It’s officially the best time of year, fall! For myself and other fall lovers fall starts on September 1st and you cannot convince me otherwise. San Diego is known for having warm weather most of the year and doesn’t have a traditional fall season. However, what we lack in seasons, we make up for it with all the amazing Fall Activities in San Diego.
Whether you’re a fan of haunted trails, pumpkin patches, family fall activities, and Oktoberfest – San Diego truly has it all. In this post, I’m going to share the Best Things to Do in San Diego this fall. You are going to want to leave the flannel at home but continue reading for this ultimate autumn guide…
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Day Trip to Julian
Julian California is a quaint mountain town located an hour from Downtown San Diego. Drive through winding roads and beautiful serene scenery to reach the charming town. They are well known for their Apple Pies and the top contenders are Moms and Julian Pie Company.
You can also enjoy apple picking at Volcan Valley Orchard. The season typically starts at the beginning of September. Furthermore, Oktoberfest (October 7th, 2023), or wine tasting. Whatever Fall activity you choose you will not be disappointed! Finally, you can catch fall foliage here but it usually doesn’t peak until late November. Don’t miss my Best Things to Do in Julian, California for more information.
Visit Old Town for Dia de Los Muertos
Old Town is the oldest neighborhood in San Diego located in the heart of San Diego County. It is known for having great Mexican food, The Whaley House museum, and during October they decorate for Dia de Los Muertos. The celebration will take place on November 1st, 2023 this year. But expect the decor to be up by early to mid-October. Finally, embark on the spooky Ghosts & Gravestones trolley tour for a spooky fall activity.
Also, there is a hidden speakeasy next to the cemetery in Old Town. It’s extremely small and located behind Tahona Bar and is called Oculto 477. Best to make a reservation as it’s a popular spooky thing to do in San Diego!
When are the Dia de Los Muertos Celebrations happening in San Diego?
Below I’m sharing all the dates for the best Dia de Los Muertos celebrations in San Diego
- Old Town October 28th – November 2nd, 2023
- Oceanside Dia de Los Muertos: October 22nd, 2023
- Chula Vista Dia de Los Muertos: October 28th, 2023
- Encinitas Dia de Los Muertos: October 29th, 2023
Visit The Whaley House
One of America’s Most Haunted Houses is the Whaley House. From 1869-1871 this house was a gathering place for all of San Diego. Not only was it the Whaleys House’s main residence but it became a theatre, a courthouse, and more. This museum is known for multiple paranormal encounters. When booking a ticket you can learn about the spooky history of this truly haunted San Diego house.
Halgloween at the San Diego Zoo
The world-famous San Diego Zoo’s light-up-the-night, Halloween-themed extravaganza—is back! This year’s glowing celebration of color has been expanded to five weekends in October—Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (except October 30). So, get ready to enjoy some safe, family fun at this glittering and glimmering annual spectacular full of entertainment and interactive festivities! The best part is? Kids-free October run (under 11) throughout the entire month! Check out more information about Halgloween.
Autumn Festival at the San Diego Safari Park
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has Autumn Festivities for the entire family to enjoy! From interactive scarecrows to an adventure maze, live music, and even a lantern ceremony choreographed to music. These happenings take place every Saturday & Sunday on the dates below.
Dates: October 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th, 30th, and 31st
SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream
Get spooked at SeaWorld Howl-O-Scream which takes place from September 16th-October 31st. Each evening at nightfall experience ghoulish creatures and fun Halloween scare zones around the park. Tickets start at $40 and you want to book this experience in advance as they do sell out!
Scream Zone at Del Mar Fairgrounds
If you’re into gore and scary experiences then the Scream Zone at Del Mar Fairgrounds is for you! This activity is geared more towards teenagers and adults, it’s considered San Diego’s largest haunted experience. The past two years it was a drive-thru experience but this year the full walking experience is back including a haunted hayride. Finally, it takes place from October 6th – October 31st, and tickets start at $25.
Haunted Walking Tour around the Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter is littered with a spooky history. Back in the late 1800s, it had hundreds of brothels, and multiple murders and spooky accidents took place. I learned so much from this haunted walking tour around downtown and had the best time! If you’re looking to get into the Halloween spirit but don’t like Haunted House then this tour is for you!
Legoland Brick or Treat
A signature Halloween event at Legoland California, Brick-or-Treat will take over the resort with tons of candy, fun show lineups, and exclusive treat party nights for all kids to enjoy. Join the party every Saturday from September 16th – October 29th and also on Sunday, October 30th from 2 pm-8 pm. Book your tickets in advance!
The Haunted Trail in Balboa Park
Experience the spookiest outdoor trail of horror. Every year Balboa Park houses the Haunted Trail and experience this 1-mile trail with scary mazes and haunted happenings! It’s best at nighttime and is known to sell out so grab your tickets in advance.
San Diego has a huge Oktoberfest scene with tons of celebrations around the county. Immerse yourself in the German culture to grab a lager, soft pretzel, or bratwurst, and enjoy live music. Below are the dates and details of each event.
- La Mesa Oktoberfest September 29th – October 4th, 2023: The La Mesa Oktoberfest located in La Mesa Village is the biggest celebration in the county and spans 3 days.
- Ocean Beach Oktoberfest October 6th + 7th, 2023: Located where Newport Ave meets the pier this event spans 2 days and costs $10 entry.
- Encinitas Oktoberfest September 24th, 2023: Located on Mountain Vista Drive this event takes place from 10 am to 6 pm and features a German beer garden, live music, carnival rides, and local artisan shops.
- El Cajon Oktoberfest September 29th – October 8th, 2023: Located at 1017 South Mollison Avenue and recurs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from the dates listed.
- Carlsbad Oktoberfest October 7th, 2023: This 40th-year celebration takes place from 12 pm-8 pm and is located on Cannon Road.
Visit One Paseo for Fall Decor
One Paseo is decorated with the cutest fall decor including a vintage pickup truck littered with all the fall things! Grab a seasonal latte from Parakeet Cafe and walk around the shops for the perfect fall activity. They also have an Oktoberfest celebration on October 7th and Cinema under the Stars on October 28th.
Other Fall Activities in San Diego
- Visit The Invigatorium Coffee Shop Downtown for unique Halloween-esque decor
- Barbarella in La Jolla goes all out with their Halloween decor
- Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park and peep the fall foliage (peaks mid to late November)
Best Pumpkin Patches in San Diego
Well, there you have it, San Diego! I hope you enjoyed my “Ultimate Guide to Fall Activities in San Diego”. Don’t forget to check out more of my San Diego Travel Guides and Happy Fall ya’ll!
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