California Has Brilliant Fall Colors, Too

Eastern Sierra Nevada.Credit…Sam Folsom

SANTA MARIA — Driving from Los Angeles to the Central Coast over the weekend, I spotted the most Californian of autumnal scenes: vineyards showing off their fall colors.

On either side of Highway 101 as it wound through the Santa Maria Valley, a prized Central Coast wine region, rows and rows of grape vines sported crimson and yellow leaves. The brilliant colors against the golden rolling hills were a mesmerizing sight.

And it wasn’t an aberration. Though it doesn’t have the reputation of New England, California has plenty of fall colors every year — if you know where to look. Kyle Cotner, who compiles The Foliage Report, which tracks fall colors nationwide, called California “a sneaky great fall foliage state.”

Stanford.Credit…Debbie Duncan
Kip in Santa Rosa.Credit…Tomi Speed

The state’s bad rap when it comes to its autumnal show is probably because 80 percent of Californians live along the coast, where there’s little fall color, so we don’t see much of it, said John Poimiroo, a travel writer who runs the blog California Fall Color. “We’re our own worst publicity agents,” he told me.

But all kinds of trees across the Golden State turn scarlet, orange and bronze each fall, particularly in the eastern parts. The fall foliage season here typically begins in September in the Eastern Sierra, in Mono and Inyo Counties, and then spreads to lower elevations as fall continues, Poimiroo said.

Because California is so large, with such varied topography and so many types of trees, the state has the longest fall color season in the country, running through at least December, Poimiroo said. “In California, if you miss peak at one elevation, just go to a lower elevation elsewhere and see it there,” he wrote on his blog.

Today we’re sharing some photos you sent in of this year’s fall show. And if you still want to go leaf-peeping in California, Poimiroo maintains a crowdsourced map of spots where fall colors are still on display. Enjoy.

Berkeley.Credit…John Affeldt
Mono County.Credit…Ellen Bruno
Leaves in Walnut Creek.Credit…Beth Stephens
Pleasanton.Credit…Catherine Trinh
Lafayette.Credit…Anne Grodin
Windy Oaks Winery in Corralitos.Credit…Pam Rissmann

For more:

  • Learn more about the science of why trees change their leaves, from the U.S. Forest Service.

  • A little knowledge of botany can be helpful, even if you’re an amateur gardener. Here are a few things you should know about what happens in the fall.

  • How to take better travel photos, without a new camera.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to advance a policy that would allow the police to deploy robots with deadly force. A second vote is expected on Dec. 6.Credit…Ethan Swope/Getty Images

If you read one story, make it this

San Francisco is considering allowing the police to use robots to deploy deadly force.

More on California

  • Jaywalking Law: California has had one of the strictest jaywalking laws in the nation. Starting Jan. 1, that will no longer be the case.
  • Remaking a River: Taming the Los Angeles River helped Los Angeles emerge as a global megalopolis, but it also left a gaping scar across the territory. Imagining the river’s future poses new challenges.
  • A Piece of Black History Destroyed: Lincoln Heights — a historically Black community in a predominantly white, rural county in Northern California — endured for decades. Then came the Mill fire.
  • Employee Strike: In one of the nation’s biggest strikes in recent years, teaching assistants, researchers and other workers across the University of California system walked off the job to demand higher pay.

An aerial view of a golf course next to undeveloped desert in July in Palm Desert.Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

The rest of the news

  • Drought: One-fifth of California’s urban water agencies may not have enough supplies to survive another seven months of drought and could face drastic shortages, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Native tribe relocation: The Biden administration is giving 11 Native tribes, including the Yurok in California, millions of dollars to help them move away from areas threatened by the effects of climate change.


  • Reparations: In a new claim, a group calling for the payment of reparations to Black and Indigenous families who were burned out and evicted from Palm Springs says that the city owes them approximately $2 billion in damages, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • School lawsuit: A former student is suing the Thatcher School, saying she was sexually abused by a school counselor and soccer coach who was hired even though the headmaster knew that he left his last school after an inappropriate relationship with a student, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Kevin McCarthy: The Central Valley Republican, who is trying to become the next House speaker, on Wednesday warned the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack that members of his party planned to begin an inquiry of their own into the panel’s work.


  • Layoffs: DoorDash, the food delivery service, and Kraken, a cryptocurrency exchange, which both have headquarters in San Francisco, announced that they would each lay off over 1,000 employees, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

What we’re eating

Butternut squash and sage latkes.

A flock of seabirds take flight on Zuma Beach in Malibu.Credit…Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Robin Weintraub:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Tell us

Have you visited any of the travel destinations that we’ve recommended in the newsletter? Send us a few lines about your trip, and a photo!

We’d like to share them in upcoming editions of the newsletter. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your name and the city in which you live.

Credit…Amy and Stuart Photography

And before you go, some good news

In February 2021, Samantha Loren Moray and Lanny Seth Grossman matched on the Lox Club, a members-only app for Jewish singles.

The two, who both live in Los Angeles, began to exchange messages and speak on the phone. Soon after, they met for their first date at a restaurant in Beverly Hills.

“Conversation was easy and Lanny made me laugh,” Moray told The Times. After dinner, since they were parked on different levels of the same garage, Grossman offered to walk Moray to her car and then asked her to drive him to his.

“We continued to talk in her car for another 45 minutes,” Grossman said. “That really put me over the edge. I definitely needed to see her again.” The night ended with a first kiss.

Read the rest of the couple’s love story, which continued last month with their wedding at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Harrison Hill, Briana Scalia and Isabella Grullón Paz contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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