorgeous mountains and eat amazing, simple food in a beautiful setting. We’d chosen this date, tentatively, a month or so ago and we were so glad it panned out. It began with a big family breakfast at our house, so we weren’t hungry the minute we arrived, but honestly, that went out the window the minute we started to smell the apple burritos at the first farm we stopped at.
We got on the road around 11:30, a little later than planned, but it was only about a 45-minute drive and our caravan easily made it up the mountain at a pace that allowed us to enjoy the change from the busy freeway scene to picturesque farms nestled in the rolling hills. Oak Glen is in the mountains, east of San Bernardino, at about 4,700 feet elevation. It’s far enough off the beaten path to be secluded but still within a very easy, safe drive of all the things anyone could need. (Of course, I had to find the Starbucks and Target, requirements for me before I even begin to think “mmmm, I could live here.” I learned that the hard way!)
Oak Glen is primarily ‘apple country,’ but they also are known for their pumpkin patches and raspberry picking. There’s an RV park and a campground amongst the numerous shops and restaurants, and all in all, it’s a place to spend a day of wandering at a relaxing pace — but keep in mind, many of the shops are up the hill from the parking lot so there is walking involved and it can be fairly crowded.
Our first stop was at Parrish Ranch. I finally found a cherry pitter! Score. In my drawer. We checked out the small zoo and walked throughout the trees to see the view of all the valleys below us. Hill after hill after hill! Lots of photo opps later, which our large group of 11 took advantage of, and we were back on the road to Riley’s. Unfortunately, there was no “you pick” apple picking going on…group boooooo. Must have chosen the wrong day! Then we headed across the street to Los Rios, but parking was a nightmare, so we didn’t even get into the lot. U-turn, back on the loop down to the main ‘downtown’ area, where Apple Annie’s anchors the shopping center and all the goodies.
No visit to that area is complete with trying the fudge in Apple Annie’s store and eating a fried chicken dinner…so of course, we did both. Getting a table of 11 sounds daunting, but we really didn’t wait more than 25 minutes, and considering we had three kids in our group, we were even more pleased to not have to wait. The youngest kids did the pony rides, we wandered every single store and sampled to our hearts’ content. The cherry butter? A must buy. It’s inspired us to learn to make it on our own, though cherry season here is past. We got the candy sticks we always get the kids, a longstanding tradition of every time we go there, and walked away with two tubs of flavored nuts; I got the sweet and spicy chipotle almonds and the husband got cinnamon-vanilla pecans. SO good. Go back and forth between the two and you really taste the difference.
A couple of unusual items we saw?
No words are necessary.
Well, THIS woman tried it! And liked it!
Dinner.Was.Amazing. The chicken is fried to perfection, the seasonings are dead-on what you’re looking for and there’s not a drop of oil to be seen. I ordered the seasoned fries and everyone else got the mashed potatoes. My little dude got creative and dipped his chicken strips into the mashed potatoes — great idea! He practically licked his plate. The highlight of the meal was when Apple Annie herself stopped by our boisterous table and chatted up the men. As you can see here, they both very much enjoyed it!
Like apple pie? How about Mile-High Apple Pie?
Oak Glen, the day was amazing. Thank you for not disappointing on a day we had been looking forward to for years. And I even brought home some real acorns! And this apple cinnamon bun strudel…I could have eaten the whole thing myself.