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The Best Fall Vacations To Plan This Year
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The Best Fall Vacations To Plan This Year

From Big Bear to Death Valley, we got you. All you have to do is hit the road and get there; these fall vacation ideas are the real deal.

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6 min read

October 12, 2021

Take advantage of the beautiful foliage and cooler temperatures and gather your crew for a fall trip of a lifetime—’tis finally the season! The Golden State’s most beautiful locales are enveloped in hues of orange, burgundy, and yellow, bringing forth a new sense of tranquility and relaxation you won’t want to miss out on. We’ve rounded up the best fall vacations in California and all you have to do is hit the road and get there; these fall vacation ideas are the real deal.

Fall Getaways in Southern California

From mid-October through November, Big Bear Lake is awash in a sea of crimson, amber, and yellow fall colors.

Big Bear

A mountainous retreat is a quintessential turn-of-the-season experience. Pack for a fall weekend getaway and make Big Bear your destination of choice for a magical escape in SoCal that’s not too far from L.A. At an elevation of 6,752 feet above sea level, Big Bear will greet you with cool and crisp autumn air and soon-to-be-snow-covered grounds.

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Spend your days biking and hiking through dense oak and pine, set up camp around the lake, and fish for your dinner as the sun sets over the lake—the sky transforming into a crimson red shade and matching the foliage is a sight you won’t forget any time soon. If Big Bear isn’t a dream fall getaway, we don’t know what is.

Lake Arrowhead is a great spot to visit any time of year. Autumn, however, offers stunning views of the best fall foliage.

Lake Arrowhead

While we’re on the topic of picturesque lakes, another incredible place where you can rent a fall cabin is none other than Lake Arrowhead. Referred to as “The Alps of Southern California,” this charming town is located within the magnificent mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest. 

The comfortable yet outdoorsy environment makes Lake Arrowhead one of the best fall getaway destinations in Southern California. You’ll find a great plethora of activities to enjoy, as well as stunning wildlife, natural stillness, and picturesque scenery, which becomes extra breathtaking during the autumn months.

Autumn arrives in late October in Death Valley, with warm but pleasant temperatures and generally clear skies. The camping season begins in fall here.

Death Valley

The dramatic landscapes, rolling dunes, salt flats, and rugged badlands of Death Valley are best visited during the temperate fall months. A can’t-miss national park in Southern California, the hottest, lowest, and driest point in the country unexpectedly makes for one of the best fall trips ever.

Try new activities like sandboarding, off-road camping, and go on mesmerizing hikes through the canyons and creeks. While you’ll have plenty of adventures to enjoy during the day, nighttime is when Death Valley shines brightest. You'll wrap up every day of your fall trip by seeing the most stellar night skies of your life and falling in love with the desert more deeply than you possibly thought.

A fall trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offers something else: history, stargazing, pictographs, even the hope of seeing a rare bighorn sheep.

Anza Borrego State Park

Anza Borrego State Park is one of the best fall vacations in California for more than one reason. Incredible hikes, crimson sunsets, rich flora and fauna, amazing camping, and starlit nights await on a fall getaway, and we’re very excited for you.

Enjoy biking along the park’s 500 miles of arid desert landscapes, traversing the paths that connect to the famous Pacific Crest Trail, and picnicking streamside while surrounded by gorgeous sceneries. How can a fall getaway get any better than this?

The Best Fall Trips in Northern California

With autumn’s foliage in full effect and great deals on lodging, Wine Country is even better to visit off-season.

Wine Country

Wine Country is one of the best places in Northern California to feel the fall season in full swing. The entire region is basically one scenic drive after the other, so start your engines, take the scenic backroads, and watch the leaves shine in hues of glistening gold and cardinal red. 

Check out our itinerary to fill your fall weekend getaway with top sights and revel in the mystical autumnal spirit. You’ll enjoy hiking and biking trails, relaxing spa days, historical stops, and uber delicious treats. If you coordinate your fall trip to visit in early November, you might be able to partake in the Napa Valley Film Festival, which is all about celebrating film and food—talk about an awesome fall vacation idea.

Fall color comes to Lake Tahoe and Eastern Sierra foliage starting toward the end of September and peaking in October.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is beautiful to visit any time of year, but once you go during the autumn months, you’ll understand why we consider it one of the best fall getaways.

From year-round mountain landscapes to seasonal water activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on a fall trip to Lake Tahoe. Head to Emerald Bay to see exquisite views of towering trees and granite cliffs, take a boat trip to Fannette Island, and hike the famous Tahoe Rim Trail. Don’t forget to check out the charming small towns nearby—you’ll come across the coolest coffee shops!

From glistening lakes to scenic drives, the Shasta Cascade provides something for everyone to discover and enjoy.

Shasta Cascade

Are you interested in seeing and touching the fall colors along beautiful hiking trails? The Shasta Cascade is where you need to go. Boasting endless miles of rugged mountain terrain, lush forests, glistening alpine lakes, and rushing rivers, the Shasta Cascade envelopes you in an air of mysterious beauty you won’t find on any other fall weekend getaway.

The fiery red and warm orange leaves follow you as you explore hiking trails, hidden campgrounds, historic caverns, and other enviable locales. Everything about this NorCal getaway screams cozy autumn vibes, and if we were you, we would be booking a cool Shasta Airbnb to head on the best fall vacation right away.

When you go to Yosemite National Park in the fall, you're likely to have mild weather, making autumn one of the nicest times to visit.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park draws the most crowds in spring and summer, but if you want to avoid that, you'll enjoy it much more during fall. The untamed wilderness, geological wonders, hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, and giant sequoias look even more beautiful in autumn.

Drive through the underrated towns nearby, enjoy the plethora of recreational activities available, and find yourself getting mesmerized by beautiful nature at every turn. With plenty of awesome campsites to spend the night, Yosemite is easily one of the best fall trips for those who thrive in the outdoors.

Colorful fall leaves, vineyard harvests, ripe apple orchards, and crisp starry night skies make autumn in Mendocino the best time to visit.

Mendocino

How can a list of fall getaways in California be complete without a cozy beach retreat like Mendocino? That’s right, it can’t—you’d be missing out big-time. Leave the bathing suits at home but get ready to lounge seaside at one of the most enchanting coastal towns in Northern California. You’ll be surrounded by gorgeous wildflower fields, dense forests, charming cottages, and a picture-perfect lighthouse tying the scene together.

Take in the coastal vistas, go on a whale watching tour, explore the great outdoors, and get to know the vibrant artists’ community that call Mendocino home—you’re in for one of the best fall vacations and a journey of a lifetime on California's North Coast.

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