Six Great Destinations For A Fall Road Trip From San Diego

The start of fall means it’s time for a road trip from San Diego to one of our amazing regional destinations where you can get some of those fall feels!

San Diego has the best weather in the world. Period. And fall is heaven in San Diego – sunshine, empty beaches, and perfect slightly-cooler temperatures.

But us locals…sometimes we need a break from perfection and want to dust off our sweaters! And what better way than a getaway filled with cool breezes, colorful leaves, and fall flavors? Luckily, Southern California is home to a wide range of climates and the comforts of the season aren’t ever far away.

Here are six day-trip destinations – when you’re feeling like a road trip from San Diego – where you can get your autumn fix before returning to the land of eternal summer.

Apple Picking and Pie in Julian

Just an hour away from San Diego, Julian transports visitors to a simpler way of life. This small mountain town consists of just a handful of blocks filled with old-fashioned country stores and restaurants that serve hearty, home-cooked meals.

While Julian is the perfect escape from the busy city any time of year, it’s especially fitting to visit during the autumn months. The end of August marks the start of apple picking season and the city hosts several festivals in the fall months.

Of course, no trip is complete without a slice of pie. Try caramel apple with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at Julian Pie Company; you won’t be disappointed!

Fall Colors and Oktoberfest Fun in Big Bear

If you’re looking for the feel of fall, look no further than Big Bear. Although it’s less than a three-hour drive from San Diego, Big Bear’s high altitude adds a refreshing chill to the autumn air. As early as the beginning of October, you can feel the transition and the leaves begin to change colors soon after.

Check out Big Bear’s Oktoberfest! It runs from mid-September until the end of October and is a family-friendly good time. During the day, there’s plenty of activities to keep kids entertained while festival-goers over the age of 21 can indulge in a pint or two (or three) of beer.

Big Bear also offers lots of hiking and mountain biking trails that allow you to get an up-close look at the colorful foliage.

Get an Aerial View of Palm Springs

While the desert landscape of Palm Springs, may not immediately jump to mind as the ideal spot to enjoy an autumn vacation, the fall months are some of the best times to visit. Gone are the scorching hot days of summer and visitors can finally enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors again.

If you crave fall-like weather, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of the mountain where temperatures are much cooler and snow can be found. The rotating tram car ascends 8,516 feet to the station at Mt. San Jacinto State Park, where passengers disembark to explore one of the many hiking trails, enjoy the views from the observation deck or indulge in a bite to eat at decadent Peaks Restaurant.

Star Gazing in the Autumn Air in Anza-Borrego

Less than two hours away from San Diego, Anza-Borrego State Park is 600,000 acres, making it the largest state park in California. Although the region is best known for its beautiful wildflower blooms in the spring, it’s also a great spot to visit in the fall.

Take advantage of the crisp autumn air and bundle up for an evening of stargazing. The remote location offers the perfect backdrop for checking out the constellations without the distracting glow of the city lights. Remember to bring warm clothes as the temperature drops quickly after the sun sets in the desert.

Beautiful Views at Palomar Mountain

At an elevation of more than 6,000 feet, Palomar Mountain offers visitors an amazing view of the surrounding area. Located only an hour and a half northeast of San Diego, this is an easy day trip for locals and visitors to our fair city.

Breathe in the brisk air and enjoy the scenery while visiting the state park. You’ll find numerous campgrounds and hiking trails to explore, each one unique. During the fall, enjoy the spectacular view of the many oak trees and their vibrantly colored leaves as they begin to change.

The mountaintop is also home to the world-famous Palomar Observatory. It houses three telescopes, including a 200-inch behemoth that was the world’s largest until 1992. Be sure to bring a sweater or a blanket if you plan to stargaze. Evening temperatures can dip into the 40s.

Fun Fall Festivities in Temecula


Photo Credits: Nata Instagram

Aficionados know that Temecula is the place to go in Southern California for incredible wine, and it’s especially charming during the autumn months – the vineyards’ harvest season.

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Temecula in fall, including grape stomps, pumpkin patches, hay rides, the CRUSH wine festival, and much more.

Plan your fall road trip!

Whether you seek the vibrant colors of fall, love seasonal events, or simply want to get away for a weekend, there’s something for everyone within a short drive on these road trips from San Diego.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next adventure today!

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