The 25 Best Weekend Trips on the West Coast This Fall
The 25 Best Weekend Trips on the West Coast This Fall
The West Coast boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. Beaches, vineyards, mountains and parks make the region irresistible for a long weekend getaway if you living within driving distance. Venture to an incredible weekend destination such as a charming village at the base of a mountain that is like a small nature paradise on Earth for hikers and people who love the outdoors.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
This is the season for a sweet weekend getaway to Bainbridge Islands, a short distance from Seattle/Tacoma area. Make sure you stop at the Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre woodlands garden open to the public. Maple trees are turning colors and the weather is comfortably cool. This is where you go in the Northwest if you want to witness vibrant fall hues that are just as beautiful as those in New England.
Taos, New Mexico
Bordered on three sides by the towering red peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the fall brings out the best in Taos. The city is positioned in a high desert valley and is one of the few places that retain its native culture, thriving art scene and connection to the great outdoors. Take the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway loop from Taos to Eagle Nest and Angel Fire for some of the best fall foliage in the region.
With national parks nearby and 60 glaciers a short drive away, Anchorage is a dream destination. The city glows with the golden hues of leaves every fall. The magical Northern Lights illuminating the sky is just a bonus. Anchorage's proximity to the incomparably beautiful six million acre Denali National Park also makes the city a preferred destination in the fall. It is home to some of the most stunning natural scenery anywhere.
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
The park is known for its tens of thousands of acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops. Hike along the many trails and you'll ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. Travel there in the fall when the crowds have left and the temperatures are bearable. The park also has several campsites so you can spend the night under the stars. RV sites with power and water hookups are available as well.
Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Tourists are beginning to go away in the fall. There are more than 55 lakes within easy driving distance, but none of them are more scenic and full of activities than Lake Coeur d'Alene itself. Witness the majestic sunsets and moonrises; see the glowing lights of downtown reflecting across its waters at night; hike the pine-forested hills near the 25-mile long lake. Go for the Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 21-22.
The Olympic Peninsula, Washington
The rugged coast of Washington, which includes the absolutely amazing Olympic National Park, gorgeous in the fall. Beaches in the park are empty and secluded in the fall, making them ideal for escaping the noise and chaos in the city. Popular attractions such as the Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Falls and Lake Crescent are tremendously beautiful in the autumn. Just remember to bring waterproof gear. Just in case.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
A two-hour northeast drive from San Diego will take you to California's largest state park: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs, encompassing more than 600,000 acres of land. Feel free to explore the park by hiking, biking, or going on a scenic drive. The park is famous for its wodlflowers in the spring, but falls is very nice here as well. Daytime highs are in the 70s, an ideal weather for hiking the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
West Glacier, Montana
West Glacier is your way into the Glacier National Park, so of course you're going to want to be there in the fall. Hiking, biking and cruising nearby Lake McDonald are favorite activities. Rugged mountains frame the town, so you're always looking at mountain splendor, which the fall's vibrant colors only make more beautiful.
Aspen is known for being one of the best ski resorts in the world. Snuggled between the Rockies, this charming small mountain town is a favorite fall destination as well. With summits higher than 14,000 feet, there is always something to see and explore. Festivals showing off art, wine and music are scheduled year-round. Take your family camping in the wilderness, or go ballooning and paragliding.
Mount Shasta, California
Northern California has the longest and most diverse fall color season of any region in the U.S., according to Visit Redding. The fall color reflected over Lake Shasta, surrounded by regal mountain tops that are peaking out in the distance is a breathtaking view you shouldn't miss if you're in the Golden State in the fall. Hike the peaks to see the most stunning panoramas.
The city set at the base of the San Francisco Peaks and bounded by national forests has an extensive array of outdoor activities. Mountain bikers, hikers and campers will find plenty to do. Leave rejuvenated after seeing the changing foliage up close. Access tons of mountain bike trails at Shultz Pass trailhead, take the Scenic Chairlift at Arizona Snowbowl, and explore the Oak Creek Canyon, which is perfect for hiking with the family or for a romantic drive.
Yosemite Valley, California
All areas of the park usually remain open through October, and sometimes into November, according to NPS. Most of the trees are evergreen but big-leaf maples, black oaks, Pacific dogwoods, and other deciduous trees tend to be showy around mid-October. The lack of foot traffic make it worth the trip even if you don't see many different hues. Yosemite Fall is truly awe-inspiring all year-round.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
September, October and November are great months to visit Grand Canyon, especially its most popular hike - the South Rim. Enjoy the milder weather and smaller groups of tourists. Hotel rates are cheaper as well. Make the most of seeing one of the world's natural wonders immersed in mesmerizing autumn light. The contrasting vibrant colors make for unforgettable views of the canyon.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
As is the case with most parks, most people go in the summer, but that's be a mistake. October through November is the ideal time, at least in terms of comfortable temperatures. This makes the experience of seeing stunning rock formations, strange-looking but interesting trees, plant life, and stargazing so much more fun. Go for the Night Sky Festival, which is scheduled for Nov. 9-10.
Crater Lake, Oregon
For a chance to see the waters of the deepest lake in the U.S., with a measured depth of 1,949 feet, in their bluest and clearest state, go in the fall. The water is so blue because there is hardly anything else in it - just water, according to the NPS. Boat tours, swimming, fishing, ranger talks, evening programs, camping, and other activities are offered. Explore old-growth forests or wildflower meadows, and climb mountains for great views of the lake.
Tillamook County, Oregon
Perched on the breathtaking Oregon coast, this area is the perfect low key setting for outdoor adventurers this fall. Explore the Tillamook State Forest, watch whales breaching at Cape Lookout and climb dunes at Cape Kiwanda-there's no shortage of things to do. Don't miss your chance to paddle the coast and be sure to go crabbing, it's a local treat. With close proximity to Portland and Seattle, this coastal getaway isn't far off.
Celebrated for "coolness" and non-conformity, this city may be the biggest in all of Oregon, but it's laid back vibe, walkability and access to the great outdoors make it feel more like a big town. As people hear about Portland, it's been attracting more visitors and there's no time to visit like the fall. Wander the beautiful neighborhoods full of falling leaves, explore local trails and satisfy your sweet tooth at their famous doughnut shop-Voodoo Doughnut.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. Explore the foliage in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone- you won't see more majestic fall foliage in the region. Paddle the Snake River or head out on a wildlife safari. Horseback riding, whitewater rafting and blue-ribbon fly-fishing are other favorite activities.
Napa Valley, California
Best known for its world-famous wine and stunning scenery, Napa Valley is a place you need to visit at least once and fall is a great time to go. After your initial trip dining in Michelin-starred restaurants, biking picturesque paths and tasting some of the best wine in the world, your subsequent return to Napa is guaranteed. Napa Valley's proximity to San Francisco and Sacramento make it an easy choice for a weekend getaway.
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
An incredible destination that is very popular in the summer and winter is largely forgotten about in the fall. Lake Tahoe is one of the highest (and best preserved) alpine lakes in the country. The area is a haven for outdoor recreation. Fall is the time to enjoy beautiful hikes, fall foliage and wildlife that's getting ready for winter. Just a short ride from Sacramento, San Francisco and Reno, Lake Tahoe is easily accessible for a long weekend trip, but it's well-preserved natural land will have you feeling like you're hundreds of miles away.
This once-obscure adventure travel mecca is a must-visit mountain town for anyone who loves the great outdoors. A great weekend escape for fall, and set in the middle of Oregon, Bend is accessible for travelers around the state. Hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, rock climbing. Head up into the Cascades for some incredible mountain biking (almost 300 miles of singletrack) or dip your paddle into the Deschutes River for a refreshing ride.
Hood River, Oregon
This small adventure town and "recreational boomtown," as National Geographic calls it, is perfect for a weekend getaway. Kayak off Celestial Falls for a thrilling experience, explore the jaw-dropping scenery, valleys and Columbia River Gorge while mountain biking, which has become very popular in the area. Hood River is just about an hour away from Portland.
With a lively nightlife scene and several cultural attractions, the outdoor adventure opportunities in Scottsdale are sometimes overlooked. In the fall, you can easily find hotels for around $100 per night, according to Hotels.com. Go on a half-day mountain bike tour through the Sonoran Desert, home to some of the Southwest's best mountain-biking trails, or kayak through the desert's Salt River, a lush oasis surrounded by red cliffs and wondrous wildlife.
This is the newest beach village to grace Washington's coastline, according to Experience WA, established in 2004. It's quickly becoming a favorite seaside weekend retreat. Try to stay at the Dorothy Anderson Cottage, one of the oldest on the state's coast. Seabrook's perfect location makes it ideal for water sports and mountain adventures such as hiking and climbing. Visit the Lake Quinault Rain Forest for fabulous scenery.
Puget Sound, Washington
Located along the northwestern coast of the U.S., Puget Sound is a popular region for recreational activities and holiday pursuits. Common usage has broadened the Sound's description to include the surrounding lowlands extending east to the Cascade Mountains and the various cities and towns lying therein. Sightseeing, hiking, kayaking, and boating are favorite adventures.