With its dazzling display of autumn foliage, bountiful harvests and seasonal festivals, California comes to life in a unique way in autumn.
The season offers the perfect opportunity to venture away from the coast and explore lesser-known destinations in the heart of the Golden State. From award-winning vineyards to scorching deserts, discover the ultimate California road trip itinerary.
Days 1-2: Tri-Valley
Start your road trip just outside of San Francisco in the Tri-Valley, is one of California’s viticultural, culinary and outdoorsy gems. Home to award-winning wineries, delightfully-diverse restaurants, charming downtowns and unspoiled hiking trails, the Tri-Valley offers sunshine, idyllic countryside and year-round California charm. Harvest time is popular in Tri-Valley’s Livermore, one of California’s best-kept secrets, as one of the oldest wine regions in the US has 55 wineries to choose from. Sample some of the best vintages at the Harvest Festival (25-27 October) or follow the Tri-Valley wine trail to see the best of what the region has to offer. visittrivalley.com
Days 3-4: Sacramento
From there, head north to Sacramento, California’s bustling capital. With warm but refreshing temperatures, Sacramento welcomes outdoor adventure, from cycling to Folsom Lake to water sports on the American River. October is the time for wine harvest in the region, and with the Sacramento Valley home to 13 AVA’s, there’s plenty of opportunities to experience the event. Taking place at the scenic foothills of Amador Wine County, Big Crush Harvest Festival is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, with creative food and wine pairings, live music and harvest activities. visitsacramento.com
Days 5: Yosemite’s Tuolumne County
Journey south to see the Old West of legend at Yosemite’s Tuolumne County. The region’s Gold Country is rich and alive with thriving historic towns like Jamestown, Sonora and Columbia that bring the gold rush to life. Take a Halloween-themed ride on the ‘Movie Star locomotive’, which has appeared in more motion pictures, documentaries and television productions than any other locomotive.
Train ride guests are encouraged to get in the spirit and dress up according to these weekly rides. visittuolumne.com
Day 6: Yosemite Mariposa County
Swing east to head toward America’s favourite park. Minimal traffic, milder temperatures, and gorgeous golden hues make autumn one of the best times to visit Yosemite Mariposa County. From swaying aspen trees to dogwood and black cottonwoods, Yosemite’s trees and shrubs offer an explosion of colour all over the park and surrounding forests. Cooler temperatures make hiking and rock-climbing more comfortable than in mid-summer and hotel rates plummet following peak season. Snuggle up by the fire pit for Fireside Storytelling and listen to local folklore or tuck into a Thanksgiving meal and indulge in the most delicious American tradition. yosemite.com