Things to do this fall in San Diego County

From farms and hayrides to seasonal shindigs at local theme parks and Día De Los Muertos, we’re fallin’ for this time of year in America’s Finest City.

SD Fort Cross Julian Autumn Jubilee

Head east to Julian for the Autumn Jubilee in September and October at the family farm, Fort Cross.

Photo via Fort Cross

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Fall leaves and pumpkins, please. Sept. 23 marks the first day of autumn and while the temps and leaves may not drastically change in our neck of the woods, San Diego County is home to fun fall traditions. Throw on that flannel (but also still flip-flops, obviously) and enjoy the cozy season.

SD Bates Nut Farm pumpkins 2023

Fall isn’t complete without a visit to Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center.

Photo via @batesnutfarm

Bates Nut Farm, Valley Center

This family-owned farm has been around for 100+ years, offering fall attractions like its famous pumpkin patch, open now through Tuesday, Oct. 31. Don’t miss the tractor hayrides, straw maze, petting corral, and live music on select dates throughout the season.

SD Fall Julian Farm and Orchard

Don’t miss Harvest Fest at Julian Farm and Orchard, where guests can experience a real working farm.

Apple picking and fall activities, Julian

There’s nothing like a road trip to Julianespecially in the fall. San Diego County’s charming mountain town is home to several orchards that host “U-pick” season. Try Volcan Valley Apple Farm open Friday-Sunday, or Julian Apple Co.

Also, don’t miss:

  • Family farm Fort Cross is hosting its Julian Autumn Jubilee every weekend from Sept. 23 to Oct. 29, a family-friendly fall festival featuring hayrides, cider pressing demos, a petting zoo, candle dipping, crafts, and a hoedown. SDtoday readers can get 25% off 2023 Autumn Jubilee activity packages using the promo code SDTODAY.
  • Julian Farm and Orchard’s Harvest Fest this season — Fridays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. — where visitors can experience a real working farm, tractor-pulled hayrides, and a hay bale maze.
  • Currently home to 29 wolves, the California Wolf Center is offering fall-themed tours of its Julian conservation facility including its Howl-O-Ween Tours on Saturday, Oct. 28 + Sunday, Oct. 29.
Whaley House

We just hope the inhabitants are friendly.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Kate Morgan Hotel Del Coronado

An undated, historical photo of the “beautiful stranger,” Kate Morgan.

Photo via Hotel del Coronado

‘Haunted’ hot spots, Locations vary

If you’re into spooky fall vibes, try these spine-tingling attractions — not for the faint of heart.

  • The Haunted Trail and The Experiment Maze — both at Balboa Park — run Fri., Sept. 22-Tuesday, Oct. 31.
  • The Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, runs on select dates Thursday, Oct. 5-Tuesday, Oct. 31.
  • Howl-O-Scream at SeaWorld San Diego, runs on select nights Friday, Sept. 29-Tuesday, Oct. 21; this requires separate admission from the theme park.
  • Hotel del Coronado is hosting a series of spooky events this October including the Room 502 Tour (the room where Kate Morgan stayed, said to be the “hotel’s most haunted room”), the Paranormal Tour throughout the property, and An Evening with the Spirits.
  • Of course — fall and year-round — you can visit the historic Whaley House in Old Town and see why it’s dubbed “America’s Most Haunted House.”
SD Belmont Park Beachside Fall Fest 2023

Oh, it’s fall at Belmont Park alright.

Photo via Belmont Park

Fall attractions, Local theme parks

  • Head to Belmont Park’s annual Beachside Fall Fest through Tuesday, Oct. 31, featuring a pumpkin patch, live music, specialty treats, and seasonal beer on tap. There’s also free trick-or-treating for kids every Sunday in October.
  • Check out Halgloween at the San Diego Zoo — a colorful, Halloween-themed celebration Fridays-Sundays in October, starting at 5 p.m.
  • Try LEGOLAND California Resort’s Brick-or-Treat event on select dates in September and October, plus its Monster Party that includes seasonal entertainment, a costume contest, and trick-or-treating.
  • Sesame Place San Diego is hosting The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular on weekends through Sunday, Oct. 29, offering “not-too-spooky” shows, parades, scavenger hunts, and trick-or-treating.
  • SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween Spooktacular runs Fridays-Sundays through Oct. 29, with a themed dance party, pumpkin scavenger hunt, and trick-or-treating.
  • Birch Aquarium will host Halloween Aglow on Friday, Oct. 27, a family-friendly, after-hours party featuring a costume contest, live music, trick-or-treat stations, and a chance to learn about the mysteries of the ocean.
SD Sunset Scripps Pier Walk Birch Aquarium Fall 2023

Walk on Scripps Pier and learn about local ocean research at seasonal sunset strolls via Birch Aquarium.

Photo via Birch Aquarium

Sunset Scripps Pier Walk, Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium is offering its educational, seasonal stroll on the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier on select Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 10. The 90-minute strolls are guided by aquarium naturalists and feature hands-on science stations at the 1,090-ft research pier that’s typically closed to the public. Book your ticket.

SD San Diego Gulls

The San Diego Gulls play at Pechanga Arena in the Midway District.

Photo via San Diego Gulls

San Diego Gulls hockey, Pechanga Arena

SD’s American Hockey League team will host its fall home opener at Pechanga Arena on Friday, Oct. 20. The 2023-2024 season runs through April — check out the schedule.

SD Dia de Los Muertos Old Town San Diego Fall 2022

A public ofrenda at El Campo Santo cemetery in Old Town in October 2022.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Día De Los Muertos, Old Town

Old Town’s businesses and streets are decked out with colorful ofrendas — aka altars — this time of year, paying tribute to community members who have died. You can add to the public ofrenda at the historic El Campo Santo cemetery.

The most well-known Día de Los Muertos celebration goes down at the landmark on Thursday, Nov. 2 — a candlelight procession at sundown that starts in front of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and travels down San Diego Avenue to El Campo Santo. Old Town will also host special Día de Los Muertos activities Saturday, Oct. 28 + Sunday, Oct. 29.

San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

San Diego Beer Week — and the Guild Fest — is in November.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Beer and food festivals, Locations vary

  • The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival returns on Wednesday, Nov. 8-Sunday, Nov. 12, highlighting the local culinary scene. The food-centric celebration’s biggest event is the Grand Tasting on Saturday, Nov. 11, 12-3 p.m., at Embarcadero Marina Park North.

Know of a local fall tradition we missed? Send us a note.