35 Fantastic Fall Activities for Families

Pumpkin spice makes everything nice… and so does our bucket list, filled with fantastic fall events and outings your whole family will love. Revel in the season by riding the Pumpkin Express train, conjuring up spooktacular treats in a Halloween baking class, navigating corn mazes, Brick-or-Treating at LEGOLAND and so much more! Read on for where to have an awesome autumn doing the best fall activities for families!

photo: Forneris Farms


1. Get ‘corn-fused’ in a baffling corn maze down on the farm. Here are several ‘a-maize-ing’ local labyrinths kids will love.

2. Fall in love with autumn and the changing foliage at these colorful San Diego spots where you can enjoy the change of the season.

3. Attend an Oktoberfest or fall festival. From chicken dances and Bavarian pretzels to hayrides, yodeling contests and fun zones for kids, click here for the best fall festival near you.

4. Brick- or-Treat! LEGOLAND® transforms into a monster mash bash for the ultimate family fun Halloween celebration during Brick-or-Treat Party Nights filled with sweet treats, exciting entertainment and not-so-spooky thrills. Enjoy live entertainment and new shows, character meet and greets, a costume contest and treat stations with more than 1 million pieces of candy.

photo: Victoria Borodinova via Pixabay

5. Take a hike! Enjoy the cool crisp air of autumn on a hike along one of our favorite kid-friendly hiking trails.

6. Immerse your family in art at La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls (WOW) Festival. This four-day event features extraordinary artists from around the globe and offers a series of intriguing and transformative experiences that place the audience right in the center of the action.

7. It’s a monster PJ party workshop! Little monsters (age 5 and older), mummies, and daddies… put on your coziest pjs and socks and enjoy a wicked good time with Pachis Art Studio and Songbirds Music. Create your own monster puppet, monster room spray with essential oils (relaxing bedtime spray) and more. Materials, snacks, and bedtime story included.

8. Enter the kid’s pumpkin contest at the Fall Harvest Festival at City Farmers Nursery.

photo: Victoria Borodinova via Pixabay

9. Visit a local farm to learn about planting and harvesting and to let those little hands dig in the dirt.

10. 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 coffee shop. Don’t miss our list of local, kid-friendly coffee shops we love.

11. Kids go free this October. Fill up your October with free admission to family favorites like Birch Aquarium, The New Children’s Museum and the USS Midway Museum.

12. 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.

photo: Rose George

13. Go pumpkin picking and decorate a pumpkin. First visit a pumpkin patch that’s ripe for the picking, then decorate your gourd! For tots too young to carve a pumpkin face, try painting or adding stickers to bring a jack-o’-lantern to life.

14. Celebrate Halloween early at Halloween at the Station. All ages are encouraged to come decked out in their most elaborate costumes. The daytime festivities will include trick-or-treating throughout the district, live entertainment, a Hollywood car show, and other spooky surprises.

15. 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.

photo: Beth Shea

16. Talk to the animals at one of our favorite petting farms and zoos.

17. Acquire some creepy, crawly baking skills. Bake up some frightful treats at Sur La Table Oct. 26th and 27th. Bakers ages 8-12 will return home with a scary but delicious medley of baked goods including spiderweb brownies, mummy cookies and jack-o-lantern cake pops on a witch’s broomstick!

18. 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 are some simple DIY bird feeder tutorials for kids to try.

19. 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 rides throughout the year, but you’ll get some spooks if you dare to ride The Pumpkin Express at the Pacific Southwest Railway.

20. Visit an indoor playground. Temperatures tend to soar in San Diego during the fall, so keep cool and check out our list of the best indoor play centers for kids of all ages.

photo: Heather B. via Yelp

21. 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.

22. 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.”

23. 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 favorite camping sites for families to see where to set up camp.

24. Have bushels of fun apple picking at one of these glorious u-pick apple orchards.

25. Julian day trip anyone? We’ve rounded up 10 things you MUST do in Julian with your family this fall.

photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

26. 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. These are the best sweet spots for hot chocolate all over town.

27. Are you ready for some football?  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.

28. 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.

29. Go on a hay ride. A hay ride might as well be the official mode of transportation of autumn. Visit Bates Nut Farm for a ride pulled by a tractor and an all-inclusive pumpkin patch experience.

photo: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort

30. Go on a family bike ride. Feel the wind in your hair and the spirit of childhood while riding bikes along one of these awesome family-friendly bike paths.

31. Have a picnic and bask in the cooler weather. Here are our fave spots to pick up picnic food to-go and where to put down your blanket nearby.

32. Bundle up and go stargazing. Look up at how the stars shine for you at one of these stargazing spots that are sure to put a twinkle in your eye.

33. Get fishy at Birch Aquarium’s Haunted Aquarium where you’ll discover glowing beasts and get sticky with slime.

34. Sink your teeth into a mouthwatering donut from an amazing local donut shop. Here’s where to get the goods.

35. Celebrate the Halloween season at Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure! Read our guide to having a wicked good time at both Parks which are currently offering an abundance of thrills and chills to get you into the Halloween spirit.

––Jeannette Swanson & Beth Shea


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The Best U-Pick Apple Orchards
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