Pumpkin patches, apple picking, football and ice rinks can only mean one thing: it's officially 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. Popular "U-Pick" businesses include Apple Starr Orchards (1020 Julian Orchards Dr.) and Calico Ranch (4200 Highway 78). For a full list of prime apple picking spots in Julian, click here. By the way, the cute little town in San Diego's East County will kick off the season with Julian Apple Days, a fall festival planned for Sept. 24 and Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Menghini Winery. The fest will include apple displays, music and dancing, an antique tractor display, children’s games and activities, gold panning demonstrations, a beer and wine garden, food and merchandise vendors, contests, and, of course, that famous Julian apple pie.
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. 30 through Oct. 31, 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 cost $25 per person, including entry into "The eXperiment."
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. 23 through Halloween; general admission costs $19 per person.
Dia De Los Muertos in Old Town
Each fall, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park celebrates Mexican culture and those who have passed away with a giant Dia De Los Muertos party, typically at the end of October or early November. This year, the festivities are set for Oct. 29-30, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dia De Los Muertos lands on Nov. 2 and, on that day, Old Town will host activities throughout the park, plus the traditional evening procession (starting at 6 p.m.), where attendees can travel from alter to alter leaving gifts and prayers for loved ones who have entered the spiritual realm. With San Diego's proximity to Mexico, this is a cultural event that should certainly be added to your fall bucket list.
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 will likely wrap up the first week of January 2017.
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. The community will host AutumnFest throughout the season, with many events to highlight the harvest.
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.