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The Best Fall Vacations for Families
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The Best Fall Vacations for Families

Pack up your hiking boots, don your cutest scarf, and grab a cup of pumpkin spice latte—time to make memories with the fam.

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5 min read

October 24, 2021

With hues of red, yellow, and orange replacing the green, it’s time to enjoy California at its finest—pun intended. Before the holiday season sets in, you’d better plan a quick fall vacation with the family to officially welcome the fall season.

Pack up your hiking boots, don your cutest scarf, and grab a cup of pumpkin spice latte—are you ready to create golden memories on the best fall vacations for families? We know we are. 

The Best Fall Vacations in Northern California

Mendocino is a magical place no matter what time of year you visit. But if you visit during the fall, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

Mendocino

California is considered one of the best states to visit in the fall, all thanks to cities like Mendocino. Autumn in this NorCal city is postcard-perfect—dry leaves cover every corner of the town, the crisp fall air invigorates you, and the sunsets become even more vibrant. Many events are held here during this season like the grape harvest and the Mendocino Mushroom Haul; there’s no way you’re missing out on the fun. 

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We know you’ll never run out of things to do in Mendocino on your next vacation, and we’re here to prove that statement. Hike to the Russian Gulch Waterfall, go apple picking with your kids, and explore the gorgeous Glass Beach in all its glory. Whatever you end up doing, don’t forget to take a lot of photos on your Northern California vacation

Autumn foliage arrives at the Tahoe region and Eastern Sierra towards the end of September and peaks in October.

Tahoe City

Those who don't know any better would say that summer is the best time to visit Tahoe, but we’ll go ahead and disagree. Fall in Tahoe is just perfect—the crowds are gone, ski resorts start to open, and delicious food awaits you and your family. 

If you thought that going to Lake Tahoe means engaging in only water-related activities, think again. Considered one of the best mountain vacations to take near San Francisco, Tahoe allows you to enjoy the beauty of the season with unmatched orange vistas. Go on a hike through the aspen forests, cycle on the Flume Trail, and go horseback riding by the lake. Don’t forget to thank us when your kids say this is the best fall vacation you’ve ever taken them to.

Fall in Napa Valley is one of the most exciting times of year to visit. Harvest season in the wine region spans from August to October.

Napa

Fall is harvest season, so Napa is probably going to be packed with tourists. But the good news is that most people leave by the end of October, and that’s when you’ll enjoy Wine Country at its finest. And in case your kids think that Wine Country is going to be an adult-only holiday, they’ll be happy to know that there’s a lot to see and do in Napa sans vino.

Take the family on an early morning hot air balloon ride to fully enjoy the fall colors of Northern California from a bird’s eye view. Hike the trails at the breathtaking Skyline Wilderness Park to immerse yourselves in golden foliage. Whatever your choice of activity is, you won’t believe how much fun you’re going to have during this fall vacation.

In San Francisco, the warmer weather comes in the fall. That means fall is the best season to visit the city in terms of climate.

San Francisco

Did you know that the best time to visit San Francisco is in the fall? It’s hard to imagine S.F. without the lingering mist, but autumn is when Karl the Fog takes a break. This is when you plan an oceanside picnic with the family—our top pick is China Beach because the views are unbeatable. 

But what’s even better than enjoying the Bay Area beaches is checking out the city views from Twin Peaks or the crooked Lombard Street. By the end of your getaway, you’ll leave your heart in San Francisco, but you know you’ll return soon. 

The Best Places To Travel in the Fall in Southern California

Since 1936, Solvang has celebrated Danish folk traditions at its annual "Danish Days" event, usually held during the third weekend in September.

Solvang

When it comes to fall vacation ideas, Solvang is always a winner. Everything about this charming Danish town screams fall—and winter, and summer, and spring for that matter. And if you’re thinking: “What are the kids supposed to do here? It’s just a small town.” We got you. 

Several festivals take place in Solvang during autumn, Danish Days and Scarecrow Fest being the coolest. But if you don’t manage to plan your vacation then, don’t fret—there’s a lot of fun things to do in this town. Try the iconic Danish pastry aebleskiver, check out the quaint downtown district, and feed the town's favorite pets at Ostrichland. Have an international travel experience inside the borders of the Golden State and you’ll leave with lots of stories to tell.

While Oak Glen mainly grew apples for export, several farms began to sell apples, apple pies, cider, and butter at roadside stands in the 1940s.

Oak Glen

Drive 80 miles inland from Los Angeles and you’ll arrive at Oak Glen has, where summers are cool and winters are dusted with snow. As for the fall? It’s pumpkin spice season, and there’s no better place to spend than here. With the leaves shedding their green hues, the vistas transform into golden beauties that it’s sometimes hard to believe this is Southern California. 

California has Gold Country, Wine Country, and then there’s Apple Country—what is autumn if you’re not going apple picking? Oak Glen boasts an abundance of orchards and apple picking opportunities such as Willowbrook Apple Farm and Parrish Pioneer Ranch. With serene country backroads abound, this peaceful hideaway is one of the best places to travel in the fall and the most scenic spot to view stunning fall foliage in Southern California

Once a bustling gold mining town, Julian’s mines eventually dried up, but a new treasure had already been taking hold—apples.

Julian

Another apple-picking hotspot in SoCal is none other than Julian. People head to this town every fall to participate in the harvest. Julian has even been called the “greatest apple belt in the world”—that says a lot about the quality of the fruit here. Whenever you visit the apple-picking farms in this SoCal town, make sure to try the local apple pies, jams, and cider.

And of course, there’s more to Julian than just apple picking. Once you’re done taking photos at the orchards, head to downtown to tour the streets and explore the hidden gems—every corner of this town tells a story. Check out the Eagle and High Peak Mine for a little history lesson on your vacation before making your way to Lake Cuyamaca for waterside fun—this just might be the best fall road trip of your lives.

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