Sure, Los Angeles proper is lacking in the autumnal foliage change department, but that doesn’t mean we're going to stop trying to make fall happen. Why would we? We're up to our eyeballs in football, pumpkin spice lattes, sweater sales, apple orchards, seasonal squash dishes, harvest festivals, Halloween happenings, and just about everything else associated with the season. (Besides, leaf-peeping is only a day trip away.) The following activities and events are the best ways to fill a fall itinerary in the Southland. And be assured that come time to slip into that super sexy "Stranger Things" costume, you’ll appreciate the absence of nip in the air.
Pick An Apple a Day
No matter how you slice it, fresh fruit is the best fruit and it doesn’t get any fresher than picked straight off the tree. The u-pick season generally runs Labor Day through Thanksgiving. Most orchards are at least an hour from downtown in places like Yucaipa and Oak Glen so plan to make a day of it.
After plucking some Red Romes and Granny Smiths, enjoy hayrides and tri-tip sandwiches while listening to a live bluegrass band at Los Rios Rancho. Riley’s Farm specializes in heirloom varieties and sells homemade pies from the colonial bakery. The Driscoll Family, which includes a two-month-old piglet, mini donkey, and mini horse, welcomes visitors for apple and berry picking as well as u-press cider, s’mores, and wine tasting at Willowbrook Apple Farm in Oak Glen. Stop in for hard cider at Julian's Calico Ranch.
Tehachapi, which hosts an annual apple festival (Oct. 12 and 13), is home to several u-pick options including Pulford Appletree Orchard, which grows an astonishing 19 types including Gala, Winesap, and Honeycrisp. Another Antelope Valley option is Brian Ranch, an airfield/u-pick farm growing apples, pears, and plums.
Let the Gourd Times Roll at a Harvest Festival
There’s a lot to fall for at family-friendly “'tis the pumpkin spice season” gatherings—pig races, apple bobbing, polka bands, pie-eating contests, and so much more—even if the trees and the weather refuse to participate. The Original Farmers Market’s event (Oct. 12 and 13) has been put on since 1934 and now includes candy corn hole, arts and crafts, petting zoo, and rockabilly acts. The Griffith Park Harvest Festival (Nov. 10) starts with food trucks, a craft beer garden, and a climbing wall and ends with a free screening of Coco under the stars. Twelve acres in South El Monte is home to the Los Angeles Fall Fair and its classic carnival rides Oct. 25 through Nov. 3. Admission to the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 19 and 20 covers giant slide rides, DJ zone, reptile shows, and a costume parade.
Root For the Home Team
Are you ready for some football? We’ve got gridiron game days galore between high school, college, and pro teams. Until the snazzy new stadium near the airport is finished in 2020, the Rams play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Chargers temporary home is Dignity Health Sports Park. The crosstown rivals UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans face off on Nov. 23. Not partial to pigskin? LA’s also got two NBA teams, the Clippers and the Lakers, and two soccer clubs, The Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club.
Throw Back a Few at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is the ba-very-ian best time of year. Torrance’s Alpine Village hosts the oldest Oktoberfest celebration in Southern California, reconfiguring its restaurant into a European bier hall, blasting oom-pah music, and serving German food and beverages, through Oct. 27. Every Friday in October as well as select Saturdays The Mixing Room at the JW Marriott L.A. Live will become a literal sausage fest as the chef will be grilling currywurst and bratwurst and pouring Sam Adams and Angel City suds. Get your pretzel and lager fix five nights a week at Old World Huntington Beach until Nov. 3. Their party includes clog troupes, wiener dog races, and an army of sexy shot girls. Bonus points if you bust out a dirndl or lederhosen.
Imbibe In Seasonal Swill
If you didn’t get enough to drink at Oktoberfest, hop over to local breweries that have whipped up limited-edition batches inspired by fall flavors. May your stein runneth over at Frogtown Brewery (Broken Vessel imperial pumpkin ale and tart cherry Spritzerweisse), Angel City Brewery (Oktoberfest), and Highland Park Brewery (Cold Box Cool Ship Cherry wild ale). Karl Strauss Brewing Company made a Peanut Butter Cup Porter in time for Halloween. Squash and clove are some of the ingredients in Arts District Brewing Company’s Autumn Sweater spiced amber ale.
Attend a Film Festival
No matter the time of year, LA is and always will be an industry town and as such there's always a screening going on somewhere. See Oscar hopefuls like The Banker and Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell Nov. 14-21 at AFI FEST. Screamfest aims to scare through Oct. 17. The DTLA Film Festival runs Oct. 23-27 and opens with a Tarantino documentary. LA Comedy Festival runs Nov. 14-24.
Learn To Cook With Fall Flavors
Pick up tips and tricks to impress your family at the holidays in fall-inspired cooking classes at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica. Available courses include fall pies, festive sides, and fall tarts. They even have lessons on how to prepare meaty or vegetarian Thanksgiving meals from start to finish.
Conquer Corn Mazes
Life takes a corny turn or two or 10 at mazes throughout the Southland. Forneris Farms in Mission Hills carves a detailed design into more than four acres of stalks. Open every day in October, tickets include unlimited train rides. Temecula's Big Horse Maze is worth a road trip as the military-themed labyrinth occupies 11 challenging acres. The property also has a pumpkin patch, tractor rides, and a corn cannon. Frosty’s Forest maze in Chino is haunted on Friday and Saturday nights in October.