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Discover all the kid-friendly spots to get lost (and found) thanks to these San Diego corn mazes that are designed for fun

‘Tis the season to get lost in a corn maze or two! These cool, sometimes creepy, life-sized puzzles are a spooktacular good time when these farm-fueled fun spots pops up all over the city. Little ghouls and goblins can try their luck at winding their way through corn mazes near San Diego that range from simple to ones that are downright corn-fusing. Of course, if you’re looking to explore all the fall activities around San Diego, don’t miss our insider’s guide to fall foliage guide around SD, our fall festival guide to San Diego, and where to pick up a pumpkin (or two) nearby.

Rancho Bernardo Pumpkin Farm

This eight-foot-tall farm-fresh corn maze is perfect for little farmers as it only takes about ten minutes to wind through. You'll spot this maze planted between the sunflower field and the pumpkin patch. Have your littles grab a partner and work through this labyrinth that has a few dead-ends. When done, take a tractor-hay wagon ride, pick a pumpkin and meet furry friends at the petting zoo. You can even cut your own bouquet of sunflowers.

Dates: Sept. 30-Oct. 31

13421 Highland Valley Rd.
Escondido
Online: rbpumpkinfarm.com

Frosty's Forest

This giant, four-acre corn maze is good for older kids, as there are plenty of dead ends among the twisting, winding trails. Only one trial and good decision-making will lead you out of the maze. This year's corn maze theme is Hocus Pocus!

Afterward, celebrate your maze achievements with pumpkin picking, target paintball shooting, a sunflower labyrinth, carnival games, and more. 

Good to Know: There's a haunted corn maze on Thurs.-Sun. evenings for those who want a fright. 

Dates: Sept. 30-Oct. 30

14861 Ramona Ave.
Chino
Online: frostysforest.com

Carlsbad Strawberry Company

You'll be out of your gourd winding through this cool corn maze that boasts miles of trails. Mom and Dad will want to go in with little runners. The corn stalks are tall, but you'll find hints to help out. When done, you and your little kernels can get a giant Cinderella pumpkin, go for a tractor ride and head to the bounce land to exert some extra energy. 

Dates: Now-Nov. 8

1050 Cannon Rd.
(near I-5 Fwy)
Carlsbad
Online: carlsbadstrawberrycompany.com

Bates Nut Farm

Weaving through this sweet hay maze at Bates Nut Farm is perfect for little pumpkins. Then continue to get a little nutty on a tractor hayride and enjoy the farm zoo and pumpkin picking (from Bic Macs to Jack O’ Lanterns). 

Dates: Now-Oct. 31

15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Valley Center
Online: batesnutfarm.biz

Mountain Valley Ranch

Little farmhands may get a little corn-fused before finding the right path in this 2.5-acre cornfield. A marvelous maze (about 15 minutes worth of fun) for giggling, running and discovering your way. When done, dig into these farm-friendly festivities: pumpkin picking, corn cannon shots, hayrides, pony rides and a petting zoo. Free parking, but bring some cash for other activities. 

Dates: Now-Oct. 31

842 Highway 78
Ramona
Online: mountainvalleyranch.com

Summers Past Farms

This pretty little corn maze is perfect for young ones to navigate. There's also a fun hay fort for tiny explorers to play in while you sit and admire the beauty that surrounds you at this idyllic farm. Stroll the grounds and find the chickens and make a stop at the on-site store for freshly made soaps and pick your pumpkin too. Your little fairies are sure to love this spot.

Dates: Now-Oct. 31

15602 Old Hwy. 80
El Cajon
Online: summerspastfarms.com

Bonita Pumpkin Farm

You can bet the farm that this corn maze will require little farmhands to put on their thinking caps. In-and-out in about ten minutes, yet it can be tricky. We recommend Mom or Dad go too! After finding your way, cover more ground with the tractor-hay wagon ride, train ride and pumpkin patch to finish-up an awesome day of fall fun.

Dates: Now-Oct. 31

5354 Sweetwater Rd.
Bonita
Online: bonitatpumpkinfarm.com

Underwood Family Farms

Did somebody say family fall road trip? Sure, it's a three hour drive, but it's tons of fun. Admission to their annual Fall Harvest on the Farm includes everything from a corn trail ride through and hay pyramid to the pumpkin house and wagon rides. 

Dates: Now-Oct. 31

3370 Sunset Valley Rd.
Moorpark
Online: underwoodfamilyfarms.com

Related: Guide to San Diego's Greatest Pumpkin Patches

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Our biggest free things to in San Diego list contains so much fun you’ll wonder how you are able to do this all for free

Quite possibly the best time of year (for parents, that is) thanks to Kids Free San Diego—the annual city-wide promotion that kicks off Oct. 1 and runs until Oct. 31 and is where kids eat at restaurants for free in San Diego, stay, and play for free at hotels, attractions and more. So if you thought saving cash was easy the past couple of months with our best things to do in San Diego with kids for free list, get ready to put those savings into overdrive. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite promotions below (there are 76 participating venues) plus other fun and free things to do in San Diego that are happening this month. Get ready to have some fun-filled days with the family—all without breaking the bank.

Free, Kid-Friendly Events around San Diego in October

Maritime Museum in San Diego
Kids are Free throughout Oct.: Tour and explore 500 years of seafaring history. One kids goes free with purchase of an adult ticket. Event details.

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Kids are Free throughout Oct.: With over 27,000 square feet of tracks, trestles and trains, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is North America’s largest museum of its kind. Guests enter a world of wonder and exploration while learning about San Diego’s rich railway history through beautifully crafted scale model layouts. The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is located on the lower floor in the Casa de Balboa Building in Balboa Park. One kid goes free with purchase of an adult ticket. Event details.

Related: San Diego Train Rides to Take Your Train-Crazy Kid

Kids Go Free to SeaWorld Spooktacular
Kids are Free throughout Oct.: Enjoy the decorated trail and meet all sorts of colorful characters. And that’s just the beginning! From a Halloween dance party to a pumpkin scavenger hunt, and more, this is immersive family fun you’ll only find here. SeaWorld Spooktacular runs on Sat. & Sun., Sept. 17 through Oct. 31. One kid goes free with purchase of an adult ticket. Event details.

Kids Go Free to LEGOLAND California
Kids are Free throughout Oct.: The newest land, THE LEGO® MOVIE™ WORLD is an immersive experience where the hit movie comes to life! Then, start your engines! The new LEGO® Ferrari Build & Race experience is now open! See a life-sized LEGO Ferrari F40 and fine-tune your very own LEGO Ferrari car to race at one of three racetracks. One kid goes free with purchase of an adult ticket. Event details.

Kids Go Free in the Whaley House Day Tour
Kids are Free throughout Oct.: Step back in time and enjoy a self-guided tour through the iconic Whaley House, considered to be “The Most Haunted House in America.” Learn all about the integral role the famed house played in Old Town San Diego’s rich history. Walk through history as you enjoy a self-paced tour through the interior and surrounding grounds of the Whaley House. Enjoy a captivating afternoon exploring the legendary San Diego attraction after a brief 10-minute introduction. Reservations are not required for daytime tours. One kid goes free with purchase of an adult ticket. Event details.

Related: The Whaley House Made Our Top 100 Things to Do in San Diego List–See What Else Made the List

Kids Go Free at the SD Zoo
Kids are Free throughout Oct.: Throughout October, kids 11 years and younger receive free admission—no ticket is required when accompanied by an adult with a valid form of admission. Event details.

Learn Hula & Lightsaber Training & More
Every Sat. throughout Oct.: Mission Bay hotels are turning up the family fun all month long with special kids’ activities rotating throughout each of the properties every Sat. in Oct. These free events are open to non-hotel guests. Event details.

Mom & Tot Meet-Up
Every Wed. throughout Oct.: This event is intended for moms and tots to socialize. This is for moms that want to meet other moms and make friends while their little ones play at Fandory Factory playground. Please sign up and when you come, please tell us you’re here for the meet. Event details.

Free Children’s Storytime at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
Every Wed. throughout Oct.: Bring your children or grandchildren to the Athenaeum’s free Children’s Storytime at 3 p.m. Great for children ages 1 through 9. Reservations are not necessary. Event details.

Join First Fridays: Free Kids Crafts
Oct. 7: Every First Fri. of the month we host a free kids craft! Event details.

Pumpkin Rock Trail Family Day Hike
Oct. 15: Hiking-with-Friends would like to invite you to come out and enjoy a family-friendly hike at the Pumpkin Rock Trail. The pumpkin has been around since the mid-1990s and is painted in the style of Jack Skellington, the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Soo needless to say come in your Halloween costumes! Event details.

Sing & Dance with Hurray Miss Marae
Oct. 15:
Come sing, dance and get silly with San Diego’s favorite kids music entertainment from Hurray Miss Marae. Event details.

Not So Scary Fall Festival at the Nature Collective
Oct. 16: Discover hoots and howls at our nature-themed Halloween Family Day and discover that creepy crawly creatures are not-so-scary after all! Event details.

Dia de los Muertos Festival 
Oct. 21: Save the date! The 21st annual celebration of life lowrider and classic car show and festival event in downtown Oceanside! free family event entertainment, catrin/catrina contest, vendors, food, Danza, crafts for kids, music and art! Event details.

Related: Why Oceanside, CA Is the Laid-Back Beach Vacation We All Need

Outdoor Activities around San Diego That Are Always Free

Become a Skater Babe: Follow in San Diegan Tony Hawk’s footsteps and take your board to roll with it, flip, jump and carve at one of San Diego’s many thrilling skateparks.

Explore the Tide Pools: Discover the hidden treasures our beaches reveal at low and minus tide.

Catch a Sunset: Our list of our favorite spots to behold the most scenic views in the city.

Go on a City-Wide Scavenger Hunt: Print our San Diego-inspired scavenger hunt—it will take you all over the city!

Join a Park Ranger Program at One of San Diego’s Many Park Terrains: You can head down to the coast at Cabrillo for Park Ranger walks at the lighthouse, or drive up the coast to Carlsbad’s wildlife viewing with the junior rangers, or move inland for a wildlife tracking hike or nature story time at Mission Trails or go south for a guided bird walk at the Tijuana River Estuary.

Fly Kites at Seaport Village: Here you cou can also window shop, wander along the bay, watch the ships go by, and listen to live music in the food court.

Take a Family Discovery Hike at Mission Trails: Every 2nd & 4th Sun. at 3 p.m. you can learn about the birds, plants and animals found throughout the park. For more hiking inspo for the whole family, check out the best hikes for families in San Diego.

Discover Local Lakes: There’s more to the area than just the sea—visit our favorite ponds and lakes near San Diego.

Hit the Beach: Of course, we can never really get sick of the beach. From stretches of shimmery sand at Coronado’s Silver Strand to boogie boarding near the cliffs of Torrey Pines and making waves in Del Mar, nothing is more iconic than a beach day here in San Diego. Want to explore a new beach this summer? Check out our guides to the best local beaches for the kids and the best beaches to take your dog in San Diego.

Go Stargazing: These are the 7 best spots around San Diego to put a twinkly star in your eye.

Head to One of the Best Playgrounds in San Diego: Discover where kids can slide through a giant bunch of grapes or commandeer a pirate ship.

Take a Family Bike Ride: Our favorite kid-friendly bike trails in San Diego—how many have you rode?

Museums & Art Spots around San Diego That Are Always Free

Related: Discover What Days Our Fave Family-Friendly Museums Offer Free Admission

Explore Chicano Park in Barrio Logan: Vivid, lively murals depict aspects of San Diego’s Mexican-American heritage including mythology and immigration. Kids especially love the Children’s Mural, which represents drawings and paintings from kids that attended two local elementary schools. Chicano Park is a great place to give kids an art lesson. Visit the park’s interactive website to explore the murals’ history and artists before your visit.

Get Instagram-famous: Capture a super hip photo-op at one of these Instagrammable murals.

Check out the Sanford Children’s Library at the Central Library: The library’s Dr. Seuss murals and thousands of books make it a fun, inviting space for kids. Park in the underground lot and get validation to park for free for the first two hours.

Explore Queen Califia’s Magical Circle: This colorful, whimsical sculpture garden that will delight kids. Make a day of it and check out this additional interactive public art for the whole family.

Check Out Not One, but Two Historic San Diego Ranch Houses: The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is the second oldest standing residence and was built in 1823 by the recipients of the first Mexican land grant in San Diego County. Take a hike around the area, then check out the goats, chickens, veggies, and have some fun in the large open spaces for playtime.

Then head to “Carlsbad’s Sleeping Beauty” to see the Leo Carillo Ranch House and prance with the peacocks and play on authentic ranch and farming equipment. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!

Explore Old Town to see the birthplace of California: Settled in 1769, many of the buildings in Old Town were built in the early 1800s, which is pretty amazing in itself. See the mission, run around on the green or walk through the village, taking in the sights and scents of old San Diego.

Related: Take a Hike! The Best Nature Trails for Kids

Learn about Black History: Take an inspiring and educational tour of Black History in San Diego with our detailed guide.

Explore Wacky Roadside Attractions: From roadside dinosaurs to secret caves, bookmark our full list of stop-worth stops.

Uncover San Diego’s Hidden Gems: A house perched off the edge of a building, secret messages in the sand and more unbelievable sights that will wow and delight your brood.

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Dishing on the best pizza spots in San Diego that the whole family will love

Best known for its fish tacos, craft brews and tasty juice bars, San Diego is quietly leveling up its pizza game too. And, since most families agree that the perfect pie is an instant mood booster, we’re thrilled to share the best pizza joints in the county. From artisan pizzas in Little Italy to authentic Chicago slices, keep reading for the 12 best pizza spots in San Diego that will have the whole family rejoicing, “That’s amore!”

Buona Forchetta: After biting into a slice of pizza at Buona Forchetta you’ll immediately understand why the business, that started as a small Italian restaurant nestled on a corner in South Park, has grown into a “family of restaurants throughout the county. The owners have mastered the Neapolitan style pie—think blistered crusts, San Marzano tomato sauce, and five-star olive oil. The pies are simple, allowing high-quality ingredients like fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, and everyone’s favorite salami to shine. If you’re starving and want to treat the kids to an appetizer try the pizzelle, a deep-fried pizza dough (like a pizza before the pizza).

South Park, Liberty Station & Encinitas
Online: buonaforchettasd.com

URBN Pizza: For delicious coal-fired pizza, this is your pizza place. Their craft pies have a paper-thin crust and toppings that range from the simple pepperoni to the more complex and rich-tasting (B)URBN BBQ Chicken or fresh littleneck clams. Or if you really want something new, try the famed garlic mashed potato and bacon pie. Good to know, the pizza is oblong, so you will have both triangular and square pieces. If you’re looking to add some greens to your meal, the URBN Salad is an excellent choice!

Vista, Encinitas, Del Mar Heights, North Park & San Diego
Online: urbn.com

Blue Ribbon: Slip into a booth in this cozy Encinitas spot after a long day and the whole family will exhale. The restaurant is welcoming and the pies are “blue ribbon” worthy. Be sure to try their “Signature” pizza which has lemon EVOO, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, Parm-Reg, lemon zest, red onion, and basil. Don’t leave without trying the butterscotch pudding with sea-salt caramel and housemade whipped cream.

897 S. Coast Highway
Encinitas
Online:
blueribbonpizzeria.com

Monello: Order the Monello pizza special to satisfy your pizza craving! It comes with spinach, roasted bell peppers, sausage, and a bunch of cheese. Half-pints will happily dig into the Margherita pizza. Also, for dessert, the chocolate custard with berries or the gelato made daily make the meal complete!

750 W Fir St., Ste. 102 B
San Diego
Online: lovemonello.com

7-Mile Kitchen: Where to eat pizza after a visit to LEGOLAND? Try 7-Mile Kitchen, named for Carlsbad’s seven miles of coastline. The pizzas are crafted with house-made dough and baked in a wood-fired pizza oven. Their gluten-free pizza is one of the best tasting around. You’ll also find rotating taps of San Diego’s favorite local, craft beers. And finally, top off dinner with a scoop from their gelato bar.

5420 Grand Pacific Dr
Carlsbad
Online: 7milekitchen.com

Sisters Pizza: Voted runner-up for Best Pizza in San Diego Magazines in San Diego Magazines’ latest poll, Sisters Pizza is making a name for itself throughout the city. Established in loving memory of Kate Green, the older Sisters’ sister,  the community-focused pizza restaurant delivers on its passion for pizza and how sharing a slice brings together family and friends. They offer east coast-style pizza you can order by the pie or by the slice, as well as a full Italian-inspired menu with plenty of kid-friendly options. Most pizzas are available gluten-free and come 16″, 18″ or 20″.

3603 Fourth Ave. (corner of 4th & Brookes)
San Diego
Online: sisterspizzasd.com

Leftys Pizza: Only true Chicago expats can deliver the deep-dish beasts that land on your table at Lefty’s Pizza. The husband-wife duo moved to San Diego from the Windy City and strive to bring the best Chicago-style pizza along with a few of their home-town city’s other infamous street treats like Chicago Hot Dogs and Chicago Polish Sausage Dogs to San Diegans. Bite into the “Meaty Pie” or the “Monster of the Midway” and you’ll know they’ve succeeded.

North Park & Mission Hills
Online: leftyspizza.com 

Pizzo’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar: This Eastlake spot is the perfect place for families to sit down for an authentic Italian pizza in the South Bay. Pizzo’s is beautiful inside with huge windows that provide a great view of the city. Outside you’ll find patio seating with a grassy area for the kids to play. Besides tempting slices heaping with cheese, your fam will enjoy fresh huge salads with shaved parmesan too. Try their Salsiccia or fennel sausage pizza with roasted peppers, basil, roasted onions, and fresh mozzarella with organic tomato sauce.

2322 Proctor Valley Rd.
Chula Vista
Online: pizzospizzeria.com

Bronx Pizza: Craving a genuine New York slice? Bronx Pizza has been serving New York-style thin-crust pizza to San Diego since 1997.  Sit down at this family-friendly, casual spot and take in a little slice of the East Coast while you gaze up at the New York memorabilia that adorns the walls. Not sure which pizza to try? The Whitestone and the Bronx Deluxe are both local favorites. 

111 Washington St.
San Diego
Online: bronxpizza.com

Pauly’s Pizza Joint: This friendly, laid-back pizza place known for its thin, crispy New York crust draws in families from all over the county. With outdoor seating, your family can enjoy a fun slice of Christmas Pizza (spinach, bacon, pepperoni, garlic and feta cheese) in the sunshine any time of year. Kiddos also like their Hawaiian-style slices.

6780 Miramar Rd. Ste.105
San Diego
Online: paulyspizzajoint.com

Napizza: Being square is part of the fun at Napizza, where you order by the slice and can try all the varieties. The square slices of pie contain natural, organic ingredients that are sourced locally. A healthy option the Veggy Festa, with fresh veggies or The Bolognese pizza, a savory combo of ground beef, homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella are favorites. Try their delicious combos with fresh soup or salad too.

Little Italy & Encinitas
Online: na-pizza.com

Forchettabouddit: For an easy night out and a mouthwatering pie, stop by Forchettabouddit in Encinitas. The north county restaurant is part of the Bueno Forchetta family and serves NY-style pizza and classic Italian cuisine like 10″ subs, fresh hand-made pasta and more. It’s a no-frills, family-friendly spot that also happens to have one of the best gluten-free pizza options in all of San Diego.

250 N Coast Hwy.
Encinitas
Online: buonaforchettasd.com/forchettabouddit

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From only-in-San Diego events to nature galore, here are 100 reasons why San Diego is the best place for kids and families

Lucky for us, San Diego is one of the top vacation destinations in the nation. And while it may be the 2nd biggest city in the state, its laid-back lifestyle and easy-breezy attitude make it feel more like a beach town (with all the glorious bells and whistles of metropolitan hub like access to cultural events, world-class museums and food—let’s not forget the delicious food). From incredible parks that kids will love, and only-in-San-Diego bucket-worthy activities to hidden gems sprinkled around SoCal, we’ve rounded up the best 100 things to do in San Diego—whether you’re a local and are looking for some things to do or just visiting for a bit—this list will keep your calendar full and your memories stacked all year long.

1. With over 30 beaches dotting San Diego's gorgeous coastline, hitting the sand and surf tops our list of must-dos. With so many options, you can find a sandy stretch that's right for your crew. Our detailed beach guide highlights the best beaches for babies, toddlers and big kids, as well as where to go to learn how to catch a wave or putter around a tide pool.

2. Show your kiddos what life was like living on a floating city with a visit to the USS Midway Museum—the largest aircraft carrier in the world that you can tour. The self-guided audio tour, narrated by former sailors, offers a lot of history and drops loads of knowledge like the fact that over 200,000 sailors have worked there throughout the years. PS: Your budding pilot can earn Junior Pilot Wings—visit the information booth for more intel.

3. Take your little minifigs to LEGOLAND but before you go, be sure to read all of our must-know tips when visiting LEGOLAND like how to reserve 'n' ride to avoid lines or what it's like to spend the night at the LEGOLAND Hotel. And make sure to catch their newest attraction, The Ferrari Build and Race where your little Danica Patrick can design, build and race their own car.

4. Spend the day exploring the magnificent 1,200-acre urban cultural park, Balboa Park, hands down one of the best things our city has to offer its residents and guests. Our insider guide to Balboa Park has everything you need to know to make the most of your visit with kids, including hidden gems like the California Tower where you can climb a secret staircase and get one of the best views of the city, and how to reach Junior Ranger status by completing the Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt.

5. Ride the historic Carousel at Seaport Village. Handcarved in 1895 and only four bucks a whirl, it's both affordable and iconic. When you’re done with the spin you can stroll along the bay, grab a pretzel and lemonade, then head out to watch kites flying in the air in the park near Seaport Village.

6. People from all around the world flock to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The most popular exhibits are the panda bear family and the polar bear plunge. Both have long lines so hit these spots first or be prepared to wait. Also keep an eye out for the oldest resident of the zoo, a 100 year old Galapogos tortoise named Speed. And in the summer, you can rock and roar into the dark with Night Time Zoo experience where you can hang with the animals in the evening.

7. A trip to Cabrillo National Monument is another must-visit. It's where explorer Juan Rodriguez Carbrillo became the first European to set foot on the west coast in 1542. Ask for a free Cabrillo Journal newspaper at the Visitor Center. The back of the paper has a section with tasks for kids ages 3 and up—if they complete it, they'll become a Junior Ranger. Cabrillo also hosts plenty of workshops and camps devoted to youth interested in STEM activities.

8. This year, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with a visit to see white rhinos and roaming giraffes. In honor of their golden anniversary, the park is hosting a 90-minute tour of the Safari Park's Nairobi Village where you'll see iconic wildlife including gorillas and elephants as well as get a chance to go behind the scenes to areas not typically available to the public.

9. Unwind with a day of endless play at The New Children’s Museum, where all of the super-fun, interactive exhibits will entertain and educate kids. Did you know they also have a north county location in Del Mar? Remember, February is Museum Month in San Diego and all museums are half-price!

10. If your crew loves some healthy competition, this will get them jazzed up. Follow our list of San Diego's quirky landmarks (think the Crab Carillon Musical Bridge and an outrageous topiary garden) and see how many you can visit.

11. Go back in time to the 1850s with a visit to Old Town where kids can sit in a stagecoach, eat homemade tortillas, visit an old schoolhouse and learn some hands-on skills of the trades of yesteryear. It’s also where Father Junipero Serra established the first of California’s 21 missions in 1769, which also became the first permanent Spanish settlement in the region.

12. Descend into Sunny Jim Sea Cave, the only cave you can access by land on the California coastline. There are 144 stairs involved so come prepared to both descend and climb. Tours are about 15-20 minutes and are self-guided.

13. Get up close and personal with a dazzling array of sea creatures from sea horses and jellyfish to sharks and sting rays at Birch Aquarium. Also, if you have kids interested in learning what it's like to be a scientist, Birch Aquarium offers opportunities to interact with staff members, STEM events, summer camps and other outstanding resources.

14. Venture from San Diego to San Juan Capistrano or Solana Beach all the way to Disneyland on the train! The Coaster, The Trolly & The Sprinter all make for an adventurous day trip that train-loving kids will go loco for.

15. San Diego has more farms than any other county in the country and 92% of the farms are family-owned so it's easy to get outside, dig in some dirt, learn where your food comes from and meet and greet animals from camels to alpacas. For a real adventure, check out Oasis Camel Dairy where you can try some chocolate made from camel’s milk.

16. Expose your kiddos to the world of art without worrying about museum etiquette at one of these must-see outdoor art walks in San Diego. Queen Califia’s Magical Circle created by artist Niki de Saint Phalle at Kit Carson Park is a favorite. Her freestanding, whimsical sculptures (9 of them!) are sure to delight.

17. Can you tell the difference between a seal and a sea lion? Take a trip to La Jolla Sea Caves to see both and keep a lookout for external ear flaps. Sea Lions have them and seals don't. The caves are also a great place to go kayaking for families with kids 6 and up.

18. Bask in the gentle bay breeze and soak in the sounds at the Rady Shell Stadium. A stunning mix of the Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl, this outdoor venue tops the list of best outdoor music experiences in the world. Insider Tip: Some shows have rehearsals during the day that are completely free—bring your kiddos to one of these and enjoy the show.

19. Take your water baby to get wet and wild in the huge fountain area at Waterfront Park. There’s even a giant grassy area right by the fountain where you can lay towels, have picnics and enjoy the waterfront views.

20. Rent a stand-up paddle board, Aqua Cycle, canoe or other water sports gear for a day of fun at Carlsbad Lagoon. Insider Tip: if you have your own equipment you can access the lagoon at 4700 Bayshore Dr. in Carlsbad. It's a perfect beach spot for little kids to splash and play or for older ones to go out on the water.

21. Go say hello to the sea lions basking in the wild at the La Jolla Children’s Pool. Afterward, grab a bite to eat at Cody’s restaurant which serves a belly-pleasing crab cake Benedict for the crustacean-crazy crowd.

22. Fly a kite at Dusty Rhodes Park, home to the oldest children’s kite festival in the United States, The Ocean Beach Kite Festival. If you're around for the event in May, attendees are encouraged to build their own kite—prizes are awarded for best decorated!

23. Go buy some peanuts and Cracker Jacks and root for the home team at a Padres baseball game. For an extra-special kid-friendly perk, go on a Sun. and enjoy Kidsfest, when gates open early (two hours before the first pitch) for families to enjoy bounce houses and other inflatables, games, face painters, balloon artists and more kid-friendly activities in Gallagher Square.

24. Desert Dunes, Marsh Meadows and Rainforests are open—and we've got the insider track on what to do so get ready to embrace your wild side at this epic outdoor discovery and play center at San Diego Zoo's all-new Basecamp.

25. Enjoy the fruits of your labor by picking apples or strawberries straight from the trees and bushes at these local U-pick apple farms and strawberry patches. Some even have hayrides, corn mazes and other perks your family will love.

26. Home to the Surf Hall of Fame and Surf Film Festival, San Diego is synonymous with surf culture. Encourage your little grom to catch a wave and become a true San Diego local.

27. Visit the bronze statue of Kate Session, known as the 'Mother of Balboa Park,' and give your kiddos a rundown of these influential women that helped shape San Diego into the place it is today. This particular monument is located in the southwest corner of the Sefton Plaza, near the Sixth Ave. entrance, where Session can look over and protect the park.

28. Named one of the top North American Gardens worth traveling to, San Diego Botanical Garden is an ideal place to spend the day exploring nature. Kids will love climbing and playing in a gigantic treehouse in the Hamilton Children’s Garden at San Diego Botanic Gardens.

29. From the ocean to the canyons, take a hike at one of the 12 best hiking trails for kids in San Diego.

30. Bringing Southern California's train history to life, visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum where Thomas the Tank Engine lovers can enjoy toy trains and tracks galore. Don't miss the 'Toy Train Gallery; the “Choo-Choo cam” fitted onto a running train provides visitors with a first-person virtual view of the layout.

31. From the newly opened Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream to San Diego's oldest shop, Niederfrank's in National City, get a lick (or two) of one of the best ice cream spots in the San Diego.

32. Camp cliffside at San Elijo State Beach. Some campsites offer breathtaking views of the sunset and the coastline. And parents need not worry about rip currents here—San Elijo is a one of our favorite family beaches with its mellow breaks and shallow water near the shore.

33. Our insider's guide to Sesame Place has everything you need to know like tips on where to go to nurse and warm a bottle or that you can get a cashless wristband so you don't need to lug your wallet around.

34. Ride the Giant Dipper, the iconic wooden roller coaster that’s called Belmont Park home since 1925. If you feel adventurous make it a night ride and follow up the fun with some after-dark laser tag.

35. Kids of any age can get an exhilarating thrill by paragliding over the Pacific at Torrey Pines Gliderport!

36. Have some good, old-fashioned fun at Bates Nut Farm where activities include everything from a pumpkin patch and harvest and nut tours, a farm zoo and a huge homemade fudge and candy shop.

37. When the calendar says it's fall, San Diegans head to Lake Arrowhead to experience the crisp autumn air and see the leaves change colors on the trees. You'll almost think you're in Vermont during SoCal's leaf-peeping season.

38. Did you know San Diego is called the 'craft beer capital of the world?' Raise a pint and give a little cheer at these breweries across the city that welcome kids and families.

39. Budding thespians will enjoy watching their peers in a theatrical performance at San Diego Junior Theater.

40. Unplug and take a break from all things digital at a botanical garden. Kids can chase butterflies while you enjoy a picnic.

41. Plan a family date night the whole crew will remember. Park 101 in Carlsbad Village keeps kids busy playing with life-size Connect Four, Giant Jenga or corn hole, while parents sip watermelon mimosas and catch a few rays.

42. Learn about science, art and world cultures with a visit to San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum where kids can play with engaging indoor and outdoor hands-on exhibits.

43. Go stargazing around San Diego with an astronomer at the Fleet Science Center or catch a planetarium show at Palomar College.

44. Let kids explore The Backyard at The Nat, a nature-inspired indoor play area that educates and entertains.

45. Ride a Steam Locomotive, Speeder or Trolley on the Poway Midland Railroad at Old Poway Park.

46. Rough it by tent or make it a lux glamping vacay, either way, there's a mecca of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors from the beaches to the mountains at one of these top camping spots in San Diego.

47. Take a day trip to the quaint mountain town of Julian to pan for gold and enjoy freshly baked apple pie.

48. Want the taste of Italy without pricey airfare? Try all of these pizza spots open in San Diego that are sure to satisfy.

49. Save a buck and have a priceless time at a free museum day at one of San Diego’s best museums for families.

50. Relax with a glass of wine in the countryside at one of these local family-friendly wineries with kid perks. The bonfire nights, cool animal encounters, ice rinks and playgrounds all make visiting these vineyards a family affair.

51. Rock out at the Museum of Making Music where kids can explore interactive instrument playing areas.

52. Book a mom & me or a dad & me adventure at this popular nearby treehouse perched just six blocks from The San Diego Bay, Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo and just three blocks to the Village of Little Italy.

53. Snooze alongside wild animals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Roar & Snore sleepover and get an after-hours look at the animals, guided walks and a campfire program—then wake up to breakfast the following morning.

54. Go on the road and dig up some fun with a field trip to the San Diego Archeological Center. The free (donation-based) museum gives little archeologists an inside look at how natives lived in San Diego for the past 12,000 years.

55. Feed sea turtles and come nose to beak with Bald and Golden eagles at The Living Coast Discovery Center. Afterward, treat yourself to lunch at Old California Coffee House and Eatery. Their vegan and gluten-free menu items are top-notch.

56. Dine on great food outdoors with ocean views or in a huge garden setting at our fave San Diego dining spots with patio seating.

57. Take a 3-minute train ride through four acres of Balboa Park on a miniature railroad aboard a model G16 (a rare antique—there are as few as fifty currently remaining in the US)!

58. Eat your way through the amazing food selections at the 22,000-square-foot Liberty Public Market then explore the shops at Liberty Station. Explore more of San Diego’s best food halls with culinary delights to please every family member.

60. In many cultures peacocks are regarded as a symbol of good luck, good fortune, and immortality. Visit old rancho and hidden treasure, Leo Carrillo Ranch where you can see beautiful peacocks roaming the grounds and learn some history.

61. De-stress by watching the giant koi fish swim in ponds at the Japanese Friendship Garden. There are 20 varieties of fish in the pond—make it a game and see how many your kiddos can find.

62. Learn about the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and see how lighthouse keepers lived while enjoying the spectacular views of San Diego.

63. Make a bonfire in a beach fire pit at Coronado Beach or San Elijo State Beach, roast marshmallows and see if you can beat one of the best tasting s’mores in San Diego!

64. Skating, like surfing, is a mainstay in San Diego. So channel the local vibe and culture at a skatepark where the pros practice their tricks.

65. Play tourist for the day (or weekend) and rediscover Oceanside. This north county city is the buzz of the county with a bevy of new restaurants, art shows and events happening regularly. Must-dos include The Top Gun house, The Surf Museum, and a walk on the iconic pier.

66. Take a family bike ride through Coronado and visit the iconic Hotel Del and Coronado Beach where the shimmery, golden sand glistens.

67. On almost any given day, you can find a farmers market ripe with crowds picking the most delectable produce of the season. Here's our pick for the most family-friendly farmer’s market in the city.

68. Channel your inner Prince or Princess and raise a pinky at one of these spots to have high tea with your young royals.

69. There may not be a more ubiquitous food in San Diego than the taco! No need to wait for Taco Tuesday, sink your teeth into the most scrumptious tacos any day of the week.

70. Dine out with a side of bowling, arcade games, corn hole, Jenga and more at these hip restaurants that have epic play areas for kids.

71. Escape to a Mediterranean-style vacation that's just a ferry ride away. Family-friendly Catalina Island offers everything you need for a fun-filled getaway.

72. Go on a ghost hunt at The Whaley House, or, for the more easily scared, tour the House just for its history rather its hauntings.

73. Escape to the animal kingdom at Children’s Nature Retreat where your kids will get to feed, pet and bond with domestic, rescued livestock and exotic animals from around the world including zebras, camels and miniature horses.

74. Slide into a delightfully free story time at the Athenaeum. Great for kids ages 1-9.

75. Make like a hipster and go unearth the hidden gems of the super cool North Park neighborhood.

76. Take Fido to the coolest places for pooches in San Diego, from the Original Dog Beach to patio dining at restaurants that have dog menus.

77. Street art reigns supreme in San Diego so get snap happy in front of the city’s most Instagrammable walls and murals.

78. Take a stroll on the San Dieguito Lagoon Interpretive Walk and find 20 discovery points along the way to learn about the importance of the San Dieguito River plants, animals and Kumeyaay people who lived there.

79. Discover a hidden waterfall in the biggest canyon in San Diego. Los Peñasquitos Canyon is best for sure-footed hikers as you climb around rocks plus, it's six miles in and out.

80. Dive into the high life and turn a free day into a mini stay-cation with a day pass to San Diego’s most amazing resort pools.

81. In need of a  bunny snuggling, chicken feeding, pony-riding adventure? Take your little party animal that goes wild for creatures at the best petting farms and zoos in the city.

82. Go whale watching by land or sea at these stellar spots for catching a glimpse of the majestic mammals.

83. Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) lived in La Jolla for several decades. We show you where to spy Dr. Seuss delights all over town and see a historical first edition of Dr. Seuss stories.

84. Calling all Park Rangers! Meet up with Ranger Heidi for a nature story and craft at Mission Trails Regional Park. They also host guided nature walks and wildlife tracking walks your little ranger will flock to. At 7,220 acres, this park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States.

85. Climb to the top of the California Tower for unbeatable views of the city.

86. Go to the spot serving burgers and chocolate malts since 1969. Hodads is a San Diego favorite and even make their own beer that's certainly worth a try.

87. Go on a sea safari and study ocean life up close by exploring one of these bustling tide pools.

88. Ride the Coronado ferry and take in the magnificent views of the San Diego skyline.

89. Score a hole-in-one at Pelly's Mini Golf where you can choose from two ocean-themed courses. When you wrap up the round, head to nearby Viewpoint Brewery Company for food and drinks with views from their outdoor patio of the San Dieguito Lagoon.

90. Meet exotic birds and talk to colorful parrots at the Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary. Don't be surprised if you get talked into adopting a parot!

91. Get your caffeine fix at one of our favorite buzz-worthy local coffee shops that cate to both kids and families.

92. Make a splash at these mesmerizing, photo-worthy urban fountains, one of which is a whale standing tall at a height of 39 feet and 10 inches—it’s the second largest bronze sculpture ever cast in the U.S.

93. During the spring, don't miss the chance to get lost in a sea of dreamy, colorful ranunculus at The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. The nearly fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers are the showstopper but there's also a sweet pea-maze and a U-pick blueberry field that your little buds will also love.

94. Catch a wave at the California Surf Museum to learn about how surfboards evolved, read pro surfer Bethany Hamilton’s story about how she survived a shark attack at age 13 and continued to compete—even after losing her arm (!), and touch Kelly Slater’s surfboard.

95. Hold and interact with reptiles, amphibians and arthropods at the EcoVivarium Living Museum.

96. Cross off a to-do on your bucket list with day trips to Idyllwild and Joshua Tree.

97. Help kids channel their inner calm (along with some lovely expansive ocean views) in the magical setting that is Meditation Gardens in Encinitas.

98. Slide through a gigantic bunch of grapes or climb aboard a colossal pirate ship at one of our favorite playgrounds. One is BYOC—as in bring your own cardboard, for sliding down an insanely fun turf hill!

99. One of the coolest parks in the country, Anza-Borrego State Park, is a short driving distance from San Diego. Extend your stay by booking a glam trailer during wildflower season and enjoy the scenery. The park is also home to more than 130 metal sculptures that'll be sure to captivate your little artist.

100. Go on a family date night at Luche Libra Taco Shop. Book the champions table in advance. You can thank us later.

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Tucked away in idyllic farm settings, these pumpkin patches go beyond the squash and offer hay-filled play spaces, autumn treats and other fun in the fields

Check out these great pumpkin patches that are ready and waiting for you to help kick off San Diego’s Halloween season. Your only problem? Picking which pumpkin patch suits you best. In addition to the adorable gourds, many of these patches also have plenty of farm-inspired fun, from hayrides and petting zoos to corn mazes, and more. So, get ready to celebrate all things autumn—from nearby fall festivals and leaf peeping to the peak of spooky seasonal glory—here’s where to find a pumpkin patch near you.

Bates Nut Farm

From Big Macs to jack-o'-lanterns, acres of pumpkins are the hallmark of Bates Nut Farm. Located in Valley Center, Bates is known for its petting corral, pony rides, hayrides, straw maze and of course, their country store (hello, homemade fudge!). Make sure to check out their events page for upcoming Halloween-time fun like a pumpkin festival craft fair, pet and human costume contests, and a scarecrow contest.

Dates: Sept. 17-Oct. 31

15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Valley Center
Online: batesnutfarm.biz

Related: Insider’s Guide to ‘Falling’ in Love with Autumn in San Diego

Pumpkin Stations

There are five Pumpkin Stations to choose from all over San Diego, and each location has something unique that the others may not have. Some have living pumpkin patches while others have already harvested pumpkins to choose from (no mud involved!) while others have the addition of petting zoos, carnival rides or corn mazes. 

Insider Tip: You can download a free ride coupon from their website.

Dates: Oct. 1-31; hours vary by location

Online: pumpkinstation.com

Mr. Jack O’ Lanterns Pumpkin Patch

Carve out some fun at Mr. Jack O’ Lanterns Pumpkins in La Jolla and Pacific Beach. You’ll find pumpkin decorating, pumpkin bowling, jumpies and more. In addition to visiting in-person, you can also place a delivery order. That’s right, have your pumpkins, decorating and carving kits to-go.

Dates: Oct. 1-31

3190 Mission Blvd.
San Diego

6710 La Jolla Blvd.
La Jolla

Online: mrjackolanternspumpkins.com

PB Pumpkin Patch

This Pacific Beach pumpkin patch has been serving up local farm-fresh fun since 1992. Not only do they have a large selection of pumpkins ranging from mini gourds to 100-pound monsters, they also have a variety of fall accessories like straw bales, Indian corn, gourds, and other fall décor. The best part is you can keep your kitchen table clean and make all the mess there with their free pumpkin carving and painting tables that offer stencils, paint kits, stickers, and candles. Plus, there's free hot apple cider and free shaved ice for kids.

Insider Tip: Print out their online coupon for 10-percent off your total pumpkin purchases before you go.

Dates: Oct 1-31

870 Garnet Ave.
Pacific Beach
Online: pbpumpkinpatch.com

Julian Mining Company

Fall at the Farm is a beloved tradition for many families who make the drive out to Julian. During the rest of the year, many know it as a gold panning hot spot, but in the fall they have a pumpkin patch and other farm fun activities like apple picking. Other activities include hayrides, cider pressing, farm animals and even axe throwing. 

Dates: Sept. 18–Oct. 31

4444 State Hwy. 78
Julian
Online: julianminingcompany.com

 

Related: The Best U-Pick Apple Orchards

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch has been a San Diego tradition for many years. The farm features pumpkins, wagon rides, cottonseed mountain, a petting corral, a playground, and a lot more fun for the entire family. Admission gets you access to the farm, all play activities and, if you paid extra, kids will get a Jack Patch Pumpkin. Plan your time around the fun wagon ride that gives you a complete tour of the farm and even through the dairy barn; it departs on the half-hour until 6 p.m.

Insider Tip: All tickets must be purchased online before arrival.

Dates: Sept. 27–Oct. 29

14950 El Monte Rd.
Lakeside
Online: omaspumpkinpatch.com

Summers Past Farms

Pick a pumpkin in this idyllic farm setting with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Parents will love the free admission and kids will love making hay forts, but don’t get lost in the corn maze. Visit The Barn Shoppe and Herbal Soap Shoppe while you're there for handmade gifts and treats. This is a certified wildlife habitat recognized by the NWF, so you’ll be surrounded by the beauty of nature here, along with their cats, dogs and chickens running around.

Dates: Sept. 29–Oct. 31

15602 Olde Hwy. 80
Flinn Springs
Online: summerspastfarms.com

Related: Field Day! Crazy Fun Corn Mazes

Mountain Valley Ranch

Mountain Valley Ranch has everything kids love about a visit to the patch! Kids will find all kinds of fun here like the corn maze, corn cannon, and petting zoo (all of these are open daily), while the pony rides hours vary (call ahead to confirm).

Good to Know: Snacks and drinks are available on weekends.

Dates: Sept. 25-Oct. 31

842 Highway 78
Ramona
Online: mountainvalleyranch.com

Peltzer Pumpkin Farm

This family-owned pumpkin farm is the ideal place for kids to roam the fields and find the perfect pumpkin to pick. Keep roaming and you’ll come across ponies and trains to ride, a petting farm, carnival games, mini ride-on tractors for kids and more.

Insider Tip: Check out their fun kids' pumpkin painting classes too.

Dates: Sept. 24–Oct. 21

39925 Calle Contento
Temecula
Online: peltzerfarms.com

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Leaf peep your heart out with these close-to-San Diego destinations that showcases peak fall foliage

San Diego may be famous for its iconic palm trees and evergreens, but if you are craving some botanical-based harvest colors, there is no need to travel to the east coast. Believe it or not, you are just a short drive from some of the most spectacular wilderness and fall foliage wherever you are in San Diego. Not only that, our city is also home to loads of deciduous trees, and they’re quite show-stopping in autumn—you just have to know where to look. Here are our favorite spots to go leaf-peeping for your very own epic fall adventure. Couple this with our apple picking guide, best spots to go pumpkin picking, and our fall festival guide to San Diego—you’ve suddenly got a fall to remember. East coast who?

Fall in Love with Balboa Park

Ahhh.. autumn in Balboa Park. The park is San Diego's 1200-acre backyard filled with art, science, botanical gardens, and museums but this time of year, it's where to go to get your fall fix. First, get dazzled by the fiery red of the sweetgum trees on the corner of 6th and Quince St. at the park's edge. (That alone is worth the trip)! Then stroll the park with the littles in tow and see vibrant shades of gold, yellow and green. Finally, make a day of it at The San Diego Air & Space Museum or the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, and you've found your fall fun in San Diego.

1549 El Prado 
San Diego
Online: balboapark.org

Related: Dive Into Our Complete Guide to Family Fun in Balboa Park

Stroll the Japanese Friendship Garden

Littles will sprint to see the giant koi fish swimming in the ponds. You can take a breather and enjoy the beautiful fall colors of the garden. The Japanese maple trees run in shades of red, plus you'll see bursts of yellow, orange, and green. Stroll the garden and then explore the latest exhibit.

Insider Tip: Did you know that some of the bushes in the Japanese Friendship Garden are pruned to be an egg shape? During the fall season, when there aren't as many leaves on the trees, this gives more texture to the view. Learn about the different types of pruning at the garden during a docent-led tour.

Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $14/adult; $12/students; free for kids 6 and younger

2215 Pan American Rd. E
San Diego
Online: niwa.org

Visit Palomar Mountain State Park

Pack a picnic and drive up to Palomar Mountain to see all the fall colors. This state park features over 11 miles of trails through oak forests, chaparral, expansive meadows, and staggering fir and cedar woodlands. From the brightly lit golden yellow of the black oaks to the surrounding red shrubs, you'll feel like you've landed in New England. And, if you're up for a hike, try the French Valley Trail, it's a relatively flat 3.8-mile trail that offers a prime destination and will incite plenty of oohs and ahhs from your little hikers. 

19952 State Park Dr.
Palomar Mountain
Online: friendsofpalomarsp.org

Go Apple-Picking in Julian

Say hello to fall with a day trip to the historic gold mine town of Julian—famous for its fall colors, U-pick apples, apple pie, and apple cider. Head to a U-pick farm to pluck apples from the trees, then make your way to downtown Julian and look through the adorable gift stores. Miner's Diner is a good place to grab lunch with the tots in tow. Before leaving, stop by a local pie shop for a freshly baked apple or pumpkin pie. If you're on a mission to see the best fall foliage experience you can in Julian, we recommend hiking the 1.65-mile Canyon Oak Trail within William Heise County Park for views of the great oaks towering above.­­

2129 Main St.
Julian
Online: visitjulian.com

Related: Everything You Need to Know about Apple Picking in Julian 

Camp at Cuyamaca State Park

Sleep under the stars with the crew at Paso Picacho campground and experience fall up close and personal. The state park is home to 24,700 acres of oak and conifer forests, and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the seasons come and go like Northern California. This is a great family campground where you can secure a spot through Reserve America. Your happy campers will love the fresh air, the climbing trees, and lots of easy hikes from the camp spot. Weekends are busy, so book early. 

12551 Hwy. 79
Descanso
Online: parks.ca.gov

Related: Our Favorite Spots to Go Glamping near San Diego

Discover Fall Colors at Sweetwater River Bridge

This historic East County bridge is a sweet spot for fall color—plus it makes a beautiful backdrop for family photos. Now a pedestrian bridge, it's easy to spot off Hwy. 94 and worth a look-see if you're in the area. Weekends get busy with fams taking pics and strolls. Built in 1929, the bridge is made of iron and has triangular trestles that were popular at that time. Come experience a little history.

2951 Jamacha Rd.
El Cajon
Online: fws.gov

Related: Explore All the Bridges of San Diego County

Fall Photo-Ops at Bates Nut Farm

This pumpkin patch is worth visiting as a yearly tradition. You'll find all kinds of pumpkins from Big Mac to Ghost and Jack o' Lanterns (and they're all grown on-site). There's plenty to do, from tractor hayrides to a hay bale maze. Bring a picnic lunch to sit under the autumn trees, or grab a wheelbarrow and stock up on your fall decor. Shop the central store (be sure to grab some homemade fudge!), then head home and chalk up a fantastic fall day.

When: Sept. 17 - Oct. 31; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free admission. Parking is $8. Bring money for food and vendors.

15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Valley Center
Online: batesnutfarm.biz/pumpkin-festival

Related: Don't Miss These Epic Fall Festivals Happening around San Diego This Month & Next

Explore Mt. Laguna’s Kwaaymii Trail

Hike the easy half-mile loop trail with a small hill. About a 50-minute drive on 8-East, you'll appreciate being surrounded by the black oaks' golden leaves mixed in with the green pine trees. Bring a lunch to munch. The trailhead starts at and loops back around to the Visitor's Center. You'll need to purchase a $5 adventure day pass to access the forest.

Sunrise Hwy. & Los Huecos Rd.
Mt. Laguna
Online: lagunamountainvisitorcenter.gov

Hike around the Black Oaks at Volcan Mountain

This fall, enjoy a family-friendly hike at Volcan Mountain. This mountain provides a home to some rare plant and wildlife species. View the changing yellow and red leaves of the black oaks that are abundant in the area. They offer guided hikes and educational children's events for visitors. It's the makings of a perfect fall family day.

Volcan Mountain Foundation
Julian
Online: volcanmt.org

—Aimee Della Bitta & Kimberly Stahl

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Get your family fall festival fix at one of these must-go fairs taking place around San Diego this month and next

Living in San Diego doesn’t mean we bypass the change in seasons, it’s just that our moderate temps offer an opportunity to engage in autumn activities with clear blue skies and fewer clothing layers. Whether you’re looking for apple picking, want to witness some epic fall foliage, pumpkin picking or want to experience something more lively like yodeling and dancing in the streets—San Diego’s fall festivals are all about family fun. So, grab your calendar, your little pumpkins and celebrate the (slightly?) cooler temperatures with some fun at one (or all) of these kid-friendly local fall festivals and fairs.

Fiestas Partrias: Immerse yourself in Old Town San Diego this fall to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. The festivities begin with a traditional bell ringing, and then let the dancing begin with historic and lively music. Kids and parents alike will enjoy the 19th century crafts in the gardens of La Casa Estudillo including paper flowers and creating cacarones—colorful confetti-filled eggs. More games and early settler information demonstrations will be throughout the park. Then eat a taco or enchilada at the famous Fiesta De Reyes and explore all the cool shops. One kid favorite is the Miner's Gems and Mineral shop, where they can pan for precious stones for a fee. 

When: Sept. 17; noon-3 pm
Cost: Free admission. Bring money for food, drink, rides and vendors

Old Town San Diego
4002 Wallace St.
San Diego
Online:
parks.ca.gov

Related: How Many of San Diego's Hidden Gems Do You Know?

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch: Fall fun! Head to Bates Nut Farm for handmade arts and crafts where up-cycled, recycled, restored, vintage, antique, and handmade wares will be offered along with a large variety of jewelry, woodworking, candles, soaps, fine art, and more. Additionally, the famous Pumpkin Patch will be open so little ones can take a tractor hayride, run through the straw maze, hop on the pony rides, pet the animals, and eat up the many food choices. You can also score fall decorations and food to take home with you.

When: Sept. 17 - Oct. 31; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free admission. Parking is $8. Bring money for food and vendors.

15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Valley Center
Online:
batesnutfarm.biz/pumpkin-festival

best fall festivals around San Diego
Pacific Islander Festival

Pacific Islander Festival: Aloha! Experience the culture and customs of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia with entertainment, food, music, and specialty crafts at the Pacific Islander Festival. From BBQ short ribs and chicken to giant slushies and banana donuts, you'll love the specialty food at this fun festival. 

When: Sept. 24 & 25; 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Free admission. Bring money for food, drink, and vendors.

Mission Bay's Ski Beach
Vacation Rd.
San Diego
Online:
pifasandiego.com

fun fall festivals around San Diego
Encinitas Oktoberfest

Encinitas Oktoberfest: Break out your lederhosen and prepare to dance in the streets! Young movers and shakers can don their chicken hats and flap their wings to the sound of music. Even little wallflowers will join the merriment because everyone looks silly doing the Oktoberfest chicken dance. You'll find fall food favorites like giant pretzels and German beer (for grownups, of course!) with plenty of other eats. Also, there's face painting, crafts, a fun zone for half-pints, and over 200 vendors selling their wares. 

When: Sept. 25; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Free admission. Bring money for food, drink, and rides

El Camino Real between Wandering Rd. & Rambling Rd.
Encinitas
Online:
encinitasoktoberfest.com

El Cajon Oktoberfest: Kick up your heels to the oom-pah music at this traditional fest, where you’ll polka and waltz and do the chicken dance. Put on by the German American Societies of San Diego, this is the most traditional Oktoberfest in town. Enjoy classic fares like bratwurst, potato pancakes, and sauerkraut alongside a large variety of German beers. Littles can nosh on pretzels, play festival games and create crafts in the Kid Zone. Sunday is chicken hat day. So wear your most outrageous chicken hat (obvi) and join in the fun.

When: Sept. 30, Oct 1-2 & Oct. 7-9; Fri., 4-10 p.m.; Sat., noon-10 p.m.; Sun., noon-9 p.m.
Cost: Fri. & Sat., $15/adult; Sun., $5/adult; children are free. The ticket price includes a meal plate and two beers on tap.

1017 S. Mollison Ave.
El Cajon
Online: germanclubsandiego.org

La Mesa Oktoberfest: Let the good times roll! The largest San Diego Oktoberfest has a Kinder Karneval for little festival-goers with a giant Ferris wheel, a toddler obstacle course, a rock climbing wall, and an inflatable slide. You'll find a brat-eating contest and interactive art, a stein-holding contest, and scavenger hunts to watch and play. Over 50 food vendors for will be available for eats,  including pizza, bratwurst, and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Finally, visit Dachshund Village and watch the wiener dog races, a dog fashion show, a howling contest, and more.

When: Sept. 30-Oct. 2; Fri., 4-10 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 12 p.m. -8 p.m.
Cost: Free admission. Bring money for food, drink, rides, and other vendors.

La Mesa Blvd. & Allison Ave.
La Mesa
Online:
lamesaoktoberfest.org

Carlsbad Oktoberfest & Family Fall Festival: The Carlsbad Rotary Oktoberfest is a family tradition among locals. Join the revelry and eat apple strudel, visit the pumpkin patch, enter the yodeling contest and Halloween costume contest. You'll also enjoy face painting, a bounce house, a fire engine, and a stage dedicated to children's music.

Good to Know: No pets are allowed in the park.

When: Oct. 1; noon-8 p.m.
Cost: Free to enter. Presale tickets for food/drinks are available online. Pumpkin patch tickets are available for $5 and must be purchased at the entrance to the event.

Carlsbad Strawberry Company
1050 Cannon Road
Carlsbad
Online: rotaryoktoberfest.org

Related: There’s More Than Just Apples in Julian, CA

best fall festivals around San Diego
City of Poway

Rendezvous in Poway: Stroll back to the 1800s as history comes alive at the annual Rendezvous at Old Poway Park. Cowboys and pioneers put on family-friendly reenactments of gun fights and train robberies. Pan for gold and ride the speeder train. An old-time craft fair, the Nelson House, and the Heritage Museum are open to exploring as well. 

When: Oct. 1-2; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: Free, nominal fee to ride the train

Old Poway Park
14134 Midland Rd. 
Poway
Online: poway.org

Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Fair: Are you a gift-giving diva? Find unique gifts and get your holiday shopping off to an early start at the Harvest Festival in Del Mar. Browse through hundreds of artisans selling jewelry, ceramics, toys, and art. Strolling musicians, a cowboy on stilts, and free crafts will entertain the kiddos. You’ll find many food options with shaded seating outside the exhibit halls.

When: Oct. 7-9; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $9/adults; $4/kids (12-17 years); kids 12 and under free; There is a fee for parking

Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar
Online: harvestfestival.com

best fall fairs around San Diego
Alta Vista Botanical Gardens

Alta Vista Botanical Fall Fun Festival: Get the whole family into nature and share a day filled with art and music. Little ones will love relay races, bobbing for apples, a drum circle, and face painting. A scarecrow decorating contest is a time-honored tradition at this event. For $2, families can create their own unique scarecrow to add to the Garden's fall ambiance and win fun prizes. In addition, there's live music, a huge plant sale, and the Garden's extensive art exhibits for the adults. Ample parking is available in the adjacent Moonlight Amphitheater parking lot.

When: Oct. 15; 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Cost: Free

1270 Vale Terrace Dr.
Vista
Online: altavistabotanicalgardens.org

Horse Heritage Festival: Got a unicorn-obsessed little one at home? For a few dollars, you can enjoy a day outdoors horsing around with the next best thing—horses. San Marcos’ Horse Heritage Festival offers pony rides, a petting corral, and frontier games. There are also horsemanship demonstrations and a pumpkin patch. You’ll feel good knowing that funds raised during the event support the Horse Heritage Conservancy, connecting people and horses year-round, and helping animals in times of emergency.

When: Oct. 16; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: There is a fee for rides

Walnut Grove Park
1950 Sycamore Dr.
San Marcos
Online:  keepitequestrian.org

 

 

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Lots of insider tips await

School is finally back in session and that means the fall season has arrived. While the weather may not have gotten the message in Southern California, there’s no time like Halloween Time to visit the Happiest Place on Earth.

From Sept. 2 through Oct. 31, Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure have been transformed into a fall-themed extravaganza with decorations, ride overlays and a brand new menu. We hit up the parks on the first day of the fall celebration and got all the insider details you need to make your visit the most festive yet.

Disneyland Resort

Halloween Time Attractions & Experiences

A trip to Disney requires advance planning so before you head out, take inventory of what attractions and experiences are the most important to your family. If the Haunted Mansion Holiday (with it's Nightmare Before Christmas overlay) is a must, consider a rope drop (where you arrive at the park and are some of the first to enter) to make sure you don't get stuck in a huge line. Instead of trying to hit up every single ride, picking a few experiences will let you enjoy your day more and give everyone a win. We talked to Carrie at Plan Disney who shared this amazing resource where parents can submit questions and receive expert tips and advice on planning their trip.

In addition to the Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction, we highly recommend checking out the Halloween Screams nighttime spectacular. While the fireworks portion of the experience is only available on weekends, visitors can still catch the projections on weekdays. Carrie from Plan Disney recommends catching this show closer to it's a small world, where there's more room for kiddos to let the wiggles out instead of being shoulder to shoulder in other viewing areas.

Insider Tip: Plan lots of breaks in your day where you can rest and beat the heat. While it's technically "fall" at the parks, Southern California is known for autumn heat waves. We recommend hitting up it's a small world, the Star Wars Launch Bay and the Animation Academy at Disney California Adventure to soak in some much-needed AC.

Karly Wood

Fall Menu Items at Disneyland & Disney California Adventure

There's food and then there's Disney food––and you don't want to miss the new fall menu items on your visit. In addition to options like spicy mac and cheese and ghost pepper nachos, there are plenty of fall-themed items like Oogie Boogie Funnel Cake Fries, pumpkin spice churros, Monster Halloween cake and a blood orange slush. We highly suggest checking out the foodie guide and mapping out your must-haves before heading to the park.

This year's popcorn bucket is a glow in the dark Mickey Mummy that is bound to be the envy of every park attendee, in addition to a Donald Duck sipper.

Finally, we cannot recommend mobile ordering enough. If it is an option at your dining location of choice, exercise it to keep your hungry kids at bay. 

Insider tip: You can place all your mobile orders at the start of the day once entering the park so your meals are taken care of. If you wait too long, time slots will be not available and you might have to wait hours to pick up your food.

Karly Wood

Plaza de la Familia at Disney California Adventure

Returning this year is the Plaza de la Familia in Paradise Gardens at Disney California Adventure. This special area commemorates Dia de Los Muertos, a holiday of joyful celebration remembering family and friends who have passed away. It runs from Sept. 2 through Nov. 2.

This is a great place to see Coco come to life, with beautiful interactive experiences, special food and live entertainment. Several times a day you can catch the street show, “A Musical Celebration of Coco,” and sing your heart out to “Remember Me.”

This location is the perfect spot to also grab some amazing photos at the memory wall, see the Árbol de la Vida (Tree of Life) and snap a picture with Miguel.

Insider tip: The Plaza is a great place to sit and recharge. It's heavily shaded, right next to lots of food options and has a great craft section for kids. When you need a break, head here!

Karly Wood

Halloween at Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure is equally transformed during the fall season. While the theme is more on the spooky side with lots of bats and Oogie Boogie displays, it's just as enchanting for families. Don't miss the 10-foot tall Headless Horeseman on Buena Vista Street and the vintage Halloween costumes the Disney characters are wearing.

Be sure to head to Cars Land to see Radiator Springs transformed into Radiator Screams, Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. Also, keep an eye out for Lightning McQueen, Mater, Cruz and Red in their best “car-stumes!”

And finally, once it gets dark, don't forget to head to Guardians of the Galaxy- Monsters After Dark. This ride is the only one that guests can ride twice in one day and have completely different experiences thanks to its evening transformation!

Insider tip: If your family plans on riding Guardians of the Galaxy- Monsters After Dark, we highly encourage a Lightning Lane pass. This line for this attraction can get long quickly and you don't want to waste your evening!

 

Note: This trip was paid for by Disneyland Resort but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer. 

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If you’re short on time but have a party to plan, these mobile party businesses are a fantastic way to get the celebration going at your house

Sure, hosting a kid’s birthday party can be a rewarding and entertaining endeavor but planning it can also eat up a lot of your time. We’ll make it a piece of cake for you with our scoop on mobile party businesses that deliver the fun right to your doorstep. Your little party animal is sure to love these mobile birthday parties, and the convenience factor can’t be beat. From science entertainers to a brick builder bonanzas, there are so many choices for great mobile kids birthday parties in San Diego.

Three teepee filled with party-goers sit on the floor awaiting a sleepover
Elite Teepees

Elite Teepees

Let Elite Teepees bring the outdoors in for your happy camper's next birthday slumber party. Teepees in an array of different themes from "unicorn magic" to "game day" are delivered to your home and beautifully set up on the day of the party. Then everything is cleared away the next day. Hand-crafted themed teepees are fully equipped with luxury mattresses and bedding, exquisite decorative accessories, and a large sprinkle of magic. The only things guests need to bring are their overnight bag and sense of adventure for a fun “glamp-in” with friends.

Cost: $90 per teepee for overnight rental, plus delivery
Online: eliteteepees.com

 

Soft PlayZone

If you’re having a fête with a bunch of littles, then this four-hour soft play zone rental will be a hit! You get a choice of play areas, the basic fun zone (8 feet by 8 feet), or the slightly bigger wow zone (8 feet by 12 feet). This local shop is courteous and on time, and the play zone is clean for the party. Also, they have a cover tent for a small extra fee to keep partygoers protected from the sun.

Cost: Fun Zone, $170 for four hours; Wow Zone, $240 for four hours; tent rental is $25
Online: softplayzone.com

Kid Ventures

Everyone loves Kid Ventures, so why not bring them to you? Their mobile party package (for up to 16 kids) includes two team members to set up activities, clean-up, and extra help to make your party perfect. Also, it includes an obstacle course and a craft station. Plus, you can add in a character or other options. Little birthday goers leave with a candy medal and coloring pictures, and the birthday half-pint gets a free pass to Kid Ventures.

Cost: $495 for 1.5 hours
Online: indoorplaysandiego.com

Related: The Best Places to Host Your Kid’s Birthday Bash

Two boys build together during a Snapology mobile birthday party
Snapology

Snapology

If you have a little brick builder in your house then invite over Snapology to set up a pint-sized build. They provide a one-hour party time and build activity for up to 15 party guests. Your little birthday wonder will get to choose the theme and get a free t-shirt, too.

Cost: $250 for 15 party guests
Online: sandiego.snapology.com

Two rows of children stand painting at easels during a mobile art birthday party
ArtBeat

ArtBeat

Let kids express their inner Picasso at a mobile art party tailored to your birthday sweetie. Not only will a seasoned instructor show up for a one-hour or 90-minute class but all art materials are provided, including table covers and aprons. Your little artist can pick the painting for the party on their website. Choose a classic painting party or go all out with a themed art party package such as an Enchanted Oceans Party, Magical Fairy Party, or Sweets & Treats Party. And if you have a Harry Potter fan, one of their Potion Parties might be the way to go instead.


Cost: Parties start at $135 for up to seven kiddos
Online: artbeatsandiego.com/mobile-art-parties2.html

Game Truck

Got a game-crazed clan? Then these wheels are for you. Your little video guru can let loose on the latest (and greatest) tech consoles from Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch with a choice of more than 30 age-appropriate games. It's easy on you—there's a game coach available to answer questions and to make sure the party runs smoothly.

Cost: $449 for a two hour party
Online: gametruckparty.com

FunFlicks

A giant backyard movie screen? We know who would be the cool parents on the block! The event crew will set up, run, and take down the giant inflatable movie screen and outdoor sound system. Best part? You do nothing. They can even bring popcorn. Your birthday kiddo will be the talk of the town.

Cost: Packages start at $379
Online: funflicks.com

Royal Entertainers

Looking for an Ice Queen or Galactic Knight to host your kid's birthday bash? From face painting and dance lessons to singing and a cake ceremony, your birthday princess leaves with a crown. From Knight Academy and light sword training to a magic show and graduation, your birthday buddy leaves a knight. Let the royals host your next fest.


Cost: $225 for 1.5 hours
Online: royalentertainers.com

Artful Chefs

The best part (for you!) about this cooking party is that you do nothing: Junior Chef parties cook up a good mobile birthday for your little one and all of their friends. The party lasts two-and-a-half hours during which children prepare the main course, drink and (of course!) dessert, then sit down and enjoy their creations. Your birthday kiddo picks the party theme - and there are plenty of choices to be had - from meatball madness, pizza, French crepes to an after-slumber party brunch!  

Cost: $500 for up to eight children
Online: artfulchef.com

Children play on the tumble gym bus at a mobile birthday party
Tumble Gym Bus

Tumble Gym Bus

If your little birthday wonder prefers a high-energy party that will have them bouncing off the walls, then this bus at your house makes party planning easy peasy. There are two instructors that lead the birthday crew in song, dance, games, and tumbling exercises. Plus, there's a cool yellow slide out the back of the bus. They can even do the goody bags!

Cost: Packages start at $325
Onlinegigsalad.com/tumblegymbus

Mad Science

Bubbling potions, dry ice, and eggs that fit into incredibly small spaces: Your birthday scientist will be amazed at this show. Add on more science to amp up the party: rocket blasting, shaved ice rainbow potion, and slime-making. If your guests' age range varies, this high-energy abracadabra works well. All party-goers receive a gift of slime, superball, or silly putty.

Cost: Parties start at $315 plus $5 per child
Online: madscience.org/sandiego

Related: Animal Birthday Parties That’ll Make Kids Go Wild!

 

The Children's Wood Shop Bus

Do you want to forgo screen time for hands-on fun? Then the wood shop bus is for you and your birthday crew. Budding carpenters don the safety goggles and get to hammer, saw, and drill their way to a new wooden toy. Kids love working where they get to use real tools, just like the grown-ups. There's a knowledgeable instructor on hand to teach the kids about wood shop rules and how to use the tools. Birthday parties are available from October through June and are best for children ages 7 to 11.

Cost: $300 to $400 (depending on location)
Online: woodshopbus.com

Super Star Gymnastics

Does your little birthday cutie tumble around the house like Simone Biles? Well, we've got the 4-1-1 on the best gym party. They'll bring the mat, parachute, the trampoline (it's small), two teachers, and let the cartwheels and somersaults begin. Experienced and personable owner Katie P. knows how to have a party and host it too! You get to take lots of pics.

Cost: Starts at $200 per hour
Online: superstargymnastics.com

Train Party Express

All aboard, transportation-crazed kids! Schedule a trackless train ride or race cars that little riders can buckle up and pretend to steer (up to 18 passengers). Attendants dressed as conductors or NASCAR drivers will drive your parade on grass, gravel, or concrete. Complete the package with add-on face painting, foam, or snow cone machines. This mobile party provider serves part of San Diego County.

Cost: Packages start at $250 per hour
Online: trainpartyexpress.com

Nightingale Music School

Gather your friends and make music together. From puppets and parachutes to bubbles and a giant drum, this 45-minute come-to-you party is great kid fun. Sing a song, shake the maracas, or dance along with up to 14 guests. These parties are perfect for infants, tots, and toddlers.

Cost: Packages start at $195
Online: nightengalemusicschool.com

Related: Kid-Friendly Nail Salons We Love

Girlygirl Galas

If your kid's motto is something like keep calm and spa on, why not have a spa party catered to your house? From sweet-smelling lotions and fuzzy bathrobes to pink polish and soothing cucumber eye pads, sit back and let these gals plan a spa fest. The best part? You can relax too.

Cost: Spa packages start at $360
Online: girlygirlgalas.com

San Diego Children's Discovery Museum

The museum is not currently booking mobile birthday parties but plans to restart soon—check the website for updates.

What could be better than a museum party rolling right up to your door? San Diego Children's Discovery Museum's mobile birthday parties bring all the fun of the museum to your home. Their party package includes an arts and crafts activity as well as three mobile exhibits for partygoers to explore: a custom-built ball wall, an imagination playground, and a wind tunnel. All of the exhibits engage kids in educational and entertaining hands-on activities that teach them about topics ranging from architecture to aerodynamics. Also included are two birthday party assistants and a special gift for the kid of honor.

Cost: $495 for up to 40 kids (10 percent off for museum members)
Online: sdcdm.org/mobile-birthday-party

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When you’re looking for a weekend getaway that’s a level up from tent camping, these are the best book-worthy spots in CA

Got a hankering to leave city life and go camping nearby, but not convinced that braving the elements and setting up your own sleeping quarters with just a piece of nylon between you and whatever wanders around outside is your idea of fun? Let us introduce you to the good old yurt. “What’s a yurt?” you ask? Well, unlike pitch-a-tent camping, yurts are already constructed structures, adorably, in the round. Yurt means “home” in Mongolian so for those that don’t want to give up some creature comforts (like a good set of walls and an off-the-floor bed) but also want to feel at one with the great outdoors (whether it’s beach camping or perhaps a touch of a luxe campsite), this could be the camping answer you’ve been looking for.

Cachuma Lake Yurts

You'll relax at the lake and roast marshmallows at your very own fire ring while little glampers will have fun at the playground and the swimming pool during the summer months. Add to that, there are guided nature walks, guided lake cruises, and junior ranger programs the kids can join.

Good to Know: The yurts named Lupine, Poppy, and Sage are on the western side of the campground and get a spectacular sunset on most evenings. Oak, Sycamore, Pine, and Redwood (ADA) are on the eastern side and get a beautiful morning sunrise over the lake and boating marina. PS: There's also a country store in case you need any essentials.

Yurt Features: Depending on the yurt, these yurts sleep 3-to-6 people. Expect to find indoor lighting, heating and screened windows. Outside you'll find a deck, picnic table (some are inside), that previously mentioned fire ring, a charcoal bbq and water spigot. Restrooms and showers are located close by while a portable lavatory is located adjacent to some yurts for convenience.

1 Lakeview Dr.
Santa Barbara, CA 
Online: countyofsb.org/741/Yurts

El Capitan Canyon

Camping is downright easy with this adventure yurt at El Capitan. We aren't sure if the best part is the domed skylight for easy stargazing at night or the multitude of deer, birds, trees and other nature-like things that surround you during your stay. Make sure to carve time out for the 30-minute hike to the beach or a walk to feed the llamas and the goats. 

Good to Know: There's a heated swimming pool, along with a playground with a slide, swings and jungle gym adjacent to the pool. And for parents? There is an espresso bar as well as local wine and beer in the Canyon Market.

Yurt Features: Includes a queen bed and a twin day bed with twin trundle, bar-sized refrigerator, microwave, ceiling fan and space heater. Adjacent restroom facilities include private shower stalls with attached changing rooms. All yurts include a private picnic table and firepit with grill. 

11560 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, CA 
Online: elcapitancanyon.com

Santa Margarita KOA

Located halfway between LA and SF (and makes a great pitstop if you're making the roadtrip between the two), this yurt, on 70 acres in the central coast, is an outdoor enthusiasts dream—whether you and your family are into hiking, fishing, boating, bird watching, horseback riding, cycling, horseshoes, swimming, or any number of other outdoor activities, there's (literally) something for everyone. And if just making it to the yurt is the adventure, there's plenty to entertain the kids onsite: There's a giant jumping pillow and the unheated pool is open May through Oct. Make sure to say hi to Kevin, the resident emu who loves being fed.

Good to Know: This spot is located within an hour drive of Hearst Castle, Cambria, Ocean Dunes, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, local wineries, and Pozo National Forest. 

Yurt Features: This 20-foot, yurt comes with a queen bed, two full futons and two twin beds. There isn't a bathroom or kitchen inside and you need to bring your own linens. Fire pit and picnic table are located out front.

4765 Santa Margarita Lake Rd.
Santa Margarita, CA
Online: koa.com/santa-margarita

Related: What a Family Adventure Looks Like in Morro Bay, CA

best yurts to rent in CA
Purty Yurty

Purty Yurty & Mini Me

Located on 5-acres of land in Joshua Tree, expect a star-studded stargazing experience thanks to vast skies and little-to-no light pollution. This is a rustic experience so bring plenty of food and even more water. 

Good to Know: Joshua Tree National Park is 20 minutes away and is a bucket-worthy spot for hikes for the half-pints.

Yurt Features: Sleeps up to four guests. There's no kitchen, the restroom is a porta potty, there's a shower stall with solar shower (bag of water heated by the sun) along with battery and solar-powered lamps. Additionally, there is a solar panel which charges battery packs and you can use them to charge phones and small devices but no more than 110V. If you need a power for anything else, this listing is not suitable. Bring prepared food and plenty of drinking water.

Joshua Tree, CA
Online: airbnb.com/rooms/19860463

Related: Luxury Camping & Joshua Tree National Park All in One (Glorious) Place

Airbnb

The Cazador Yurt

Nestled among 30 fruit trees on a half-acre lot, this yurt exemplifies classic bohemian California living. There are several hammocks hung around the yard, a firepit as well as fruit trees that you're welcome to help yourself to.

Yurt Features: This yurt is 16 feet in diameter and has a conical roof with a skylight directly over the bed. It sleeps four, with one queen bed, one single bed and an air mattress. Included is internet access, a toaster oven, coffee, and mini-fridge. There's an outdoor bathroom with a toilet, sink and an outdoor shower with a tankless water heater that allows infinitely long hot showers. 

Glassell Park
Los Angeles, CA 
Online: airbnb.com/rooms/1688018

Related: Our 100 Things to Do in LA List Is New & Improved

Skyfarm Yurt

Skyfarm Yurt

A glamping bohemian yurt in the neighborhood of Paradise Hill (a 10-minute drive from DTLA). Families will dig this yurt's location on an urban farm where you can visit (and help feed if you wish!) goats, chickens, and a pig next door.

Good to Know: There are steps, so for toddlers, this location may be a challenge.

Yurt Features: This 20-foot yurt comes with a king bed and two single mattresses. A full outside kitchen, hanging chair the kids will love, wifi, an indoor fireplace, a solar-powered clawfoot garden bathtub, plus a coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator and a bbq grill outside.

Paradise Hill
Los Angeles, CA 
Online: airbnb.com/rooms/19012748

Related: Our Favorite Farm Stays for Families across California

best yurts to book in CA
Launch Pointe

Launch Pointe

If your brood loves to have plenty of activities, then Lake Elsinore's Launch Pointe Recreation is a camping hot spot. With splash pads, a playground and a swimming pool, little campers have tons of choices on how to have fun. And if you love to jet ski, boat, or fish, you've got it all here. Even better? There's a restaurant on-site for when the crew gets hungry.

Yurt Features: There are six themed yurts (The Lodge, The BoraBora, The Boho, The Beach, The Rock & Roll, and The Elsinore) that vary in guest accommodations but all come with linens, in-room coffee and a refrigerator. Bathrooms are private while showers and additional restrooms are located within the yurt village.

32040 Riverside Dr.
Lake Elsinore, CA 
Online: launch-pointe.com

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Don’t stress about what to do for the long holiday weekend cause your guide to family-friendly fun things to do in San Diego over Labor Day weekend is now live

The long holiday weekend is (literally) around the corner, and you might be brainstorming for family-friendly activities around SD that go beyond the usual suspects of splash pads and waterparks, playgrounds and parks, and going to the beach (although these beaches are our favorite if you’re looking for some recs). Don’t sweat it—from must-go movie nights to the annual swim at the pier event, we’ve sussed out the most fun and unique events around town that will keep you and your brood happy all the way through the long weekend.

Watch “Jaws” on IMAX
Sept. 2: There’s no better way to see this giant shark than on the giant IMAX screen. Event details.

National Cinema Day
Sept. 3: Go to the movies on National Cinema Day for just $3 per ticket. Major chains like AMC and Regal Cinemas, along with college campus theaters and some smaller independent theaters, are set to participate. Check the website to find a participating theater near you. Event details.

Wizard of Oz (1939)
Sept. 3: Enjoy the movie from a comfy Del Beach sand chair. $25/person.Enjoy the movie from a comfy Del Beach sand chair. $25/person.Summer movies begin promptly at 8pm, with doors opening at 7:30pm. Food and drinks are available for purchase at the nearby Beach + Taco Shack.Reservations are required. Please come prepared to stay warm. Event details.

See Hocus Pocus or Beetlejuice or Coraline Under the Stars
Sept. 3: Situated on the 4th floor terrace of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, this location is an amazing spot to enjoy movies on a big screen under the stars. Doors open 60 minutes before the screening, allowing plenty of time to grab your headphones, select a seat and enjoy the Rooftop experience! Food and beverage will be available on site, as well as classic cinema concessions. Times vary. Event details.

Wynton Marsalis at The Rady Shell
Sept. 4: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis are coming to The Rady Shell! The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (JLCO), comprising 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988 and spends over a third of the year on tour across the world. Featured in all aspects of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s programming, this remarkably versatile orchestra performs and leads educational events in New York, across the U.S. and around the globe; in concert halls; dance venues; jazz clubs; public parks; and with symphony orchestras; ballet troupes; local students; and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists. Event details.

First Free Sunday Community Art Day
Sept. 4: Draw inspiration from bright colors, tongue-in-cheek humor, pop culture and found object artworks highlighted in Pop Smoke: A Veteran Art Exhibition and create shoes that POP! Add vibrant paint, whimsical bling, vintage fabrics, stickers, and retro tchotchkes inspired by pop culture to your own shoes or decorate shoes provided by OMA. All materials are supplied but bringing your own shoes to decorate is highly encouraged. This family friendly event is free along with admission to the museum. Just bring your imagination! Event details.

Movie on the Field
Sept. 5: Into the unknown we go! Join us on the field after the Padres game to watch Disney’s Frozen II. Your Theme Game package includes access to watch Frozen II on the field postgame and a ticket to the Diamondbacks vs. Padres game.Into the unknown we go! Event details.

Labor Day Pier Swim
Sept. 5: An Oceanside tradition marking the end of summer! Come swim the 1-mile course around the iconic Oceanside Pier. Event details.

More Things to Do in San Diego Labor Day Weekend

Enjoy Labor Day at Campland on the Bay
Sept. 2-5: Come to a fun-filled Labor Day weekend with family-friendly activities and an events line up including Campland Rocks live entertainment, a giant water slide, dodgeball, arts & crafts and more. Event details.

See Labor Day Fireworks at Sea World
Sept. 2-5: Spend your Labor Day weekend at SeaWorld and end each day at the park with a spectacular fireworks presentation that starts after 8 p.m. nightly.  Event details.

San Diego Labor Day Weekend Cruises
Sept. 2-5: Take to the Big Bay for the perfect summer sendoff this Labor Day weekend on a City cruise experience! Whether looking to dine atop one of the city’s most luxurious outdoor rooftop spaces or craving an exhilarating tour of blue whales and other marine life, stunning views of the San Diego coastline are guaranteed. Event details.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Sept. 2-5: At seven minutes after midnight, Christopher’s detective work leads to an earth-shattering discovery as he bravely embarks on a deeply personal quest that upturns his world. Based on the international bestselling novel by Mark Haddon—which was inspired by a Sherlock Holmes tale—The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has won 7 Olivier Awards and 5 Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play.’ Event details.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar Make-A-Wish Ultimate Playhouse
Sept. 2-5: Wishes Start Here officially kick-offs at Fairmont Grand Del Mar with the launch of The Ultimate Kids’ Playhouse. This two-story custom-built playhouse was designed entirely by kids, for kids – the result of an ideation session with Make-A-Wish® children, it was tailored directly to their dreams, and brought to life in partnership with Charmed Playhouses. The playhouse will live at Fairmont Grand Del Mar this summer and you are invited to experience the magic firsthand. Advance reservations are required. Upon valet parking, please proceed to front desk to obtain a key for access to the playhouse area. Event details.

Rock Into the Evening at the San Diego Zoo
Sept. 2-5: Things get even wilder at the Zoo after dark! Join us, beat the heat, and celebrate summer during Nighttime Zoo at the San Diego Zoo. Come “rock and roar” this season with live music and other amazing entertainment experiences. Extend your adventure—stay with us for all of the fun and excitement that awaits! Event details.

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There comes a time when camping in the living room with Mom and Dad will no longer cut it. If that’s the case, your kids might be ready for their first sleepover. But, like any new milestone, you may worry if it’s the right time to send them to a slumber party. There are no hard and fast rules about the right age: some 6-year-olds might be ready to sleep away from home, some 11-year-olds might not be. So it’s important for parents to assess each opportunity individually. Read on for six signs your kids may be ready for a sleepover or an epic slumber party, and 10 ways you can reassure them that everything will be A-OK once they get there.

iStock

1. They Know What to Expect
Your kid’s first sleepover is a fun rite of passage, but make sure she knows exactly what she’s getting into before she heads out the door. Go over specifics, like navigating the bedtime routine at someone else’s house, and answer all the questions, like whether or not she can still bring her favorite stuffed animal.

2. You’ve Tested It Out
If you’re not quite sure if your child may be ready for a full-fledged slumber party away from home, try it at your house first. This way, you can see if the kids tire of one another or begin to fight with one another. Also, you can opt to throw a “mock sleepover” with a movie, popcorn, and PJs, but call it quits just before bedtime. Then you’ll know you’ve worked your way up to the real deal, but everyone can go home and sleep in their own beds!

Related: Why I’m Saying Yes To Sleepovers This Summer!

 

A little girl goes to sleep with her teddy bear while a parent comforts her after her first sleepover
iStock

3. They’re OK without You
Have you ever had to spend the night away from your child? Perhaps they’ve had a babysitter walk them through brushing and bedtime or stayed with grandparents while you were out of town? If they are OK being away from you overnight, or at least until they fall asleep, they may be ready for their first sleepover.

4. You’ve Asked Questions
Perhaps your little one is thrilled about the pint-sized pajama game, but you’re still a little uneasy. There is nothing wrong with calling up the other parent and asking questions until you feel more comfortable. Everything from “What time will they go to bed?” to “Do you have pets?” are all fair game to calm your nerves. You’ll also want to address any concerns you have about how the parents will handle situations like arguments or kids being scared in the night. And don’t overlook the BIG question: are there guns in your house, and are they kept in a safe, secure place where the children (ANY children) will not have access to? 

5. They’re Planning One
When your kids come home from school, begging for a sleepover with their BFF, it’s a good indication that they’re ready to give it a go. On the flip side, if they seem cautious about the idea or worried about who will tuck them in, they may need more time to warm up to sleeping away from home.

6. You’ve Talked to Your Kids About Inappropriate Touching
Part of feeling safe is being safe and making sure your children understand not just what is good etiquette at the host family’s house, but what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior from the adults and older siblings in the house. While we encourage our children to be polite and on their best behavior, it is equally important to speak frankly with children in a way that will empower them to say “no” and know when something just isn’t right.

Related: The Best Museum & Zoo Sleepovers in the U.S.

 

A little girl dressed in pink pajamas does a happy dance with her stuffed animal during a sleepover
Gail Adams-Arnold on Unsplash

Related: Goodnight Summer! 11 Epic Sleepover Ideas

Encouraging Words

Here are 10 statements you can make to help your little one feel secure at their first sleepover:

  1. "You can call me to say goodnight before you go to bed.”
  2. “I will pick you up first thing in the morning.”
  3. “You can take a picture of us with you.”
  4. “We are only a phone call away.”
  5. “You will have so much fun with your friend and we’ll see you in the morning.”
  6. “[Friend]’s parents will be there in case you need anything.”
  7. “You can bring your pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal with you.”
  8. “We’ll be home if you need us.”
  9. “I’m so proud of you and I want you to have fun with [friend]!”
  10. “I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get home.”

And if all does not go according to plan and you need to dash out to pick up your child early, a simple “maybe next time!” can help them to feel a little less embarrassed about feeling homesick. Happy slumbering!

 

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