Our scenic cityscape might be best known for its surf and turf, but there are many offerings and activities that make swinging through fall on the notes of pumpkin spice, falling leaves and carved pumpkins even more desirable. This autumn embrace the season with these 25 activities to add to your fall bucket list. Hurry up before the holiday lights switch on!


1. Watch Hocus Pocus. No fall bucket list is complete without the addition of the 1993 Sanderson Sisters. Invite the Salem witch sisters into your home, but remind Sam not to light the black flame candle.

2. Make a tie blanket with some fleece. Visit a fabric store like Jo-Ann Fabric and buy at least two yards of fleece fabric to make an easy tie blanket that will keep you cozy as we experience cooler temperatures.

3. Enjoy some hot apple cider. Your favorite coffee shop might be adding this tummy warmer to their menu and if not, there’s oodles of tempting recipes in the world of Pinterest.

4. Make a fall themed pie. Visit your local farmer’s market and purchase the necessary goods to make an apple or pumpkin pie. Plate it up with some whipped cream and ’tis the season of baked goods.

5. Immerse yourself in history in an antique San Diego neighborhood. There’s a certain mystique about Old Town that gives one the feeling of fall, but without having to leave the city to do so. It could be the larger than life oak tree in its central plaza or the old cannon that sits upon a wooden carriage, but this historic park has an intriguing aspect for nearly every visitor. Visit without any particular reason or come for their Annual Fall Festival in October.


6. Play with some leaves. Our seasons might not change as noticeably as they do on the East Coast, but you can get your fill of crunching, multi-colored leaves in Julian, Mt. Laguna and various spots in East County.

7. Got milk? Travel down Old Julian Highway and follow the sign to the Oasis Camel Dairy. Visiting a local camel farm just seems like something you’ve got to add to this year’s bucket list. The Ramona farm is open select dates during October and November for open farm tours and specials. Purchase some chocolates made from camel milk to put in your family’s Halloween buckets.

8. Paint a fall-themed pottery piece and make something waxy at Liberty Station. Paint enough pumpkins to have your very own at-home pumpkin patch and make a sugar skull that you can display for Dia de los Muertos. Come again in November for some turkey platter and serving dish making. For candle making, use The Hot Spot Studio’s fall colored wax as a base and get spooky with toppers like spiders and worms.

9. Stock up on Halloween-themed books. Visit your local library and check out an assortment of spooky picture books or treat your little to a book store trip where they can pick a couple of books to add to their at-home library.

10. Collaborate and create an age appropriate Hitchcock piece. Ask your young storyteller to craft their own spooky tale or thankful thoughts for the month of November. Even if your young sprout cannot yet write, their answers are sure to be memorable enough for you to jot down.

11. Take in a game at Qualcomm Stadium. The San Diego Chargers will toss the ball around six games at home this season. Look for some cheap seats and enjoy a special day or evening out with the family as you yell “go bolts!”

12. Paint the town orange, white and yellow with a 100-year-old group. Gather some paintbrushes and join the Coronado Junior Woman’s Club for their annual Halloween Window Painting.

13. Save some money and embrace Kids Free October. Some of San Diego’s biggest attractions are offering free admission to kids 12 and under with a paying adult. Take this time to check out the San Diego Zoo and Sea World and splurge on a souvenir instead of a full priced ticket.

14. Make something spooky at Michaels. Visit a Michaels near you and enroll your little artist in one of their Halloween-themed craft classes. Depending on the day, you might have newly created yarn ghosts or clothespin bats to add to your holiday decor.

15. Make some frightfully delicious Halloween treats. Bakers ages 8-14 can brew up some wild concoctions with Sur La Table in the month of October. Your next Chopped Junior contestant will arrive home with a platter of one-eyed monster cookies, chocolate spider web cookies and witches fingers.

16. Mother Nature is awaiting your arrival at a local water spot. Lake Murray, Lake Miramar and Poway Lake have reserved a spot for your blanket and snacks. Gander at the ducks and see if you can spot a Western Scrubjay.


17. Mark your calendars for a weekend apple celebration. San Bernardino County might have Oak Glen, but we have Julian and their Apple Days Festival. Gawk at antique tractors, play some games and make the day complete with a tasty slice of apple pie.

18. Get outside and lounge around. Visit Balboa Park, Belmont Park or Seaport Village and enjoy the views. Bring some food or plan to spend your day on a whim and purchase special treats from an on-site vendor.

19. Visit your tots favorite park. Ask which park your little adventurist would like to visit and plan on spending an undetermined amount of time there. They will be jubilant once they realize they’re not in a rush to leave.

20. Take a drive to the Oceanside Pier. Meander down to the end of the pier to Ruby’s Diner and order some cheeseburgers and milk shakes. After your bellies are full play in the sand and let the sea breeze stick to your hair before packing up to head home.


21. Pick a pumpkin. Select your favorite orange fruit and transform it into a friendly or ghostly jack-o’-lantern.

22. Have some s’mores. Gather your chocolate, marshmallows and graham or Ritz crackers, head to a local beach that has fire pits and roast them until the chocolate is smooth and gooey.

23. Take a hayride. Head to Bate’s Nut Farm or Oma’s Pumpkin Patch for a friendly ride around the farm.

24. Attend a fall festival. Sample delicious cuisine at Little Italy FESTA!, get inspired at the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair and watch a sandcastle competition at Oceanside Harbor Days.

25. Compile a trick-or-treat map. Plan a route for where you’ll haunt on Halloween night and before. There are many opportunities to collect candy before the 31st of October.

What’s on your fall bucket list? Let us know in the comments!

— Jeannette Swanson