The Best San Diego Winter and Fall Activities

The famously mild year-round weather in “America’s Finest City” means that there’s never a bad time for getting out and enjoying the area. And now that cooler weather will be the norm for at least a few months, a whole host of amazing activities will be dotting the metro’s events calendar. Looking for some great San Diego winter and fall goings-on? Take a look at some of what’s happening, and live like a local!

Apple Season in Julian (57 miles away)

The lovely and pastoral city of Julian is just over an hour away from us, and there’s no place San Diegans enjoy more during the Autumn season. Reason being, Julian is apple country! Apple-picking season typically runs from September through November here, and the city certainly celebrates its delicious heritage with events aplenty. You’ll discover pick-your-own orchards, apple cider stands, hayrides, hoedowns, festivals and much more. Don’t miss it!


Photo credit: @alter.experiences

Bates Nut Farm (44 miles away)

Lots of locals love to go nuts at Bates Nut Farm in the fall season. For more than 50 years, Bates Nut Farm has been welcoming families to its pumpkin patch for a truly “gourd” time. Fall activities you can look forward to include tractor hay rides, a straw maze, a petting zoo, pony rides, and much more. While you’re there, don’t forget to grab a wheelbarrow and load up on an autumn harvest of squash, pumpkins, and other seasonal produce perfect for dining and decor.

15954 Woods Valley Road Valley Center, CA

Ice Skating

Ice Skating may not be the first thing you think of when you’re thinking about San Diego, but rest assured — it should be on the list! Despite our mild weather, “America’s Finest City” has lots of places where skaters can glide gracefully over the ice. Among them: 

  • Hotel del Coronado: our friends at this Coronado Island lodge host a rink overlooking the ocean every year. (7 miles away)
  • Viejas Casino: you’ll find SoCal’s largest outdoor ice rink here every holiday season. (36 miles away)
  • Poway Community Park: Poway’s Winter Festival always features an outdoor rink ideal for a holiday skate. (22 miles away)
  • San Diego Ice Arena: this fantastic facility is open year-round, and also hosts lessons, hockey and more. (17 miles away)


Photo credit: @delcoronado

50th Annual Bay Parade of Lights

The Bay Parade of Lights is a uniquely San Diego tradition, returning for its 50th year. Area boating enthusiasts deck out their dinghies and give their yachts a yuletide makeover, then cruise past the shore in a brilliantly beautiful show of seasonal splendor. This time-honored festival will bring more than 80 boats to the waters off of San Diego, all lavishly decorated to dovetail with this year’s theme: “The 12 Days of Christmas.” More than 100,000 residents are expected to enjoy the brilliantly-bright parade on December 12 and 19. A similar procession takes place in Mission Bay: the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights.

Hiking at Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines Reserve is one of San Diego’s most beautiful natural places, and the hiking here only gets better when the weather cools down. Expect to discover centuries-old sandstone formations sweeping elegantly across the terrain here, just adjacent to truly spectacular views of the water. You’ll also find one of the rarest trees in existence: the Torrey Pine — which grows only two places on the planet. The preserve is a great place to catch some fresh air.


Photo credit: @joaquinlopezluxuryrealtor

Sample a Seasonal Cocktail

Because the weather doesn’t really change TOO much around here during the fall and winter months, many locals only know that “winter” is coming based on when San Diego’s local restaurants and bars break out the seasonal menus. Loads of local eateries and watering holes bust out some truly inventive mixology once winter rolls around, utilizing the prevalent flavors of the season. Pumpkin martinis, spiced cinnamon apple ciders and smoky maple and bourbon concoctions are easy to find — if you know where to look. False Idol and Kettner Exchange are two of our favorites!

False Idol | 675 W Beech St, San Diego, CA 92101 (3.6 miles away)
Kettner Exchange | 2001 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 (3.3 miles away)

Christmas Tree in Hotel Lobby

Holiday Inn HolidaysAnother special thing about winter in San Diego? Spending your days at Holiday Inn Bayside! We’re decked out in our holiday best, offering special Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner menus, holiday room packages, and fun blogs sure to get you in the spirit of the season. Head over to our Holiday Page to learn more!

The only bad thing about these seasonal activities is that they come around just once a year, so take advantage of our Special Offers and start planning your stay!