Even though the weather in San Diego is still blazing hot until at least November, every year at the first of September you’ll find eager moms emerging from their AC to pursue some traditional Autumn fun. I can picture it now: the starry-eyed mother, bent on that perfect fall photo of her joyful family plucking apples from a tree or pumpkins from a patch, shoving her overdressed little ones, who are actually not at all joyful and really just sweaty and hungry, into a patch of trees. Anyone? Maybe that was just me…
But anyway, there are a few things to do around town that I’ve added to our annual Fall bucket list. Pack your cardigan for the foggy mornings and your flip-flops for the afternoons, and come along with us for some SoCal Autumn fun!
Apple Picking: We’ve already completed our apple picking venture for the year at Julian Farm and Orchard. It was our first time going apple picking, and only about half successful by my judgements. The farm itself, right outside of picturesque little Julian, CA, was great. They had classic, affordable farm activities, including a hayride, petting zoo, cider press, and of course the U-Pick. The grounds were sprawling and there are little spots for family picnics.
Our mistake on apple picking day was not getting to the farm early enough, despite my best efforts to leave our house at a reasonable hour. For one, we were all starving by an hour into our stay. Even after three years of motherhood, I have yet to master the art of snack-packing because I always err on the thought of “Oh, we’re going to lunch soon after”. No, Kayla. Just NOPE. You never know when activities will last too long or hanger will strike. Always pack the snacks.
Also, after we went on a joyful hayride, tragedy struck and…THE APPLES WERE GONE. Apparently orchards close after a certain amount of produce is picked, and we missed the boat by a damn hayride. At least we’ll know for next year to pick the apples first!
Apple Pie Making: Listen, I am not a baker, and I am only marginally good in the kitchen in general. But I’ve always dreamed of priceless moments spent laughing with my daughter over a bowl of sugar, butter, and flour (name that song…anyone?). I also believe in personal growth, so I wanted to attempt to bake a pie from scratch this year.
I was gifted this book inspired by my absolute favorite musical, Waitress the Musical, by a dear friend last year for Christmas, and I thought there would be no better place to find a delicious apple pie recipe. Turns out, I was right. It also turns out pie making is an art and a science and TAKES HOURS TO DO RIGHT. We did have fun with our baking experiment, though, and it turned out DELICIOUS, so I’m excited to try out some more pies and probably become the next great pie lady in the family. Probably.
Pumpkin Patch Visit: There are plenty of parking lot pumpkin patches to find all around Southern California, but there are also several farms that host pumpkin patches in October. Our favorite by far is Mountain Valley Ranch in Ramona, CA. We haven’t visited yet this year, but have been the past two years and usually find it less crowded than some other, more popular local pumpkin farms.
Mountain Valley has your typical hayrides, farm animals, corn maze, and pony rides, along with a potato gun range. If you need a meal after your visit, one of our favorite spots in Ramona is Pinto Thai, an adorable and delicious Thai food restaurant as you head back down the hill.
Pumpkin Fun: I have all sorts of pumpkin fun planned for us this year at home, as I am currently on maternity leave. Some of my favorite pumpkin books for preschool children include: Pete the Cat and the Five Little Pumpkins, The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything, and The Legend of Spookly, the Square Pumpkin.
I like to keep our home activities simple because otherwise I won’t do them. I also think home is home and I don’t want it to feel like a classroom all the time. So far we’ve painted a small pumpkin, and I plan on conducting some “pumpkin experiments” with baking soda/vinegar and digging into a large pumpkin for a sensory experience! I have some orange puff balls for pumpkin art and some pumpkin figurines for some story re-tells of “Five Little Pumpkins”.
If you’re interested in more of my at-home preschool activity ideas, you can follow me on Pinterest!
Dia de los Muertos: We’re lucky to live in an area saturated with Mexican culture, and I really want my children to grow up appreciating it and learning from it. Lu is already interested in anything we see related to Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead” in Mexican culture, thanks to Disney’s Coco. But I’d like this celebration to be more than just painted faces and neon animal characters to her, so I plan on attending one of the many Dia de los Muertos festivals that are happening around town in October and November.
We’ll likely be attending the event in San Diego’s Old Town, and I look forward to adding this event to our list of annual Fall festivities!
Halloween: Of course, we’ll round out our fall activities with a healthy does of Halloween fun! I am maybe a little old fashioned and like to make L’s costumes, which means I guess I’ll have to like to make C’s costumes, now, too. Stay tuned for that, but listen, I’m not about to get crazy with sewing skills I do not possess, so keep a lookout for something easy and probably last minute!
Our favorite neighborhood to trick or treat at is Starlight Circle in Santee. They have tons of fun decorations and some good candy pickings. This neighborhood is EXTREMELY popular for trick or treating and Christmas lights, so it’s best to get there as early as possible. Last year we arrived around 6 and were done going around by the time the big crowds came!
So there you have it, folks, our fall bucket list of activities around San Diego county. There may be some simple little ones added in there here or there, like a bonfire in our backyard fire pit or finding some colorful leaves (few and far between down here!), but I think this is a pretty complete list of the big guys. If you’re local, maybe we’ll see you around!
What’s on your Fall Bucket List??