Oak Glen, CA

Enjoy a Cozy Day in the Cool Mountain Air at Oak Glen

Heather Monroe

Riverside County residents sure love their traditions. There isn't a better feeling than bringing your children or even grandchildren to your favorite childhood locales. For us, one such destination is Oak Glen, California. Nestled in the hills above Cherry Valley and Yucaipa, Oak Glen is a stark contrast to the desert towns below. Here you'll find plenty of shade, good food, and friendly people who are invested in showing Inland families a good old-fashioned time.

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Beautiful fall colors behind apple blossoms signal apple-picking season is near!Courtesy of Fæ/Wikimedia Commons

History

Oak Glen's story began in 1906 when the tiny village was a major apple supplier in Southern California. Then, after a sub-par harvest in the 1940s, farmers began selling apple products, such as pies and cider, at roadside stands. Soon, they couldn't keep up with demand. Today, each orchard seems to have its specialty, and we're here for it.

While the orchards contain many common apple varieties such as Gala and Washington, others like Vasquez and King Apple varieties are only found in Oak Glen.

Activities

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Enjoy petting all the animals at Oak Glen!Heather Monroe

There is nearly always something to do in Oak Glen, and the activities you will find are mainly seasonal.

Winters in Oak Glen are cold and snowy. You might need chains to make the 5-mile mountain drive from either Cherry Valley or Yucaipa, but it is entirely worth it, especially for us Southern Californians who might have never experienced a winter wonderland. Did you know that Irving Berlin wrote the timeless classic White Christmas in Banning? Anyway...

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Oak Glen on Christmas in the heartland of Southern CaliforniaCourtesy of Fæ/Wikimedia Commons

Springtime finds Oak Glen covered in wildflowers. Mother nature really shows her colors at Oak Glen Preserve, where the beauty of the flowers will leave you amazed. The preserve maintains a beautiful botanical garden, several trails, a reflection pond, and a children's discovery center. It's free to go there, by the way.

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Springtime display at Los Rio Ranchos Orchard, Oak Glen, CACourtesy of Don Graham/Flickr

Oak Glen is typically about 10-15 degrees cooler than the surrounding flatlands in the summertime. So during the warm seasons, escape to Oak Glen Mountain! Turn the kids loose at the petting zoo, where they can snuggle a goat or pet a pig. Keep your eyes peeled for the peacocks who roam freely around the 14-acre park. You can enjoy hand-scooped ice cream, shop at a candy store, and have a meal at Apple Annie's restaurant. Don't forget dessert, though! Apple Annie's is famous for its delicious mile-high pie! Order a slice there and a whole pie to take home for later!

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Mile High Apple Pie at Apple Annie's!Heather Monroe

In Autumn, apples are the reason for the season. Harvest time lasts until around thanksgiving, and you can pick your own apples for a fair price at Los Rios Ranchos Orchard. Also, make sure to stop by Snow-Line, an old cider mill where you can enjoy fresh apple cider, hot or cold, as well as hot cider donuts that are to die for.

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Fresh picked apples at Apple Annie'sHeather Monroe

Second only to the apples are the breathtaking views during an Oak Glen Autumn. California doesn't experience the change of colors that most of the nation loves. But in Oak Glen, the tree leaves turn into magical shades of gold, red, and purple rivaled by the Autumns in New England.

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Snow-Line Orchard and Mill at Oak Glen. They have cider, but they also have wine and witchy teas!Don Graham/Flickr

Most of the shops close by 6 PM, so plan to arrive early and leave before sunset but absolutely check their website, as the hours change with the seasons. The crowds are not usually terrible, and you'll have plenty of elbow room. Although there is plenty of shade, you'll want to bring sunblock just in case.

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Peacocks Roam the land freely, and sometimes pose for a photograph.Heather Monroe

If you venture off the beaten path, understand the risks. Do not enter private property without permission. Also, be aware that bear, bobcat, and cougar sightings are not uncommon. Neither are rattlesnakes. The land is also covered in poison oak. However, the public areas are well maintained, and these dangers don't become an issue until you enter the surrounding wilderness.

Rough Times

Oak Glen is a local treasure that must be preserved for future generations, and they've had a rough few years. The Covid-19 outbreak caused shops to close for safety. The people who once rushed to the mountain hamlet were sick or quarantined in their homes.

If a global plague weren't enough, the El Dorado Fire of September 2020 burned hundreds of acres in Oak Glen. Although Oak Mountain Park saved the animals, the landmark gift shop and reindeer enclosure burned along with many other historical structures. It appears they could use our patronage as the third generation of apple farmers rebuild our sweet mountain getaway.

This summer, show your support by bringing the family for a day trip to Oak Glen and make brand new memories!

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Don't forget to stop and play!Heather Monroe

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I am a freelance writer, mom, and genealogist from California. I adore rock hounding, and living my best RV life.

Los Angeles, CA
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