No matter how much of a city slicker you are, you probably have the dream to live a day as a homesteader. Or perhaps you’d like to live a day in Colonial times? Or how about experience life during the Revolutionary War or Gold Rush?
Well, it just so happens that there is such a place where you can take the whole family to enjoy a day of all of this plus so much more!
Located in the San Bernadino Mtns in Southern California, Riley Farm is the epitome of good ol’ fashioned family fun. The farm is 760 acres filled with pick-your-own fruit orchards and fields, a general store, restaurants, a bakery, and historical activities and tours.
Pick Your Own Fruit
The fruit variety is seasonal (of course). The weekend that we went ,the last weekend of September, we picked strawberries and pumpkins. Apples and pears were also available,but we just didn’t get to it. Raspberries and Blackberries were pretty slim pickins’, but the view from those fields was spectacular!
At first the boys were a little apprehensive about stepping into the field to pick the strawberries, but once they saw me step right in, the soon followed. I knew the rascals would love to pick their own fruit…stepping into the lush field, sticking their grubby hands in the bushes and filling their wooden baskets of berries. It was like they were made for farm living!
If you plan on picking any fruit, you simply pay a flat fee per basket or bag and go pick your fruit.
Riley Farm has several historical tours. Originally we had planned to go on the Colonial Living one, but I had waiting until the last minute to book it and it was already sold out. I guess we’ll just have to go back later this year! *wink* Here are the tours that are available, though you want to check the online calender to make sure the tour is offered the weekend you plan to visit the farm.
- Revolutionary War
- Colonial Farm Life
- Old Joe Homestead
- Civil War
- Gold Rush
- Overnight Adventure Revolutionary War
Visit the website to read more about what each tour includes.
Although I was not able to book a tour, there was still much to do on the farm besides fruit picking. Alfalfa tried the tomahawk throwing ($3) and candle making ($3). There is also archery ($3), make your own apple cider ($15 for a gallon), and pie ($10) and Christmas cookie baking ($4) during Christmas season. These activities are available on Saturdays.
Shop the General Store
There’s something about the term “General Store” that just draws me in like a moth to the flame. I just can’t help it! And The General Store at Riley Farm did not disappoint.
All perfectly lined up were giant glass jars of old fashioned candy, freshly made jams, jellies, fruit butters and apple cider. Old fashioned soda pop cooling in buckets of ice. Bear claws, rabbit fur pouches, sling shots, wooden rifles and Union caps for the boys. Rag dolls, aprons, parasols, bonnets and hand dipped handles for the girls. There is just SO MUCH nostalgic goodness!
Riley’s Farm has 2 restaurants, The Packing Shed and Hawk’s Head Public House.
The Packing Shed is a chuck wagon style restaurant serving BBQ chicken, ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and corn bread. This is were we had our lunch. The prices seemed a little steep ($11 a plate) however it includes a drink. I recommend the chicken plate since the serving portion was the most generous and can be easily split into 2 meals for the kids (which is what we did for our 2 little guys).
If you have little guys that squirm and yell, this is the place for you. It’s a very relaxed, picnic table sort of seating with a live band playing.
Hawk’s Head Public House is a Colonial style restaurant featuring toasted sandwiches, Cider-baked ham, chicken pot-pies and roast beef. This is a more traditional sit-down restaurant that is a bit more elegant (in a Colonial sense, that is). If you eat there past sundown, you can enjoy your meal by lantern light!
These resteraunts are also where many special events are held like Big Band Nights, various holiday balls, murder mystery dinners, and Victorian Christmas celebrations.
Baking up fresh daily are apple pies, wheat breads, chicken pot-pies, Sweet Sally Nunn bread and caramel dipped apples (which I was told are the best ever). We had a giant slice of apple pie and it tasted like home-baked heaven!
Tips for your visit:
- Wear your rugged shoes. I wore my flats and they were pretty beat up by the end of the day. Remember that Riley Farm is in a mountainous region. Nothing but dirt and rocks, so you want to make sure your shoes are sturdy, they cover your toes and you don’t mind getting them dirty. Very dirty.
- Have the kids wear pants. My 2 tripped quite a few times and had some scrapped knee’s. My 3 year old has sensitive skin and started to get itchy from the strawberry bushes.
- Sun protection. This is at a higher elevation, so although the temperature is cooler, the sun is actually stronger. Sun screen, sunglasses and/or hat are a must.
- You can take your stroller. Although the stroller won’t go in between the fields when you pick fruit, I found my stroller to be a life saver for pushing my kids around this 760 acre farm. I’m not going to lie to you though, it can get pretty tough in some uphill area’s, but I rather push that stroller up a grassy hill than deal with carrying a pumpkin, a basket of strawberries, a diaper bag and a sleepy toddler.
- There’s no picnicking. Turns out that there are critters in nature that like to eat leftover people food. We actually saw one such critter while we were there. Riley Farm minimizes that problem by not allowing any picnicking as well as hiring a bunch of very well behaved dogs that chase them away.
My family and I just fell in love with all that Riley Farm offers. We plan on making it a family tradition to visit at least once a year.
See you at Riley Farm!
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