Every year I insist upon visiting the tiny mountain town of Oak Glen, about an hour and half drive from the middle of LA (as I’ve mentioned before). The elevation makes it a pretty good place to grow apples, and the people of Oak Glen have been doing it since the 1800s. One of my favorite places to stop is Willowbrook Apple Farm, which has Stayman Winesap trees that are over 100 years old and still going strong.
When the trees are ready, the family farm offers u-pick apples on weekends as well as u-press cider. They have a little shop with odds and ends, but the focus is their apples and the whole picking experience. Upon arrival, chances are you’ll get a lovely introduction from the farmer herself before you’re set loose with a bag to fill up. There are some animals here to visit, and all of them are inappropriately sized. A miniature horse and donkey live with a giant pot-bellied pig on one side and a giant rabbit on the other. The farm is lovely and antique (still working) tractors dot the property.
It’s a great place to spend part of your day and the apples are excellent. They’re crunchy, juicy, and flavorful. They’ll keep for a couple of months in a cellar or fridge, and are great for baking. I always fill up two five pound bags and not an apple goes to waste.
Note: This used to be one of the calmer stops in Oak Glen, but the city as a whole as well as Willowbrook have gotten more popular every year. Come early to beat the crowd, and always check their site or call to see if the apples are ready for picking. We went last weekend and it was their second week. Depending on their crop and how busy they are, they may not have apples for long!