California Has Brilliant Fall Colors, Too

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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.”

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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.

Butternut squash and sage latkes.

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Today’s tip comes from Robin Weintraub:

“More than 50 years ago I was young, single, teaching in a Los Angeles elementary school and beginning my life as an adult. I was one of the few faculty to ‘stay late’ in order to finish my work — correcting papers and planning for the following day. I liked leaving school without any work to do at home. When I left each day, I drove to the PCH and then north until I found ‘my spot,’ Zuma Beach

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I kept a beach mat and small blanket in my car so that I could sit or lie down on the sand and read. As I did, I heard the crashing waves and was often distracted by their force and beauty. It is a memory I continue to cherish. I left California soon after I married, but have returned often to see family, friends and the ocean waves. And while I have seen the ocean in many parts of the state, and the world, every visit to L.A. draws me back to Zuma, and thoughts of it bring me peace.”

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.


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!

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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.


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.

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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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