Pumpkin patches, “haunted” trails, ice skating and apple cider only mean one thing: It’s officially autumn in San Diego. So, turn over a new leaf and enjoy the new season that has arrived with your friends or family.
Here are some classically San Diego ways to celebrate the fall season this year:
Julian Apple Picking
Can't wait to enjoy some apple cider or fresh apples? Julian is the fall destination for San Diegans, especially during apple picking season. The season typically runs late from August through October. Orchards offer the “U-pick” option and some may provide apple cider making and tasting experiences. Some businesses are Apples and Art Orchards (1052 Julian Orchards Dr.), Apple Starr Orchards (1020 Julian Orchards Dr.) and Julian Farm & Orchard (4381 Highway 78).
To see the full list of apple picking spots in Julian click here.
Other events that Julian is hosting this year include their very own pumpkin patch. Starting Sept. 22 through Halloween, San Diegans can enjoy a 25-acre farm, 3 acres of pumpkins and gourds on the vine with free admission.
Bates Nut Farm
Bates Nut Farm is the most popular family farm in Valley Center. This family farm is open daily offering a beautiful setting for picnics, leisurely strolls, a farm zoo and, of course, delicious snacks like nuts, candies, dried fruits and chocolates, and homemade fudge.
Their pumpkin patch will start Sept. 22 and runs through Halloween. It’s fifty years of “fall traditions and memories” all in one spot.
Admission is free and a $5 parking charge only applies on weekends in October. Activities cost $2.50 each. Tractor hayrides, a straw maze and live entertainment will provide fun for the entire family.
Dare to take a ride on the dark side with this haunted tour. Old Town is home to one of the most haunted houses in the U.S., according to the Travel Channel’s “America’s Most Haunted Places.” Starting Oct. 1, reserve your spot for the Ghost and Gravestones Frightseeing tour. The tour will take you around Old Town, sharing the history, mystery and legends of San Diego’s past. The Whaley House tour is the only one not recommended for children. Tickets start at $32.
The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park
The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park is the awaited attraction this fall. It opens September 28 through Halloween. It’s a mile-long trail through the twisted grove of pines and gnarled oaks that will be sure to scare your socks off. And back by popular demand, the 3,500 square-foot Experiment Maze of terror will be what you first encounter when you enter The Haunted Trail. General admission is $25 and tickets can be purchased online.
The Haunted Hotel
Dare to enter the depths of horror at The Haunted Hotel located in the Gaslamp District starting Sept. 28 through Halloween. Tickets start at $25. With an all-new Hellevator, stroll down the dark, deadly Zombie infested alley if you dare. For more information visit their website.
Día de los Muertos in Old Town
Old Town will host its annual Día de Los Muertos. A Mexican tradition that celebrates those who have passed away starts November 2 and lasts three days. The first day will include a traditional evening procession starting at 6 p.m. where attendees can travel from altar to altar, leaving gifts and prayers for loved ones who have entered the spiritual realm. The altars will be set up at shops and museums within Old Town; the procession ends at the historic El Campo Santo cemetery. For more information visit their website.
Only in San Diego can you ice skate by the beach. Skating by the Sea returns to Hotel Del Coronado starting Nov. 22 through Jan. 1. Tickets are $30 per person. For more information visit their website. Or you can head over to Alpine to the Viejas Outlet Center (right next to the casino and resort) which has the largest outdoor ice rink in Southern California. It sees approximately 33,000 visitors each year. Skating season typically starts at the end of October or beginning of November.
Wine Tasting & the Harvest in Temecula
Temecula, located just north of 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. Also, from Sept. 29 through Oct. 28, check out the Big Horse Corn Maze & Harvest Festival at the Big Horse Feed & Mercantile (33320 Temecula Parkway), a fall festival featuring an 11-acre corn maze, pony rides, a pumpkin patch and lots of other fun, family-friendly activities.
San Diego Gulls Hockey Season
With the Chargers long gone, we need another fall sport to root for and the San Diego Gulls will give us just that. The team returns to the rink this fall, playing their home games at Valley View Casino Center. The first home games of the season start on Oct. 12 and Oct. 19. Tickets typically start around $23.