1. Big Bear LakeLace up your hiking boots and explore the vibrant trails that wind through the mountains near Big Bear Lake, offering breathtaking views of the changing foliage and crisp air that invigorates your senses. Or you can navigate the scenic paths on a rented mountain bike. For a more relaxed outing, take a leisurely boat tour around the lake.
2. Lassen Volcanic National ParkLassen Volcanic National Park promises an unforgettably beautiful experience in the fall. You’ll be awed by the expansive views of golden aspen leaves from atop Cinder Cone and iconic Lassen Peak. Enjoy volcanic features like steaming fumaroles and bubbling mud pots, and immerse yourself in the serenity of the alpine lakes, their surfaces reflecting the golden hues of autumn.
3. Napa ValleyDrive along Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail where the vineyards are awash in vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow, stopping at wineries along the way for a quick tasting (or two!). Or take a leisurely bike ride through the vineyard-lined paths and stop for a picnic among the changing colors. And for unparalleled views of Napa Valley, enjoy a hot air balloon ride at sunrise.
4. Bass LakeFall is a great time to take leisurely hikes along the well-marked trails around Bass Lake, a 5-mile-long reservoir in the Sierra National Forest. Just a half-hour south of Yosemite National Park, the recreation area also offers kayak rentals. Autumn colors make this the perfect setting for picnics, fishing and watching serene sunsets.
5. HealdsburgThis charming town offers farm-to-table dining experiences where the region's flavors come alive. Explore local wineries and taste the best Sonoma County has to offer. Whether you're biking through the countryside or simply soaking in the magic of the season in town, Healdsburg promises to be an enchanting autumn escape.
|Fun fact: Healdsburg is located in Sonoma County, where wineries abound.|
6. June LakeExplore the breathtaking trails that wind through the Eastern Sierra landscape, surrounded by the vibrant hues of autumn foliage. Enjoy a scenic drive along June Lake Loop, where the reflection of golden aspens dances on the tranquil waters. Cast your fishing line into the crystal-clear lakes that dot the region, enjoying the serene atmosphere.
7. Lake TahoeWith a stunning backdrop of fall foliage, Lake Tahoe has a treasure trove of fall activities waiting for you. Drive around the entire lake to witness a vibrant tapestry of forest colors. If adventure calls, hit the mountain bike trails that wind through the area. Water lovers can enjoy a serene boat ride or unwind on the shore, watching the sunset paint the sky in warm hues.
Luxury second homes in Lake Tahoe
8. Bishop Creek CanyonBishop Creek Canyon is the perfect place to unwind with your family, enjoy a solo day in nature or stroll with your partner amongst autumn leaves. Immerse yourself in the dazzling foliage as you hike well-marked trails, surrounded by the rich hues of golden aspens and fiery maples. Explore the series of stunning alpine lakes, reflecting the vivid colors of the surrounding forest. Enjoy fishing in the pristine water and trekking to many nearby waterfalls.
|Fun fact: Fishers flock here to test their luck catching prize-worthy rainbow trout.|
9. TruckeeTruckee, a gorgeous resort town near Lake Tahoe, is the perfect place to enjoy fall in Northern California. Wander the town's charming streets to admire the rustic architecture and explore boutiques and galleries. Immerse yourself in nature by hiking the nearby trails, like the Donner Lake Rim Trail, enveloped in the rich hues of changing leaves. Consider a scenic drive along Donner Pass or through Martis Valley to witness the picturesque landscape.
|Travel tip: Visit Truckee in late autumn to get a head start on skiing practice.|
10. Rock Creek LakeRock Creek Lake is an angler’s paradise with an impressive mountain backdrop. Not only a premier fishing destination, Rock Creek Lake offers great hiking in the surrounding forests, river rafting and picnicking spots amongst the trees, and a variety of campgrounds. Try to catch a glimpse of sunrise or sunset over the lake before heading home.11. Yosemite National ParkA world of natural wonders and seasonal delights awaits you in Yosemite National Park. The iconic granite cliffs and graceful waterfalls are even more spectacular when contrasted with the warm and vibrant hues of autumn, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your explorations. Whether you're hiking under the towering sequoias or rafting along the Merced River, Yosemite is the ultimate family-friendly fall vacation.
12. SonoraHead to Gold Country to enjoy the autumn delights of California. Sonora invites you to savor its small-town charm and embrace the ambiance of downtown. After you explore Yosemite and the High Sierra, head to town for shops and eateries — street lamps light up the fall colors at night.
13. SacramentoTake a leisurely stroll along the tree-lined streets of Midtown Sacramento, where the leaves become a brilliant tapestry of reds and oranges. Savor the flavors of the season at local farmers markets, where you can pick up freshly harvested apples, pumpkins and artisanal treats. The city's historic sites come alive with fall festivals and events, allowing you to immerse yourself in the state’s capital.
|Travel tip: Visit Sacramento County’s American River Parkway and enjoy a bike ride as the sun sets.|
14. Hope ValleyHit the road to enjoy picturesque routes like Highway 88 or Blue Lakes Road, and witness Hope Valley adorned in a stunning palette of fall colors. Explore the hiking trails and immerse yourself in the golden beauty of aspen groves and sweeping meadows at 7,000 feet. Check out the meandering West Carson River and the 2,869-acre Hope Valley Wildlife Area.
15. QuincyStroll along the picturesque streets of this small American Valley town, and enjoy seasonal delights at the weekly Quincy farmers market where fresh produce and artisanal goods showcase fall flavors. Take a scenic drive like Bucks Lake Road or the Feather River Scenic Byway to witness the vivid spectrum of fall foliage. Explore the natural beauty of the area by hiking the Spanish Creek Trail or tackle numerous mountain biking trails.
16. Lake SabrinaExplore the captivating allure of Lake Sabrina with a range of local activities that embrace California in the fall. Take a leisurely stroll around the lake's tranquil shores, where the surrounding aspens create a vibrant tapestry of colors. Engage in fishing, as the cooler temperatures make for a peaceful angling experience. Embark on nearby hiking trails, such as the Sabrina Basin Trail, and immerse yourself in the fall season in California.
17. JulianThis small Gold Rush mining town near Palm Springs is the perfect place to enjoy fall in Southern California. Savor the flavors of autumn by indulging in Julian's famous apple pies and freshly pressed cider. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty by hiking the Volcan Mountain Preserve or exploring nearby trails, where the changing leaves create a beautiful backdrop. Before you leave, consider visiting Julian's many orchards for apple picking with your loved ones — a must-try California fall activity.
18. ReddingExplore the Sacramento River Trail, where the changing leaves create a picturesque backdrop for both hiking and biking. Immerse yourself in nature by visiting Redding’s Turtle Bay Exploration Park and its McConnell Arboretum, where you can wander among the vibrant fall foliage. Take a scenic drive to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, where fall colors adorn the landscape.
19. Lake ArrowheadTake in the natural splendor of Lake Arrowhead by hiking the local trails, like the Deep Creek Trail, which offers breathtaking views amidst the changing leaves. A leisurely boat ride on the lake is also a great way to enjoy the reflecting pool of vibrant California fall colors. From relaxing on the shore to climbing challenging peaks, there is something for every autumn lover to enjoy.
|Travel tip: Don’t miss Oktoberfest, a favorite autumn event.|