Growing up on the East Coast we took our Revolutionary history somewhat for granted. Molly Pitcher wasn’t a character, so much as a rest area on the NJ Turnpike. Placards along the NY Thruway and local highways were so plentiful as to be utterly ignorable. Everyone’s back field held the possibility of buried artifacts.
So I did not pay attention. Nose deep in my Little House books, romanticizing exotic prairie life, I completely missed the fact that there was a haunted tavern right in the town where I grew up, famous for its restless revolutionary war ghosts.
Shame on me.
Now that I live in California, there’s plenty of places to learn about local history, and that we do. I’ve been to multiple Missions and we’ve even panned for gold at local theme-parks. But where do you go for a Revolutionary war history experience in So Cal?
Riley’s Stone Soup Farm in Oak Glen offers Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactments, as well as California history experiences that you and your kids are sure to love. What gem this place is!
I first learned about the Riley’s Farm through my homeschool group, when they mentioned space on a group field trip. We were busy that day but not a month later I found myself unexpectedly hosted for lunch there, as part of a Visit San Bernadino tourism group, and I was sorry we had not signed up for the field trip. There’s a lot for kids to experience here and it’s pleasant for the adults as well.
Kids here are assigned to the Redcoat or Revolutionary side and are guided through a civil war battle. It was a riot to watch the kids marching while waving patriotic flags, negotiating, battling and (in the case of the Redcoats) playing dead and/or retreating.
In addition to the mock battle, kids were treated to a blacksmith demo and given some period toys, like wooden hoops to play with. There’s a nifty gift store on the property where you can pick up some nostalgic souvenirs to take home with you.
I think my favorite part of the property was the Hawk’s Head restaurant, serving up period specific fare. Waitstaff are all garbed in costume and the calligraphy penned menu is made up of simple choices that would have been available at taverns and inns during the Revolutionary war era. It’s kitschy but well done, with a hearthy smell of woodsmoke and cinnamon and beverages served in heavy mis-matched pewter mugs. No plastic to break the spell. Plus the food is delicious and tastes home-made. Simple things, like chunks in your mashed potatoes, make the experience more real.
Want to make even more of an impression and make a weekend of it? Rileys offers weekend “glamping” trips where you can don colonial era clothing and explore the surrounding nature!
On Fridays and Saturdays you can partake in the Colonial Faire and try your hand at archery, candle dipping, tomahawk throwing (older kids only!) and more. Sign me up!
Even if you’re only planning a visit for the day, this is a stop worth planning for. If you visit in fall, be sure to set aside some time for apple and pear picking.
I had a warm and fuzzy east coast feeling at Riley’s and it made me want to do a little history tour of the Delaware Valley. I’d love to visit the haunted tavern in my hometown and see some of the battlefields I ignored as a child. It’s a trip to plan in the future.
But in the meantime, I’m glad I can take my kids to Rileys!
More Things to See and Do in San Bernadino County:
- Experiencing Fall at Oak Glen Village
- A Taste of Colonial Life at Riley’s Stone Soup Farm
- Spending The Night at an Oasis in Joshua Tree
- Where to Express Your Artistic Self in Joshua Tree
- Taking a Walk in the National Park at Joshua Tree NSP
- Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Joshua Tree
- Where to Watch the Sun Set & Moonrise in Joshua Tree
- Horseback Riding Along the Pacific Crest Trail
- The Alpine Zoo of San Bernadino
- Shopping at Lake Arrowhead Village
- A Visit to Santa’s Village at Skypark