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Autumn Is for Quitters: The Indian Summer Travel Guide

The calendar may say October, but the air is warm, Karl the Fog is M.I.A., and it’s the Bay Area’s best month to be outdoors. Here, 30 fall trips with summer weather.

Glen Oaks' private swimming spot in Big Sur.

Photo credit: Jen Siska
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Slurping oysters in West Marin.

Photo credit: Angela Decenzo
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Carmel Beach.

Photo credit: Tai Power Seeff
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Heli-hiking on Catalina Island.

Photo credit: courtesy of  Santa Catalina Island Company
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Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Riviera Hotel
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Sailing in The Bay.

Photo credit: Alanna Hale
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Horseback riding at Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang.

Photo credit: courtesy of Alisal Guest Ranch
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Sunburst motel in Calistoga.

Photo credit: courtesy of Sunburst
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Burlington Hotel in Port Costa.

Photo credit: Alanna Hale
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Burlington Hotel in Port Costa.

Photo credit: Alanna Hale
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Bull Valley Roadhouse in Port Costa.

Photo credit: Alanna Hale
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Billboard in Los Alamos.

Photo credit: Jen Curtis
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Timber Cove Inn in Fort Ross.

Photo credit: Jen Siska
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Joshua Tree Music Festival.

Photo credit: Sean Naugle
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Treasure Island Music Festival.

Photo credit: courtesy of Treasure Island Festival
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Escape from Wonderland in San Bernadino.

Photo credit: Oh Dag Yo
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The Avalon Ballroom hosts the Catalina JazzTrax Festival.

Photo credit: courtesy of JazzTrax
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Moss Beach—psychedelic nudibranchs
Seven-million-year-old rock beds, shallow reefs, sea grass prairies, and stands of giant kelp set the stage for some 200 species of critters at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, a newly designated protected area where the tide pools are among the most diverse in the continental United States. Go in clear weather during late-afternoon low tide (while it’s still light out!) for the best chance to see creatures like the pink-tentacled moonglow anemone, the gumboot chiton (the largest mollusk of its type in the world), flamboyant nudibranchs, or even the elusive red octopus. For insight into the underwater realm, print out the new Friends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve ( tide pool guide or sign up for a tour. Jill K. Robinson

Fort Ross—drinking for mavericks
Skip the elbow-to-elbow crush season of most Sonoma tasting rooms by veering off 101 early and heading to the coastal town of Jenner, wine country for pioneers. Fort Ross Vineyard ( has opened the only tasting room in the new Fort Ross–Seaview American Viticultural Area. There you can sip piney, cherry-filled Sea Slopes pinot noir while perched above the fog, admiring views that stretch to the Farallon islands. And on October 26, it’s hosting the inaugural Fort Ross–Seaview Wine Festival ($35), where the region’s signature cool climate pinots and chards will flow from Wild Hog, Pahlmeyer’s Wayfarer Vineyard, and others. At the Timber Cove Inn (from $219,, the kitchen serves fresh uni and salmon, and the crashing waves will lull you to sleep (ask for junior suite 405—it’s newly renovated). Carolyn Alburger

Big Sur—a clandestine swimming hole
Not the pool party type? Then you’ll find the private cerulean eddy tucked behind the mod cottages at Glen Oaks motor lodge (from $225, even more refreshing. Its small size works best for two, and the redwood-enclosed meadow above its banks serves as your verdant cabana, safely protected from fog lingering outside Big Sur’s sunny banana belt. Come evening, the new Big Sur Roadhouse ( next door serves up refined New Orleans fare like Dungeness crab gumbo, with locally sourced ingredients. Back at Glen Oaks, settle into the Big Sur Cabin’s twin private outdoor claw-foot tubs, within arm’s reach of the fire pit. Craving s’mores? Each room is stocked with a kit that includes handmade marshmallows. Jenna Scatena

Music Festivals—whether you’re barely legal or rocking a midlife crisis (or just like to dance)
Way Over Yonder: Santa Monica, Oct. 5–6
Crooning Conor Oberst and First Aid Kit replace Dylan at this West Coast edition of Rhode Island’s Newport Folk Festival.

Eagle Rock: Los Angeles, Oct. 5
Bosnian Rainbows (former Mars Volta members gone goth pop) and Nguzunguzu rock out with other hip-hop, punk rock, and electronic bands in the L.A. streets.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass:
Golden Gate Park, Oct. 4-6
Steve Martin rocks the banjo at the 13th annual free outdoor fest.

Joshua Tree Music Festival:
Joshua Tree, Oct. 11–13
Beneath the desert mountains, Burners groove to rootsicana-newgrassy-folkadelic jams by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Elephant Revival.

Festival Supreme:
 Santa Monica, Oct. 19
Tenacious D, Garfunkel and Oates, and Reggie Watts will make you laugh and shimmy at this comedy-meets-music gathering of wits.

Culture Collide:
 Los Angeles, Oct. 10–12
This SXSW-esque fest includes international bands like Denmark rock duo The Raveonettes and Australian ’80s dance-pop group Miami Horror.

Treasure Island:
Treasure Island, Oct. 19–20
Our local mecca for electronic-indie-folk lovers, with headliners Atoms for Peace and Beck.

Escape from Wonderland:
 San Bernardino Oct. 26
Barely legals bop to electro’s top 40 dJs. Last year’s set included Calvin Harris and Laidback Luke.

Catalina Island JazzTrax:
Catalina Island, Oct. 3–20
Smooth jazz saxophonist Boney James and Booker T. Jones seduce at the epic Avalon Ballroom.

Morro Bay Harbor Festival:
Morro Bay, Oct. 5-6
Grandkids and grandparents get down to San Francisco rockers Mother Hips and the progressive bluegrass group Hot Buttered Rum. Stevanie Wazna-Blank


Originally published in the October 2013 issue of San Francisco 

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