Throw On the Performance Fleece and Go See the Best Fall Foliage in Texas

All the leaves are brown-or red, or gold.

Tim Speer
Tim Speer
Tim Speer

Autumn is an important milestone in Texas, reminding residents that summer cannot, technically, last forever. The cooler weather is joined by a few local favorites, including football season and the State Fair, but perhaps the surest sign that fall is officially here is the confluence of brightly colored trees.

Unlike the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, where leaves begin changing with the first days of fall, most Texas trees don’t hit kaleidoscope levels until mid-October, while others don’t peak until mid-November. So, you’ve got some time. But it’s a big state, with varying temperatures and topographies, so plan accordingly and you’ll never be too far from a good-looking grove. These are 10 of the best places to see fall foliage in Texas.

Caddo Lake State Park

Hike around, camp next to, or drop a line into the 26,810-acre Caddo Lake, which is stocked with 70 species of fish-and a few alligators. Visit during the fall, and the area’s maple, oak, cypress, sweetgum, and hickory trees will be in full effect, ready to improve your views along hiking trails or stationed outside one of the park’s 46 campsites.
When to go: Mid-to late November

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

This 9,000-acre lake in Northeast Texas is the convergence point for two ecological regions: the Pineywoods and the Post Oak Savannah. That means huge trees and tall grasses abound. Fish for largemouth bass and catfish, hike the trails, and spend the night at one of the many campsites or cabins. All the while, keep your head on a swivel for the colorful trees, including hickories and red maples.
When to go: Mid-October to mid-November

Strekoza2/Getty Images
Strekoza2/Getty Images
Strekoza2/Getty Images

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Head two hours northwest of San Antonio, and you’ll enter the Lost Maples State Natural Area, with plenty of hikes, campsites, wildlife, and stargazing opportunities. In summer, Lost Maples is renowned for its wildflowers, but in fall, visitors flock to see the lush fall foliage. Bigtooth maples turn red and orange, providing a gorgeous backdrop for nature walks-there are 10 miles of trails, including a loop that ends in a prime vantage point above the park on a 2,200-foot cliff. When to go: Early to mid-November

Garner State Park

This Hill Country park is a year-round favorite. Visitors float down the Frio River during summer months and explore the 16 miles of trails during spring and fall. Autumn brings the added benefit of colorful forests, as the cypress, oak, mesquite, and persimmon trees change from their usual greens to bright yellow, red, and orange. If you want to float and peep simultaneously, bring a kayak and take it down the river.
When to go: Late October through November

Robert W. Henley/Getty Images
Robert W. Henley/Getty Images
Robert W. Henley/Getty Images

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

This national park sits on the border of West Texas and Southern New Mexico, drawing visitors from both states, who gather for the area’s unique mix of mountains, canyons, and deserts. The nights are cool and clear, making this park a popular spot for stargazing. The next morning, take a stroll and enjoy the brightly colored maples and other deciduous trees. For a good time, hike the McKittrick Canyon-it’s flush with beautiful landscapes and fall foliage.
When to go: The last two weeks of October into early November

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

The Palo Duro Canyon may not be the Grand Canyon, but it’s still a pretty great canyon, and the second largest in the country. You’ll find it in its eponymous state park, which is located a short drive south of Amarillo. It’s loaded with more than 30 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, so there’s always something to explore. Time your trip with the changing leaves, and you’ll see the local cottonwoods turn bright yellow against the blue skies and red rocks. And when the day’s over, you can bunk down at one of the park’s many campsites or luxury tents.
When to go: Mid- to late October

Tyler State Park

This Piney Woods park is a lush and scenic destination all year, drawing visitors for its hiking trails and fishing-friendly spring-fed lake. But autumn is when it really shows off, as its trees-many stretching over 100 feet tall-turn shades of yellow, orange, and red, providing a full color palette for all your leaf-peeping adventures.
When to go: Mid-October through mid-November

McKinney Falls State Park

You don’t have to venture far from the city to see leaves. McKinney Falls State Park is located about 10 miles south of Downtown Austin, and it’s a popular stop for its day-hikes and mountain bike trails. Nine miles of paths wind through cypress trees and red oaks, and secluded waterfalls and pools run down from Onion Creek. The best time to visit is during the fall, when temperatures are cooler and trees brighten the sky with their changing colors.
When to go: Late October through early November

Daingerfield State Park

Another Piney Woods gem, Daingerfield State Park covers 507 acres of this scenic Northeast Texas region. You can hike, bike, and bird-watch, or paddle your way across the 80-acre lake. The Rustling Leaves Trail is an easy trek around that lake, or for even better views, take the Mountain View Trail up to the highest point in the park. Once fall hits, the oak, maple, sweetgum, and sassafras trees change colors and turn heads, with rich red, orange, and yellow hues set against a backdrop of evergreen pines.
When to go: Mid-October to mid-November

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

See that massive mound of pink granite? That’s Enchanted Rock. It was here before us-circa one billion years ago-and it will be here after us. Think about that permanence as you climb your way to the top, or explore one of the nearby trails, which cover 11 total miles. As you stroll, keep your eyes peeled for the painter’s palette of orange and yellow colors dotting the area’s oak trees.
When to go: November

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Kevin Gray is a freelance writer and editor covering food, drinks, and travel. He’s written for publications including the Dallas Morning News, Eater, Forbes, InsideHook and Travel + Leisure, and if he’s slow replying to your email it’s probably because he’s off exploring a new country. Follow him on social media¬†@kevinrgray.


The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.


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