Autumn at The Apple Farm in Philo, California

apple farm

Twilight descends earlier and imperious Canada geese are bossing their way through local duck ponds. Autumn has come to Southern California. In deference to the harvest—which we urbanites risk missing altogether—take a pastoral retreat. Quaint farmhouses offer their own particular luxuries: fragrant herb gardens and patchwork quilts, the swoop of starlings over fallow fields at dusk, and relaxed contemplation of what John Keats described as the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”

More of the same, perhaps, but indulge us: Mendocino is a perfect weekend getaway, and intimate Apple Farm offers an extra lure for foodies. Farm visitors have two options: “Just Stay,” a relaxing, phone- and TV-free B&B experience, complete with homemade jams with your breakfast. “Stay and Cook” guests help gather and prepare ingredients, then break bread over a farmhouse meal. Stroll the apple orchards with the grower, soak up gardening wisdom as you harvest from the vegetable patch, and join in the camaraderie of the kitchen. “Just Stay” reservations begin at $200 per night, while the “Stay and Cook” weekend is a flat $700 per person. All cottages are spacious and full of light, but dreamy garden vistas make the “Room with a View” our top choice. Info:

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