The Best Places to Find Fall Foliage Near Los Angeles

best fall foliage spots near LA Patrick Griley/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

From nearby parks and botanical gardens to mountain towns a short drive away, here’s where to find fall foliage near LA

Calling all LA leaf peepers! Outside temps might still be somewhat toasty, but there are plenty of places to find fall in southern California near Los Angeles. This week and next are predicted to be near peak and peak fall foliage for southern California (including the Los Angeles Forest, San Bernardino Mountains, and Mt. San Jacinto) so if you want to get your fall fix of reds, oranges and yellows, use our list of where to go to find fall foliage. Of course a couple of these spots go hand-in-hand with that autumn in California vibe—check out nearby pumpkin picking, apple orchards that are fun for the whole family and the best Halloween events around LA. So grab a pumpkin spice latte, a seasonal scarf, your camera and get ready to hit the road for a family-friendly adventure that proves that leaves do change color in southern California.


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Where to Find the Best Fall Foliage Near Los Angeles

1. Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Located at the base of the San Gabriel mountains, the LA Arboretum is a great place to experience a quintessential fall scenery like a New England-style fall without ever getting on a plane. Boasting 127 acres of trees and plants from all over the world, the Arboretum produces a brilliant display of colors. Little ones can collect fallen red leaves from all of the Freeman’s maple trees or snag a few beautiful yellow ones fallen from the Shagbark hickories.

Know Before You Go: Peek leaf-peeping is typically from late Oct. through early Nov. The best and brightest fall foliage can be found in the Arboretum’s Celebration or Meadowbrook Gardens. If you really want to immerse your lil’pumpkins in the full fall experience, sign them up for the Arboretum’s fee-based Autumn Nature Camp where kids will take part in nature-themed science and art activities in a safe and controlled environment. 

301 North Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia
Online: arboretum.org

2. Lacy Park

Beautiful and historic Lacy Park is home to several varieties of deciduous trees, spanning over 30 acres of lush beauty. An afternoon stroll around its mile-long walking path is sure to foster that fall feeling in the whole family so make sure to have a thermos of hot cocoa on stand-by for an after-walk treat. One of the best bike paths for kids in LA, bring bikes, trikes, scooters and roller-skates—the path is perfect for all things with wheels (and fur—take your four-legged friends for a leashed romp around the very dog-friendly grounds). Your tiny foliage followers will love the freedom to roam and you will love the cute fall pictures thanks to an array of color splashed across the trees come late Oct. and early Nov.

Know Before You Go: While this park is free for all during the week, on weekends those who don’t live in San Marino must pay a $5 entrance fee.

1485 Virginia Rd.
San Marino
Online: ci.san-marino.ca.us/277/Lacy-Park

3. Whittier Narrows Recreation Area

Boasting almost 1500 acres, Whittier Narrows Park in the City of South El Monte and is one of Los Angeles County’s largest recreation areas. Nearly every ecosystem is represented here from swamps to forest to desert, making for lots of interesting plant and animal life to check out. Have your leaf lovers take their scooters for a ride while you stroll around the 3-mile walking trail soaking in all of the different sorts of colors this nature reserve has to offer.

750 S. Santa Anita Ave.
South El Monte
Online: parks.lacounty.gov

4. South Coast Botanic Garden 

Palos Verdes is a pretty amazing place to visit but when you add cool coastal breezes into the mix, you get a whole lot of fall color options at South Coast Botanic Garden. With 87 acres of well-maintained flora and fauna, this is truly PV’s best kept horticultural secret and a must-visit in the autumn months. You won’t find New England oak trees here but (even prettier?) pink leaves from the Silk Fox Trees and the vibrant orange blooms from the Dwarf Trumpet Trees will be bursting with colors before they fall onto the ground (along with lots more tree leaf varietals). The littles will love the Children’s Garden developed around nursery rhymes and also featuring an enchanted dollhouse and bridge, a secret tunnel, worm bin, alphabet garden, butterfly garden, and whimsical characters.

Know Before You Go: The best time to wander through this colorful expanse is the end of Oct. through mid-Nov. when the temps cool down

26300 Crenshaw Blvd.
Palos Verdes Peninsula
Online: southcoastbotanicgarden.org

5. Malibu Creek State Park

The Santa Monica Mountains provide some of the best opportunities for local leaf-peeping, and at Malibu Creek Park (or what the locals call the “Yosemite of Southern California”) you’ll discover some lovely old-growth trees that turn all shades of fall as cooler air comes to town (keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful yellow-leaf Sycamore varieties). One of the best spots for beginner hikers, Malibu Creek lives up to its name with a gurgling stream and low elevation trails. Want to make a day of it? Check out our what to do in Malibu guide.

1925 Las Virgenes Rd.
Agoura Hills
Online: malibucreekstatepark.org

6. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

Let’s be honest—there is never really a bad time of the year to visit The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. And while the gardens in autumn might not pass for the backwoods of Vermont, it’s still a wonderful spot to see trees you might not associate with all things autumn (but certainly come alive throughout the season). Check out the colorful leaves on trees like the American Sweetgum, Koelreuteria Henryi, and Lion’s Ear before feasting your leaf-peeping peepers on the bloom of fall fruits, including the berry-like variety that grows on Washington Hawthorns. 

Know Before You Go: Peak fall foliage at the Huntington is typically found during the month of Nov. so plan accordingly. 

1151 Oxford Rd.
San Marino
Online: huntington.org/gardens

7. West Valley

If a quick drive down a tree-lined street is more your speed, pack up your little botanists and head to West Valley (making up the western portion of Santa Clara County, the West Valley includes the West San Jose neighborhood of the city of San Jose, along with the cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga).

There are several stretches of streets planted with non-native deciduous trees that really put on a show. There are Sweet Gums on Lindley Ave. from Reseda to Northridge that turn a vibrant red.

Yellow Modesto Ash can be found on Winnetka Ave. from Oxnard St. to Victory Blvd. Also, the poplars at nearby Warner Center Park turn a beautiful yellow. Strap in your carseat travelers, drive through a coffee shop for something warm, and pretend you’re driving through a tiny New England town.

Worth the Drive: Where to Find the Best Fall Foliage Near Los Angeles

best fall foliage near LA Mammoth Lakes
Patrick Griley/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

8. Mammoth Lakes

Now’s the time to head to Mammoth Lakes—Rock Creek Canyon, Lakes Basin and the Town of Mammoth Lakes along with Mammoth Rock Trail is currently putting on a show and is near its peak fall foliage! And while this trip isn’t do-able in a day (it’s about a 5-hour drive from LA), spending the weekend in the Eastern Sierras is always a good time. For recommendations on where to stay, check out our story about the best things to do in Mammoth (even though the article is about the winter, it’s 100% applicable for the fall). 

San Francisco Photographer Dan Kurtzman’s recent fall foliage drive through the Eastern Sierras

9. Big Bear

People tend to think of Big Bear for snow in the winter or maybe the lake in the summer but a Big Bear fall is also a spectacular time to visit this forested getaway. You can leave the city behind and be welcomed by crisp blue skies, the smell of pine, and trees turning beautiful fall colors. For Big Bear fall foliage, take your leaf peepers on a quaint drive around the lake where many of the mountainside trees turn a fairy tale shade of golden yellow or grab a coffee in town where the streets are adorned with red maples. With so much for families to do in Big Bear—you and your loved ones won’t want to leave this idyllic mountain retreat.

Note-Worthy Must-Dos: Don’t miss the 52nd Annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest: Running for nine consecutive weekends through Nov. 5, every Fri., Sat. and Sun. and for the first time since 2019, a band directly from Germany will be preforming, in addition to some of the best German-American bands to help celebrate Big Bear’s beloved Oktoberfest tradition.

To maximize your time (and those Instagram-worthy leaf photos), check out Big Bear Hiking Adventures—a new, guided hiking experience all around Big Bear. From moderate hikes along Big Bear’s famed Pedal Path to longer excursions along Cougar Crest that showcases spectacular views, you’ll be connected with expert guides that will lead you through the beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Online: bigbear.com

10. Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead’s fall colors put on an awesome visual show, not to mention, it’s also a cozy, and quaint mountain resort and have rounded up the best things to do with kids to Lake Arrowhead. Like Big Bear, it’s often thought of as a winter or summer retreat, but the fall months are when the fall foliage is part of the stunning scenery—making this town a must-visit. Black oak, cottonwood, and maple trees create a painters palette of rose, orange, and gold colors that will delight the most seasoned leaf peepers. Don’t forget your camera! This is one of the best fall photoshoot locations for families and one of the best places for fall pictures.

Don’t Miss Events: Pumpkins in the Pines takes place at SkyPark at Santa’s Village and is a great way to celebrate those crisp, cool days and the changing colors of Fall as well as Lake Arrowhead Village’s Oktoberfest both are happening now through the end of Oct.  

Know Before You Go: Located 80 miles East of greater Los Angeles, Lake Arrowhead is about an hour and a half-hour drive (depending on traffic). Be prepared for some car sickness—the last 15 minutes of the drive is steep and full of switchbacks.

Online: lakearrowhead.com

11. Oak Glen

Oak Glen fall foliage is next level thanks to the mile-high climate that allows brightly colored black walnut and oak trees to shine during autumn months. Snuggled in the heart of apple country, Oak Glen is worth the 1.5 hour drive from Los Angeles to get a taste of fall and not just for the leaves. See why Oak Glen is the best for apple picking and fresh-pressed cider, and other quintessential fall favorites.

Know Before You Go: If your little leaf peepers are excited to combine fall color sightseeing with apple picking, make sure to head out of Los Angeles early in the morning. Our recommend? Try to arrive before 10 a.m. especially if you’re heading here on a weekend.

Oak Glen Rd.
Oak Glen
Online: oakglen.net

12. Idyllwild Nature Center

If you’re looking for that quaint mountain town feel that’s less crowded than some of the other well-known options, Idyllwild is the place to go. Nestled in the heart of the San Jacinto mountains, this cozy spot is surrounded by pine trees, cottonwoods, and cedar trees that come alive mid-to-end Oct. with vibrant shades of golds, yellows, and orange. Because the town is full of locally-owned restaurants and shops, Idyllwild has tons of small-town atmosphere which lends itself nicely to peaceful leaf-peeping.

Know Before You Go: The Nature Center is open Wed.-Sun. and has a small, per person, entrance fee.

25225 Highway 243
Idyllwild
Online: rivcoparks.org/idyllwild-nature-center

 

 

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