Labor Day might be the unofficial end to summer, but there’s no need to pack up your family fun and adventures just yet. Fall is the ideal season to do some exploring and hiking, and create wonderful memories with friends and family. We’re sharing three of our favorite destinations here in Southern California, and hope they’ll inspire you to take a day trip or a long weekend before the busyness of the hectic holiday season sets in.
1. Big Bear Lake is a few hours’ drive but a world away from Southern California. With its breathtaking scenery (especially in the fall), it’s a perfect place to unwind, explore, and reconnect with nature, and also with the kids.
No matter what type of activity you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it at Big Bear Lake. There are miles of hiking and biking trails to explore, calm waters for canoeing or kayaking, ziplines, helicopter and jeep tours, and of course, lots of great food.
Tip: Fall is a busy time, as you’ll see from their calendar of events, so if you want to plan your visit around October Fest, the peak foliage color, or a concert, check their website to see if you need tickets for anything, and book ahead if you’ll be staying overnight.
2. If you’ve never been to a “real desert,” put Joshua Tree National Park on your list. It’s 140 miles east of Los Angeles, near Palm Springs, and full of rough and rugged, but peaceful, sculptural beauty that will take your breath away.
Activities include hiking on 300 miles of trails, rock climbing, and biking, and one entrance fee allows you to enjoy them all for up to a week. The nine campgrounds within the park do fill up, so reservations are recommended. Additional campgrounds, as well as hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores are available in the towns around the national park.
Tip: Fall temperatures are still quite warm in the desert, so dress appropriately (light layers, sturdy shoes, and a hat), bring plenty of water, and don’t forget your sunscreen.
3. If you’re more of an island type, the Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of Ventura might be just the quiet adventure you’re looking for. A group of five islands in the Pacific Ocean, each one is special in its own way. They’re peaceful, isolated, unspoiled, and perfect for exploring on a day trip.
The Channel Islands are nature’s classroom, and a treat for all ages. Take advantage of their interpretive programs which include guided hikes, lectures, tide pool talks, and a Junior Ranger program for the kids. Or, explore on your own and scout out more than 150 species of wildlife that include birds, sea lions, island foxes, and whales. There’s also some amazing kayaking or snorkeling but you’ll have to bring your own gear.
The Islands are only accessible by concessionaire boat or plane, and once you’re there, plan on getting some walking in, because there is no transportation (or shops or restaurants) on any of the islands.
Tip: Boat access is out of Ventura, and trips range from one to four and a half hours depending on which island you’ll be visiting. Note that not all boats travel to each island each day, so it’s important to check the travel schedule and plan ahead.
If you’re nearby or traveling to Southern California this fall, pay a visit to these outdoor adventure spots and make some memories with your friends or family. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!