Pumpkin patches, apple picking, football and ice rinks can only mean one thing: it's fall in San Diego. As the season turns, enjoy these fun fall activities that remind us, once again, that we truly do live in America's Finest City.
Julian Apple Picking
Craving some fresh fruit in the fall? Once the leaves start to turn, San Diegans often head east to Julian for apple picking season, which typically runs from late August through October. Apple Starr Orchards (1020 Julian Orchards Dr.), for example, will host apple picking sessions every weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through early October, offering visitors a chance to get their hands on ripe Fuji, Gala, Delicious, Granny and Jonagold varieties, as well as pears. Volcan Valley Apple Farm (1284 Julian Orchards Dr.) is also hosting a “U-Pick” season this fall, with orchards boasting seven kinds of apples. For a full list of orchards in Julian, click here. Keep in mind, due to the ongoing extreme drought in California, some orchards have had to shorten or cancel their apple picking season over the last couple of years, so call ahead when planning your visit.
Bates Nut Farm
Nothing says fall in San Diego like a visit to the Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center. The picturesque North County family farm opens its doors to visitors year after year, offering a beautiful setting for picnics, leisurely strolls and, of course, delicious snacks including nuts, candies, dried fruits, chocolates and homemade fudge. This fall, the farm will open its famous pumpkin patch Sept. 24 through Oct. 31 featuring a variety of pumpkins, gourds and squash ripe for the picking. The patch boasts many family-friendly activities to keep the kids entertained, including a rock climb wall, bounce house and slide. On weekends, the Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch features live entertainment from noon to 3 p.m., plus fresh BBQ, kettle corn, food trucks and other fall fun. Admission is free and parking is $5 on weekends in October.
Really, what is fall without football? Decked out in blue and gold, locals can cheer on the Chargers all season at Qualcomm Stadium -- at least while the team is still in San Diego. Check out the Bolts website for the schedule of home games at the Q. Also, don’t forget the tailgate party before the game.
The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park
As the spooky Halloween season approaches, The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park is a sure-fire way to have a frightening fall. Open this year from Sept. 25 through Nov. 1, this mile-long trail is a stroll through the park you’ll never forget. Those who dare enter through a twisted grove of pines and gnarled oaks. After that, all bets are off as scary surprises lurk around every corner. The Haunted Trail also hosts an additional maze dubbed “The eXperiment,” described as “3,500-square-feet of freak-infested terror.” Tickets range from $19 to $35 per person, depending on whether you want to combine the trail and “eXperiment” maze.
The Haunted Hotel
Looking for spine-tingling thrills? Head to The Haunted Hotel in the Gaslamp for a good scare – if you dare. Patrons make their way through a creepy hotel, trying to escape from all kinds of ghouls. This spooky fall attraction runs from Sept. 25 through Nov. 1 and general admission costs $18 per person.
Viejas Ice Rink
Sure, we live in sunny San Diego but ice rinks do exist here, too. Take the family to the ice rink at the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine (right next to the casino and resort) – the largest outdoor ice rink in Southern California, which sees approximately 33,000 visitors each year. This year, skating season kicks off Oct. 31 and runs through Jan. 10, 2016. It’s $13 to skate for kids 12 and under and $15 for adults and teens.
Ice Skating at Horton Square
Each year, the square just outside the NBC 7 studios and Horton Plaza Mall in downtown San Diego transforms into an ice rink. The rink is typically open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $14 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under, which includes rental ice skates. Season passes can typically be purchased for around $35. This year, the rink will be open from Nov. 19, 2015, through Jan. 3, 2016.
Wine Tasting in Temecula
Temecula in north San Diego County is known for its wine country and in the fall, many wineries host special harvest events in addition to their daily tastings. Lorimar Vineyards and Winery, for example, will celebrate the season with its Grape Stomp & Harvest Festival on Sept. 26 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., which includes live music and vineyard hay rides. Meanwhile, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa is offering “Autumn Escape” spa specials to go with the season (available now through Dec. 1) such as an “Autumn Glow” facial, which includes a 30 percent pumpkin enzyme peel.
Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village
In true Southern California fashion – sporting board shorts and flip-flops – Surfin’ Santa is slated to make his 10th annual arrival at Seaport Village on Nov. 28. He’ll arrive in style, via a special water craft, and enjoy the San Diego sunshine while visiting with locals from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. He’ll also pose for pictures with his surfboard, of course.