If you’re like me and are looking for a day of apple cider donuts and apple picking in Southern California, just like those New England fall vibes you see on Gilmore Girls, then you have found the right blog post!
While apple orchards do not come to mind when you think of SoCal, I did my research and found Oak Glen apple farms near Los Angeles! The East Coast girl in me had to go on this traditional September journey and revel in all the autumnal activities.
Where to go apple picking in Southern California near Los Angeles and Orange County? Oak Glen Apple Farms!
About 1-2 hours from both Los Angeles and Orange County is the town of Oak Glen in San Bernardino County, California renown for their numbers apple orchards in the region. It took us about an 1.5 hour drive to Oak Glen from Orange County. This is the closest apple picking region from the LA/OC area.
There are also numerous orchards and farms in Julian, CA but it is closer to San Diego (3 hours from Los Angeles). It would be a great day trip idea if you have more time to spare.
When is apple picking season in Oak Glen?
The season of apple picking in Southern California generally begins around Labor Day in early September until November. It could also end when the apple orchards have been harvested. It’s highly recommended to go early in the season and earlier in the day for the best picks.
The apples in SoCal are ready to eat by August and September.
Keep in mind that you will notice that not all apple orchards are open for picking and farms will close off some sections of the orchards for their business. Many of the orchards are part of active working farms and will have already picked bags of apples for purchase.
You can also wait until October when it is also pumpkin harvest season! Besides apple picking, you may be able to also pick berries, peaches, sunflowers and even peppers. It all depends on which month you decide to head to the orchards and the individual farms respective offerings at the time.
Apple Picking at Los Rios Rancho
We started our apple picking in Southern California adventure at Los Rios Rancho. The reason why I choose Los Rios Rancho as a first timer to the Oak Glen apple orchards is the fact that it is the oldest and largest farm in not only the region but all of Southern California. The family-run farm has been in operation for over 100 years! They specialize in all things apples, fall and historic. Some of the apple trees are over 80 years old. How impressive is that?!
Not only that, but the orchards are right at the foothills with such a picturesque backdrop.
Los Rios Rancho
39611 Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA
Open daily, 10am-5m
No reservation needed for U-pick. Free admission.
What types of apples are available at Los Rios Rancho?
This year’s offerings included Macintosh, Jonagold, Gala, Mustu, Gravenstein, and Spartan apples. The type of apples available will depend on which week you go. If you are looking for a specific apple, I recommend calling ahead to check the schedule of release.
They roped off the parts of the apple orchard that is not available to the public or not ready yet. So, be cautious of which trees you are picking from.
The week I went, the apple picking options were Gala, Mutsu and Jonagold apples. When we arrived, we had the option of getting a small or large bag for our apples. Of course, we always think more is better, so we opted for the 10 pound bag (larger). I love the sweetness of Gala apples, so I picked mostly that. I also got a few Mutsu apples for the mix in my picking bag.
Other than apples, berries and peppers were also available for picking during our week.
Costs of Apple Picking and Activities at Los Rios Rancho
Admission is free and there’s no reservations needed. There’s plenty of free parking space. The orchard is first come first serve. Payment is made at the end of your picking session. You will need to line up at the cashier tent where they weigh your produce and charge according to what and how much you picked. Apples cost $3-6 a pound, depending on which apple type you picked. Our bag came out to around $22.
Throughout apple season, Los Rios Rancho will offer more and more fall activities other property. You will see pumpkin picking become available as well as cider pressing, apple pies shop, and even corn maze. There will also be hayrides, horse-drawn carriages, and pioneer-style farm fair (think axe throwing, etc). I could go on about how much this farm offers, but there’s just too many. You’ll just need to check it out yourself. Oh, there’s also a small ranch of cute animal you can purchase access to!
After working so hard for our apples here and building up an appetite, we were ready to head over to the next farm for a treat. My mind is now on apple cider doughnuts and a refreshing cider drink. Although, Los Rios Ranchos do have their own cider press and food offerings, I think its more fun to visit a new farm.
Apple Cider Donuts at Snow-Line Orchard
I heard about the famous mini apple cider doughnuts at Snow-Line Orchard and had to make sure I saved enough time in the day to try it. Snow-Line Orchard is a family owned apple orchard, cidery and winery. While there is no U-pick apples here at the orchard, raspberry picking is available.
39400 Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA
Open daily, 9am-5pm
We headed to the snack bar and store, first thing. The line for their apple cider donuts can get long, but it moves very quickly. You can watch the apple cider doughnuts making process behind the glass windows and read the full menu while you wait in the line. The doughnuts are made from a well-kept family recipe of their own apple cider blend and tossed in cinnamon sugar.
I love that they have an area set-up to taste the three different flavors of their fresh pressed apple ciders they offer before you decide to purchase. The flavors include the fan-favorite raspberry apple cider.
When you’re inside, you can also shop for fall gifts or head to the back house bar for wine flights or try their own hard cider.
We ordered the mini donuts and the apple cider slushy. Once we got our hands on 2 dozen donuts, freshly made and hot, we made a bee-line to an outdoor table in the shade. OMG, the first taste was such chef’s kiss. It’s a delicious cinnamon sugar covered small bite that you cannot get enough of.
It was the perfect treat to end our apple picking excursion. The cooling apple cider and warm sugary donuts was the boost we needed. Although the temperature was in the 70’s, the sun still made it quite hot outside.
They have a historic cider-mill on behind the general store, plenty of outdoor seating with views their apple orchards. There’s also an outdoor bar if you missed the one in the back.
At both bars, you can order their in-house hard apple cider or wine flights. I decided to try their hard apple cider. It’s not sweeten and has a sour tang to it. Pure hard cider, unadulterated. I wish I got to tried the wine flight while I was there!
We ended our apple picking trip relaxing under the umbrella shade of our picnic table, just enjoying the weather, mini donuts and being surrounded by orchards.
Other Apple Orchards in Oak Glen
While we thoroughly enjoyed our two-orchard itinerary, there is much more in the Oak Glen region to explore. For more option on where to go apple picking in Southern California, here are some of the other Oak Glen apple farms that have U-pick apples and other produce available throughout the season. Keep in mind, some the farms below only offer picking during certain dates and times.
12261 S. Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA
Opened Saturday (apple picking) 10am-4pm
Heirloom Apple picking with wide variety of types. $3.50/pound
Willowbrook Apple Farm
12099 S Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA
Inquire for visits.
Apple Picking opens September 30th
Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard
38561 Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA
Heirloom apple picking in October (reservations only) $3.75/pound
Stone Pantry Orchard
11993 S. Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA
Opened weekend, 10am-5pm
Apple picking by the pound.
Apple picking in Southern California and all the fall activities and treats that come with it can be enjoyed by both adults and kids alike. As an adult, I loved going apple picking, getting cider donuts (& apple pie) then finishing the day off with options of hard cider or wine tasting. Besides Snow-Line, there are a few other hard cider makers and wineries in the area. Oak Glen offers many of the things we look for for a great Fall day and so many varieties of apples.
Besides the temperatures, I feel like I was back in the Northeast for a moment.
Speaking of the weather, I totally recommend wearing sunscreen and layers! While the temperatures can get to the low 70s, the sunny skies and being outside for long periods of time can make it feel hot, especially if you’re working to get your apples.
I hope I get the chance to do more autumnal activities in the SoCal area while I am living here. Pumpkin patches are next on my list!
With that said, here’s some quick Youtube Shorts videos from the day: