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Fall foliage © Pexels
Fall foliage © Pexels
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The Best Bay Area Parks To Watch The Leaves Turn

Picture of Courtney Holcomb
Updated: 9 February 2017
Embrace the onset of autumn this year by getting outdoors to watch the leaves change colors. We’ve collected a list of the best and leafiest parks around the Bay Area where you can catch a gorgeous view of these fall colors — read on to find the one nearest to you.
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Golden Gate Park

If you’re located in the glorious and foggy San Francisco, make your way out to the west edge of the city to catch a glimpse of the trees at Golden Gate Park. Your best bets for fall colors will be in the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden. The Botanical Garden offers everything from golden gingko trees to purple vine maples, and be sure to look out for the colorful Persian ironwood tree. At the Japanese Tea Garden, you can enjoy the warm colors while walking across the drum bride. With such a huge selection of other things to do inside the Golden Gate Park, you certainly won’t get bored on this autumn exploration.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 831 2700

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Tilden Park

If you’re located in the East Bay, Tilden Park is your best bet for leaf watching. This huge park spans 2,079 acres between the Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge, offering a number of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. If you’re looking for autumn leaves, some of the best trails to take are around Lake Anza and on the Redwood Valley Railway. Other park attractions to explore include a model farm, an environmental education building, the Regional Parks Botanic Garden and the Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round.

Tilden Regional Park, Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Orinda, CA, USA +1 510 544 2747

A photo posted by Dan (@danp_inintegrity) on

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Orinada Community Center Park

Further east, you’ll find Orinda Community Center Park just off the Caldecott Tunnel. This area offers two playgrounds, a library, a large open grass area, picnic and barbecue spots, lighted tennis courts, a gazebo, an amphitheater and some fountains, ensuring plenty of space and opportunities for entertainment. Within the park, and along Camino Pablo, you can find plenty of piles of fall leaves for jumping in. The park is not far from Orinda BART station and offers a variety of delicious restaurants nearby.

Orinda Community Center, Orinda Way, Orinda, CA, USA +1 925 254 2445

Hanging out in the park I grew up going to… Crazy how much smaller it seems.

A photo posted by Jackie Crosby (@jcrosby333) on

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Rancho San Antonio Preserve

If you’re located in the South Bay and Peninsula area, the best spot to check out is Rancho San Antonio Preserve. The preserve is home to a huge selection of gorgeous trees, including maples, oaks and flowering persimmons. Self-guided tours of the park are available all year and sometimes there are organized tours and festive holiday events offered. Visiting the park should also include a trip to Deer Hollow Farm, a historical ranch featuring piglets, sheep, goats, chickens and cows running around. If you can’t make it out to Rancho San Antonio, never fear — there are 26 open space preserves in the area, offering plenty of choices for your leaf-viewing pleasure.

Rancho San Antonio Preserve, 22500 Cristo Rey Dr, Los Altos, CA, USA +1 650 691 1200

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Samuel P. Taylor State Park

If you’re up in the north side of the Bay Area, head on over to Samuel P. Taylor State Park. The park offers several beautiful trails for hiking and biking, even with some of them being dog-friendly. One of the best options to look for autumn leaves is along the Cross Marin Trail, running next to Lagunitas Creek. The park features a mixture of colors in its oaks, firs, madrones and old-growth redwoods. Settle in for the day at a picnic area, or even settle in for the night here with its many camping options.

Samuel P. Taylor State Park, 8889 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Lagunitas, CA, USA +1 415 488 9897

By Courtney Holcomb