Fall in California is whatever you want to make of it—feeling like chasing fall foliage? Please do it. Are you looking to visit less crowded National Parks? Now’s your chance! Are you tired of being in the city and wanting to hit the desert? It’s finally cool enough. Or, maybe you ultimately want to see the coast without all the fog. Fall in California is a perfect time to do all of this. Inside we’ll dive into the best places to visit in California in November and fall!
It’s what makes the state so dang beautiful. But where to go during fall in California can seem overwhelming with many stunning options. That’s why we’re here today, to help consolidate your choices – though this is by no means a final or exclusive list. This could go on and on longer than most encyclopedias.
Best places to visit in California in November
Fall in California – Where to go
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Located just outside Santa Cruz, this stunning cluster of Redwoods is beautiful and a much easier and more accessible drive than heading to northern California. The state park shouldn’t take more than four hours, but it’s a tremendous area to explore. Cap it off with a sunset at Shark Fin cove for the perfect outing.
Death Valley National Park
It’s finally cool enough to venture into Death Valley without feeling like you’ll evaporate the second you step out of your car. While there’s not a lot (or any) fall foliage, DV is a beautiful area to spend some time with cooler weather. Go enjoy the sand dunes, salt flats, and all the picturesque locations that make this place one of America’s less talked about gems. I’m hard-pressed to say that this is the top of the best places to visit in California in November.
Yosemite National Park
No introductions are needed for Yosemite, but in the fall, the crowds are gone, and you’ll have some tranquility while hiking and enjoying the views of granite. Just remember that with the shorter days and high canyon walls, direct sunlight is shorter, making the mornings and evenings much cooler than expected. Even so, there are tons of hiking options.
Must Read: The best 10 state parks in the western USA
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
This is one of the hidden gems of Southern California and has formations and textures you may have never seen before. Just a couple of hours outside of San Diego, you’ll love experiencing this unique desert location.
I won’t lie. Santa Barbara is perfect year-round, but the tourists have left in the fall, and the morning fog subsides. With these two small yet essential factors, it’s the optimal time to visit as it’s still plenty warm to enjoy your time on the beach (though maybe not in the ocean). A lesser-known activity to do in the fall in California is whale watching, as all the whales are heading south for winter.
If you’re looking for classic fall foliage, this is your spot! Head up the 395 towards Bishop, and your heart will be content! I’ve never personally been, but seeing photos and hearing stories, this is a goldmine for stunning views and pictures. Of the best places to visit in California in November; keep an eye on the weather forecast and make sure you don’t get caught in a winter storm.
Joshua Tree National Park
Another desert location that has opened its arms again now that triple-digit temperatures are in the rearview mirror. If you love cacti, bouldering, hiking, and a night sky filled with more stars than you’ve ever seen, this is your place!
What is fall in California without a trip to Big Sur? Come enjoy one of America’s most outstanding coastlines without the ever-present fog that persists during summer. Make sure to check out Garrapata State Park and Keyhole Arch. If you’re looking for a more extended stay, head into Monterey and hop on a whale-watching trip to have your mind blown!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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