25 Fall Day Trips & Weekend Getaways for LA Families

Fall is in the air! Although Los Angeles is known as a city without seasons, we all know that it isn’t quite true. Pumpkin patches spring up under palm trees. Multi-million dollar mansions in Santa Monica morph into haunted houses. And nothing screams fall in the City of Angels more than walking into your local Starbucks and ordering up a no whip Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Fall is also a beautiful time of year to take the kids on day trips or away for the weekend. Colorful sunsets, cool afternoons, and a laid-back serenity are all traits we have come to love about autumn in Southern California. If the travel bug has hit and your children are good in the car, try heading to one of California's premiere spots, Carmel. There are also plenty of closer activities that are perfect for children and parent alike. So pack the car, grab some snacks, and head out to one of these twenty-five day trips and weekend getaways.


  1. Spend the weekend in Julian, California, picking organic apples and sampling some fresh apple pie. 
  2. Ride the Pumpkinliner train to a pumpkin patch up in Fillmore.   
  3. While spending a weekend in Santa Barbara, take the kids to the intimate Santa Barbara Zoo.
  4. What better way to combine exercise and nature than kayaking in La Jolla, California?
  5. We may not be a land of a thousand lakes, but we still have a few great ones. Enjoy Lake Arrowhead for the weekend. 
  6. They might not be low-cal, but if you eat Danish, they might as well be authentic. The Danish village of Solvang, California, is perfect for a day trip. 
  7. U2 loves it and so will your children. Only a couple hours from Los Angeles, you are in the spectacular desert landscapes of Joshua Tree
  8. Want to get away but Hawaii is just a bit too far for a weekend? San Diego’s peaceful Coronado Island might be the answer.
  9. Rent an electric boat at Newport Beach and explore the bay. 
  10. Learn your California history. Take the kids to Mission San Juan Capistrano.
  11. Feeling lucky? Hike the trails of Mount Pinos while looking for the rare and endangered California Condors.
  12. Experience the world’s largest trees – the giant sequoia — at Sequoia National Park.
  13. Step back in time with the children at Calico Ghost Town
  14. Head up to Malibu and enjoy the world’s finest beaches. Follow that up with a dinner at Neptune’s Net.
  15. Take the Pacific Surfliner train from downtown Los Angeles to the beautiful city of San Luis Obispo.
  16. Enjoy the view of a lifetime from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  17. Take advantage of the cooling fall weather by heading to America’s hottest spot, the aptly named Death Valley.
  18. When fall arrives, it’s a perfect time to head to the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino.
  19. Rainy day? Explore the tunnels of the Fort MacArthur Museum in San Pedro. 
  20. Want to take the kids on an African safari but never had the time or money? Check out the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
  21. A short drive up the Ventura Freeway feels a long way away in Ojai.
  22. Check out the tidepools in Malibu at Leo Carrillo State Park
  23. It’s more than a getaway – it’s history! It’s also a perfect place to take the family: Old Town San Diego.
  24. You can hike, mountain bike, canoe, simply take a break from the hectic pace of Los Angeles, all in the mountain resort of Big Bear Lake
  25. No need to travel far to have a vacation; enjoy a day or weekend sightseeing in Long Beach.

RELATED: Kids Free October in San Diego

It's a really big shoe in Solvang....Photo by the author

 Top photo of Santa Barbara Zoo by Upsilon Andromedae/CC BY 2.0  

Julian, California
2129 Main Street
Julian, CA 92036

Fillmore and Western Railway
351 Santa Clara Street
Fillmore, CA 93015

Santa Barbara Zoo
500 Ninos Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

La Jolla Kayak
2199 Avenida De La Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037

Lake Arrowhead
Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352

Joshua Tree
74485 National Park Dr.
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597

Coronado Island
1100 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118

Newport Beach Boat Rentals
600 E. Edgewater Place
Newport Beach, CA 92661

Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Mount Pinos Ranger District
34580 Lockwood Valley Rd.
Frazier Park, CA 93225

Calico Ghost Town
36600 Ghost Town Road
Yermo, CA 92398

Neptune's Net
42505 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tram Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Huntington Library and Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108

Fort MacArthur
3601 South Gaffey Street
San Pedro, CA 90731

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd
Escondido, CA 92027

Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier, Suite A
Santa Monica, CA 90401
The North Pole Express Experience
Prancers Farm - 5:00 PM Pick
The Holiday Express Daytime Ride
Fillmore & Western Railway - various times Pick
Happy Place - The Drive Thru
Westfield Century City - 10:00 AM
Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace
Sawdust Art Festival - 10:00 AM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides