Local Destinations to Enjoy Autumn’s Brilliance

Rancho Santa Fe has some of the best weather in the country, with a temperate year-round Mediterranean climate. But we understand that sometimes you may be craving a little fall ambiance, what many like to call “sweater weather.” That’s why we’ve compiled a wonderful list of local destinations where you can get some of the autumn vibes that you might experience in New England. Even better, all of these outdoor destinations allow you to easily socially distance so you can feel safe.

San Elijo Lagoon

The San Elijo Lagoon in Cardiff-by-the-Sea offers a wonderful dose of fall color close to home. Located just 15 minutes west of Rancho Santa Fe, this spot is the perfect place for the whole family. Their half-mile nature loop turns red in fall due to the presence of salt-marsh plants and pickleweed. Leashed dogs are welcome at this park and parking is free.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park in San Diego is another great place to enjoy autumn’s brilliance without venturing too far from home. Located approximately 30 minutes south of Rancho Santa Fe, Balboa Park is where you’ll find some of the city’s main attractions including the San Diego Zoo. But you’ll also find lots of fall foliage when the sweetgum trees at the edge of the park on 6th and Quince turn red. It’s quite a sight to see and one you don’t want to miss!


For a real fall adventure head to the historic gold-mining town of Julian. Located about an hour and ten minutes east of Rancho Santa Fe in the mountains, this small town is famous for its apples. Head to a U-pick farm for a fun afternoon of apple-picking, or simply wander around to enjoy the fall colors. Julian is a rare Southern California town that experiences all four seasons and it’s a wonderful autumn escape.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

Another eastern destination for fall color is Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Situated just over an hour east of Rancho Santa Fe, this popular park has a climate similar to that of northern California due to its elevation of 5,000 feet. That means a chance to experience the change of seasons on a much greater level. There are more than 100 miles of hiking trails in the 24,700-acre forest, so you can certainly spend an enjoyable day here soaking up that autumn vibe.

Mount Laguna

One more eastern location makes our list and that’s Mount Laguna in the Cleveland National Forest. This 6,271-foot tall mountain is approximately an hour and ten minutes from Rancho Santa Fe and offers the gorgeous fall display of the black oak trees. You can opt for a quick half-mile hike on the Kwaaymii Trail or really indulge in your fall experience on the 3.25-mile Sunset Trail, which offers spectacular views of the forest.


If you’re up for more of a drive, then head up to Idyllwild. Located about two hours northeast of Rancho Santa Fe, Idyllwild is a very special place in the fall. Nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains at about 5,000 feet, you can experience fresh, crisp air and bright yellow cottonwoods. Deer Springs Trail is popular for hikers and begins one mile north of town on Highway 243.

Contact the Lucy Kelts Collection

Are you ready to buy or sell a luxury Rancho Santa Fe home? Then please contact the Lucy Kelts Collection at 858-775-8843 or [email protected]. We are always available to answer your questions and sit down with you personally to discuss your real estate needs.

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