10 San Diego Fall Activities With Kids
Autumn is a perfect time for a family weekend getaway to San Diego. The weather is fine, attractions are less crowded, the beaches are still open, and Restaurant week and Kids Free month make travel cheaper. Stay in the city proper, visit Carlsbad or venture up the coast. Here are ten fun activities around San Diego and Southern California. They all make for an easy day out or a long weekend away with kids.
10 Fall Family Activities in San Diego
1. Extend the Summer
Not quite ready to roll out the jeans and sweaters? Head out to any of many local beaches (Carlsbad alone has five) to walk, play, fly kites or kayak. With daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s you might even be able to grab your boogie boards and hit the waves. Good for all ages.
2. Bring the Kids for Free
San Diego County’s Kids Free Month returns each October with 100 restaurants, hotels and sites participating. Kids, tweens and teens can do all kinds of free activities from from eating waffles or kayaking to learning to surf or visiting SeaWorld (with a parent, of course). Good for all ages.
3. Try the Local Taps
Some are dubbing a 60-mile stretch of Route 78 The Hops Highway. The area stretching from Oceanside south to San Diego and inland to Escondido is home to more than 70 microbreweries including Ballast Point, Mother Earth and Stone Brewing Co.
Several of the breweries claim family-friendly tasting rooms with games, toys and snacks. But they don’t all serve food and some rely on part-time food trucks.
Check a brewery’s website before you head out to make sure it’s a fit for you. Some places are more comfortable with younger kids than with teens because of concerns abut underage drinking.
San Diego Beer Week is a whole week of events exploring the best of these great breweries in early October. (Maybe better for a kid-free weekend than a family outing.)
4. Try a Museum
Should you hit upon a rainy day, Carlsbad’s museums have some collections you don’t see every day.
The Museum of Making Music focuses on music history with its vast collection of vintage and unusual instruments. There are some interactive elements for the kids, too–if your ears can take it. The Gemological Institute Of America displays some of the world’s rarest gemstones and jewels.
If you are bummed it’s raining on your beach day settle for learning about So-Cal’s surf culture and history at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside. All three offer fun things to do, but will be bigger hits with teens and tweens than with littler ones.
5. Get Spooked
Legoland California will hold its annual Brick-or-Treat Halloween celebration on several October weekends. Visit the park at night, wear a costume, enjoy seasonal Lego creations like 4-foot tall jack-o-lantern, trick-or-treat along the park’s Brick-or-Treat Trail. They’re even keeping more rides open than they have in past years. Definitely for kids under 10.
6. Eat Local Food
The growing season lasts longer in California, which means fresh produce and other local ingredients well into the fall.
One great way to sample the local dining scene is San Diego Restaurant Week, which runs in late September. More than 180 restaurants across San Diego County, including several in Carlsbad, will offer prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at a discount.
Note: Reservations are good idea. And plan to arrive promptly. This can be a busy week for restaurants. Think carefully about which restaurants you want to bring kids and tweens to.
7. Try A Maker Faire
At beautiful Balboa Park, The Maker Faire San Diego is a festival celebrating garage and basement tinkerers and can be a fun day out for kids and parents. Look for fun, innovative DIY creations in tech, arts, crafts, science, and more.
Some exhibits will be hands on, while others will be look-and-be-wowed. Try minor soldering, building and firing sky rockets or masking tape art. Bigger kids, tweens and teens will appreciate this more than little kids.
8. Go To the Movies
Parents with teen film buffs can check out the annual La Costa Film Festival, or part of the five-day San Diego Film Festival, both in October. Catch new documentaries, short films, features and extreme sports films. Age fit depends on the movies, of course.
9. Bet on a Horse
Nearby Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is the second largest track in the Western United States and arguably the most stylish.
Bing Crosby attended this storied track’s 1937 opening and Seabiscuit raced here. The fall often holds Bing Crosby Season in late October through early December to celebrate the crooner and has affinity for racing.
A racetrack like this can make for a surprisingly fun family outing, check out the horsesm admire the track and bet among yourselves on the winners. I think very little kids and teens will like this. In between, it’s touch and go.
10. Leave Your Car at Home
Visitors who want to explore the area without driving can book a ride on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, which does 12 daily scenic runs from San Diego up through Anaheim, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and finally San Luis Obispo. Great with any age but bring entertainment and snacks for younger kids who will grow tired of the scenery.
Note: Better still, Amtrak participates in the Kids Free Month for this route.