Even though our autumns mostly consist of beach days, flip flops, and pumpkin spice lattes on ice, our families want to experience fall festivities just like the rest of the country. We’ve scoured the area to come up with great day trips and afternoon play dates to get your kids totally psyched for the changing season. Between harvest festivals, Halloween events, and even a Camel ranch, your weekends will be jam-packed with tons of autumn activities, with or without the changing leaves.
Bates Nut Farm
This unique farm is fun for the family all year round, but especially in the fall with their pumpkin patch. Bates Nut Farm has a beautiful space with a big field filled with bright orange pumpkins, surrounded by cornstalks and sunflowers. They also have tractor rides, a hay maze, and even pony rides for your little ones.
15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Valley Center, Ca
Lavender Hill Pumpkins
This is a classic, straightforward pumpkin farm. If pumpkins are what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. Lavender Hill has tons of different styles, shapes, and sizes, and they work to cater towards a family garden experience. There aren’t rides or a petting zoo, but there are a lovely staff and quality U-Pick pumpkins for the season.
1509 East Mission Rd.
If you’re looking for that classic “day in the country” so hard to find in San Diego, Pelter Farms has you covered. Pony rides, a mound-o-hay, pumpkin, gourd, and squash patches, and even pig races—they’ve got you covered. They even have 100-pound pumpkins for those families who are serious about decorating. The farm is open for the fall season starting September 22 all the way through October 31.
39925 Calle Contento
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is nestled right in the hills and is absolutely classic farm fun. Every child gets a Jack Patch Pumpkin and a water ball with admission, there’s playground equipment, picnic tables, and a petting zoo for an easy fall afternoon.
14950 El Monte Rd.
Mountain Valley Ranch
Sure this place has Indian corn, a pumpkin patch full of gourds, and different colored pumpkins to choose from, but what makes this special? How about a corn cannon? That’s right, this bad boy launches corn cobs like mortars with report. Post up on some of the vintage farm equipment for an old school photo shoot to remember your day.
842 Highway 78
Peacefield Orchard is right in Julian, Ca, otherwise known as apple country. At their U-Pick Orchard, you are given free rein to experience hand-picking your own fruit right off the tree. The staff there help create photo opportunities for you and your family in front of the old trees and farm tractors. After spending an hour or so harvesting your own apples, sit in the Meditation Garden, or walk the Labyrinth.
3803 Wynola Rd.
Julian Mining Company
Feel like spending an entire day at a farm with U-Pick raspberries, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, apple cider mill, gold mining, a make your own candle station, and more? Julian Mining Company is your one-stop shop for all things fall. They are open 10:00am – 5:00pm and charge $12 per adult and $9 per child under 12. Groups of 4 or more receive a free bag gem of mining rough!
4444 Hwy 78
Oasis Camel Dairy
A Camel farm you say? Absolutely! Not only do they sell amazing camel-derived products, the farm keeps baby camels too (bet you’ve never seen of those before!). This farm is not open to the public all of the time, though, and their next public tour weekend is October 20, so definitely check out their website and call for information before you go. You don’t want to miss this experience that kids will never stop talking about!
26757 Old Julian Hwy
Where are you headed this weekend to enjoy the change in seasons? Keep us posted in comments!
—Lauren Dupuis and Claire Schillings
photo credit: nerdcoregirl, edenpictures, and Brian Birke via flickr