Not All Fall Colors Are in New England!
When most people in the United States think of seeing fall colors, they plan on going to New England. While there are certainly spectacular colors to be seen there, we westerners also have some much closer choices. In New England, the color changes generally start in the north and spread south as the season progresses. In California, there is a progression as well, but it generally starts at the higher altitudes and spreads to the lower elevations. Our color changes generally start in mid to late September so many places are in the middle of their season. You can find a great article on some of the current places to see color here.
Because of all the micro-climates in the state and the variations between various tree types, changes can occur at various times from valley to valley and grove to grove. This makes it hard to predict exactly when the peak colors will occur but a great site for tracking the changes is California Fall Color. It provides current information on various areas, ranking them as just starting, patchy, near peak, peak and past peak.
Fall colors are usually associated with trees, but another spectacular source are the vineyards located throughout the state. They can provide views of rolling hills covered in color so you should also consider a trip to Napa and Sonoma Counties for the impressive views there.