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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
1270 Vale Terrace Dr.
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 pumpkinfeel 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.