How To Spend Halloween in San Diego

an orange pumpkin carved into a jack o lantern sitting on grey concrete stairs

Every Fall in San Diego is so unique, mostly because it still feels like summer but without the crowds! We may not have trees with leaves that change color BUT we do have pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and so many haunted houses! Keep reading to make your own plans for these fall activities in San Diego.

Note: As this article was written in 2021, you may need to check event websites for specific dates.

1. Balboa Park Haunted Trail

Haunted Trail Balboa Park
Image courtesy of hauntedtrail.net

Recently awarded CNN’s 10 Best Haunted House Attractions, the Balboa Park Haunted Trail is back! Open most evenings during the month of October with 2 thrilling options, The Experiment Maze (2021) and the classic Haunted Trail.

Walk (or run) through this spooky fall activity in San Diego with over 1 mile of frightening scenes. The trail through Balboa Park features horror characters like Freddy Kruger, Pennywise, and more. General Admission costs $25 and includes entry to both mazes. Ticket options also include timed entry for $30 and VIP admission for $35.

All ages are welcome, however, the creators only recommend it for children over the age of 10. Children must be accompanied by a parent and will not be allowed to be carried, all participants must walk.

2. OktoberFests

La Mesa OktoberFest 2021

Because of San Diego’s craft beer popularity, the local brewers take full advantage of the Oktoberfest season with seasonal releases, festivities, and collaborations all month long. Find live music, bratwurst vendors, and of course seasonal beers at the La Mesa OktoberFest and Ocean Beach OktoberFest.

Several local brewers are even hosting their own events too. Here’s some of my personal favorite spots:

Duck Foot Brewing

Bivouac Cider Works

3. Pumpkin Patches & Corn Mazes

corn maze at sunset

Perhaps one of the most beloved fall activities in San Diego are the pumpkin patches all over the city! Some of the most popular are the Carlsbad Strawberry Company, Oma’s Family Farm, and Bates Nut Farm. So, here are ones you must see!

Carlsbad Strawberry Company – Open daily mid- September to early November. Highlights include a haunted corn maze, apple cannons, and hay rides. Admission is $5 per person and activities cost $10 – $25 per person.

Oma’s Family Farm – Open Tuesdays – Saturdays through October. Located in Lakeside (~20 minutes east of San Diego proper). Highlights include wagon rides, a petting corral, and giant slides. Admission starts at $14 for kids (includes a pumpkin) and $9 for adults.

Lastly, Bates Nut Farm – Open daily mid-September through October in North County San Diego. Admission is free on weekdays and only costs $8 per car on weekends. Highlights include: pony rides, a hay bale maze, and food trucks.

4. Haunted Beer Mansion

Haunted Beer Mansion
Image via Rock Star Beer Festivals

Spend Halloween weekend in Downtown San Diego sipping on local beers from Stone Brewing and Thorn Brewing Company. Arrive at Sideyard on Saturday, October 30th 8 – 11pm to experience the haunted beer mansion while sampling over 40 local beers. There will even be a dance party with spooky characters like DJ Pennnywise. Tickets are $40 and include unlimited beer tastings.

5. Fort Cross Autumn Jubilee & Haunted Harvest

Head up to the mountains of Julian for this annual Fall Activity in San Diego full of classic autumn entertainment. Fort Cross is home to tons of attractions or all ages like cider pressing, candle dipping, archery, and tomahawk throwing. They even have a pumpkin patch and a lilac maze!

Return after dark at 8pm for a haunted hay ride, spooky stories and a ghoulish hoedown. Tickets are $30 and must be purchased online in advance.

6. Haunted Hotel

Spooky man in front of a haunted hotel sign

Deep within the heart of San Diego (well not really, but you get it!) in Mission Valley, you’ll find 3 more haunted mazes! The Haunted Hotel, Kill – Billy Chaos, and and 3D Freak Fest all include roaming characters, light shows, and Virtual Reality areas. AND there’s even DJ’s playing spooky club music to chill you out after you pass out from fright.

Open Wednesday – Sunday, 7-10pm throughout the month of October. Tickets start at $25 and must be purchased in advance for a specific date. Children under 10 are NOT recommended but are allowed if they are accompanied by a parent.

7. Kid- Friendly Trick or Treating Locations

In a large city like San Diego, it can be difficult to find safe and fun Trick or Treating options, but this year many of the popular routes are back! This classic fall activity in San Diego is sure to be a hit with both kids and parents!

India Street – An annual Little Italy tradition held in late October. Kids who dress up will be able to get treats from participating businesses along India street.

LegoLand – Enjoy Brick-or-Treat festivities on Fridays and Saturdays at the LegoLand resort and theme park. Costumes are welcomed and rides are open late!

San Diego Zoo – Stay after dark at the zoo from 5-9pm to enjoy a “HalGloWeen” party! Experience special musical entertainment, glow dance parties, and exclusive night interactions with zoo animals. This event is included in the price of daily admission. Read my tips for a zoo visit here!

Petco Park – (TBD) The annual Halloween Trail is yet to be announced but typically, tickets will get you on the Padre’s ballfield to trick-or-treat with kid friendly characters, photo opportunities and of course candy and other treats.

8. Pumpkin Express Train

Pumpkin Express train in Campo, CA

Every weekend in October, you can ride a vintage spooky train from Campo, CA through the mountains of San Diego. Thanks to the Pacific Southwest Railway Association, this unique Fall activity in San Diego is back and better than ever! The ride is about 45 minutes long and masks are required on board. Tickets for kids start at $14 and include a pumpkin of their choice. Ages 13+ are $18 each and all passengers are encouraged to wear costumes!

9. The Whaley House

Whaley House
Image via ghostsandgravestones.com

Lastly, This year-round attraction in Old Town San Diego gets even spookier in the Fall with later hours. Deemed “America’s Most Haunted House” with a dark history of murder, suicide, fire, and of course – ghosts. Take a tour of the house or go on a trolley tour created by Ghosts & Gravestones for a fuller history with additional spooky stops.

Whaley house tours are $18 per person but are discounted to $14 when bought through Trolley Tours. Ghost & Gravestone Tour tickets cost $32.50 per person.

These classic Fall activities in San Diego will keep you busy the whole season! If you need somewhere to stay, check out my Hotel Guide or 20 Free Things to Do in San Diego. As always, my DM’s are open, send me questions or just a hello anytime! Happy haunting!

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