North America

18 great California fall trips

It's a perfect time to explore the coast towns, tasting rooms, foodie havens, and natural wonders, so here are Sunset's favorite California fall trips.  

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Monterey's Wine Trail

The harvest is on at under-the-radar vineyards tucked against the mountains south of Salinas.

Follow Monterey Country's Wine Trail to the 20 or so wineries along River Road. Along the way, pick up organic broccoli and tomatoes at the Farm, stop for a lunch with a view, and even visit a ranch where lions and lynxes roam.

Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau

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SoCal's Anza-Borrego Desert

Most people visit Anza-Borrego in the spring when desert wildflowers blossom, but fall is an experience unlike any other. Think constellations, fall’s cool evening air, and moonrises over the badlands.

The night sky covering this desert 90 miles from San Diego is perfect for star gazing all by your lonesome, or book an adventure tour to share s'mores over a campfire with friends or family.

Dave Lauridsen/Sunset

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Santa Ana Artists Village

Artists started moving into the landmark Santora Building about 15 years ago, and the Village has since grown into a funky fusion of galleries, artist studios, folk art shops, and some seriously good (and cheap) eats.

The Artists Village’s 40-plus galleries open their doors along the Second Street Promenade for the First Saturday Art Walk. Peek inside local design workshops as you stroll through Santa Ana's changing fall leaves.

Gina Sabatella/Sunset

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Roam through Ukiah's redwoods

Mendocino County's largest city is best known for its soothing, small-town feel. And autumn explodes with foliage that rivals Vermont’s.

Spending the morning hiking through Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, then soak the afternoon away in a mineral bath at Vichy Springs Resort.

Thomas J. Story/Sunset

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Eastern Sierra fall colors

Autumn's chill in the air offers the perfect excuse to explore Eastern Sierra's hot springs, where you'll be sure to warm up in no time.

Thomas J. Story/Sunset

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Gold Country autumn

In the folded foothills of the Sierra Nevada, California's Gold Country, autumn lingers long into October, offering blue skies, tawny hills, and grapevines tinged fierce red

Good new restaurants are popping up in unexpected places. Even more strikingly, an influx of creative new winemakers has made the Gold Country one of the most fascinating wine regions in the West.

Brown Cannon III/Sunset

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Catch the golden season at Yosemite

Quiet hikes and lazy picnics are yours for the taking in autumn. Before winter comes, take a long weekend to see the best of what the park has to offer.

Three days are a perfect chunk of time to explore the park's three main areas: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, and Wawona. Plan to stay in the valley―it's central to everything, and reservations are easier to come by at this time of year.

David Zaitz/Sunset

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Fall under the Sonoma Coast spell

The rugged stretch of land that runs along Sonoma County's coast inspires grand passions. From the pocket coves of Bodega Bay and windswept bluffs of Sea Ranch to inland pine-covered peaks and ocean-carved sea stacks, the area is marked by layers of fog, gulls, sweetgrass, and wildness.

It's a place where you can tidepool for hours in precious solitude or ride thrilling, frigid waves; a place where delicious wine and cheese are made carefully, lovingly, by hand.

David Fenton

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Laguna Beach in the off-season

Now that summer crowds have cleared out of this coastal town 50 miles south of L.A., it’s time for a romantic fall getaway.

Here's how to get there, 3 romantic stays, where to eat, and what to do.

Gina Sabatella/Sunset

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Taste your way through Anderson Valley

For farm-fresh food and sublime wine, spend an autumn weekend in California's least known, most beautiful wine country.

Emily Nathan/Sunset

18 great California fall trips

It's a perfect time to explore the coast towns, tasting rooms, foodie havens, and natural wonders, so here are Sunset's favorite California fall trips.  

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