6 Things To Know Before You Go Apple Picking, Oak Glen, CA

Having lived in the Midwest for most of my childhood, I was accustomed to the different seasons. Autumn meant beautifully changing leaves, cooler temperatures and eating savory comfort foods. One tradition that is common in the Mid-western states is going to visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch and getting to pick your own apples and gourds. You’d usually enjoy a hayride and then sip fresh apple cider, leaving with a large sack of various delicious apples to make pie with.

Last week, as the temperatures reached the upper nineties in my Los Angeles neighborhood, I most certainly did not get that brisk-air, fall feeling. Instead, I turned on my AC and made some ice tea to cool off.

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Then, I get an email from my Detroit native friend with the subject line “It’s time to pick some apples!” She organized a fun-filled day at the 5-mile long orchards in Oak Glen full off pumpkin picking, apple picking, cider sipping and dare I say it, apple-wine tasting!

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Located just over an hour from downtown LA, this is the perfect family fun day for Mid-westerners who are in need of that fall-fix.

I never knew this place existed! It’s definitely a fun, fall mini-getaway but here are some tips to keep in mind before you go:

1. Bring a sack lunch. Though there are a handful of (high priced) diner-type restaurants scattered around the 5-mile stretch, they are really full on weekends and the wait-time for a table can be a little ridiculous (1+ hours) around lunch-time. There are also quick snack shacks, but your kids will need more than sweets, hotdogs and nachos to sustain them for the day. Smart family’s brought picnic baskets and saved time and money.

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2. Keep the group to a minimum. There is no cell reception up on this large hill so don’t even think about trying to meet up with friends. We had a caravan of cars, which worked fine, but it was difficult (even with a designated meeting place) to meet up with other latecomers because we couldn’t call them.

3. Bring walkie-talkies. We lost our original group and it was nearly impossible to find them again. Keep your friends close and your kids closer. Think of the area as a similar to Napa Valley. You can walk the 5 miles, but you are more likely to want to drive it to cover more ground quickly.
4. Check ahead about the harvest. Hey sometimes, farmers get a bad harvest. It happens. Especially when the state is going through a record drought! Or maybe the apple trees have too much frost, which also doesn’t allow them to grow properly. Alas, we weren’t able to pick any apples – there were none for the pickin’! However, I head someone say that this was the best pumpkin harvest so it wasn’t a total loss. Be sure to check ahead and read up on the Apple Education before you go.
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5. Bring cash. A lot of the places, like the petting zoo, tastings and orchards are cash only. I didn’t see an ATM anywhere.
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6. Plan to spend all day. We left around 10 am and hit traffic on the way back – it was an all day event. You will want to take your time and enjoy the area and beautiful scenery. There’s an old west gun show (for the kiddos), petting zoo, raspberry, pear, apple, flower and pumpkin picking (in season) and cute little boutique shops for trinkets and souvenirs.
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Didn’t get to try any apple pie, but I’m sure it’s really good. I did try an apple burrito though. It was basically a mini apple pie but wrapped in a fried, sugar topped tortilla. Nuff’ said.
Have fun apple picking!
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 [The original version of this article was posted October 17th, 2011]

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