Southern California may not experience the changing of seasons like much of the rest of the country, but we do still have quite a few locations where you can find fall foliage AND we have a few of our own autumn traditions to look forward to each year as well! Below are just a few destinations that we love to visit during fall in SoCal.
Kicking it off at number 1, Idyllwild Pine-Cove! Idyllwild is small town in Riverside County in the heart of the San Jacinto Mountains. This magical little getaway destination is only about an hour from the Palm Springs area and yet at least 25 degrees cooler. And, the area boasts vibrant warm colors in November and is a winter wonderland come December! If you’re looking to get your fix of fall foliage, a cabin retreat to Idyllwild is the perfect escape.
I may be biased living here but, the Palm Springs area in and of its self is also an ideal location to visit during fall! Temperatures slowly drop from the rough triple digits of summer into perfect sunny and 75 weather during the day with wonderful chilly nights. One of the best fall activities to do around Palm Springs come mid-October is to hit the trails! The Coachella Valley is home over 100 different trails ranging from easy strolls to very hard and strenuous accents. From hiking up at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to finding water down in a palm oasis at Indian Canyons to trekking through slot canyons at the Indio Hills Badlands or Ladder Canyon, there are endless hikes to explore during fall.
Located just outside of the Palm Springs area, in the Hi-Desert region lies Joshua Tree National Park. The ideal time to visit Joshua Tree is, yep you guessed it, fall! With the limited cell service and a chill, desert atmosphere, Joshua Tree is a great place to disconnect from day-to-day life for a bit. Glamping or staying in unique airbnbs are a very popular way to experience the area. We love to make day trips and drive through the park or sit by a nice bon fire while camping just outside of the park at the Joshua Tree dry lake bed (free dispersed camping). Bouldering and rocking climbing are also huge recreational activities to do come autumn here that we’d love to try some day! Entering the park costs $30 for a 7-day pass and camping spots inside are limited, either first come, first serve or reserved/booked 6 months in advance.
As I mentioned in the beginning, many Southern Californians have their own fall traditions and off-roading is definitely one of them. Come mid-October, as the weather cools off, we enter into what many like to call “riding season”. A great place to disconnect, hit the dirt trails and enjoy riding season is in Ocotilllo. The area is an unincorporated area within the San Diego County, 3 miles west of Imperial County line, near Borrego Springs. Many like to dry tent camp or bring RV’s or trailers out with generators.
Another great place to find fall foliage is in a little town in the San Bernardino Mountains called Oak Glen. At 4000-5000ft above sea level, the area experiences all four seasons. Oak Glen is most famous for its apple orchards where visitors can pick fresh apples in September and enjoy freshly baked apple cinnamon donuts with fresh hot apple cider year-round.
These are just 5 of our favorite destinations to visit in Southern California during fall but there are many other places to visit and things to do during this time of year. Also consider checking out Big Bear, Wrightwood and Lake Arrowhead for more autumn fun!
Happy fall and as always, travel on my friends!