If you like drizzle, flu season, and thermal underwear-chafing against a backdrop of changing leaves, then by all means, rush off to New England this autumn. But if you like the idea of immersing yourself in a sunnier version of the harvest season for only a day here and there, head to Southern California instead. Fall day trips from Los Angeles are a great way to enrich an LA-centric vacation.
While this might not be the showiest best place to see fall on display, it does have a cornucopia of autumn attractions to offer. From apple cider to pumpkin festivals to Fall wines, some of the best parts of autumn are only a short drive north, south or east of Los Angeles.
Oak Glen Apple Farms
About an hour and a half away from L.A. in Oak Glen, California, Oak Glen Apple Farms is set a mile above sea level, transporting you to a cooler climate and a more laid back farming lifestyle that could easily be called the New England of Southern California. This is a community of apple farms, dating back before 1888, with each farm specializing in different types of apple varieties ciders, pies, cakes, burritos, wines, donuts and tarts; I’m not sure there is a food they haven’t tried to better by stuffing it with their local apples! Head out early in the day so you get prime picking weather, then stay until the sun sets to see the golden rays bounce off the changing leaves.
Start Saturday morning off early, with a quick two-hour drive Southeast to Temecula Wine Country. With over 30 wineries in the area, you could easily spend several days on a self guided wine tour sampling all the bold wines this region has to offer. Fall is an especially great time to visit with two fantastic festivals to quench your thirst for the season, the Harvest Barrel Tasting Festival and the Peltzer Farm Pumpkin Festival.
The Harvest Barrel Tasting Festival is the first weekend of November and is the perfect time to wander around the gold and deep purple vineyards, try new harvest wines yet to be sold to the public and sample local foods. If you have kids, consider stopping by the Peltzer Farm Pumpkin Festival with a giant pumpkin contest, free train rides, and a petting zoo.
Calabasas Pumpkin Festival
Heading north on the 101, this East Coast-inspired festival is is your go-to event for all things pumpkin. There’s a professional pumpkin carver on site, pumpkin pie eating contests, pumpkin seed spitting contests, a pumpkin patch and (my personal favorite) pumpkin bowling. Oh, and they have pumpkin beer. Enough said.
Considering we have almost two more months of fall in Los Angeles, it could be easy to experience all these day trips. So, get on out of the city and detox from your low-carb diet with a slice of pumpkin bread chased down with apple wine. I can guarantee these will be autumn days you’ll remember long after the Santa Ana winds have died down.