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San Diego is an outdoor lover’s ideal destination year round. Nestled within the confines of southern California, vitamin D reigns supreme and ocean air is prevalent. Touting itself as a city of endless beach days and outdoor destinations, America’s Finest City does the fall season differently. If you’re interested in beach days, they’re here. If you’re interested in falling leaves and apple cider filled afternoons, it’s available. If hiking trails and surfing waves is your thing, San Diego has you covered. And if spooky Halloween nights are what you’re after, look no further than the city’s haunted activities.
Things to Do & Local Events
San Diego is perfect for downtown adventures as well as those inland and by the shore. The September through December timeframe offer heaps to do in southern California. Each day there’s a different farmers market to find local treasures and delicious snacks. Beach days continue past the summer peak, hiking trails are constantly filled with outdoor adventurists and paddleboarders stand up on whatever water they’re closest to. Due to location, San Diego’s most popular summer activities continue with the added benefit of autumn amusement. Iced lattes get their added spices and downtown weekend mornings find bars and pubs broadcasting gridiron while breakfast hits the tables.
If you’re visiting in September, you have your choice of two major sporting venues. If you’re still craving summer enjoyment, check out the MLB San Diego Padres’ schedule to find a home game at downtown’s Petco Park. A hot dog and box of Cracker Jack are always in season! And if you’ve been waiting for football season to finally arrive, check out the San Diego Chargers’ schedule. Pack the tailgate supplies, throw on your lucky jersey and head to the stadium to root for your team.
Labor Day weekend brings about the annual sand-sculpting competition on the San Diego pier. Come check out the sculptures of amateurs and masters as they appear to create magic out of sand. This won’t be your average childhood sandcastle! San Diego’s Film Festival and Restaurant Week are continued September favorites for adults while kids channel their inner pirate at Landlubber’s Day at the waterfront’s Seaport Village. Balboa Park continues to entice locals and visitors with educational museums, Sundays at the international cottages and of course, the renowned San Diego Zoo.
As coffee shops across the nation bring in their pumpkin spiced everything, many locals and visitors like to head towards Julian and other mountain towns to take in apple picking, apple pies and apple cider galore. Spend the afternoon pie tasting at the famous Julian Pie Company, wander downtown Julian or lace up your hiking shoes to meander the many trails of Idyllwild or other local parks.
Balboa Park turns its fields into a festival for scientists, creators, artists, designers and inventors with the Maker Faire San Diego. Children can channel their creativity with a visit to the various booths and adults can find new DIY ideas for hobbies.
The city continues to be known for it’s symbiotic relationship with the military and October showcases this partnership in more ways than one. There’s Fleet Week all around the city and the MCAS Miramar delights thousands with their spectacular air show. Spend an hour or the entire weekend with all things military. Chat with active duty marines, check out helicopters galore, learn about military history, interact with veterans and watch incredible maneuvers take place high above the clouds. Keep your eyes peeled to the sky as talented pilots soar through the air with feats of majesty. Various military aircraft fill the sky along with heralded spins, twists and zooms of the famed Blue Angels. Whether it’s your first time or fiftieth, this air show on this military base is one not to be missed.
As October comes to a close, San Diego does Halloween in a big way. Adults can head down to the Gaslamp Quarter for Monster Mash. The evening fills the entire district with eye-popping costumes, ghoulish magic and constant celebration until its reached November 1. Families can share in the fun at SeaWorld’s Spooktacular or build a memory at LEGOLAND’s Brick or Treat Party Nights. Whatever kind of eerie delights you’re looking for, San Diego doesn’t disappoint.
November continues the fall festivals, farmers markets, and area fun and is only enhanced by San Diego’s Beer Week and the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival. Seaport Village and the Embarcadero are always packed with runners, walkers, shoppers, families and friends taking in the view of the San Diego Bay. The USS Midway and Maritime Museums continue to delight guests with their military and maritime history and continued access to ships unlike any other. Hikers continue walks on paved paths like the boardwalks of Coronado and Mission beaches and the dirt paths of Iron Mountain and La Jolla’s Torrey Pines State Reserve. Visitors continue to flock to the region to celebrate autumn enjoyment and create new memories with family members for Thanksgiving Day.
The outdoor lifestyle is year-round in America’s Finest City. Whether you’re coming by plane, train, boat or automobile, San Diego’s sunshine attracts visitors in all seasons by all modes of transport. Once you’ve arrived, hop aboard Old Town Trolley to explore San Diego’s most popular attractions and breathtaking sites. Learn the history of this special city as your knowledgable driver points out some of San Diego’s highlighted features.
Life’s a beach in San Diego…until the sun goes down. Explore the darker side of this coastal city aboard a Ghosts & Gravestones tour. Travel back in time to haunted sites throughout Old Town, including the El Campo Santo Cemetery and the Whaley House, said to be the most haunted house in America. Your Ghost Hosts will uncover the eeries tales of San Diego’s most notorious ghosts and darkest events. And who knows, maybe you’ll meet Yankee Jim Robinson. But beware, he’s known to cause upheaval at both the cemetery and the Whaley House.
Weather Considerations and Packing Essentials
If you’re heading to southern California this fall, come prepared for a range of temperatures. Ranging mostly between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, mornings and evenings can get a bit chilly and the afternoons are sunny. Be sure to pack a bathing suit and sandals for a beach day along with a light jacket and long pants for a night out on the town. If outdoor activities are your thing, don’t forget your hiking shoes, sunscreen and a water bottle. Throwing in a small backpack for daytime adventures is always a good idea. If you’re thinking of heading out of the city towards those mountain towns for colorful leaf viewing, apple picking and cider delights, don’t forget to add some extra layers of outerwear and socks to your packing list.