Melissa MacBride's favorite spot: Apple picking in Oak Glen

OAK GLEN, Calif.

The wine sap apples ripen in October. Dennis Riley is their caretaker.

"When I was 28 years old, I decided I didn't want to wear a suit and tie, so I left the city and came up here and started farming," Riley said.

Riley teaches visitors to how to pick apples without damaging the 100-year-old trees' future crop. You pay for what you pick, and you can also attempt the activities with a frontier feel.

Archery and the tomahawk throw entice children and their parents to try their hand. But for me, it's all about the apples and making cider. You just have to pick enough apples for a five-gallon bucket.

Nanci McGregor says she has been coming to Oak Glen for 10 years for two reasons.

"The serenity, most definitely the serenity, and of course the apples right off the tree, how could you get any better than that?" she said.

Down the road at Snow-Line Orchard, indulge in the mini cider doughnuts made right before your eyes. If you still have room, there are several apple varieties to sample.

The orchards offer an escape from the stress of daily life. There's no rush, and I know the rustic feel and simplicity that first appealed to me will be there each time I return.

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