Say hello to pumpkin spice everything, bundling up in cozy sweaters and getting into the Halloween spirit because autumn has arrived! We’ve compiled 25 activities to add to your fall bucket list that are sure to make this season memorable. From fun on the farm and spooky baking classes to a ride on the Pumpkin Express train, read on for where to jump for joy!
photo: Justin Young via Unsplash
1. Visit a local farm. Let the munchkins go barefoot at Summers Past Farms in Flinn Springs. Not only are the gardens fit for exploring, but the stunning landscape will make for incredible fall photo ops. If you’d like to stay closer to the city try visiting City Farmer’s Nursery. There are animals to visit, plants and bugs to learn about, tricycles to ride and many nooks and crannies for the kiddos to play pretend.
2. Get handy with tools. Home Depot hosts a free kids workshop the first Sat. of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. Squeeze in the October and November workshops before Santa and his reindeer have completely taken over the seasonal display section.
3. Add some spice to your coffee. Please your taste buds with the flavor of the season and order a pumpkin spice latte from your favorite local coffee shop. Don’t miss our list of 7 local, kid-friendly coffee shops we love.
4. Go to a Family-Friendly Oktoberfest. San Diego is full of fall Oktoberfest celebrations where you can dance, drink German beer and party in your lederhosen! See our list of 9 family-friendly Oktoberfests here.
photo: Julia Raasch via Unsplash
5. Decorate a pumpkin. For tots too young to carve a pumpkin face, try painting or adding stickers to bring a jack o lantern to life. Take your tot to a local patch or have them pick a pumpkin on your next grocery run for this super simple decorating experience.
6. Kids go free this October. Fill up your October with free admission to family favorites like the San Diego Zoo, The New Children’s Museum and the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum.
8. Go on a nature walk. Mission Trails Regional Park hosts a Family Discovery Walk the fourth Sun. of each month. Families will learn how the park changes in autumn and will go home with fun tidbits to share such as what trees lose their leaves, which flowers will bloom and what traveling birds will come to nest.
9. Visit Old Town: a neighborhood rich in character. The architecture in Old Town is slightly reminiscent of the town in Hocus Pocus and its personality is lively with those who come to visit. Come for the annual Fall Festival where fall crafts can be created and brought home or trick-or-treat on Halloween night with goodies from the merchants.
10. Break out the muffin tins. Your muffin tins may have been hibernating over the summer, but now is the time to warm up the house with some homemade baking. Make pumpkin muffins for a snack on the go or to accompany a school lunch.
11. Find changing leaves. You might not think to utter San Diego and multi-colored leaves in the same sentence, but there are indeed places to get your fill of the changing colors of the season. Make a day out of going to Julian or Mt. Laguna and find those crunchy, colorful leaves that ring in the sounds of autumn. Click here for our fave places to “fall” in love with autumn all over San Diego.
12. Acquire some creepy, crawly baking skills. Bake up a trio of frightful treats at Sur La Table the 28th and 29th of October. Bakers ages 8-14 will return home with a scary medley of frightful cupcakes, spider pizzas and mummy cookies. But don’t worry, they’re more than good enough to eat!
13. Treat the birds. Make an edible treat in the form of a pine cone bird feeder for your backyard feathered friends. Go on a pine cone walk or find some cones at a local craft store and get to work on their sweet treat. Here’s a simple tutorial to try.
14. All aboard! Go down to the station for a ride or two on the choo choo. The Balboa Park Mini Train and Poway-Midland Railroad offer fares throughout the year, but you’ll get some spooks if you dare to ride the Pumpkin Express at the Pacific Southwest Railway.
15. Visit an indoor playground. Temperatures might soon be a little brisk to be playing near the bay and your favorite indoor play center offers the perfect solution. Your littles can frolic til their heart’s content at Kid Ventures in Liberty Station or the newish indoor wonderland for kids to hit the scene: The Playground at Grossmont Center.
16. Make a Halloween sensory bin. If you have an extra pumpkin that you bought along with the one that was decorated with paint and stickers, scoop out the guts and put them in a small plastic tub or ziploc bag for some sensory play. Your tot is sure to think it’s the silliest thing to play with gooey pumpkin innards.
17. Have a spooky dance party. Host an impromptu living room dance party with your best dance partner. They’re sure to love the “Monster Mash,” “Purple People Eater” and “Ghostbusters.”
18. Go camping. Imagine a crackling campfire with s’mores and a lighthearted Halloween story before snuggling into your sleeping bag and you’ve got a fall-worthy activity. Check out some of our favorites to find your perfect site.
19. Delve into art history. Teach your kids about the amazing life and work of Frida Kahlo at the upcoming Frida & Me exhibition at The San Diego Museum of Art.
20. Have a scary story read to you. If your tots are old enough to accompany you to a play, take them to Monster Story Time 2 at the TERI Campus of Life in Oceanside on Oct. 13th. A spooky Halloween-time tale will unfold before your eyes and you’re sure to be enchanted by Frankenstein, a witch and a monster cast.
photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash
21. How ’bout them apples? The apples are crisp for the picking, eating and baking in Julian. Click here for some of the best places we found for each occasion.
22. Spoon up some cocoa. Make hot chocolate kits and gift them to your neighbors, friends or teachers. As the outdoor temperatures slightly dip, our bellies will welcome a warm and chocolaty treat.
23. Are you ready for some football? The Chargers may have left town, but you can watch your favorite teams on television. To some, the sound of whistles blowing and crowds cheering for a touchdown is just as much a sign of the season as is the pumpkin spice latte. Make your favorite shareable dish to munch on between quarters for an even better time.
24. Fly me to the moon. The hot air balloon at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will make you feel as if you’re actually rising to the moon. The balloon is massive and it gives its passengers a panoramic view of the park. The ride is no more than 12 minutes and it can easily be added to your day once you’re at the park.
25. Go on a hay ride. A hay ride might as well be the official mode of transportation of autumn. Visit Oma’s Pumpkin Patch or Bates Nut Farm for a ride pulled by a tractor and an all-inclusive pumpkin patch experience.
What’s on your bucket list this season? Let us know in the comments!