Pumpkin patches, apple picking, spooky trails and hockey can only mean one thing: it's officially autumn in San Diego.
Despite the sunny skies and palm trees aplenty, the season will, eventually, turn in America's Finest City. And, when it does, these fun fall activities should get you into the spirit of the season. Enjoy!
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 beloved pumpkin patch Sept. 21 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 tractor hayrides, a straw maze, a bounce house, a petting corral and pony rides. Admission is free and parking is $5 on weekends in October. Activities cost $2.50 each.
As the season unfolds, Bates Nut Farm will host autumn-themed events such as the Arts, Crafts & Vintage Market Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, showcasing artisan vendors specializing in handmade goods. There's also the 28th Annual Scarecrow Contest on Oct. 12, the farm's "Howl-o-Ween Doggie Costume Contest" on Oct. 26 and its annual Halloween costume contest and parade, set for Oct. 27.
'Haunted' Hot Spots
As the spooky Halloween season approaches, The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park is one way to partake in a bit of fright this fall. Open from Sept. 27 to Nov. 2, those who dare to tackle this mile-long trail will enter the attraction 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 features an additional maze dubbed "The eXperiment," described as "3,500-square-feet of freak-infested terror." Tickets start at $24.99 per person, and include entry into "The eXperiment."
And, new this year, the attraction will include fresh horror themes like the "upside down world" from "Stranger Things," a nod to Jordan Peele's "Us" thriller, and a "Birdbox"-inspired cabin.
Meanwhile, spine-tingling thrills also await at The Disturbance, an all-new attraction in Mission Valley that replaces the long-running Haunted Hotel that spooked crowds in downtown San Diego for more than 25 years.
The Disturbance is described as a "Haunt Collective," features three attractions under one roof, plus free parking. It's located at 1640 Camino Del Rio North, near Westfield Mission Valley, and runs from Oct. 4 through Nov. 2. Tickets start at $24.99.
Julian Apple Picking
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 Volcan Valley Apple Farm (1284 Julian Orchards Dr.). For a full list of prime apple picking spots in Julian, click here.
By the way, the cute little mining town in San Diego's East County will feature a host of fall-themed events throughout the season, including pumpkin and berry harvesting, and the Sept. 28 Apple Days Event, featuring cider pressing, folk dancing, apple bobbing, and other 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 Pechanga Arena San Diego. The team's first home game is on Oct. 18 against Stockton Heat. The following week, on Oct. 25, the Gulls will take on Ontario Reign. Tickets usually start around $24.
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.
This year, the festivities are set for Nov. 1 through Nov. 3, including the traditional candlelight procession on Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. The procession starts at the Old Town entrance at San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street and ends at the historic El Campo Santo Cemetery. Participants will walk to altars set up at shops and museums within the landmark, leaving gifts and prayers for loved ones who have entered the spiritual realm. With San Diego's proximity to Mexico, this cultural event certainly signals that fall is here.
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), which starts its skating season on Nov. 1. Tickets to that rink cost $17 for adults and $15 for kids age 12 and under.
Meanwhile, The Hotel Del Coronado will also bring back its scenic, seaside rink, which opens Nov. 22 and costs $30 per person.
And, over at Liberty Station, the Rady Children's Ice Rink returns on Nov. 14, where tickets cost $15 for adults and $13 for kids.
AutumnFest & Wine Tasting 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 through Nov. 30, with many events to highlight the harvest. The Oct. 18 Harvest Fest this year will even include a concert by "America's Got Talent" winner Kodi Lee, who is from the area.
Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village
In true Southern California fashion – sporting board shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and flip-flops – Surfin' Santa is slated to make his 13th annual arrival at Seaport Village on Nov. 30. He’ll arrive at 1 p.m. in grand fashion, so snag a spot on the boardwalk for that show. As always, atop his giant surfboard, Santa will pose for free photos with visitors. Then, a festive parade will go down along the boardwalk featuring live street performers.
Of course, this is just a sampling of autumn activities in San Diego. What's your favorite fall tradition? Share in the comments thread below.