Oak Glen near The Crest apartments in downtown Long Beach

Autumn Day Trip: Historic Towns & Wilderness Parks

Open your senses and experience the glorious colors, crisp air, and fresh scents of the season. It’s time for an autumn day trip. Some of Southern California’s most beautiful historic towns and wilderness parks are just a few hours away from The Crest, Go apple picking in Oak Glen or discover the charm of old mining towns like Julian and Alpine. Hike dramatic mountain trails and contemplate the majesty of old growth pines trees. If you want to get your nature fix a little closer to home, visit South Coast Botanical Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The garden is host to over 200,000 plants and numerous resident wildlife.


Julian is a historic gold mining town located approximately one hour east of San Diego. A quaint mountain retreat with four distinct seasons, fall is famous for the apple harvest and autumn colors. Specialty shops line the charming streets, and the attractions are unique, ranging from wineries to gold mines to a wolf preserve. If you’re in the mood for a hike, the state and county parks and preserves in the Julian area offer thousands of acres to explore. Hiking info HERE


Nestled in the foothills of the Cuyamaca Mountains of San Diego County, Alpine is a historic mountain community dating back to the early settlers of Southern California. Since the pioneer days, Alpine has drawn folks to enjoy its scenic vistas, fresh air, and pleasant climate. Visitors often remark on the preservation of Alpine’s small town charm, with family-owned shops and restaurants. Looking for some good hiking near Alpine? AllTrails has 10 great trails with hand-curated maps and driving directions for nature lovers like you. More info HERE

Palomar Mountain State Park  19952 State Park Drive, Palomar Mountain, CA 9206

High atop the west side of Palomar Mountain in northern San Diego County lies the beautiful forest and mountain meadows of Palomar Mountain State Park. Large pine, fir and cedar trees make the park one of the few areas in southern California with a Sierra Nevada-like atmosphere. The park features camping, picnicking, hiking, and trout fishing in Doane Pond. Coniferous forests cover much of the 1,862 acres, in contrast to the dry lowlands surrounding the mountain.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park  18751 Laguna Canyon Rd. Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Home to more than 7,000 acres of coastal wilderness preserve, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lies within some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. Forty miles of trails lead the visitor through oak and sycamore woodlands and up onto ridges where rocky bluffs tower above the canyon trails. Visitors will be treated to vibrant autumn vistas that comprise this woodland area. Whether you prefer hiking, biking, or horseback riding, this vast network of trails provides an active way to capture the change in seasons.

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park  28373 Alicia Parkway Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Located south of Highway 133 and the 73 Freeway, the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park offer some 4,500 acres of wilderness and natural open space. Within the park lands are mature oaks, sycamores, and elderberry trees, two year-round streams, and more than 30 miles of official trails. Designated as a wildlife sanctuary, many rare and endangered plants and animals make this park their home. For a truly magnificent view, hike up to the Top of the World, a must-visit vantage point along the West Ridge.

Apple Picking in Oak Glen

One of the most scenic spots in Southern California, Oak Glen is nestled in the heart of Apple Country, located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Fall harvest is underway and the orchards are open for you to pick your own apples, raspberries and pumpkins. Explore the beautiful offerings of nature at The Wildlands Conservancy, take a horse drawn wagon ride through the orchards, and marvel at fall colors as brilliant as those of New England. Afterwards, enjoy homemade cider, hot apple pie, and other fresh baked apple treats at one of the family restaurants. Find Oak Glen farms HERE

South Coast Botanic Garden  26300 Crenshaw Blvd. Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274

South Coast Botanic Garden is one of the world’s first botanical gardens to be developed as a masterpiece of creative land reclamation and environment improvement. Take a stroll through the garden’s meandering roads and experience the beautiful fall colors. The mission of South Coast Botanic Garden is to serve the community by providing a unique horticultural and wildlife habitat experience, and to represent a model of excellence for land reclamation and sustainability. This continuing experiment in land reclamation has drawn horticulturists from all over the world, including Prince Charles of England, to study the feasibility of similar projects. Today the garden is host to over 200,000 plants, and numerous resident wildlife, including hedgehogs and peafowl. 


Photo credits:

Photo #1: Discover Oak Glen

Photo #2: Julian Mining Company and Julian Farm

Photo #3: Alpine Chamber of Commerce

Photo #4: Palomar Mountain State Park

Photo #5: Orange County Parks

Photo #6: Orange County Parks

Photo #7: Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard

Photo #8: South Coast Botanic Garden