The kids have been begging you to take them camping, but sleeping on the ground in a pup tent is just not your thing. We found the perfect new-this-summer solution: Riley’s Farm in scenic Oak Glen, about two hours outside of Los Angeles, is offering an incredible glamping experience that also takes you back in time. Scroll down to find out how Riley’s Farm mixes the fun of camping, the glamour and elegance of a Ritz-Carlton and the history and experience of living in Colonial times.
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Why You Know the Name
You may already be familiar with Riley’s Farm; it’s known in the southland for fabulous hiking and berry picking in the summer months and the glorious apple picking in the fall. The strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and olallieberries are yours for the pickin’ Monday through Saturday from 10-4 p.m., ripe and ready in the fields. If you can’t make it for the glamping, you can come for a day and enjoy hours of delicious, messy fun for you and the kiddos. Check the Riley’s Farm website ahead of time to find out what’s in season during your visit. Parking is always free and prices start at $5 for a half pint of fruit. But if you can spend the night…
Take the 10 to Colonial Times
Traveling to Riley’s Farm is like falling into a time warp and waking up in the 18th century. Everything from the décor of the wonderful marquis tent to The Hawk’s Head Tavern Restaurant to the bakery and the Colonial Mercantile Gift Shop, to the various Old World Activities available to guests (Archery! Tomahawk Throwing! Candle Dipping!) makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to another world. Suddenly, time is measured by the position of the sun in the sky and that clunky iPhone seems terribly out of place. Unless you are taking pictures. And you’ll be taking lots!
Glamp It Up
What is “Glamping”? It is actual camping, to be sure. You are in a canvas tent with no running water, kitchen, or bathroom. But the tent is large and airy with solid plank wood floors, authentic antique furniture and complete privacy. It’s novel and exciting for kids and an absolute pleasure for parents.
The bed is a glorious queen-size four-poster bed with a pouf of white mosquito netting suspended above it, although there are no mosquitoes to be seen. The management is happy to bring in up to four additional (very comfy) cots to accommodate larger families. An old wooden chest filled with abundant fresh towels and soap is at the foot of the bed and the chest locks securely for leaving your 20th century valuables. There is a stately dresser to unpack belongings, an antique writing desk, a vintage washstand and a table and chairs. Be sure to have a peek at the night sky before hitting the sack. With no city lights to dim the view, the stars are truly magnificent.
Rise with the Roosters
While candles and a portable lamp are provided for guests, late night readers best bring a bright flashlight if you plan on story time at bedtime. It’s advisable to turn in early, as mornings are magical at Riley’s Farm. Chances are, the kids will be up with the crowing rooster around 6 a.m. or perhaps when the sheep begin to awaken and remind you with a “Baaa!” that Riley’s Farm is indeed a working farm.
The bathrooms are located only steps from your tent. Clean and bright with stylish light fixtures, high ceilings, black & white checked tile floors and granite counter tops, these are not the rough bathrooms found in many campsites. The “Privy Building” offers four toilet stalls and two shower stalls. There is a large changing table provided for the wee ones. Everything is convenient, elegant and easy.
Morning Buns and Noon Pies
In the morning, you may want to mosey down to the bakery for hot cup of coffee or chocolaty cocoa and pick up some freshly baked “Sally Lunn” bread or a delicious pastry. Sit on the patio among the blooming roses and enjoy the rising sun and the cool breezes wafting down from the nearby mountains.
Tasty breakfasts and lunches may be enjoyed at The Hawk’s Head Tavern Restaurant, which closes at 4 p.m. The meals are bountiful and yummy, especially the pies which are a ‘must try.’ The kids will love the friendly staff, dressed in traditional colonial attire.
For dinner, take a drive through eclectic Oak Glen, just minutes from Riley’s Farm. The Oak Glen Steakhouse and Saloon serves up a mighty fine steak as well as a variety of well-priced and kid-friendly menu options. The management at Riley’s farm advises that food is not allowed in the tents as Oak Glen is also home to adorable, furry creatures that could come looking for treat. Don’t forget, you’re camping.
photo: Cheri N. via Yelp
What the Dickens?
Jim Riley, the owner of Riley’s Farm, has a great love of the Oak Glen area. His parents bought the property back in 1986 and since then, Jim and his wife and family have developed it into the stunning venue it is today. Glamping (just starting up this summer) is just the newest tip of the iceberg for Riley’s Farm. There are exciting events that go on all year round, including the Colonial Faire, a variety of fascinating Living History Tours, daring Dinner Theatre Dramas (like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol) and more. It’s a fabulous way to make our nation’s history fun and accessible to kids.
Reservations are available Monday through Saturday, through the end of September. Prices for Family Glamping start at $150/night for a family of four, with a $30 fee for each additional guest. There is no charge for parking and you have the option of including breakfast and dinner with your package, or even being outfitted with an authentic colonial wardrobe for your stay (see above!). The camping is perfect for kids of all ages, from babies on up to those tweens who may think they’re too cool for family outings (they lose themselves in the novelty and beauty of the time travel adventure pretty darn quick).
12261 South Oak Glen Rd.
If you love glamping, you’ve probably already visited El Capitan in Santa Barbara. Do you have any other favorite glam-camping spots? Share them in the comments below!
—written and photographed by Elizabeth Kate