I don't know about anyone else but I love seasonal and holiday traditions! And fall is my favorite season of all. There is a place in Michigan called Uncle John's Cider Mill that is an annual staple of my childhood. The season just wasn't complete without a pumpkin patch, apples galore, and delicious farm food. l have even flown back home just to make a special trip and spent the day after getting engaged celebrating with some apple cider and donuts. It's a part of the midwest I considered lost now living in Los Angeles. I've tried other so-called pumpkin patches that tend to be a cement parking lot converted to sell pumpkins and later christmas trees; they never really compared. When I wanted to do an Autumn Adventure episode of Monica Goes, I was determined to find a more authentic farm. What I found in Riley's Farm was not only a wonderful "substitute" from my childhood pumpkin patch...it's a place that I look forward to returning every fall (and year round) and beginning as a tradition for my someday family.
Riley's Farm is a working apple orchard and a living history farm. It's located in Oak Glen, California near San Bernardino, about two hours east of Los Angeles. Year-Round they offer historical reenactment outings like Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Gold Rush Adventures to name a few. They are a fantastic way for kids and adults alike to get a glimpse into America's past and take part in period activities. It reminded me a little bit of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia combined with Uncle Johns Cider Mill. They also offer hayrides, themed dinners and theatre, as well as a U-Pick farm. Depending on what fruits are in season, you can pick your own fruit like berries, watermelon, pears, apples, and pumpkins. They also offer "gold" mining, flower picking, and seasonal fun!
When I arrived at Riley's Farm I started my visit in the two gift stores and found amazing historical souvenirs as well as candy, popcorn, sodas, and my personal favorite, homemade apple butter and raspberry jam (which are DELICIOUS!) I was also immediately charmed by the fact that the employees are all dressed in colonial outfits and offered recipes to go with their products. In the barn store I purchased my bag to pick pears (pumpkins and apples are only available on the weekends this year due to the drought). I enjoyed some photo ops in the beautiful pumpkin patch and then headed into the orchard for some pear-picking!
After filling up my bag with delicious pears I was ready for some colonial grub and headed to the Hawks Head Public House. Hawks Head is set up as a traditional 18th century tavern and they offer large portions of comfort foods, homegrown desserts, and ciders and ales. They also offer a tea service, dinner theatre, and servers in colonial garb. But I knew all of this from their website...what I didn't know was how good it would all be! Their food was the best meal I've had in a long time. I will be driving two hours just to eat here! The applesauce was like eating apple pie and the green beans were so good they could turn me into a vegetarian...almost because the ham was thick and juicy. To top is off we had an apple dumpling dessert covered in caramel and cinnamon that was amazing to say the least!
After significantly stuffing myself, I made one last stop in the Colonial Gift Shop for some more souvenirs before heading back to LA. I only skimmed the surface of what this amazing farm has to offer and was blown away. I can't wait to come back for a 1940's Big Band Night, Christmas in the Colonies, and Rockabilly Nights! Riley's Farm was the perfect fall adventure that will have me returning all year long.
WHAT TO KNOW:
Address: 12261 S. Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, California 92399 (About 2 hours east of Los Angeles)
Admission: Free parking and admission. Fruit picking, hayrides, themed adventures and theatre at additional costs
Hours: Hawks Head Tavern - Monday - Friday 10am-4pm Saturday 9am-7pm Sundays - Closed
Colonial Gift Store - Monday - Saturday 9am-4pm Sundays - Closed
U-Pick - Monday - Saturday 9am-4pm Sundays - Closed
Adventures in the Old World Saturday 10am-4pm Closed Sunday - Friday - Closed
Barn Store - Saturday 9am-4pm
Sales and Box Office Monday - Friday 8am-4pm Saturday 7am-3pm Sunday - Closed
For Fruits in Season: Call 909-797-7534
Check the calendar on their website for full list of shows, fruits, and events