Apple Picking in Oak Glen

Fall in Orange County means apple picking time. heading into apple country is one of the rare times us Orange County folks can get a slight glimpse on one of the four seasons. for our family, we have always gone apple picking in Oak Glen…and now we take our kids. it holds a lot of memories for me when i was a child, and i hope it will for my children as well.

(get ready for a super long post. i get asked so many questions about apple picking in Southern California that i wanted to include everything i know about Oak Glen.)

Oak Glen is a five mile loop of apple orchards and family owned restaurants and shops, nestled one-mile above the city of Yucaipa in Southern California. it hosts scenery like that of New England. it’s just over an hour drive from Orange County without traffic. the mile-high climate of Oak Glen provides a beautiful change of season, unsurpassed in Southern California – where its usually 10-15 degrees cooler than it is in the valleys. although Oak Glen is open all year round, the main Apple Harvest takes place Labor Day Weekend through Thanksgiving Weekend. the sooner in the season you go the better!

Oak Glen Apple Orchards

there are some main apple orchards that are family friendly and offer fun fall activities in Oak Glen. you can check out all the information for all of the apple orchards and businesses in Oak Glen here. people tend to find their favorites and go to the same ones year after year. there are unique things about all of them, but lots of similarities. i have found prices for apples, ciders and food are comparable at all of them. you can get apples, cider, baked goods, and food at all of them.

here is a list of some of the main apple orchards:

Snowline Orchard has a variety of fun & exciting activities, including raspberry picking, wine tasting and more. there’s a beautiful picnic area with historical buildings, the oldest Italian chestnut tree and mini apple cider donuts which a must when you visit Oak Glen. they don’t offer apple picking, but you can get plenty of fresh apples and cider. they also have a really neat farm store with artisan balsamics and oils, local honey, unique gifts, and farm made wine and hard cider.

Riley’s Los Rios Rancho is a favorite of our family’s. it offers cider pressing, live music, a country kitchen with fresh bbq and picnic foods including corn, cider floats and apple pie. in the market store you can taste apple cider, hard cider and apples. there are also beautiful nature trails, a petting zoo and miniature farm, wagon rides, tractor rides, and horse back rides.  on the North Side of the farm (closest to Wilshire’s peak) you’ll find…a corn maze, u-pick fruits, popcorn and vintage soda cart and tractor drawn hayrides.

Riley’s Apple Farm offers heirloom apple picking, blackberry picking, corn picking, pumpkin picking, cider pressing, and kids activities on the weekends. activities include archery, tomahawk and knife throwing. on weekends during apple season, Sharon’s Country Store has barbecued chicken apple sausage, hot dogssub sandwiches, cider floats, fresh raspberry shakes, ice cream, and high-top apple pie.  Also sub sandwiches, cider floats, fresh raspberry shakes, ice cream, and lots more!  and don’t forget to get a fresh hoecake (a tasty, historical treat – a cornmeal pancake with a topping) cooked fresh over the fire on the lawn!

Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard offers heirloom apple picking, cider pressing, gemstone panning and kids activities at their kid’s craft station on the weekends. activities may include rag dolls, candle dipping, and birdhouse decorating. the have a snack bar, farm stand and marketplace.

Rileys Colonial Farm is a living history farm and offers history education and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. you will find people dressed up in period clothing and sharing historical demonstrations. you can pick-your-own fruit including apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, Ollalieberries, pumpkins and a small crop of peaches. make sure to check their website for availability. visit the dinner theatre, and enjoy a historically-themed overnight stay.

Law’s Cider Mill & Ranch is a smaller stand that offers fresh cider, apple butter & preserves, Oak Glen grown apples, ornamental corn, squash & gourds. they have a historical coffee shop that serves breakfast and lunch daily. there you will find a year-round Christmas room, gift shop and collectables.

Moms Country Orchard offers pesticide-free apples and other produce in the area. they also offer a great selection of jams, jellies, honey, preserves, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Moms will ship items to you or for you, just go online!

Apple Picking in Oak Glen

there is something exciting about walking into and apple orchard and picking your own apple of the tree. for some reason, kids enjoy food that they harvest themselves better than if you give it to them. there are a few orchards left in Oak Glen that offer U-pick apples. the different orchards offer different varieties of apples, so if you are wanting a certain kind of apple, check out their websites first to see what they have available. the orchards in Oak Glen that offer apple picking are – Riley’s Apple Farm, Riley’s Los Rios RanchoRileys Colonial Farm and Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard.

when you get to the orchards, you check into the farm stand and get a bag for your apples. the apples are sold by the pound, so you need to purchase what you pick. prices vary according to market price. we ended up paying between $3.00 – $3.50 per pound. most orchards will have a guide run you through the process of how to pick apples without damaging the trees, and then let you into designated areasvto pick the apples.

Apple Cider Donuts at Snow-line Orchard

if you like hot, fresh apple cider donuts, you need to make a stop at Snow-line Orchard. you get 12 mini donuts per pack and they are so yummy! even if you go to the other orchards to pick apples and such, stop at Snow-line to get the donuts. they run just under $5 for 12 mini donuts.

Press Your Own Apple Cider

one of our favorite activities to do when we go apple picking is pressing our own apple cider. although it costs slightly more than the pre-made gallons of apple cider, the experience is really fun for the kids.

first, they get to fill up a 5 gallon bucket with apples and then wash them. once they are clean, the apples get fed into the apple cider press. once they are all crushed, it’s time to press the cider. the crank gets tightened and rotated until all the juice is pressed out of the apple chunks. then the juice is strained and poured into a gallon jug…READY TO DRINK! an boy is it good. the apple cider will last up to two weeks…but if your family is anything like mine, it will be gone much faster than that.

here are some pictures of our family pressing apple cider in Oak Glen.

U-Pick Berries in Oak Glen

if you want to pick berries, peaches, corn, or flowers in Oak Glen, i highly suggest going earlier in the season. in fact, the berry picking begins closer to July. check the websites of the different orchards to see what is still available and how the harvest is looking. Riley’s Apple Farm, Riley’s Los Rios Rancho and Rileys Colonial Farm’s offer berry picking.

this year we decided to pick raspberries and had a fun time. though, we were surprised at how much work it was to fill a little basket. it made us appreciate being able to have them already picked for us. it definitely was a great experience for the whole family and the berries were really yummy.

Food and Activities in Oak Glen

you go to Oak Glen for the apple food and apple picking, but there are also lots of fall activities happening from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. if you go to each of the websites listed above, you can decide which activities you would like to do, and find out which orchards offer them. also be sure to check out the special events happening on the different weekends.

hayrides, horseback riding, corn mazes, sunflower fields, kids crafts and more are offered at different orchards throughout Oak Glen.

and don’t forget about the food!

most of the orchards have farm stands and stores that have tons of baked goods and apple goodies, some have their big bbq’s going with tri-tip and pulled pork cooking. you can also taste jams and jellies and buy different varieties of apples.

Oak Tree Village

Oak Tree Village is a little village at the top of the Oak Glen loop that has shops, museums, restaurants, a petting zoo, carnival booths, and more.

we continue to make a stop here year after year because of the memories i have of going when i was a child. however, i feel the need to say that it is very over-priced nowadays. i don’t recommend buying your food here, as the prices are much better at the individual orchards. it’s fun to walk through, but we usually skip the attractions. i remember when the petting zoo was a $1.00, now it costs $6 per person. however…it is a fun little zoo. and i have to admit, the animal museum is pretty cheesy…but go if you like taxidermy. we passed.

i do recommend getting a pie or a bakery item at the village. they have some yummy mile-high pies and apple turnovers. i have found that the pies at all the orchards run around $16.00, so it almost doesn’t matter where to buy them. but i like the pies here the best. the candy store is also fun to check out. so many apple choices.

finally, if you are wondering about the cost involved with visiting Oak Glen, i am here to tell you that almost everything costs money. the activities, apple picking, and of course the food. if you are wanting to visit on a budget, i highly suggest bringing a picnic and just buying a few apple goodies to enjoy. bring plenty of water, as it tends to get hot. you can visit all the orchards for free and enjoy the beautiful scenery, you can also taste test apples and apple cider for no charge.

my must-dos for Oak Glen are: Pick a bag of apples, press a gallon of apple cider, get a bag of apple cider donuts, take a nature hike at Riley’s Los Rios Rancho and buy an apple pie. if i get to do that each year at Oak Glen i am happy. all else is just icing on the cake….and apple cake that is!

hopefully with these tips, you can enjoy your own stay at Oak Glen. what i love most about Oak Glen is that you will find so many different activities and varieties of food in the one 5-mile stretch that there is bound to be something that you enjoy. its family fun for the entire family with lots of memories to be had!

 

Dinner with Elmo and the Sesame Street Parade at Seaworld and GIVEAWAY!

(Make sure to read to the bottom for an awesome giveaway!)

a few weeks ago, we headed down to San Diego to check out the debut of the all new Sesame Street Party Parade at Seaworld. we also had dinner reservations at the new Dinner with Elmo and Friends, so we were really excited. our family was most excited to introduce Dani, our littlest to Sesame Street. it would be her first time meeting all the characters.

we love a lot of things about Seaworld, they do so much good for our oceans and environment. we visited last year and got to witness first hand some of they great things they do. we especially love that Seaworld has included Sesame Street more and more into the park. they already have the Sesame Street Bay of Play, which is filled with family-friendly fun and rides like Elmo’s Flying Fish, Oscar’s Rocking Eel and Abby’s Sea Star Spin. so adding the Sesame Street Parade and Dinner with Elmo and Friends was a perfect addition!

Sesame Street Party Parade

first up, we found some seating along the Sesame Street Party Parade route. everyone was excited to see it for the first time…and let me tell you, it was a hit! the kids loved seeing their favorite Sesame Street pals sing and dance down the street.

fun highlights of the parade included audience participation – where the kids got to run out onto the parade route and dance and play games with the Sesame Street friends, getting to wave to all our favorite characters, and a giant Elmo float at the end of the parade.

Dinner with Elmo and Friends

after the parade, it was perfect timing to head over and have a special Dinner with Elmo and Friends. did you know that you can make reservations far an additional cost and enjoy dinner and photo opps with your favorite Sesame Street Pals? neither did we. but it was so much fun and a very special experience.

Dinner with Elmo and Friends is and exclusive dinner for guests in the park to have a dinner buffet and also meet the Sesame Street characters up close and personal. there is a whole lot of giggles, hugs and dancing. the dinner buffet features a fresh salad bar, pasta, Fajitas, sides, desserts and more. there is something for everyone to enjoy – from adults to kids to babies.

everyone can find a seat in the banquet seating area and enjoy the food and coloring activities provided on the table. the kids loved the dinner buffet because they could get whatever they wanted. so that means unlimited dinner rolls and breadsticks LOL.

did i mention that there is a dessert station where you can make your own cookie ice cream sandwiches! it’s a Cookie Monster’s dream, with giant cookies of all varieties and ice cream that can be used to make a cookie ice cream sandwich.

once everyone has been seated and are eating, the Sesame Street characters begin to arrive. they come to the tables and say hi to the families and dance in the aisles. i suggest getting the kids to eat as soon as possible, because once the characters start to arrive, all the kids want to do is play with them. there is no getting them to eat after that!

we had so much fun with the Sesame Street gang…it really was a special experience. the parade was fun and really well done, i highly recommend if you have a Sesame Street fan in your home.

GIVEAWAY!!!!

here is your chance to win a family 4-Pack of Tickets to SeaWorld San Diego!!! just enter via Rafflecopter below or on Facebook. contest ends June 1, 2018 at midnight. winner will be chosen randomly and must be 18 years or older and a resident of the United States. Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Disclosure: We were invited guests of SeaWorld. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

 

The Legoland Castle Hotel is Coming to Southern California

earlier this month, i had the chance to check out the construction progress of the new Legoland Castle Hotel that will soon be opening at Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad. i have a bunch of boys who can not wait for it to open this April 27th…the are VERY EXCITED! let me tell you, it’s going to be amazing. if your kids love Legos, they will be in Lego Heaven. and i wanted to share with you some photos of the hard hat tour i took to give you an idea what to expect.

if you have ever stayed at the current Legoland Hotel, then you have some experience of what it will be like to stay at the Legoland Castle Hotel. although it is similar, there are also many unique features and cool improvements that you will only experience at the Castle.

here is a sneak peek of the lobby. it will be set up separately from the rest of the hotel and will of course have Legos and fun things for the kids to do while the parents are checking in.

here is what it looks like right now…but don’t worry, it will be complete very soon. use your imagination to envision the Lego slide that will be built next to these stairs. fun!!!!

next up, we headed over to where the new restaurant will be located in the hotel. the Dragon’s Den, is a first at LEGOLAND California Resort. it will be the resort’s first full-service sit down restaurant. the head chef explained how the restaurant would be set up and how the food will be locally-sourced, creating a unique dining experience.

it will include an open kitchen for guests to watch chefs preparing their food. plus, it will be decorated with amazing LEGO models, and LEGOLAND entertainers will interact with guests. breakfast will be included with each guest’s stay and includes made-to-order items along with a buffet. here is what is will look like…

located next to Dragon’s Den restaurant, there will be a play area for kids and also Jester’s Bar. i am sure this will be a favorite area for adults and kids alike.

then we headed over to where the The Royal Courtyard will be locate. this is where hotel guests will be able to sit and relax, children will be in a fairy tale of their own creation with a DUPLO play area for the younger kids, larger play structures for the older kids, giant movie screen for nighttime movies, and a stage for live plays and shows.

there will also of course be a pool area! it will host a gradual incline pool and hot tub, plus a pool bar and grill that will offer smoothies, sandwiches and salads prepared fresh to order.

oh!!!! if you have been to the LEGOLAND Hotel, then you totally know what i am talking about when i tell you my kids favorite thing to do is ride the elevator. as with all things Lego, there are surprises at every turn. that goes for the elevators as well. when i say the construction of the elevators, i wanted to hop in a see what cool thing happened inside, but i guess i will have to wait. they did tell me that is will be a wizard theme. how exciting!

finally, we were able to check out the rooms!  there will be 250 premium LEGO Castle themed rooms with your choice of Knights & Dragons, Royal Princess or Magic Wizard. i personally can’t wait for a princess room. after years of all boys, i want to share this room with my little girl. my boys are hoping to stay in a Magic Wizard room. and unlike the current LEGOLAND Hotel that offers standard and premium rooms, ALL of the rooms at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel will be premium. they will be fully decked out with Lego sculptures and themed deco, a separate kids’ area with LEGO building tables and scavenger hunt in every room, and bathrooms with a tub, shower and toddler toilet seats.

doesn’t this all look like an amazing family-friendly hotel!!! i can definitely tell you it is 100% family-friendly. they have thought of everything.

it was a fun checking out the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel construction, it only made me more excited and i can’t wait to experience it in its finished form with my kids…they are going to love it. just a few more months and we can!!!!!

and guess what?!!!!  you can already book your stay. the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel will be ready before you know it. Southern California is so excited for April 27th.

{ This is not a sponsored post. I was an invited guest to check out the contruction. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

A Weekend Road trip to Los Angeles with Chevy

This is a sponsored post.

last month, Chevy invited our family to take a road trip anywhere we wanted in Southern California. i immediately knew that i wanted to head up to Los Angeles for a weekend of exploring and enjoying the LA sights and sounds. because, although it is only 30 miles north from Orange County…it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours+ to get there. it makes me sad that it isn’t easier to get to L.A. on a more regular basis. so spending a weekend in Los Angeles was the perfect solution for some bulk L.A. adventures. PLUS…Chevy outfitted our family with a brand new Chevy Traverse to enjoy during the weekend to make our road trip a lot more comfortable. it had all the latest gadgets and gizmos, plenty of room for our family of six AND all our luggage, a stroller and baby gear.

let me tell you…the road trip was so much, and i wanted to share some of the great spots we visited. next time you are in L.A….be sure to check some of these out.

Universal Studios

we started our road trip at Universal Studios Hollywood. it’s one of my favorite Southern California amusement parks. it’s very family-friendly if your kids are over 42″. a baby makes it hard, but you can still find it enjoyable if you have little ones.

since we went during December, Universal Studios was decorated for the holidays. Grinchmas is a favorite of ours, and visiting Who-ville, meeting the Grinch, and playing with the Whos is a tradition we have done every year. Universal does a great job of creating a real-life Whoville. there are shows, treats, photo opportunities, crafts and character meet-and-great happening all day long during Grinchmas.

then we headed over to the Studio Tour which takes you through the backlot where they make movies and television shows. this is the boys absolute favorite thing to do at Universal Studios Hollywood (besides the Jurassic Park ride). it’s very nostalgic and has some great attractions along the way such as King Kong, Earthquake, and the Fast and Furious. you even get to wear 3-D glasses.

and Dani got to meet Marilyn Monroe!

we spent time in the park checking out Simpson Land and some of the stage shows, then headed to our most anticipated land – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. if you are a Harry Potter fan, then you definitely need to make a visit. you feel like you have been transported into Hogsmeade. you can visit all the stores, taste some Butterbeer (we recommend the frozen Butterbeer), and use your wand around the village to cast some spells. during the holidays, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is decorated for Christmas.

check out Hogwarts castle during the day. pretty spectacular! but during the holidays, it gets even more spectacular at night with Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. the iconic Hogwarts castle is transformed into a dazzling light projection spectacular.as the sunsets, a light show is play on the Hogwarts castle with themed graphics and magical music. it plays multiple times every evening and lasts about 10-15 minutes. it was FANTASTIC!!!!!

after the show, everyone was tired after a full day of fun. we headed to our hotel. we stayed at the Boulevard Hotel which is conveniently located near Universal Studios.

apparently, there have been many stars who have stayed here!

The Griddle Cafe

the next morning, we wanted to have a breakfast experience, and check out a Hollywood breakfast hotspot. we decided on The Griddle Cafe on Sunset Boulevard. they are know for their giant pancakes and french toast….and boy are the BIG!

you know you’ve picked a popular breakfast spot when there is a long line at 8 am on a weekend morning.

check out this menu! wow…it was super hard to choose what to get.

so we ordered A LOT!!! we decided on Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, Banananana Pancakes, Cream cheese french toast, hot chocolate, cheesy omelet with avocado and pico de gallo. YUM YUM and while we waited for our food to arrive, the boys had so much fun watching the fancy cars race down Sunset. i think they saw about twenty Lamborghinis. i highly recommend sitting outside if it’s a nice day.

woahhhhhh!!!!! you think we ordered enough?

at the end of breakfast, we had only made a tiny dent in our food. our eyes were way bigger than our stomachs. we definitely ordered way too much, but still…it was so so good.

after breakfast, we hopped into our Chevy Traverse, and took a drive down Melrose. if you are looking for cool art our wall murals, you will find a bunch on Melrose Avenue. the “street art” is amazing in Los Angeles, and the boys love to get their pictures taken with it. as we drove down Melrose, if someone saw something they liked, we stopped to take a picture.

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Another Reason to LOVE California

there’s no hiding how much i love California. it has the mountains in the north…some even with snow, there’s the inland desert area with unique trees and cacti, beautiful sunny weather in SoCal, the most amazing coastline and the central valley filled with orchards and rolling hills. i believe that California is one of the most unique states in the U.S. it has unique landmarks, diverse geography and one-of-a-kind weather patterns….i love living here so much. which brings me to mention California’s produce. you might not realize this, but California grows most of the produce for the entire country. i recently had the opportunity to tour some of the California farms located in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys, and was once again blown away by the extraordinary abilities of our state.

with the beginning of the New Year, many of us have made resolutions to eat better and healthier. this probably includes eating more fruits and vegetables. did you know that California is the only state that can grow a lot of the produce we eat ALL year long?!!! it’s pretty amazing. California has pockets of land with unique climates that are perfect for growing produce for our country. California’s Imperial and Coachella Valley’s are so unique…they are one of two places on Earth that has a mediterranean climate. let me share a little bit about what i experienced in these special valleys.

Farm Tour of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys

to cut down on travel time, we took a small chartered plane from San Diego to the Imperial Valley.

the flight was short, only thirty minutes. if you aren’t familiar with where the Imperial Valley is located, it’s in southeastern Southern California, largely centered on the city of El Centro. it’s just north of the Mexican border, slightly southeast of Palm Springs, laying just south of the Salton Sea. as we flew into the valley, i was impressed to see the terrain change from brown desert sands to rows and rows of lush green farmland. what is this place i thought? how is it possible to grow such wonderful produce in the middle of the California desert.

the answer is – the Colorado River. the Imperial Valley is literally below sea level. the nearby Salton Sea was created by a flood of channeled water from the Colorado river into the Imperial Valley basin in the early 1900’s. the valley is bordered by sand dunes and mountains, and the Salton Sea lies within the borders. it is fed by irrigation drainage from farms served by the Colorado River – which is what makes it possible for farmers to grow produce in this desert oasis. i learned a lot of this information from Marion Champion, of the Imperial Irrigation District, and found it very interesting.

our first stop in El Centro was at Jack Brothers, one of the Imperial Valley farms. it was very interesting to talk to the farmers and learn how they farm in the Imperial Valley. the crops looked fantastic, and we were able to first hand how crops were harvested. every farmer has their specialty in produce the like to grow, some grow organic, some share fields, and they all work together as a big community.

we learned how they farmed using irrigation from the Colorado River. aqueduct channels help bring water from the river to the fields. the farmers have gotten really good at saving and recycling water from their fields. there is good and bad in this. good because they are saving water…but it’s a double edge sword, since there is very little water run off into the Salton Sea. now levels in the Salton Sea are dropping. so they are currently trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening. hopefully the politicians and land councils can figure out a way to keep the water coming to the Imperial Valley and also conserve water in the Salton Sea. this is really important.

many of the farms are family owned and passed down from generation to generation. this was the case for the next farm we visited, Lawrence Cox Ranches.

they grow a lot of the produce that we find in our grocery stores and restaurants. one of my favorites was the broccoli. it was so fresh and yummy eating it right out of the field.

we also got to see harvesting in progress. check it out….these workers are harvesting lettuce that will be distributed at Wendy’s around the country.

next, it was time to head north about 60 miles to the Coachella Valley to visit a couple more farms. an hour later, we arrived at Hadley corporate Headquarters, where we met with Albert Keck. Hadley’s grows some of the best dates. i remember visiting Hadley’s when i was little…we always got to get date shakes, dried fruits and nuts.

it was harvesting week at Hadley’s, so we got to see them packaging the dates for shipment, and talked about how they are grown, harvested and about the workers who make it all happen. it was great to learn that these workers love working at Hadley so much that they stay there many many years. the work is hard, but the pay is much higher than the norm.

the best part of the tour…we got to try some dates. yum yum! it was really awesome to learn about the date trees and how they only will survive and produce in a climate such as Coachella Valley’s. next time you are in Palm Springs, stop by and have a date shake.

our final stop was at Desert Mist Farms. we met with Jeff Percy while we enjoyed the view. rows and rows of produce. artichokes, peppers, blueberries, brussels sprouts and more.

i learned that in order to pick a good artichoke, you want it to be more tall than wide. the bigger the petals and the less there are from top to bottom, the more meat you get it. the petals should also be tight together, that means it was freshly picked. if you squeeze it, you may hear a squeaky sound. the best way to eat them is to cut off the top inch of the petals and to steam them for 20 minutes. now all i want to do is make some artichokes!

farmers are very proud of their produce….and they should be.

Desert Mist Farms is part of Ocean Mist Farms’. you probably have come accross their produce in your local grocery store. be sure to try out their Season & Steam line of fresh vegetables if you see them. they make meal preparation easy peasy. and if you would like to read a little more about Ocean Mist Farms’ Natural Resource & Sustainability initiatives, head over to their website.

what an awesome experience to get to go on this special Farm Water Tour. it really is amazing what these farmers do and how they are able to farm in California. we really live in a magical place…i’m so glad to call California home.

Wanna learn more about California farming? Chelsea from Someday I’ll Learn was on the tour with me and wrote a great post about here experience. check it out – 7 Things I’ve Learned from Farmers

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