You can experience Fall in California, believe it or not — you just need to know where to look. These road trips will take you to the prettiest, leafiest places in a state where perhaps you might not think you could find the perfect autumn...but you would be wrong.
Address: 4 hours 47 minutes outside of Los Angeles via CA-99 N
Why You Need To Go: At absolutely all times of the year, Yosemite National Park is a picturesque wilderness filled with huge sequoia trees, pretty waterfalls, and tall glaciers, but during the fall, the leaves transform it into an autumnal wonderland. Visit the lovely Mirror Lake for views of the Half Dome, the most well-known rock formation of the park, and visit Yosemite Falls, the largest waterfall in North America.
Address: 5 hours 37 minutes outside of Los Angeles via US-395 N
Why You Need To Go: June Lake Loop is located in Mono County in the southernmost basin and, during the fall, it's where you'll see some of the orangest leaves of your life. Kayak the lake to be surrounded by trees, and stay at one of the many Airbnbs located right on the lake.
Address: 3 hours 22 minutes from Los Angeles via I-5 S
Why You Need To Go: A road trip to Julian is a road trip into the past, in the best possible way. This town is located in the Cuyamaca Mountains and allows you to time travel back to the autumn of 1870, amidst the California gold rush. Have some of their famous apple pie, hike the trails and look at the fall leaves, and let the historic buildings take you back in time.
Big Bear Lake
Address: 2 hours 26 minutes outside of Los Angeles via I-10 E
Why You Need To Go: Big Bear Lake is, perhaps, the big boss of the California Fall road trips. It's the perfect place for hiking, with many trails to choose from, and many Airbnbs to stay at, scattered about the mountain. Pack for cool weather at night, and get ready to sit around that campfire — after watching the sunset at the lake, of course.
Address: 5 hours 20 minutes outside of Los Angeles via I-5 N and US-101 N
Why You Need To Go: If you'd like a more coastal kind of Fall, head north up California's serene Central Coast to Monterey. It's not your typical autumn, though — it's a little warmer than that. The fog leaves Monterey in October, and it stays around 70 degrees. While you're there, stop by the historic Fisherman's Wharf and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Address: 7 hours 56 minutes outside of Los Angeles via US-395 N
Why You Need To Go: Fall foliage combined with the blue cobalt of Lake Tahoe just might be the perfect combination for an autumnal California road trip. The Hope Valley area features some of the prettiest leaf-peeping opportunities. Plus, the lake water actually warms up a bit during the fall season, so you can go swimming during the day and cuddle up in a blanket and look at the forest at night.