Fall in Los Angeles may not have the beautiful aesthetics of fall in, say, Vermont or Maine. The piles of crimson and orange leaves. The maple syrup. The frost on the windowpanes. Unless, of course, our idea of nostalgic beauty is the Santa Anas through the palm trees, which it may very well be. But head only a few dozen miles east, up the curvy roads of the San Bernardino foothills to Oak Glen, and you'll find a remarkably gorgeous oasis of apple trees and pumpkin patches, freshly baked pies and cider presses, even people dressed up in costumes playing with bows and arrows, if such a thing correlates with fall in your world.
Oak Glen, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles near Yucaipa, is home to a vast network of u-pick farms, owned mostly by various branches of the Riley family. In the fields and the little shops attached to the farms, you'll find many of the almost 100 apple varieties grown there, including varieties not found in grocery stores or even area farmers markets. Many of the farms also make and sell their own cider, and this time of year there are fields of pumpkins ready to cart home.
Depending on which farm you visit, you may find a restaurant, a bakery, pony rides or farmstands, like the one we found at Riley's Farm recently. So after you and the kids score a carload of Gravensteins and pumpkins for carving, you can pick up a pie for the ride home, a few pounds of zucchini, a basket of dried corn for your holiday table. As for the frost on the windowpanes, unless you have some art department props, you'll have to make do with steam from the pies baking in your oven. Not a bad substitute, really.