Most people don't associate brilliant displays of fall foliage with California, but in Yosemite and the surrounding Eastern Sierras, fall travelers are treated to colorful aspens, dogwoods, maples, and other deciduous trees set against the spectacular backdrop of Half Dome in Yosemite or the Minarets in Mammoth. Tioga Pass, which connects Yosemite to the towns and sights of the Eastern Sierras, is usually open until November (weather depending), and foliage tends to peak in mid-October, making the beauty all the more accessible.
This fall, Yosemite is on sale. Sleep for less with 50 percent off the second night for mid-week stays at the ultra-luxe historic Ahwahnee Hotel, the mid-price Wawona Hotel, or the budget-friendly unheated tent cabins at Curry Village, where rates start at $49 per night. Over the pass in Mammoth Mountain, the Westin Monache Resort has a fall colors special through November 4, with rates from $189 per night including breakfast and a fall foliage map.
Depending on where you're headed, the closest major airport might be San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, or Reno. Once you've decided on a destination, look for domestic airfare sales to your top airport choices.