Northern California’s temperate weather provides a comfortable spectrum of seasons, and the crisp, early days of autumn are a true delight. Here, we highlight eight places in and around Northern California that capture this colorful time of year. 

Napa Valley - Get a hands-on harvest experience this fall at Napa Valley’s numerous seasonal celebrations. Through October, many local wineries offer grape stomping events, harvest parties and special fêtes to honor new wine releases. Autumn is also an ideal time to bike ride through the vineyards or play a round of gold amidst the change leaves. 

Highway 395 - Hop onto scenic Highway 395 out to Mono County, located about 250 miles east of San Francisco. While the route itself is popular for its unique detours (think ghost towns and ancient pine forests), Mono County offers cool attractions too, from its vibrant aspen trees and scenic hikes to its unusual natural sites—like the oddly beautiful Mono Lake and the 60-foot tall Devil’s Postpile rock formation—this whole area is a fun fall getaway.

Lake Tahoe - While summer and winter are indisputably busy at Lake Tahoe, autumn offers a slightly mellower vibe. Take on all the area’s amazing activities—kayaking, hiking, biking and boating—without the seasonal crowds. 

Gold Country - Set in the foothills of the Sierras, Gold Country is brimming with natural beauty and history. Pan for gold, take a scenic bike ride in the crisp autumn air or brave the river rapids. While prospectors once flocked to this region to strike gold, today the area’s finest treasure can be found in the fall foliage along Highway 49.

Yosemite National Park - Escape to Yosemite Valley to see some truly incredible color changes. Located about 170 miles east of San Francisco, Yosemite boasts groves of deciduous trees, many of which can be easily accessed from the park’s main road. Keep an eye out for bracken ferns, black cottonwood trees, bigleaf maples and dogwoods—all of which change their shade when the temperature cools.  

Bishop Creek Canyon - The Bishop area, two hours south of Yosemite and about 450 miles east of San Francisco, offers a magnificent mix of fall foliage. Stop by Owens Valley to glimpse cottonwoods and aspen trees, or catch the colors at nearby Izaak Walton Park and Millpond Recreation Area.

Hope Valley at Carson Pass - A much beloved destination for fly fishermen, photographers and hikers, Hope Valley is perched at 7,000 feet just 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe. Plan to set out on the Crater Lake or Scotts Lake hiking trails, or bring along fishing equipment and try to net some rainbow trout.  

San Francisco Botanical Gardens - Sprawled over 55 acres in Golden Gate Park, this urban garden is bursting with autumnal charm. Among its nearly 9,000 different kinds of plants from around the world, be sure to glimpse the golden gingko trees, the purple-red dogwoods and the Japanese maples.