Where to Buy The Best Christmas Trees in San Diego

Ready to fill your home with the scent of fresh-cut pine? Look no further! We’ve rounded up some of the best Christmas Tree farms in San Diego, from u-pick ranches where you can cut your own to family-owned farms with incredible selections of pre-cut trees. These fantastic, family-owned San Diego tree farms are just a short drive away, so bring the whole family and ring in the holiday season the right way!

Mr. Jingle’s Christmas Trees

6710 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla 92037
Open 7 days a week, 11am-9pm
Mr. Jingles in La Jolla is a second generation family-owned Christmas Tree business that operates several locations throughout the country. Their trees are all freshly cut, loaded onto trucks, and shipped to each of our locations from the beautiful Cascade Mountains in Oregon each season. The one in La Jolla is a fun one-stop shop for all things Christmas: along with five different tree types, they also carry fresh garland, wreaths, and other decorations. And don’t forget to pick up a free Christmas bow and candy cane on your way in!

Once you select your tree, they’ll help you with a custom fit water bowl so your tree stays healthy and fresh throughout the season. If you have your own stand, make sure to bring it and they’ll put it on for you! They’ll help you secure the tree to your vehicle and ensure a safe, smooth ride home. You can also choose one of their delivery options and packages, which might be an easier way to go if you’re driving from San Diego.

Family Christmas Tree Farm (U-pick)

300 Pepper Drive, El Cajon
Open 9am-8:30pm, 7 days a week
This ten-acre, family-owned farm in El Cajon kicks off the season the day after Thanksgiving, and you can pick from a huge selection of native California Monterey Pine trees –– they provide the saw for cutting and the twine to secure the tree to your car. In addition to the u-chop experience, there’s an abundance of pre-cut tree varieties (Douglas Fir, Grand Fir) as well as potted trees, mistletoe, cinnamon brooms, and wreaths to choose from. Your freshly cut tree is flocked and picked up after it has had time to dry, which shouldn’t be a problem since the hay wagon rides, farm animals. and straw-bale playpen most definitely merit a second visit!

This family farm’s first Christmas tree season was in 1972, and generation after generation come to cut their tree here each year. It’s a wonderful place to partake in this holiday tradition, given the Farm’s friendly, small town community vibe that can’t be beat –– and you’re supporting local agriculture by picking your perfect holiday tree here.

Pine Tree Acres (U-pick option)

620 Haverford Road, Ramona 92065
Open weekdays 12pm-5pm; weekends 9am-5pm
Pine Tree Acres is a full-service Christmas tree farm that’s been in business for more than 25 years in the Ramona area. Choose from a variety of Noble Fir, Grand Fir, Fraser Fir and Nordman trees to take home this Christmas season; or cut your very own Monterey Pine for a fun family activity. This is definitely a fun spot to bring the family on weekends, as there are a bunch of activities happening through December 18th. Kids will love the inflatable party jump, or enjoy ornament and cookie decorating, outdoor games, a small holiday pop-up shop with ornaments and crafts, pony rides, a small petting zoo, and special Santa visits on certain weekends through December 11th.

Highland Valley Christmas Tree Farm (U-pick)

18425 Highland Valley Rd., Ramona
Open Thurs & Fri 12pm-4pm.; Sat. & Sun 9am-4pm
Tree cutting and wine is a winning combination at the Highland Valley Tree Farm! Take a road trip up to Ramona, where you’ll find this farm nestled next to a whimsical winery, the Principe di Tricase Winery. Families can come and stroll through the groves to choose and cut the perfect tree to cut and take home.

Be on the lookout for the Farm’s special Italian wishing tree while you’re there! This old tradition will delight your holiday guests (and definitely the younger ones): the tree’s piney limbs are filled with written wishes, from guests and the family who own the farm. Choose your tree and they’ll come cut, shake, net and even drill a hole in the trunk for your stand at no additional cost. The kids will love the hot cider, the little present they’ll receive, and on occasion, Santa Claus even stops by for a visit. There’s also an an aviary for watching the birds, a special price wine tasting, and tables and chairs at the Winery if you’d like to have a picnic and sip some wine before you head home. Prices start at $15/ft.

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Mountain Valley Ranch

842 Highway 78, Ramona 92065
Open 7 days a week, 10am-7pm
Mountain Valley Ranch is a family-owned ranch located a short drive away in Ramona. This is a great spot for families, as there are usually several animals on-site for the kids to pet (including goats and horses). The Ranch is a local favorite (which is also open for u-pick pumpkins each fall) and a great place to experience ‘ a little Christmas celebration in the country’ and pick out your perfect tree for the holidays!

Though they aren’t u-pick, they carry a variety of trees including Noble Firs, Douglas Fir, and Grand Firs. Sometimes the Ranch’s holiday hours vary, so be sure to give them a call before you head up there.

Pinery Christmas Trees

14550 1/2 El Camino Real, Del Mar 92014 (Del Mar Horsepark)
Open 7 days a week, 10am-9pm
Pinery Trees is the largest independent retailer of Christmas Trees in Southern California, and they definitely deliver each holiday season. You can either bring the family to one of their San Diego locations, or order online and let them deliver directly to your home. They carry a wide variety of trees, including Douglas Firs, Grand Firs, Noble Firs, and Nordman Firs. Pinery has six locations in San Diego: Bonita, Del Mar, Mission Valley, Rancho Bernardo, Murrieta, and Vista.

Once you have your perfect tree, check out our favorite spots to see Christmas lights in San Diego!

Holiday Party Venues in San Diego

The winter season is upon us, and nothing says ‘the holidays’ like a fun party at one of San Diego’s best venues! Toast to your colleagues, friends, or family at one of these unique San Diego party venues fit for a day or night of merriment this holiday season. From casual craft breweries and romantic, urban-chic eateries to rooftop bars and skyline-view museums, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best San Diego venues made for the perfect 2018 holiday gathering!

1. Clara (Carlsbad)

Having just opened this summer, Clara is the newest addition to the ever-growing downtown Carlsbad Village scene. The space here is serene, casual, and comfortable; making this spot pretty ideal for a dinner feast with your friends or colleagues. The neutral interiors and menu offerings work well for vegetarians and carnivores alike – from the chili braised cauliflower tacos to skirt steak skewers, there is a little something for everyone here. The craft cocktail menu is expansive and innovative, and many of the drinks are infused with locally grown produce.

2. Madison on Park (University Heights)

Located in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, Madison on Park serves upscale Mediterranean and Southern California inspired cuisine in a modern, gorgeous atmosphere. Madison features a full bar and an upscale menu offered in the main dining room, which is a dramatic 3,000 square-foot space built by industrial design firm ARCHISECTS that features sky-high vaulted ceiling made of wood and cedar walls in colorful geometric patterns. The whole space has a fresh, eclectic indoor-outdoor vibe, which makes it a great choice for your holiday party in San Diego.

3. Kettner Exchange (Little Italy)

The open-air rooftop of this Little Italy restaurant is a huge draw for locals – and one of the best rooftops in the city – with the only private cabañas and ocean views in the neighborhood. The cabañas are definitely the main attraction here; each one is totally private, complete with a variety of wines, craft cocktails, and self-serve tap beers. Standing parties of up to 400 can celebrate with innovative cocktails and sophisticated bites – think suckling pig larb, hamachi ceviche, foie gras French toast, and grilled quail char sui – but if you’re hosting a smaller group, consider the hidden, more private Chef’s Table for a special five-course dining experience.

4. BRICK (Point Loma)

From the simple elegance to the stunning ambiance, BRICK just oozes charm, character, and originality. This beautiful, historic Point Loma space can hold up to 450 guests, and there are no curfews or noise ordinances. The best part? The space is yours for a full 24 hours! The aesthetic is modern-industrial, and features market lights, exposed beams, and plenty of (of course) natural brick walls.

5. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa (Rancho Santa Fe)

This expansive, luxurious oasis covers 45 beautiful acres in the hills of Rancho Santa Fe, providing eight garden-filled options for celebration spaces. Each space – from the popular Croquet Lawn to the turquoise fireplace of the Sunrise Room – has its own vibe and aesthetic, and can work for a low-key day party or formal nighttime affair. Each room has a different capacity and rules, so be sure to inquire ahead of time to plan your special event.

6. Luce Loft  (Downtown)

Housed within a historic 1928 Carnation Dairy Factory, Luce Loft boasts cathedral ceilings, exposed brick, and romantic market lights to create the perfect urban party backdrop. One of the best aspects of hosting an event here is that you can customize essentially everything – including booze, as it’s one of the only venues in San Diego that boasts a BYOB policy. Pick from one of 10 catering vendors from nearby restaurants and food trucks, and get the party started with a DJ and photo booth.

7. Darlington House (La Jolla)

Throw an elegant holiday garden party in the heart of La Jolla Village at the Mediterranean-style Darlington House. This historic home is an architectural gem, and echoes the days of vintage La Jolla and a lifestyle of elegant dinner parties and delightful musical concerts (it’s also a popular wedding venue). There are different rooms to explore around every corner; consider The Library, which features dark wooden bookcases, a Moroccan fireplace, and a gorgeous Moorish-inspired staircase and is perfect for smaller, more intimate events, or the Andalusian Patio, which was modeled after the style of Southern Spain and features stunning Roman arches.

8. The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe (Rancho Santa Fe)

Sitting on 21 lush acres in the heart of Rancho Santa Fe Village, this quaint, luxury inn boasts seven dreamy indoor-outdoor event spaces. The Azalea room is perfect for more intimate parties, while the Croquet Cottage & Lawn features a larger space complete with vaulted wood ceilings, a stone fireplace, and an accompanying outdoor patio for indoor and outdoor seating.

9. The Lodge at Torrey Pines (La Jolla)

In an endless-summer city, it’s not always easy to create a festive wintery ambiance but at this craftsman-style resort, that’s a different story. The Lodge features a great variety of indoor-outdoor venue options (with capacity for up to 400 people), and boasts panoramic Pacific Ocean views, cozy fireplaces, a golf course, and of course, the rare Torrey Pine trees make it a location that pretty much guarantees to put everyone in the holiday mood.

10. Farmer and the Seahorse (La Jolla)

The playful details of the Farmer and the Seahorse in La Jolla (near Torrey Pines) give it a naturally festive vibe — from the vintage Airstream to the telephone booth to the inviting corn hole games on the lawn. Combining the best produce from the restaurant’s gardens and local farms with the freshest catch from the Pacific, the menu from celebrity chef Brian Malarkey is all kinds of delicious.

11. Juniper & Ivy (Downtown)

Treat friends, family, or coworkers to a magical holiday dinner at chef Richard Blais’ high-end restaurant in Little Italy, where he seriously pushes the limits of fine dining. What’s great about this spot is the variety of private dining areas to choose from; including a second-floor overlook or an al fresco patio experience. Take your experience a step further and reserve the exclusive and highly coveted Chef’s Table, which can seat between 14 and 65 and puts you right at the heart of Juniper & Ivy’s main dining room with a clear view into the action in the kitchen.

12. Vin de Syrah (Gaslamp)

This Gaslamp District speakeasy is truly a one-of-a-kind San Diego gem. The quirky, understated décor has been compared to Alice in Wonderland — picture oversized, cushy booths and botanical chandeliers — and the entertainment options go way beyond a live cover band. Reserve a burlesque show, a tarot card reading, or an illusionist, and your friends and family won’t forget your epic Holiday Party of 2018!

For more fun holiday events, tips, and happenings, check out our other Holiday blogs!

5 Unforgettable Places to Stay During a Trip to San Diego

San Diego and its surrounding areas have endless lodging options for guests. With so many to choose from, it can be easy to choose based on budget, especially for families looking for a larger rental space. While there’s nothing wrong with having a strictly utilitarian approach to deciding where to stay, there’s something to be said for the unforgettable experience of high-end resorts and unique rentals throughout the southern California area. What’s great about the varied options for your San Diego stay is that they all offer great access to the local communities and attractions. The county’s varied areas and neighborhoods give you more than enough reason to be out and about regardless of where you are staying.

Ranging from affordable to extravagant, here is a short list of truly one-of-a-kind places to stay while visiting America’s Finest City:

Cozy by the beach

While La Jolla is home to some of the most valued real estate in the United States, the cozy little seaside community is not beyond the reach of those wishing to visit the San Diego area on a budget. Better yet, many of the affordable hotels in La Jolla are within walking distance of the beach and other popular sights. Given the budget-friendly nature of their rates, rooms at these hotels go fast, so remember to book in advance. Whether your walking on the beach, watching the seals, or going for a hike in Torrey Pines your time in La Jolla won’t disappoint.

Home on-the-go

Most RV owners are used to pulling into dusty campgrounds off the beaten path with little more than a front desk and a vending machine. Those visiting San Diego have the option to upgrade to something a little better. It’s easy to find a San Diego RV park complete with in ground pool, spa, indoor lounge area, fitness center, and pet-friendly atmosphere all within close proximity to trolley service linked to the best parts of the city. It’s a far cry from the typical accommodations found at most motorhome parks.

Luxury by the sea

The Hotel del Coronado is perhaps the most iconic resort in the San Diego area. Located across the bay from downtown San Diego, “the Del” as its popularly known remains one of the largest wooden structures ever built. Name your dignitary – king, queen, president – one or more has stayed at this palace on the water at some time or another. If the open ocean isn’t the view for you, look into bay front accommodations in other areas of downtown San Diego or Mission Bay where the water is full of activities like jet skiing, paddle boarding, and sailing.

Luxury downtown

The Horton Grand – billed as San Diego’s oldest hotel – was originally two different hotels when built in 1887. The site was slated for demolition in the 1970s but city officials decided to buy it instead for the purpose of historical preservation. Though quaint and old, the Horton Grand has all the trappings of a luxury hotel condensed into cozy accommodations centrally located in downtown San Diego.

Opulence downtown

If you were to merge the Hotel del Coronado with the Horton Grand, you might end up with something like the U.S. Grant Hotel. Also located downtown, the U.S. Grant is a masterpiece of Classical Revival architecture. For those wondering about the name association, the hotel was built by Ulysses S. Grant Jr., son of President Ulysses S. Grant and named to honor his father.

Out in the woods

One famous saying about southern California is that you can ski and surf in the same day! Nearby the sprawling metropolis of San Diego are far out regions for campers and hikers alike. About 50 miles from downtown San Diego, camp and hike inside Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. If you’re up for the world famous Joshua Tree National Park, you can drive, but it will be three times as far. No matter the level of adventure you can always find camping or cabin living near San Diego.

The City of San Diego and the surrounding regions offer a plethora of lodging options for travelers coming from near and far. With so many to choose from, tourists are able to research and customize their vacation based on what attracted them to the area the most. Where will you stay?

15 Fun Things to Do in North County

Most people visiting San Diego tend to stay in the actual city of San Diego and neglect its suburbs, but you won’t want to miss everything North County has to offer! You’ll find fabulous restaurants, beautiful beaches, trendy cocktail bars, and historic movie theaters, which are just a few of the things that this city is known for. In recent years, places like Del Mar, Encinitas, and Oceanside have become something of a mecca for foodies, art aficionados, and event lovers alike! Here are 15 fun things to do in North County.

1. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

White rhinos, Sumatran tigers, and California condors are among the 3,500 residents at the renowned San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 1,800-acre extension of the famous San Diego Zoo. Most of the animals live in free-range enclosures, enabling them to interact as they would in the wild.

In addition to exhibits like the Lion Camp, this expansive park also has a petting corral and a walk-through aviary where visitors can feed lorikeets by hand. Special activities range from tram rides and zipline tours to animal shows like the Cheetah Run, which provides an up-close view of a cheetah sprinting at full speed – something the little ones will definitely love!

2. LEGOLAND California

For the lego lovers in your life, LEGOLAND California is the place to be. A celebration of the famous childhood toy, LEGOLAND California was the first amusement park of its kind to open and the first in the United States. The park, geared toward younger children between the ages of two and twelve, features over 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including a LEGO factory tour!

3. Visit Del Mar Plaza

The revitalized oceanfront Plaza in Del Mar offers 50 upscale restaurants and boutique shops to explore, including the Frustrated Cowboy for western gear and Ooh La La for crystal-embellished blouses, lace-and-ruffle tops, and wildly striped sundresses. Several great restaurants, including Il Fornaio Del Mar, Rendezvous, and Pacifica Del Mar, all make for a lovely evening meal after a long day of shopping! Check out other fun activities to do in Del Mar here!

4. Check out the California Surf Museum

Where else can you find an entire museum dedicated to the history of surfing?! Only at the Carlsbad Surf Museum in Oceanside, California. You’ll see wooden surfboards from the 1900s to today’s foam and fiberglass boards. The permanent exhibit includes the surfboard and swimsuit pro surfer Bethany Hamilton was riding and wearing when she was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm. The California Surf Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Thursday. Kids under 12 get in free; adults pay $5. Admission is free on Tuesday.

5. Visit Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

Imagine a sculpture garden of mythical creature totem poles covered in thousands of pieces of hand-cut colored and mirrored glass and ceramic and stone mosaic tiles encircling a queen standing on top of a giant eagle. That’s what you’ll get at Queen Califia’s Magical Circle! Like wandering through a surrealist dream, the entrance of the sculpture garden is guarded by a wall topped with two mosaic serpents. Before you can reach the center of the garden you must navigate a 3-foot maze made from black and white tiles. Having reached the center, your quest is rewarded with the discovery of Queen Califia’s Magic Circle.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden created by French artist Niki De Saint Phalle. You’ll find this unique place in the Iris Sankey Arboretum in Kit Carson Park, Escondido, California. Escondido gets hot and the tiles conduct heat, so take care when visiting on a hot day. Admission is free, but check their website before you go as they are only open during certain weekends of the month.

6. Spend time at Swami’s Beach Tide Pools

Ask around, and you’ll discover that Encinitas has some of SoCal’s finest beaches. Each beach has its own personality, but we love Swami’s Tide Pools. Here you can catch sea-life in an up close and personal way in the fall. Now’s the perfect time to plan a trip to Swami’s Tide Pools. If you walk the rocky area at low tide you may see Hermit crabs, sea hares, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, brittle sea stars and maybe even an octopus or two!

7. Cardiff Seaside Market

Head over to Cardiff Seaside Market for some early morning goodies – and to stock up on fresh produce and the famous Cardiff Crack (which is slang for a yummy seasoned USDA Choice tri-tip that is trimmed, marinated, and infused with their specialty Burgundy Pepper Marinade). It’s called the ‘Cardiff Crack’ because customers find it addictive!

Not to worry, you don’t have to stick to beef: the scallops and seafood here are restaurant quality, as well as the dozens of spots to pick up some fresh produce and vegetables. The best way to experience the Seaside Market? Enjoy a leisurely stroll and take your time exploring by the water!

8. Visit the Self-Realization Fellowship Gardens

If you’re looking for a place to relax body, mind, and soul, you’ve come to the right place. Walk the gardens built and maintained by the Self-Realization Fellowship and achieve peace of mind (for an hour anyway). The beautifully landscaped gardens boast views of the Pacific Ocean and are dotted with benches and other sitting places for quiet reflection or simply a place to relax.

9. Take a hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve

Perched atop sandstone bluffs overlooking the ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve offers sweeping views of the Pacific and another stunning natural landscape. The striking Torrey Pines trees and winding hiking trails combine to make this spot one of the most tranquil in the area.

Pick a hiking trail, and meander through the wind-sculpted trees, twisting canyons, knobby cliffs, and bird-filled estuaries. Steps carved into the hillside take you down to the beach should you wish or you can commune with the birds and enjoy your 360-degree ocean view. This is a gorgeous place filled to the brim with serenity.

10. Explore Oceanside Pier

At 1,942 feet, the historical Oceanside Pier is one of the longest wooden piers on the West Coast and a fantastic tourist attraction! Take a leisurely stroll out over the Pacific Ocean, watch the surfers ride a wave, fishermen catch a fish, or grab a bite to eat at the famous Ruby’s Diner located at the end of the pier. At the entrance of the Pier is the Amphitheater, which hosts many musical and cultural performances.

The pier is the backdrop for some great Oceanside events, which include concerts, surf competitions, Iron Man, Fishing Derby, Classic Car Shows, and it’s within easy walking distance to the Farmer’s Market and Sunset Market. Don’t forget to look for some wildlife! The Pier is a great place to spot seagulls, pelicans, dolphins, seals, stingrays, fish, and much more.

11. Stroll through the Carlsbad Windmill Food Hall

The first food hall in North County is definitely a sight worth seeing. Housed in the iconic former Pea Soup Andersen building just off the I-5, the 12,000-square-foot space, with a design inspired by the 1930s and 1940s, features plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar, and interactive games. You’ll find something to eat for the whole family, with dozens of eateries including Bing Haus, Bread and Cheese, Lobster West, Thai-Style Kitchen, and more.

The food hall is brand new as of fall 2018, and is a fun place to walk around for the day. Don’t forget to visit their 60-seat Chicago-style speakeasy bar, which occupies the entire second floor!

12. Enjoy fine dining at a North County restaurant

North County arguably has some of the best restaurants in San Diego, with a full range of cuisines and fare ranging from casual to ultra-chic. Some beloved local spots have been there for years – Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, Wrench & Rodent, and Flying Pub Pub + Kitchen – and some are brand new, including the second outpost of The Crack Shack, Campfire, and Park 101. You’re sure to find something everyone will love! North County dining hotspots include Encinitas, Carlsbad, Del Mar, and Oceanside.

13. Visit the Carlsbad Lagoon

The Carlsbad Lagoon is a great place to spend the day, especially during the warmer months. Filled with many water sports options, the lagoon has something for everyone. Motorized rentals include Yamaha WaveRunners, boat rentals, and Wakeboarding and Waterskiing (includes a boat with driver). If you want a little slower speed the lagoon rents kayaks, stand up paddle boards, canoes, paddle boats, and aqua cycles. The Lagoon has its own private beach and rents out private party areas for large groups.

14. Go camping

While it may seem counterintuitive, there are actually several great spots for beachside camping in North County! San Elijo State Beach is one of the most popular campgrounds in Southern California. The campgrounds are hard to reserve during the summer months, but if you’re a local, there is plenty of space in the off-season. Camping is a great way to sleep by the beach, and walk to the waves for an early morning surf. Just up the road, South Carlsbad State Beach features RV sites with hookups, a dump station, camp store, restrooms, and showers. Inland sites are $35/night and premium campsites are $50/night.

15. Check out some live music at The Belly Up

The Belly Up is a fun live music venue in the Cedros Design District (Solana Beach). The venue promotes all different genres of music including hip-hop, rock, alternative, reggae, R&B, and more. The venue even has cover bands and a weekly Friday Happy Hour to get the weekend started! Belly Up is 21+, and has a full bar and menu to order from. If you’re in the area early, check out Culture Brewing Company a few doors down; it’s one of North County’s best breweries and a fun spot to grab a quick beer with friends before a night on the town.

Whatever your plans may be, North County, San Diego is a fun spot to spend the day with friends and family. Visit our blogs for more fun things to do in Encinitas and Del Mar!

Top 10 Breweries in North County

We all know that the city of San Diego is a beer lover’s paradise. With over 150 craft, nano, and micro breweries and counting, San Diego County has seen an explosion of breweries and tasting rooms, especially along North County’s “Hops Highway.” But others are cropping up throughout San Diego’s 4,500 square mile region, even as far as the small, mountainside town of Alpine. You can spend all year hopping around, tasting new varieties, and never get bored. Here are the top 10 breweries in North County, San Diego!

Viewpoint Brewing

2201 San Dieguito Dr, Del Mar 92014
The relatively new Viewpoint Brewing location in Del Mar doesn’t yet have the accolades many of the more established breweries on this list have. What it does have, however, is an unbeatable view/atmosphere; overlooking the San Dieguito Lagoon, there might be no brewery with a better view within San Diego, and its outdoor patio is always playing live music. Plus, there’s some truly decadent food on the menu (like beef tartare and bone marrow), as well as a constantly rotating tap list that indulges head brewer Moe Katomski’s experimental side.

Culture Brewing Company

111 S. Cedros Ave, Suite 200, Solana Beach 92075
Culture Brewing aims high with all their beers, focusing on keeping things simple. Classic styles done beautifully is what Culture is all about. Give their Ginger Snap Red Ale, Tart Cherry Wit, and Milk Stout a try. Non-alcoholic drink options include root beers and La Croix. They also feature local artists with live music every month. The tasting room has a trendy vibe with modern-rustic flair. The Solana Beach tasting room serves up some craft beers on tap and offers patio seating for beer lovers alike.

Pizza Port

135 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach 92075
One of the earliest North County breweries, Pizza Port was previously a struggling pizza place that opened in Solana Beach which siblings, Gina and Vince Marsaglia bought in 1987. Vince started dabbling with home brewing in the storage area, and the rest is history. Pizza Port has three North County locations, so you’re never too far from a pint of beer and some Pizza Buddies!

The Lost Abbey – The Confessional

2007 San Elijo Ave., Cardiff 92007
Lost Abbey’s Cardiff tasting room, cheekily named The Confessional, serves beers from its namesake, as well as from Port Brewing and The Hop Concept. One fan raved about the fact that visitors can grab food from the pizza place next door or from Seaside Market for the perfect beer accompaniments.

Burgeon Beer Company

6350 Yarrow Dr., Suite C, Carlsbad 92011
Burgeon’s another relatively new brewery that, much like Viewpoint, is building a budding reputation and features stunning scenery. Burgeon is helping to pioneer Carlsbad’s emerging brewing scene, and there’s hardly a day that goes by when it won’t be filled with professionals lounging in the tasting room adorned with lush flora. Their Noble Miner, which won gold for session beers at the 2017 California State Fair, is as perfect of a session ale as you will ever have.

Bagby Beer Company

601 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside 92054
Bagby Beer Company is a sprawling indoor/outdoor playground for beer buffs that is kid- and dog-friendly. This popular hangout in a converted car dealership has an open-air bar on the ground floor as well as a tasting room, courtyard, patio with another bar, and ample room in which to hang out. This is a great spot for groups, and the self-contained upstairs area has a deck, a bar, and an indoor restaurant serving an eclectic menu featuring items like brie pizza, pork belly poutine, and short rib tacos.

An added bonus: the mixed drinks are strong, and the wine tasting on tap is surprisingly good – so even if you don’t like the selection of beers, you’ll find something here!

Belching Beaver

302 E Broadway, Vista 92084
Although there are various brewing locations throughout the city of San Diego, Belching Beaver decided to put its Tavern Grill in the heart of North County’s brewing hub in Vista. The tavern is a rustic indoor/outdoor patio with fire pits and two spacious hangout areas, both of which your furry friend is welcome to join you in. The tavern offers lunch Wednesday through Sunday, and dinner Monday through Friday, with a weekday Happy Hour. There are over 60 types of beer on tap to choose from, plus wine tasting for beer lovers bringing along a non-beer drinking buddy.

Mother Earth Brewing

206 Main Street, Vista 92084
Founded and opened in 2008 by three passionate home brewers based in a humble garage, Mother Earth Brew Co. had one goal: to create distinguished, hand-crafted beers that stimulate sensory conversation and a desire for the next sip. Today, they brew in a 2000 plus sq. foot facility with two available tasting rooms in Vista. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of local places to grab a bite on Main St. But if you wait a minute, someone will show up with menus and will do the ordering and pick up for you. It’s totally legit. Just make sure to pay after you get your food.

New English Brewing

11545 Sorrento Valley Rd Ste 305, San Diego 92121
Sorrento Valley’s New English Brewing focuses on producing English-style ales, West Coast IPAs, barrel-aged brews, light beer styles, and coffee stouts. Enjoy from a selection of 16 to 20 beers on tap, including one nitro tap and one cask-conditioned tap, as well as local food trucks on Thursdays. Customer favorites include the Pure and Simple IPA, Zumbar Imperial Stout, Whole Lotta Hazy IPA, and Blueberry Blonde. Mega fans will appreciate their Growler Club.

Mason Ale Works

2002 South Coast Hwy., Oceanside 92054
Mason Ale Works is the in-house brewery of Urge Gastropub and Whiskey Bank, a full-service venue offering cocktails, wine, a selection of whiskeys and a large selection of beers, including nine Mason offerings. This busy spot has an upbeat, festive vibe in a large rustic room; the bar area can feel like a sports bar. Food first: We enjoyed crispy Brussels sprouts with bacon, smoked dates and candied nuts; blue cheese sliders; and a beef short rib burger with fries.

Start with the tasting menu, $2 to $3 a pour. The Imperial Coffee Stout tasted like a smooth strong cup of java. Two fruit-flavored concoctions, the Mahalo Nui Loa (Hawaiian pineapple juice) and the Gose Be Trippin’ (mango), had strong aftertastes.

Bonus: Stone Brewing Company

1999 N. Citracado Parkway, Escondido
We would be remiss to write about North County breweries without mentioning Stone Brewing! The 800-pound gorilla of San Diego indie brewers just celebrated its 20th anniversary in production, and is still going as strong as ever with their recent brewery opening in Berlin, Germany. Their original North County location, its main production facility, offers brewery tours, a gift shop and growler outlet, and lovely grounds that encompass the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, a fine-dining restaurant. The restaurant stands on its own as a destination, and the bars have dozens of beers from Stone and “guest” brewers.

With the copious amounts of beer on tap, local favorites are the Stone Vanilla Bean Porter, a creamy dark brew, and the 20th Anniversary Encore Series: Vertical Epic Ale, a resurrection of a fan favorite 2002 Belgian-style brew with a nice touch of orange and spice.

For more information on local breweries, check out our complete Guide to San Diego Breweries!

Top Encinitas Festivals to Check Out This Fall

Encinitas, California is our favorite coastal beach town in North County, San Diego; from historic downtown Encinitas and its walkable neighborhoods to its plethora of great restaurants, bars, shops, and boutiques, there’s no shortage of things to do or activities to try here. One of the things this area is most well known for, however, is its community feel: the town hosts several neighborhood- oriented events throughout the year, including several festivals and outdoor markets. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Encinitas festivals to check out this year!

Cardiff Greek Festival

When: September 8 & 9, 2018; 10am-9pm
Where: 3459 Manchester Ave., Encinitas

The Cardiff Greek Festival has been an Encinitas institution for more than 40 years, and every year locals and visitors alike get together to celebrate all things Greek! The event features Greek food from several local restaurants and eateries, award-winning Greek folk dance performances, cooking demonstrations, wine and beer presentations, a specialty Greek Wine Bar, children’s games and activities, a culinary specialty market, and more. Live music performances happen on four different stages throughout the day, and there are several raffles held on both days of the festival (including a popular car drawing). This is a free family-friendly event. Parking is usually available on the street.

Encinitas Oktoberfest

When: September 30, 2018; 10am-6pm
Where: Mountain Vista Dr. & El Camino Real

Now in its 23rd year, the annual Encinitas Oktoberfest is a popular local event. Authentic German music, the Gemütlichkeit Alpine Dancers, carnival rides, and a street craft faire featuring 200 vendors are all a part of the annual Encinitas Oktoberfest celebration! Every year, the event kicks off at 10am and includes a ceremonial parade at 12pm. This year, there is a “Keepin’ it Local” Craft Beer Garden, serving authentic German food and German beers – and, of course, several local San Diego craft breweries including Ballast Point Brewery, Burgeon Beer Co., The Lost Abbey, and Modern Times Beer.

This fall event is a local favorite, especially among families; although it’s technically an Oktoberfest, there are plenty of children’s activities, rides, and games to make it a family-friendly fall festival.

Moonlight Beach Bash

When: September 29, 2018; 2pm-5pm
Where: Moonlight Beach; 200 B Street, Encinitas

Art, music, dance, food, and fun come together at the yearly Moonlight Beach Bash! Every year, locals and visitors gather to celebrate with toes in the sand and plenty of activities and fun for all, including local food trucks, High Tide Society headlining the main stage, artist displays and hands-on arts projects, and more talent and arts. The Beach Bash brings together all things Encinitas: the visual and performing arts, beach culture, and a pop-up arts district.

Formally, the Beach Bash celebrates the founding of the city of Encinitas in October of 1986. From sand castle competitions and live art to sidewalk chalk demonstrations and local food truck cuisine, it really doesn’t get more ‘Encinitas’ than the Moonlight Beach Bash! For more information, visit www.encinitasca.gov.

Art Rhythm & Wine Festival

When: October 20 & 21, 2018; 11am-7pm
Where: The Forum Carlsbad; 1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad

While it isn’t technically Encinitas, the Art Rhythm & Wine Festival in Carlsbad is a huge local event that brings people from all over North County each year. Every third weekend in October, the Forum Carlsbad hosts this two-day open air festival featuring fine art, music, and wine! Celebrating the dynamic art culture in Carlsbad, Encinitas, and surrounding North San Diego County communities such as Del Mar, the festival features hundreds of artists showing their work in mediums such as painting, classical and contemporary sculpture, glass, drawing, photography, metal, mixed media, digital art, printmaking, wood, and fiber. Browse the work of more than 50 artists while you enjoy live entertainment while strolling through The Forum!

Encinitas Dia de los Muertos

When: October 27, 2018; 12pm-4pm
Where: Encinitas Community Center; 1140 Oakcrest Park Dr., Encinitas

This annual celebration brings together local and regional talents to celebrate and appreciate an important cultural celebration in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos and offers free family-friendly fun to North County residents and unites people of all backgrounds. Visitors can experience a variety of art-making workshops, artist demonstrations, student exhibitions, and live Mariachi and other musical performances throughout the festival.

For more information, visit their website at https://encinitasarts.org/.

Encinitas Holiday Street Fair

When: November 18, 2018; 9am-4pm
Where: Along Highway 101 from D to J Streets (from the 7/11 to Hansen’s Surf Shop)
(760) 943-1950

The Holiday Street Fair is located down the center of six blocks of scenic South Coast Highway 101, two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Formerly known as “The Fall Festival,” the Holiday Street Fair has happened every year since 1989, and remains a family-favorite among locals to this day.

This one-day street fest features several children’s rides, two stages of live entertainment, and food and drink from several local restaurants and eateries. The emphasis is on art, handmade crafts, antiques, and ethnic imports, and all of the vendors are local.

Encinitas Holiday Parade

When: December 1, 2018; 5:30pm-7:30pm
Where: S. Coast Hwy 101

Now in its 61st year, Encinitas’ favorite holiday tradition returns each December with more than 100 floats and family fun for everyone. Thousands of people cruise on floats, on foot, in cars, and marching in bands while tens of thousands cheer them along the Parade route along Coast Highway 101. Spectators can claim a good spot to watch the parade as soon as Coast Highway closes at 4pm on the 1st. Followed by a countdown and ceremonial tree lighting, Santa himself will make a brief appearance to kick things off at 5pm at the Lumberyard shops courtyard.

The 2018 parade theme is “Botanical Oasis”. Encinitas has a deep history of flower growing, a terrific climate for growing a wide variety of beautiful and interesting plants, and is home to the world-famous San Diego Botanic Garden. In fact, this year’s Parade Grand Marshal is Julian Duval, who has been President and CEO of the SD Botanic Garden for nearly 30 years! Anyone can participate by registering a float in the parade, and several awards are handed out each year to participants.

Encinitas Events & Things to Do

Encinitas is a fun beach town in North County, San Diego that’s known for its surf culture, boutiques, great restaurants, and tight-knit community. At just a 30-minute drive from La Jolla and 45 minutes from downtown San Diego, Encinitas is easy to get to and makes for a great place for a day trip from anywhere in the County – and there’s always something to do! From the weekly Farmers Market to the Taste of Encinitas each summer, this funky coastal town is an exciting place to visit any time of year. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular events and things to do in Encinitas!

Annual Events

Spring Street Fair

Every April, you can enjoy over 450 unique food, arts and crafts vendors plus four entertainment stages, children’s activities, Bike Valets, and a Beer Garden! Take advantage of free family fun, entertainment, a National Award Winning MainStreet and a traditional Southern California beach town.

Savor craft beers and soak up the sun while listening to the best bands in San Diego rock out at the Beer Garden Stage. You can even bring your kids and your dogs! Take a break from the hustle and bustle by listening to the eclectic music at The Lumberyard Courtyard Stage. See the stars of tomorrow perform at the Hansen’s Community Stage! Great news for cyclists, our two Bike Valet stations are open both days to store your bicycles while you peruse the Street Fair!

Encinitas Cruise Nights

On the third Thursday of each summer month from May through September each year, the streets of Encinitas turn into Encinitas Cruise Nights! Old-school hot rods, foreign automobiles, classic cars, and woodies line S. Coast Hwy 101 all the way from D Street to K Street. Classic cars are also parked along the Hwy 101 and on side streets, and oftentimes there is live music being played in various spots along Hwy 101.

The event is open and free to the public. Every car in attendance is eligible for awards and there is no cost for displaying or viewing the cars. Encinitas Classic Car Nights is a great reason to spend a summer night out in historic downtown Encinitas with great restaurants and unique shops.

Taste of Encinitas

Every August, the annual Taste of Encinitas event comes to the streets of historic downtown. This is a great way to experience some of the best Encinitas restaurants and shops, while you slowly stroll through town and listen to the sounds of live music. Treat your taste buds to food samples from more than 30 restaurants and enjoy local wine and craft beer served at 19 “Sip Stops” hosted by shops and salons. Don’t forget to pause along the way to enjoy live music at eight different venues. Tickets cost $45 per person and include all food and 10 drink samples; they can be purchased the day of the event at Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association’s office (818 S. Coast Highway 101).

LeucadiART Walk

Each August, the streets of Leucadia and Encinitas come alive for the LeucadiART Walk, which takes place along two miles of scenic Hwy 101 at various locations in downtown Leucadia. You’ll find local juried artists showing off their art at various booths along the 101, and a few places host live music from local bands. There are also live dance and art demonstrations throughout. This past year, there was a live surfboard art demonstration!

Leucadia ArtWalk doesn’t forget about the kiddos either – the event features a Children’s Art Pavilion complete with children’s activities, wearable art fashion show, art demonstrations, and a raffle for prizes.

For thirsty art-lovers, there is a Beer & Wine Garden (21+) featuring local breweries and distilleries, including Lost Abbey, Port Brewing, and Boochcraft. A free shuttle bus runs during the event, as well as two trolleys, which make several stops throughout downtown.

Summer Series at the Lumberyard

The Lumberyard is an expansive shopping and courtyard area in the middle of downtown Encinitas, and is home to nearly 50 stores and restaurants. The Lumberyard puts on several events throughout the year, and one of the most loved by locals is the Summer Concert Series, which happens August-September on weekend nights. Live music from local bands happens from 5pm-9pm; bring your friends and family to enjoy dinner, shopping, and live music on a warm summer night!

Halloween Safe Trick-or-Treat

Every Halloween, The Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association presents its Annual Safe Trick-or-Treat event. Historic Highway 101(from Encinitas Blvd to K Street) will turn into “Pumpkin Lane” as local businesses stay open late to welcome trick-or-treaters. The public is also invited to see the amazing pumpkins carved by the Self-Realization Fellowship monks each year.

Along the 101 there are several places to stop and enjoy Halloween-themed activities. You’ll find live music and games In the Lumberyard courtyard, and in the SRF parking lot (next to their K Street Store) check out the Queens Court! This event is free and families are welcome to join in the fun!

Annual Holiday Street Fair

Every December, get ready for the holidays with more than 450 food, arts, and crafts vendors and live entertainment on four different stages, as well as children’s rides, a Beer Garden, and bike valets! This is a great way to get started on your shopping for the holidays and support local artisans and makers.
There’s plenty to eat and drink, too! Savor craft beers and soak up some winter sun while listening to the best bands in San Diego rock out at the Beer Garden Stage, or take a break from the hustle and bustle by listening to the eclectic music at The Lumberyard Courtyard Stage. The schedule of events and the bands that play varies with each year, so be sure to check the website for details and real-time updates.

Garden of Lights at the Botanic Garden

Each December, the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 125,000 sparkling lights. Festive holiday activities abound, including sledding and horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, Nutcracker displays, visits with Santa, food trucks, hot mulled wine, nightly live music and live entertainment, and catered refreshments from local eateries.

Kids are welcome — there are numerous family-friendly activities held throughout the festivities!

Seaside Bazaar (weekly)

Every Saturday and Sunday, The Seaside Bazaar opens in the heart of Encinitas on Highway 101. The Bazaar is an offbeat European style open-air flea market, and is one of the best outdoor shopping experiences in North County! More than 50 vendors sell such crafts as artisan jewelry, wind chimes, weather vanes, photography and art, collectibles, inexpensive antiques, leather goods, clothing, and more. The seaside bazaar is also within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and the La Paloma Theater in historic downtown Encinitas.

Encinitas Seaside Bazaar is held on a dirt lot in tent exhibits, just south of Encinitas Blvd and north of the La Paloma Theatre. Free parking is available on the lot next to the bazaar, as well as along nearby streets.

Leucadia Farmers Market (weekly)

For another local shopping experience, head to the weekly Leucadia Farmers Market every Sunday from 10am-2pm. The market features more than 75 vendors selling fresh flowers, plants, produce, and vegetables, including a large Certified Organic Section. You’ll also find specialty foods, including fresh breads, beef, seafood, marinades, pastas, and sauces. Come hungry, as there is a huge food court that serves breakfast and lunch!

In addition to all the great vendors on-site, the market also features a children’s playground, covered picnic area, live music, balloon twisting, and face painting. The Farmers Market is held at Paul Ecke Central School (185 Union Street, Encinitas 92024).

10 Bars in Encinitas to Add to Your List

Looking to bar hop during your time in Encinitas? We’ve got you covered! This funky coastal beach town is home to dozens of bars, wine bars, and restaurants; and there is no shortage of great beer, wine, and food. We’ve rounded up 10 great bars in Encinitas to add to your list next time you’re going out in North County; from cozy cocktail bars by the beach to laid-back pubs along South Coast Highway! Tip: most of these Encinitas bars are easily walkable, and it doesn’t take too long to walk from one end of downtown to the other.

SHELTER

540 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
SHELTER is a trendy cocktail lounge and bar with an eclectic, funky vibe. The spot boasts a retractable ceiling that allows the night sky to illuminate the interior, which includes booths and a patio area featuring a large fire pit. If you’re looking for cocktails, this is the place to go – SHELTER offers a wide array of specialty cocktails with everything from Mules in copper mugs to VIP Bottle Service in a private booth. DJs play most weekend nights, and there is plenty of standing room if you’re in a larger group.

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The Saloon

546 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas


As the area’s beloved local dive bar (it’s been open since 1934!), The Saloon is a great introduction to the bar scene in Encinitas. Dirty Monday’s deep house and dubstep paired with great drink prices mix well for free-spirited dance moves. Friday and Saturday nights, DJs spin popular hip-hop that flows into faster dance jams, perfect for making an impenetrable dance circle with friends. Young and old alike sip and mingle in this intimate bar that easily transforms into a place to boogie. No cover and casual dress code make it a perfect place to have fun, sport a mustache, and have a more casual night out dancing to hip music.

The Bier Garden

641 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
For craft beer lovers, The Bier Garden in Encinitas is the perfect place to start out a pub crawl! Located in a former steakhouse from the 1940’s, the Bier Garden Encinitas maintains the integrity of the beautiful and historic building while creating a place for all to relax and unwind! It features 32 tap handles from Southern California, a retro cocktail menu, California coastal, local, and beer-infused cuisine to be enjoyed for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. They also have a great Happy Hour, if you’re starting early!

Union Kitchen + Tap

1108 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
As one of the earliest trendsetters to open in Encinitas, we had to mention Union Kitchen + Tap for its great beer and cocktail selection! Union offers three separate dining areas, a lively main bar, and a chic, yet relaxed vibe with reclaimed wood accents and modern furnishings. The menu here features traditional American fare made from fresh, local ingredients, an extensive tap list, craft cocktails, and vintage wines. This is a great spot for groups – there are plenty of large tables and seats, and on weekends, the vibe is lively and fun.

D Street Bar & Grill

485 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
D Street is a comfortable neighborhood pub that offers classic bar food (think onion rings, nachos, and burgers), plus plenty of beer on tap and a fun cocktail menu that features a solid mix of classic and creative. After 10pm most nights, the entire bar turns into a dance venue – DJs and live music play late into the evening, and the seats and chairs are taken away to create a full-bar dance floor. Come here for the drinks, and stay for the dancing!

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Encinitas Ale House

1044 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
Another locally-loved spot, Encinitas Ale House is a small, cozy, and friendly little pub located on a quieter street corner. Besides their large beer selection, the Ale House is known for its incredible variety of “Locally World Famous” Angus and Kobe Wagyu burgers. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask your server about their wild game burgers – we’ve heard they often have everything from lamb to wild boar!

32 rotating taps of Belgian, German, and local San Diego beers, as well as an extensive bottled beer list (many of which are rare vintages or special limited-releases) make this a must-try for any sort of beer lover.

Lumberyard Tavern

967 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
Another historic spot, the Lumberyard Tavern offers a variety of yummy comfort food favorites (including the area’s famous “Cardiff Crack” specialty), as well as an extensive liquor selection: more than fifty different bourbons, Tennessee whiskeys, scotch-whiskey blends, and single malts are all on the menu here.

Lumberyard Tavern has plenty of TVs, a pet-friendly patio, and a large family-friendly dining area. If you’re looking for a laid-back pub that feels like a comfortable place to spend an hour or two after work, this is your place!

1st Street Bar

656 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
1st Street Bar was recently renovated, but has been a longtime local watering hole for years; complete with a retro vibe, full bar, live music, plenty of large TVs, and billiards, this is a great spot for watching sports on a sunny weekend afternoon. 1st Street has great weekly drink specials, including Happy Hour seven days of the week until 7pm ($2 off drafts, $4 well drinks, and pitcher specials); $4 and $6 specials on certain drinks from 9pm-close on Monday through Thursday; ½ price pitchers on Friday and Saturday from 7pm-9pm; and industry drink specials plus Karaoke on Sundays starting at 9pm.

It may not be the trendiest spot in town, but come here for the drink specials, the billiards, and the big screen TVs!

Mr. Peabody’s Bar & Grill

136 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas
Mr. Peabody’s has been in the same Encinitas location since the early 2000s, located next to I-5 in the newly remodeled Lazy Acres shopping center. The spot offers live music and dancing several nights a week, and also offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are plenty of TVs, a jukebox, and Karaoke is offered a couple of times a week. Mr. Peabody’s has a great Happy Hour lineup, most notably because each night of the week is something different: Sundays feature $5 Jameson; Mondays it’s $2.75 well drinks and domestic drafts; Tuesday it’s $10 Budweiser pitchers from 8pm-close, etc.

The music scene here is pretty lively, and you’re guaranteed to happen upon an open mic night or a local band any night of the week. Check their website for the event lineup and full Happy Hour specials.

Beachside Bar & Grill

806 S. Coast Hwy, Encinitas
Beachside Bar/Grill is a fun, friendly neighborhood spot in Encinitas. Beachside features plenty of outdoor seating, 24 different beers on tap, an extensive food menu, and great drink specials. Some kind of event or activity happens most nights of the week: including a weekly Trivia Night, Industry Night, a Wing Night, and a Tacos & Tequila Special on – you guessed it – Tuesdays.

Locals come here for the casual vibe and big tables; perfect for larger groups or big families. They are kid-friendly, too, so this is a good spot to grab dinner and enjoy the football game.

Read more about things to do in Encinitas here, or check out our Encinitas date night tips!

Kids are FREE for October Only: Sea World, Belmont Park, and 100+ More San Diego Attractions

During the month-long Kids Free October celebration, your little ones will be treated to free admission at attractions, meals on the house, and tons of other great perks throughout the city. Enjoy more than 100 partner offers —as well as warm fall weather without the summer crowds! There’s big fun waiting for kids, with savings that parents will love. Explore below and plan your perfect trip to San Diego this October.

Kids Free Admission

Note: exact ages included in the promotion may vary for each attraction; check website for details before you go.

  • La Jolla Historical Society
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • Belmont Park (play and ride for free)
  • Empress Hotel (free Kids’ Welcome Gift, $25 value)
  • Bike & Kayak Tours of La Jolla (ride for free)
  • Balboa Park Museums:
    • San Diego Automotive Museum
    • San Diego Air & Space Museum
    • Museum of Photographic Arts
    • San Diego History Center
    • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
    • San Diego Museum of Man
    • Timken Museum
    • Mingei International Museum
    • Fleet Science Center (Galleries only)
    • Japanese Friendship Garden
    • Marston House Museum & Gardens
    • San Diego Natural History Museum (Nat)
    • The San Diego Museum of Art
    • Veterans Museum
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego
  • San Diego SEAL Tours (ride free)
  • San Diego Fly Rides (ride free)
  • USS Midway Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT LA JOLLA EVENTS, STORE & RESTAURANT OPENINGS, & MORE!

Kids Eat Free:

  • The Shores Restaurant (La Jolla Shores Hotel)
  • Sheraton La Jolla
  • Embassy Suites San Diego/La Jolla
  • Torreyana Grille (Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines)
  • Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

SeaWorld Specials

  • Free single-day admission kids ages 3-9
  • Free Aquatica San Diego admission kids ages 3-9
  • Eat for free at Breakfast with the Orcas and Dine With Killer Whales
  • Free Dolphin interaction programs

San Diego Zoo Specials

  • Children ages 11 and younger free admission (when accompanied by an adult with a valid form of entry).
  • There are special activities happening both on weekdays and weekends throughout the month, as well!
  • The Kids Free Special includes the Skyfari Aerial Tram
  • For $5 extra, kids can also ride the Guided Bus Tour and the Kangaroo Bus.

HalGLOWeen on October 26, 27, and 28

From October 26-28, head to The Zoo for a colorfully creepy celebration from 5 to 8pm! The Zoo will be aglow with activities and entertainment: a DJ spinning spooktacular tunes for everyone to dance to among bursts of bubbles, acrobats, jugglers, a cupcake walk, and more. Kids are free for this event, and may wear costumes according to the guidelines posted on the HalGLOWeen website. Dr. Zoolittle has a special “creepy” show, and there is plenty of other festive family fun in store. For more information head to their website.

There are tons of other spots throughout San Diego that are offering special deals and activities in October, so be sure to keep checking the website for updated information!

Where to See Fall Colors in San Diego

Believe it or not, you don’t have to travel to the East Coast to experience fall colors, you can stay right here in southern California! There are a bunch of places in and nearby San Diego County to see the leaves changing colors, many of which are state parks. Every October and fall, the leaves of the black oak make a transition from green to vivid golds and oranges.

These trees, along with conifers like white fir, Jeffrey pine, and incense cedar, can be found throughout many of San Diego’s mountainous northern regions. As leaves change, these gorgeous trees put on a spectacular show each fall, and it’s definitely worth a weekend day trip! Wondering where to see fall colors in San Diego? Look no further! Here are five great spots to scope out the colors of fall in San Diego. Soon, you’ll be a San Diego Expert.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

Drive about an hour and fifteen minutes east of San Diego and you’ll find one of San Diego’s most glorious state parks, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. It features over 100 miles of hiking opportunities, a plethora of campsites, and 24,700 acres of oak and conifer forests. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the seasons come and go similar to Northern California. There is a distinct difference in scenery between fall, summer, winter, and spring. Whenever I am in need of a good hike and dose of nature, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is my go-to location.

Just about every hiking trail here will have something to offer in terms of cool autumn hues on the surrounding trees. There are also plenty of hiking options ranging in length and difficulty, making this a great option for both kids and elderly hikers. We recommend the Azalea Glen Loop Trail: a short 3.8-mile trail located near the Paso Picacho Campgrounds, which features plenty of changing colors on the abundance of trees found along this trail. Another option is to hike around Lake Cuyamaca, which provides a nice backdrop for those fall colors.

Looking for more great trails in San Diego? Check out our guide to the best hikes in San Diego.

Palomar Mountain State Park

Some weekends it’s nice to leave behind our hectic lives and hit the road to a quiet place to be one with nature in the mountains. Palomar Mountain is the ideal destination for just this. Palomar Mountain State Park features over 11 miles of trails through oak forests, chaparral, expansive meadows, and staggering fir and cedar woodlands. The views are scenic, the air is crisp, and the foot traffic is minimal.

Aside from all its scenic glory, Palomar Mountain is also worthy of the hour and a half drive to simply see its fall foliage. Thanks to its dense woodlands, high elevation, and remoteness, it is the dream location to watch the leaves change colors. Bring the family or simply a friend to walk one of the park’s many trails. Varying in both length and difficulty, there’s a trail for everyone to enjoy. We recommend the French Valley to Weir Trail, a relatively flat 3.8-mile trail that showcases the best of Palomar Mountain’s woodlands and is a prime destination for fall foliage!

Julian

This little mountain town is the epitome of Southern California autumn charm! Once a prominent gold mining town, Julian is now known for its famous annual apple harvest, apple pie, and as one of the best places to go apple picking in San Diego. It’s also known for having four distinct seasons: in winter snow is known to dust the countryside landscape, in spring wildflowers bloom, and in autumn there is no shortage of burnt leaves falling to the ground!

If you want a true fall experience, Julian is the place to visit. Spend a day walking the historic streets, visiting an old gold mine, or hiking the nearby trails, or better yet, make a weekend out of it by staying at one of the local lodges. Julian is located about an hour and fifteen minutes east of San Diego. To really get the fall foliage experience, we recommend hiking the 1.65-mile Canyon Oak Trail within William Heise County Park for views of the great oaks towering above.­­

 

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Mount Laguna

At just an hour drive east of San Diego, Mt. Laguna offers one of the best San Diego hikes and undoubtedly one of the most popular places to see fall foliage in the area. It lies on the eastern edge of the Cleveland National Forest at close to 6,000 feet above sea level in a towering forest of Jeffrey pines. The main area features a general store, a restaurant/bar, campgrounds, and plenty of hiking opportunities.

Among the several hiking trails, we recommend the 3.25-mile Sunset Trail. The trail hikes hikers through a dense pine forest and features stunning panoramic views of the area below. During the fall, this trail is spotted with yellows, oranges, and reds galore.

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Idyllwild

Idyllwild is a small, artsy mountain town located about two hours northeast of San Diego.
This area, as well as nearby Lake Hemet, boast incredible fall foliage each year with cottonwoods that turn bright yellow as the summer season comes to an end. Stop by in late November for the town’s annual Harvest Festival, or travel there throughout the months of October or early November to see the leaves changing colors.

We recommend Deer Springs Trail, which features towering ponderosa and Coulter pines as you ascend to a rock plateau at 7,500 feet with a panoramic view of the town. This hike is one of the most popular on Mount San Jacinto, above Palm Springs, and it’s accessible any time of year. Deer Springs Trail begins a mile north of Idyllwild on Highway 243, just north of the Strawberry Creek Bunkhouse.

Big Bear Lake

While it is technically a bit beyond La Jolla, its proximity to the city and incredible fall colors makes it worth it! Big Bear Lake is nestled among the trees in the San Bernardino Mountains. In the fall, the changing colors contrast dramatically against the many evergreens in the area.

While you can see fall colors almost immediately as you climb the ascent to the lake, we recommend 1.5-mile Woodland Trail. It’s a family-friendly loop that starts at the Big Bear Discovery Center and is a great place to see fall foliage and the lake below. The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November, and the best views are from the hiking trails north of the lake. Big Bear is a 2.5-hour drive from San Diego depending on traffic. Pro-tip: leave very early Saturday morning to avoid the crowds and the traffic! Avoid traveling here on a Friday, as the two-lane roads up to the lake can easily become congested.

Lake Arrowhead

On the way to Big Bear Lake, you’ll pass by the small town area of Lake Arrowhead. The fall season here is truly magical and features some of the most exquisite colors of the year. At about a two hours drive from San Diego, you’ll be able to see fall colors as soon as you begin to ascend into the San Bernardino National Forest.

If you’re in the mood for a hike, we recommend the North Shore National Recreational Trail. It features gorgeous mountain vistas and makes for a great day trip to escape the city. You’ll be greeted with incredible fall colors among the pine, cedar, and dogwood trees before you pass by the scenic Little Bear Creek. The trail is about 1.9 miles long and begins just behind the North Shore Campground on Hospital Road off of Hwy. 173. Afterward, visit the little town of Lake Arrowhead Village, where you’ll find several shops and cute restaurants along with scenic views of the lake.

On your way home, stop by Lake Gregory in Crestline for more foliage views. You’ll be greeted by black oak and pockets of aspen providing orange, buff, gold and yellow splashes of color among deep green pines. It makes for a lovely walk, and a great pit stop on the way back to San Diego.

For more autumn fun, visit our list of fall activities in San Diego, or check out our guide on the best San Diego pumpkin patches!