Things to do this fall in San Diego, California

From apple and pumpkin picking, to seasonal shindigs at local theme parks + Día De Los Muertos, here are some of San Diego’s fall traditions.

Bates Nut Farm pumpkin patch

Hey there, pumpkin.

Photo via Bates Nut Farm

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Fall leaves and pumpkins, please. 🍂

Thurs., Sept. 22 marks the first day of autumn, and we’re pretty darn excited for the cozy season. Sure, it’s still warm outside and the leaves may not drastically change colors in our neck of the woods, but San Diego is home to fun fall traditions and — flip-flops + flannels in towwe shall get our autumn on.

From pumpkin patches and apple picking, to special parties at theme parks + “haunted” hot spots, here are some ways to enjoy the season in America’s Finest City.

🎃 Bates Nut Farm

Of all the pumpkin patches in the county, you have to walk into this one. This family-owned farm in Valley Center has been around for 100+ years, offering fall attractions for the past 50 years.

The pumpkin patch is open now through Mon., Oct. 31, offering gourds, tractor hayrides, a straw maze, a petting corral, and pony rides on select dates. There’s also live music from local groups throughout October.

Pro tip: Don’t leave without buying nuts from the Bates retail shop. 🌰

Julian Farm and Orchard apple picking san diego

It’s U-Pick season at Julian Farm and Orchard.

Photo via @farmers_rasmussen + @julianfarmandorchard

🍏 Apple picking in Julian

There’s nothing like a day trip to Julian in the fall — San Diego County’s charming little town in the Cuyamaca Mountains steeped in Gold Rush history.

September + October are prime apple picking months in Julian, with several “U-Pick” orchards open for the season. Join a guided apple picking tour at Julian Farm and Orchard Friday-Sunday, or head to Ranchita del Reo, open for apple picking Friday-Monday starting Sat., Sept. 24.

Pro tip: Don’t feel like harvesting? Just pick up an apple pie from Mom’s or Julian Pie Company and you’ll have all the fall feels. 🥧

Whaley House San Diego

How about a little visit to the Whaley House this season — and beyond?

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

👻 ‘Haunted’ Hot Spots

If you’re into the spooky vibes of the season, try these spine-tingling attractionsnot for the faint of heart.

Pro tip: Of course — fall + year-round — you can visit the historic Whaley House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, said to be the “America’s Most Haunted House.” 🏠

🎢 Fall attractions at local theme parks

San Diego County’s biggest theme parks have been given seasonal makeovers.

Belmont Park Fall Fest

Belmont Park’s Fall Fest runs through Halloween.

Photo via Belmont Park

LEGOLAND California Resort Brick-or-Treat

LEGOLAND’s Brick-or-Treat Monster Party runs every Saturday through Oct. 29 + Sun., Oct. 30.

Photo via LEGOLAND California Resort

  • LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad is hosting its annual Brick-or-Treat Monster Party every Saturday through Oct. 29 + Sun., Oct. 30. The fun — which runs from 3-9 p.m. — includes new shows, games + candy, and is included with daily admission.
SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween Spooktacular runs on the weekends through Halloween.

Photo via SeaWorld San Diego

  • SeaWorld San Diego is running its Halloween Spooktacular, a festive daytime event on Saturdays + Sundays through Halloween featuring trick-or-treating, a dance party, and more. The special programming is included with park admission — and kids go free with a paid adult ticket through Mon., Oct. 31. The theme park is also hosting its scary nighttime attraction, Howl-O-Scream, through Halloween.
  • Sesame Place San Diego in Chula Vista is showcasing The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular through Sun., Oct. 30 — “not-too-spooky fun” featuring trick-or-treating around the park, Halloween-themed shows + a spin on its parade, and photo opportunities with “Sesame Street” characters. This is included with admission.
Birch Aquarium Sunset Pier Walks fall activity in San Diego

Enjoy an educational walk along Scripps Pier via Birch Aquarium naturalist this fall.

Photo via Birch Aquarium

🌅 Sunset Pier Walks at Birch Aquarium

Catch a glowing San Diego sunset from a unique vantage point: Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier.

This fall — from Sun., Sept. 25-Sat., Nov. 5 — Birch Aquarium is bringing back its Sunset Pier Walks90-minute, sunset strolls on the pier guided by aquarium naturalists.

Scripps Pier is an active, working research pier that’s normally closed to the public, but Birch Aquarium says nature enthusiasts ages 9 and older can sign up for these special sessions on select Saturdays + Sundays. Tickets cost $25 for Birch Aquarium members + $30 for nonmembers.

The walks are part of the facility’s 2022-2023 Outdoor Adventures programming and will feature hands-on science stations where guests can examine samples under a microscope + learn about fieldwork conducted by Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers. 🔬

🏒 San Diego Gulls hockey

The city’s American Hockey League team hits the ice at Pechanga Arena in the Midway District for their lone preseason home game on Sat., Oct. 8.

The team’s 2022-2023 regular season starts shortly thereafter, with the home opener on Fri., Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., and another home game on Wed., Oct. 26. The season runs through April.

Sugar skulls

Don’t miss Día De Los Muertos in Old Town on Wed., Nov. 2.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

💀 Día De Los Muertos in Old Town

The most well-known Día De Los Muertos celebration in San Diego County returns to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park on Wed., Nov. 2.

The free event includes a traditional candlelight procession at sundown that starts in front of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and travels down San Diego Avenue to the historic El Campo Santo cemetery.

Many Old Town shops, restaurants + museums will partake in the festivities by creating their own ofrendasor altars dedicated to loved ones who have died. Some ofrendas will even honor legendary San Diegans who built Old Town. You can also add to the public ofrenda at El Campo Santo.

Know of a local fall tradition we missed? Send us an email with cool ways to enjoy San Diego this season.