FALL'S POP CULTURE FAVORITE: If one loves autumn -- and we mean really loves it, from the pumpkin spice lattes to the pumpkin spice candles to the pumpkin spice room sprays -- then one generally keeps a soft spot for the fictional favorites of the season. Yep, there's the Great Pumpkin, and, yes, all of the adorable supernatural types associated with Halloween, but that crew is really about the end of October. We're talking fall here, and we're putting a stake in the ground on this one claim: The scarecrow is the principal symbolic figure of the season. Maybe it is seen less in cornfields these days than on the big screen (hello, Scarecrow from "Batman Begins" and hello, the most famous character to ever look for a brain, the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz"). Maybe it is more a decoration for homes than a scarer of crows. Or maybe it has become quite the avenue for making art. Look no further than a trio of Golden State towns, all towns that hold a whimsical and photographable scarecrow festival of sorts each autumn. Those towns include...
CAMBRIA: The right-up-against-the-Pacific town is famed for taking the art road all year long, but come the fall? "Over 350 of the most artistic, creative, and lively scarecrows" pop up around Cambria. And only very rarely do they include hay. This is Cambria, after all. Think seashells and plants and found objects and other funky goodness. It's on through the end of October.
SOLVANG: It won't be long before the yuletide-iest spot in all of the Santa Ynez Wine Country begins to hang its Danish-authentic stockings, but, for now, some 117 autumnal crow-scarers can be found through the windmill-y burg. They're highly thought-out, too; a pizza scarecrow for a pizza place and such. Cheers, scarecrow builders, for putting some heart into it.
FALLBROOK: The not-to-far-from-San-Diego village also goes the scarecrow route, with "over 100" of the picturesque figures on display throughout the witching month. Here's hoping that an avocado theme is involved in at least one, given the town's celebrated avocado festival each spring.