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Fall foliage: Where to see it in the Bay Area

While we’ll never be as showy as New England, we do have a handful of spots to see fall unfold

A Japanese-inspired home in the park nestled among trees with green, brown, and yellow leaves. Photo by reindo/Shutterstock

It’s fall, y’all.

And you know what that means: scarfs, sweaters, and sumptuous autumnal colors appearing on trees—if you live on the East Coast, that is. (Seriously, just look at the sumptuous ambers and reds DC has to offer.)

What the Bay Area has in year-round greenery, it lacks in earthy red, brown, and yellow hues. But that doesn’t mean we live in an oppressive evergreen state. We do have a few opportunities to see fall in action, with public gardens or arboretums being the best bet.

Here are a few Bay Area fall spots to keep on your radar:

  • Japanese Tea Garden or the San Francisco Arboretum in Golden Gate Park
  • A few trees along the Embarcadero (inside the Delancey Street complex)
  • Folsom Street in SoMa and in the Mission
  • Shotwell and Hampshire in the Mission
  • Berkeley’s Tilden Park
  • The Santa Cruz mountains along Highway 9 through Big Basin Redwoods State Park

John Poimirro, who operates California Fall Color, a site detailing autumnal color changes in area foliage, says that wine country is also a great places to check out. “The vineyards are truly beautiful, he tells SFGate. “Each vineyard has a different species and variety so as a result, the fall colors display at different times ... You might see some vines turn color one week and another vine the next”

Please note that Salesforce Park, which features over 200 species of plants and trees, will not bear any fall colors. When asked if park attendees might be able to see leaves turn brown at the newly reopened rooftop park, tree expert Mike Sullivan explains, “I’m afraid that I can’t think of any that will have fall color, in the real sense of the word.”

Further out in the Bay Area, cities like Danville, Palo Alto, San Rafael, and Campbell also have streets with trees that change colors.

And the Eastern Sierra region is a hot spot for travelers who want to pore over fall colors. The Mono County site updates daily to note area leaf color. It even has a fall color map and guide.