BEAUMONT — Enjoy a change of scenery with the change of seasons by heading into the gentle foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. A popular autumn outing is to the apple orchards of Oak Glen just 10 miles north of the San Bernardino Freeway.
Your trip will be even more fruitful with another stop in the countryside at the Edward-Dean Museum of Decorative Arts. Its impressive collection of art and antiques from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries is one of the Southland's hidden treasures.
For an overnight escape you can check in nearby at the Highland Springs Resort, a family-run retreat that's been welcoming guests for more than a century.
Begin a fall fling by driving east on Interstate 10 beyond Redlands to Beaumont and exiting north on Beaumont Avenue. As the highway passes through the town of Cherry Valley it becomes more rural and changes names to Oak Glen Road.
Look for No. 9401 and a road sign to the entrance of the Riverside County Art and Cultural Center, once the 16-acre estate of J. Edward Eberle and Dean W. Stout. It began as a weekend retreat for those Los Angeles-based interior decorators, but the men soon built a gallery for their personal collection of decorative arts gathered during worldwide travels.
After expansion to an eight-room museum, the buildings and grounds were deeded to the county in 1964. The public is welcome on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekdays except Monday from 1:30 p.m. Admission costs $1, children younger than 12 free.
Visitors pass a formal boxwood garden to enter the modern museum structure that is transformed in its interior to the home of a successful 18th-Century merchant. Like friends of the family, you're invited to wander through the rooms for a close look at the antiques and works of art.
Among them are priceless European and Oriental furniture, paintings and statuary. Look for an English Regency sewing table shaped like a globe, a double-painted door from a Dutch physician's home and gilt bronze figures from Tibet.
Outstanding is an 18th-Century Waterford crystal chandelier, as well as porcelain and pottery by Meissen, Wedgwood and Spode.
Each room is named for a distinctive feature, such as the Pine Room with its 17th-Century pine paneling and carved mantel from the home of the Earl of Essex. At one time the ornate pine walls were installed in the Santa Monica beach home of actress Marion Davies as a gift from publisher William Randolph Hearst.
Indian Kachina Exhibit
In the North Gallery are changing exhibits by contemporary artists. A display of Indian kachinas from Arizona and New Mexico runs through Nov. 22. Also on view are artworks by Indian students from Riverside's Sherman Institute.
For information about special events and guided docent tours at the Edward-Dean Museum: (714) 845-2626.
Continue north on narrow and winding Oak Glen Road that climbs to Southern California's largest apple-raising region, Oak Glen. That's where you'll find roadside sheds piled high with boxes of just-picked apples and jugs of fresh-pressed cider.
Harvest time began this month and continues through October at the dozen orchards that grow 25 varieties of apples. Most abundant and best for cooking is the Rome Beauty, but there are plenty of Red and Golden Delicious and other eating apples too. The fruit will be on sale along Oak Glen Road until the crop is exhausted.
Over the years the mile-high apple glen has become such a popular getaway that the two-lane road often becomes jammed with traffic, especially on weekends. Crisp fall air and autumn leaves are main attractions, as are restaurants that dish up home-baked apple pie.
Antiques and Gifts
Also part of the scene are antique shops and gift stores with items such as dried-apple dolls, apple candles and apple-pasta noodles. Then there are apple-blossom honey and soap, spiced apple tea, apple corers, slicers and cookbooks.
And there are tasty byproducts such as apple jelly and jam, apple butter, apple sauce and apple syrup, candy apples, apple turnovers and even apple burritos. Apple wine, too.
The favorite drink is apple cider, the raw and unpasteurized treat you may see (and smell) being pressed in cider mills at one or two of the orchards. It's sold hot or cold by the cup and in take-home bottles.
Soon after you enter apple country, look for the two-room Oak Glen School that was built of stone in 1927 and houses reminders of bygone school days. Volunteers open the building to visitors on Fridays and weekends in apple season.
Deer are on display in an outdoor pen at a bend in the road near a cluster of shops called Mountaintown and Oak Tree Village. A popular stop for apple pie is the Oak Tree Restaurant and Bakery. Or try other pie places farther up the road: Law's Coffee Shop and Green Apple Restaurant at Parrish Pioneer Ranch.