Fall in San Diego is a time for outdoor activities that focus on enjoying all that autumn has to offer. Traditional fall festivals, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and pumpkin farms are family-friendly and often have free activities. Our Day Trips Traveling Mom shares her favorite fall family activities in San Diego, most of which are perfect for a full day of entertainment. These nine autumn-themed things to do with kids in San Diego will get you in the fall spirit, despite the warm weather!
Fall Family Activities in San Diego
Many San Diego locals will let you know that there’s a noticeable lack of seasons in our coastal city. Average fall temperatures hover in the low 70s in San Diego. But don’t let the lack of crisp weather dissuade you from thinking that there’s no autumn themed celebrations. These nine featured fall family activities in San Diego locations range from historical festivals, theme park fun and a classic San Diego beach party. Leave the flannel at home – Flip-flops are welcome!
1. Enjoy an Autumn Apple Pie Day in Julian
While the Julian Apple Days Festival takes place in late September, any day in autumn is a perfect time for a drive to the small mountain community of Julian. Visitors can visit a gold mine, take a trail hike, pick apples straight off the tree at many of the local orchards and wander the shops in the historical town. And of course, getting a taste of apple pie is a must! See this post about what else there is to see and do during apple season in Julian.
2. Old Town’s Fall Festival
See how San Diego used to celebrate the autumn season at the museums and merchants in Old Town State Park on Oct 14, 2017 from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Shops and museums will host family-friendly games, activities and entertainment reminiscent of an old-fashioned harvest celebration.
Free craft activities will include pumpkin painting, corn shucking, bird feeders and corn husk dolls. Participating merchants will also have craft activities inside their shops.
3. SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular
SeaWorld San Diego’s annual Halloween Spooktacular event takes place every weekend in October. Guests of all ages can trick-or-treat through the park while still enjoying the rides, seasonal shows, aquariums and sea life attractions. There is no additional charge to enjoy the Spooktacular and costumes are encouraged but not required.
Read this review post for more information about SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween Spooktacular and how kids’ admission is free in October!
4. A Real Farm Experience to Pick a Pumpkin
For over 50 years, families have gathered at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center for their outdoor fall festivities. Activities include tractor hayrides, straw maze, petting corral and pony rides. Weekend entertainment is offered in October from 12:00 -3:00, including live entertainment. There is also kettle corn, food trucks and various kids’ activities like a rock climb and slide. (Parking is $5 cash on October weekends).
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch at Von Ommering Dairy Farm in Lakeside is our family’s favorite during fall in San Diego. There’s farm equipment for photo ops and a covered hay ride around the farm. Check out the petting corral and free play activities for kids. Our favorite is the cottonseed mountain to sled down. You could seriously spend all day here because the kids never want to leave! There is a snack stand that accepts cash only. Oma’s is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Adults are $5 each and children are $10 (kids’ admission includes their choice of a small pumpkin and a bottle of water).
5. Pacific BeachFest
Yep, it’s still warm enough for flip-flops in San Diego for fall! Head to the beach for the 20th annual Pacific BeachFest on Saturday, Oct. 7th from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Several sports tournaments will be taking place (volleyball and surfing) as well as live music and a craft beer garden. Stop at the Kids Action Alley with carnival rides beach-side, as well as other free fun games and activities and free arts and crafts. There’s even a fish taco contest where all visitors can get in on the taste testing!
6. Brick-or-Treat Party Nights at LEGOLAND California
This evening special ticket event allows guests to dress in costume and party Halloween-style inside LEGOLAND California. “Brick or Treat” stations located around the park offer treats including candy, juice boxes and coveted commemorative LEGO bricks. Live entertainment, a costume contest and themed stage shows make this an evening for all aged. Be sure to read this post on how to maximize your time at the LEGOLAND Brick or Treat Party Night.
7. Balboa Park Halloween Family Day
San Diego’s Balboa Park offers its annual Halloween Family Day on Oct 28, 2017 with safe and culturally-inspired fun for all. Over two dozen museums and attractions inside Balboa Park are participating. The museums are offering free admission to children 12 and under with paying adult. Activities include free craft projects for kids, costume parades and contests, mini-carnival games and other spooky surprises from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Looking for free things to do in Balboa Park year-round, check out this post.
8. Spooky Halloween Thrills for Teens and Adults
I’ll confess that I’ve not done any of the following haunted events, because I’m a big chicken when it comes to getting scared! The mile-long Haunted Trail of Balboa Park offers outdoor frights. The Haunted Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter is the longest running haunted house in San Diego. And the Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is San Diego county’s largest haunted experience, with three attractions in one location.
9. Dia de los Muertos in Old Town
Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) is considered to be one of the most important holidays of the year by many in Mexico and other Latin American countries. The Dia de los Muertos celebration in Old Town blends history, culture and heritage. Over 40 altars of remembrance are presented in both traditional and contemporary ways. This includes a public altar where visitors are encouraged to participate by adding their own mementos.
Guests are encouraged to come in sugar skull face paint or Day of the Dead costume (not Halloween costumes, as the events are unrelated). Traditional entertainment, regional foods and activities for all ages will be available. The celebration takes place October 28 and 29th, 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM on both days. There is a candlelight procession on November 2 (gathering starts at 4:30 p.m. Procession Starts at 6:30 p.m.).