Five California Getaways Perfect for Fall
Summer vacay is great and all, but there’s nothing better than getting out of town in search of crisp autumn air and amber hued leaves. Not sure where to weekend? We’re breaking down our favorite fall getaways and what to do, where to eat, and what to see when you get there. All you have to do is put in that PTO and hit the road.
What we love about it: Southeast of the Coachella Valley in the San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild is a short trip up a back road out of Palm Springs. Perfect for getting out of the city and a great quick weekend road trip. There’s tons of hiking, a small and quirky downtown, and loads of peace and quiet.
Where to eat: Grab some fancy Italian and enjoy the outdoor pizza oven on the patio at Ferro, brunch at the Gastrognome, and grab a cup of coffee at Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew.
What to do: Check out the area’s hiking trails and get there early to beat the crowds. Enjoy drinks on the outdoor patio or share a round of pool with the locals at IDYology. Walk around town and snap a photo with Mayor Max - a golden retriever.
Where to stay: If you aren’t camping somewhere in Mount San Jacinto State Park or the beginner-friendly Idyllwild Park, cozy up in a themed cabin at the new Hicksville Pines Bud & Breakfast - a sister property to Joshua Tree’s Hicksville Trailer Palace. Book the famous Room #420 for a black-lit, smoking-encouraged experience, or snag a cabin with a private hot tub on your deck. There’s also a rec room and a delicious breakfast for guests in the morning. Looking for something a bit fancier? Check out the Grand Idyllwild Lodge.
Why we love it: A quick 90-minute trip from LA, just east of Santa Barbara, Ojai is truly a spiritual getaway. With lots of hiking, quiet spaces, and spiritual retreats, it’s been a long-time sanctuary for artists – they’ve even outlawed chain stores and restaurants. Summer days can reach up to 100º, so fall is the best time to visit.
Where to eat: Sit on the patio at Lodge Bread Co. with a cup of cold brew and some amazing avocado toast. If you’re in town on a Sunday morning, browse the local produce at the Ojai Farmer’s Market. For dinner, we love the outdoor patio at Osteria Monte Grappa.
What to do: Ojai has a ton of great hikes for all skill levels in the Los Padres National Forest, and the lower temps of fall make for perfect weather conditions. Grab a glass of wine (or two) at Chief’s Peak Beer & Wine Bar, or check out Topa Topa Brewing Company for a locally-brewed IPA. Shop vintage and locally-made home goods at Summer Camp, enjoy a glass of wine and charcuterie at our favorite hidden gem, Tipple & Ramble, or get lost in a book at the independently-owned outdoor bookstore, Bart’s Books.
Where to stay: We love the rustic vibes and jacuzzi rooms of the Ojai Rancho Inn. Grab one of their free Linus bicycles to cruise a couple of short blocks to downtown Ojai, or head to the Chief’s Peak Beer & Wine Bar that’s within stumbling distance from your room. Looking for something not-so-rustic? Check out the Ojai Valley Inn.
Valle De Guadalupe
Why we love it: Just south of San Diego, Baja has become a can’t-miss food and drink destination drawing crowds like never before. Valle de Guadalupe, also known as the “Napa Valley of Mexico,” is where 80% of Mexican wine is produced - that and the food alone are worth the trip.
Where to eat: Make time for must-have breakfast spot, La Cocina de Doña Esthela. Each breakfast is served with house-made flour and corn tortillas and the most delicious crumbly farmer’s cheese. For a full farm-to-table experience, stop for lunch and wine tastings at Fauna Restaurant or opt for a breathtaking ocean view and tapas at Bar Bura at Cuatrocuatros (or both - we’re not judging).
What to do: Spend the day wine tasting and lunching at some amazing wineries, like Bruma and Finca La Carrodilla. In the mood for adventure? Take an exciting zip line through the desert at Desert Nest and end your day by catching the sunset at the Oyster Bar at Encuentro.
Where to stay: Encuentro Guadalupe is a unique, upscale resort that’s tucked into nature with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide an unbeatable view of the valley. We also love the cool and modern rooms at the Maglén Resort. Moderately priced and ideally located, this resort is a great option for a quick weekend getaway.
Why we love it: A bit of a bigger trek but totally worth it, Big Sur is one of the most beautiful stops along Highway 1. From rocky coastlines to larger-than-life redwoods, this coastal city is the best of both worlds. And with the weather getting dicey in winter, fall is a great and much less crowded time to visit.
Where to eat: Fuel up for a big day of hiking and sightseeing by grabbing brunch at the bright and stylish Big Sur Roadhouse. Take a beer break at Big Sur Taphouse where you can cozy up and play a game of chess by the fire. For an over-the-top view of the Pacific and meal you’ll never forget, you’ll love a sunset dinner at Sierra Mar.
What to do: For an amazing view and gram-worthy photo, make a stop at Bixby Bridge, then head up to Garrapata State Park where you can hike either along the coastline or through the redwood groves. Just make sure you check for any possible closures as some trails are closed certain times of the year. And for a truly unforgettable experience, book a reservation for a 1 a.m. night bath at the Esalen Institute hot springs.
Where to stay: There’s nothing like sleeping under the stars surrounded by the giant redwoods that fill Big Sur Campground & Cabins, where you can reserve a campsite or a cute and rustic cabin. Want to go big? Book an ocean-view room and some spa treatments at Ventana Big Sur, a luxurious 5-star resort in the woods. Or meet in the middle with Treebones Resort where you can stay in your own yurt or sleep outside in the human nest (yes, it’s as cool as it sounds).
Why we love it: If you’re looking for an easy weekend of wine tasting, shopping, and artisanal eats, Los Olivos has got you covered. This tiny town off Highway 154 about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara offers a quiet place to unwind while you wine.
Where to eat: Wake up with a cup from local favorite Corner House Coffee. For lunch, a stop at Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe for organic, sustainable bites is a must. From artisan cheese boards to yummy flat breads, all their ingredients are seasonal and fresh. For dinner, make a reservation at The Bear and Star.
What to do: Wine tasting (and more wine tasting), shopping, and art galleries. Demetria Estate Winery, Fess Parker Winery, and The Bubble Shack are all excellent. And while we’re talking tastings, don’t miss out on Olive Hill Farm - the olive oil tastings are next level. Los Olivos General Store is a good stop for both shopping and art, and Gallery Los Olivos can have up to more than 40 local and regional showcased artists at a time.Where to stay: Fess Parker Inn is a charming inn that offers a full service spa, award winning restaurants, and wine tasting on-site, all in the heart of downtown Los Olivos. Or truly live like a local in a recently renovated AirBnB cottage in the heart of the city with views of lavender fields.
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