7 Magical NorCal Spots to See the Fall Foliage

November 10, 2020

As the landscape turns golden with the changing leaves, there’s no better place to enjoy the thick of autumn than from our beautiful corner of Northern California. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the best spots to escape to near the Bay Area, ranging from short day trips to longer camping tours.

1. The Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park

Image: Tourism Media

The beauty of living in San Francisco is that you don’t need to go far to find seasonal beauty. Without stepping a foot outside of the city, enter our local oasis of sweeping ginkgo trees and vine maples among Golden Gate Park’s botanicals. With plenty of walking trails and viewing decks to snap photos from, there’s nothing more photogenic than the splashes of color of the Japanese Tea Garden.

2. Rancho San Antonio Nature Preserve

Less than an hour away in South Bay is the Rancho San Antonio Nature Preserve, home to a stunning array of maples, oaks, and flowering persimmon trees. Open from half an hour before dawn to half an hour after dusk, the preserve has plenty of self-guided tours for taking in the area’s woodland splendor. Stop by the quaint ranch of Deer Hollow Farm on your way to experience a classic animal farm of piglets, sheep, goats, chickens, and cows.

3. Marin County

Image: Weekend Sherpa

Samuel P. Taylor State Park is also just one hour away north of the city, yet the symphony of honeyed leaves against timeless evergreen that awaits you may make it seem like it’s a whole different world. This spot is for those who enjoy a mix of perennial forestry along with a spice of color. Hike or bicycle through Cross Marin Trail along Lagunitas Creek to experience that satisfying crunch of leaves among crisp autumn air.

4. Nevada City

The enchanting crimsons and golds of Nevada City are currently at their peak, according to the California Fall Color Report. Around 2.5 hours away from San Francisco, Nevada City is one of the handfuls of delightfully charming Gold Rush towns. When you pay a visit, there are plenty of routes to take that are already highlighted by the city’s chamber of commerce, including the Victorian California Fall Colors Tour, a popular self-guided tour that weaves captivated travelers through the Maple, Ash, Birch trees that decorate the historic districts of the town. There are plenty of quaint cottages to stay the night at or simply drive through the town on your driving tour of the Grass Valley area. 

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