Where to See Fall Colors in the Bay Area

The East Coast isn’t the only place where you can be awash in the colors of fall. Check out these great Bay Area spots to see the leaves change into the warm hues of autumn.

San Francisco

San Francisco Botanical Garden. This 55-acre garden in Golden Gate Park is full of fall foliage – from the ginko trees that change to a bright gold to the dogwoods that go deep purple-red. Head to the Moon Viewing Garden to see what color the Japanese maple leaves are. Open 7:30am with last entry at 6pm. (Closes earlier in later fall and winter.) $9 adults, $6 ages 12-17 and seniors, $2 ages 5-11, 4 and under FREE, $19 families (two adults and children in the same household). Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way. sfbg.org

Japanese Tea Garden. Also inside Golden Gate Park, the oldest public Japanese Garden in the country is a great place to view changing foliage, with showy Japanese maples set against pagodas, koi ponds and a zen garden.  Summer hours (through Oct. 31): 9am-5:45pm; winter: 9am-4:45pm. $9 adults, $7 ages 12-17 and seniors, $3 ages 5-11, $4 and under FREE; FREE on Mon., Wed. and Fri. before 10am; discounts for San Francisco residents. 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. 

Peninsula

Filoli Gardens. Fall is full of events where you can see the changing leaves at this world-renowned garden in Woodside. There’s a Harvest Festival on Sept. 28 and Orchard Day on Oct. 12, as well as teas, bluegrass and more. There are also fall nature hikes on Saturday mornings. Tue.-Sun. 10am-5pm. Also open Mon., Oct. 14. $22 adults, $11 children, 4 and under FREE; tours and special events extra. 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. 

South Bay

Rancho San Antonio Preserve. The maples, oaks and flowering persimmon trees at this spot in Cupertino are a feast for the eyes this time of year. Stop by Deer Hollow Farm to check out the animals before you head off on one of the many hikes that the preserve has to offer. Open a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. FREE. 22500 Cristo Rey Drive, Cupertino. 

Henry W. Coe State Park. Check out this park in Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties in October, when maples turn yellow and black oaks may show some reds. 9000 E. Dunne Ave., Morgan Hill. Always open. Day use fee: $6-8. 

East Bay

Tilden Regional Park. The hills above Berkeley put on a show with their ever-changing leaf colors. Head to the botanical garden to witness the colorful leaves of the cottonwood and dogwood trees, among others. Tilden Little Farm is another attraction that the kids adore. The park is open 5am-10pm; botanical garden 8:30am-5pm; farm 8:30am-5pm. FREE. Entrances off Wildcat Canyon Road and Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Berkeley. 

Points North

Napa and Sonoma Wine Country. The changing colors of the grape leaves draw visitors to wine country each fall. Head to the Anderson Valley or Dry Creek areas to see some majestic reds and oranges. If you time your visit well, you might luck out and catch some of the crush season activities, from grape stomping to parties, that happen through October. visitnapavalley.com.

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. This is a great spot to set up a tent, or rent a historic cabin or yurt, and explore during the fall months. Follow the Redwood Trail to find colorful maple leaves in addition to the trail’s namesake giants. 8am-sunset. Camping fees apply, day-use FREE. Highway 29/128, Napa. 

If you’re up for a drive, head to Lake Tahoe or other parts of the Sierra, where colors start changing earlier at higher elevations. For more ideas and Northern California destinations outside the Bay Area, visit californiafallcolor.com.

The California State Parks also offer this handy list for fall colors in parks statewide.