10 Fun Fall Activities in San Diego for Kids
While most of the country is seeing temperatures dipping and leaf colors changing as the fall season starts, we San Diegans are still enjoying our 80°F temperatures and beaches. We may not experience obvious seasonal changes, but that doesn’t mean families can’t enjoy events and activities that signal fall. Whether you’re a local or visiting San Diego, check out these fall activities and celebrations especially leading up to Halloween.
Fun Events and Fall Festivals in San Diego
You can always count on the amusement parks to celebrate fall. The most notable is Legoland’s annual Brick-or-Treat party nights every Saturday night during October. There are new themed shows, live entertainment and character meet and greets. Kids can participate in costume contests and certain missions to collect limited edition, souvenir Pop Badges. And who can turn down treat stations with over a million candy pieces?
Visit a Pumpkin Patch or Corn Maze
The sight of pumpkins everywhere has always equated to fall season. Many pumpkin patches pop up all over San Diego. Bates Nut Farm has been providing families with fall memories for over 50 years. In addition to providing a large variety of pumpkins, the farm also has a straw maze, pony rides, petting corral and tractor hayrides. There is live entertainment, family-friendly events plus an inflatable bounce house and slide during the weekends. Kids also love their long candy counter and homemade fudge samples.
We also enjoy Mountain Valley Ranch in Ramona and the Carlsbad Pumpkin Patch near Legoland. Both have corn mazes. But, my kids have always enjoyed Mountain Valley for the corn cannon, hayrides and the petting zoos. Big Horse Feed & Mercantile in Temecula is also a can’t-miss attraction for the largest corn maze in Southern California (11+ acres!) plus many family-friendly activities.
Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos
San Diego’s close to proximity to Mexico gives us the opportunity to witness and participate in many of their cultural activities. Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a traditional Mexican holiday to honor deceased loved ones. It is believed that during this time loved ones’ spirits return to celebrate with friends and family.
Many communities host various celebrations and events to commemorate the day. All are guaranteed to have delicious food, entertainment, activities, face painting, vendors and altars to remember the loved ones. The altars are always very interesting and filled with marigolds. Two of the biggest celebrations are in Old Town San Diego and at Old Mission San Luis Rey. These events are a wonderful way for kids to learn about the Mexican culture.
One of our favorite fall day trips is to the alpine town of Julian about an hour away from downtown. This is the best place for apple picking. Their annual Apple Days festival in fall is a can’t-miss event.
We love walking down Main Street, visiting the quaint stores, and smelling the delicious aroma of apple pies baking. Moms Pies and Julian Pie Company sell them by the slice or box. Julian is also a historic gold rush town. Kids can pan for gold, ride horse carriages or tour mines.
If you want to experience the spirit of Halloween, San Diego doesn’t disappoint. The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park has been scaring people for years. It starts out with a 3,500 square-foot terror maze followed by a mile of fog, shock, horror and pop culture scary characters like Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers that may have caused a nightmare or two.
The Haunted Hotel in the Gaslamp District has been a Halloween staple for 25 years. With attractions inside like the Hellevator, Zombie-infested alley and Clown Subway, this haunt will surely bring some terrifying screams and memorable escapes.
Both attractions are recommended only for children over age 10. I’m still trying to gather up my nerve to finally take my kids who have been asking to go. For fans of real haunted houses, the Whaley House in Old Town is open all year and has been dubbed one of America’s most haunted houses.
San Diego prides itself on strong military ties, and Fleet Week in October is a great way to celebrate and thank our military with several events. Some of the best military aircraft, submarines, amphibious ships and many other vessels are on display and open to the public along the downtown waterfront with opportunities for tours. There is also a free Innovation Zone where kids can learn through many STEM and technology-focused interactive displays.
See the Mother Goose Parade
Thanksgiving Week is a host to several events. Besides college football games, the classic and annual family-friendly Mother Goose Parade is the biggest event. It’s a wonderful start to the holiday season and includes an appearance by Santa. There are usually over 100 colorful floats, giant balloons, equestrians, marching bands and more.
One of the parade’s main purposes has always been to educate the public through the promotion of the arts, culture, heritage, science, education, environment and religion by depicting scenes through the various entries. This is San Diego County’s largest parade and the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi. The parade is held the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
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