Have some vacation time in October? San Diego is the perfect destination for your getaway. Escape the chilly temperatures that take over much of the US and bathe in the sunshine without the summer crowds. What’s not to love?
Nothing rivals San Diego in October. One day you could hit the beach, and the next, get into the Halloween spirit at a pumpkin patch.
In addition to this, October is one of the busiest months for exciting festivals. You won’t be short of exciting events to hit up while visiting.
We’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know about October in San Diego, from what to include on your packing list, to the events you cannot miss.
San Diego October Weather
October weather in San Diego is undoubtedly the envy of many other cities.
The clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures allow you to enjoy outdoor activities without feeling too hot or cold. San Diego October temperatures tend to range from 61°F to 74°F.
You won’t have to worry about rain showers interfering with your plans, as October typically sees less than 14mm of rainfall. Some years, San Diego has experienced no rain during this month.
On average, the city enjoys 12 hours of daylight in October, with around 8 hours of sunshine.
Sea temperatures drop to around 65°F in October. Swimming in the sea can get pretty chilly as the month goes on, but it’s generally still comfortable at the beginning of the month.
What Should You Wear In San Diego In October?
San Diego is not a city where you can expect typical fall attire in October. You won’t see locals wrapped up in warm coats and scarves.
October is a transition month for San Diegans, where you can find people gradually swapping their shorts for jeans.
If you’re planning an October visit, it’s best to pack a mix of shorts, trousers, t-shirts, and maxi dresses, plus some comfortable walking sneakers or sandals. A light jacket is always best to include, as the temperature can drop at night.
If visiting early in the month or planning to swim, remember your bathing suit and sunhat. As always, a good SPF and sunglasses are recommended.
Best Things To Do In San Diego In October
Of course, the most exciting event of fall is Halloween. And trust us, nowhere does it better than San Diego. The city hosts a vast selection of spooky-themed happenings for all ages.
Here are some of the top events for the little ones and yourself to enjoy:
- SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular: Entrance to this SeaWorld event is included in standard tickets and takes place on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month. Let the kids put on their costumes and join in on the fun.
- Balboa Park Halloween Family Day Out: A fun, family-friendly day out, kids under 12 can enter selected museums for free and enjoy live entertainment. This year’s dates are TBD.
- Trick-or-Treat on India Street: Head over to Little Italy, where you’ll find India Street filled with monsters, ghosts, and witches trick-or-treating at participating local businesses. Come along on October 27th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.
Who said Halloween is just for kids? Below are some festivities for the adults to take part in.
- SeaWorld Howl-O-Scream: This is SeaWorld’s Halloween outing for the older crowd, where guests can brave the terrifying houses of horror before hitting the dance floor. The event runs every weekend during October.
- San Diego Zombie Crawl: A spooky take on a pub crawl, dress up in your finest Halloween costumes, and spend an evening bar-hopping and enjoying free shots and entry to participating bars. The Zombie Crawl runs from 6 pm, 2023 dates TBD.
For more ideas, check out Top Things To Do In San Diego For Halloween.
For those who love the thrill of Halloween and are looking for the most frightening encounters this October, visiting one of San Diego’s many haunted houses is a must. Read our full guide on the best haunted houses in San Diego here.
Below are some of the city’s most horrifying and goriest horror houses:
- Scream Zone Del Mar: Certainly not for the faint-hearted, Del Mar Fairgrounds hosts three haunted house attractions every October, which many locals agree are the city’s scariest. The haunted houses are open throughout October.
- The Disturbance: The name says it all, this new haunted house is set to be a chilling experience. Like Scream Zone, three spooky attractions are included with each ticket, and the event is expected to occur throughout October in Mission Valley. (Not open in 2023 but will come back in 2024)
- Universal Studios Halloween: Due to take place every Thursday to Sunday from mid-September, the horror nights at Universal Studios are strictly for those aged 13 and above.
Up for a ghost tour instead? Check out this Spooky Old Town Ghost Tour.
Oktoberfest is another popular fall activity in San Diego. Germany’s famous, beer-centric event has been happily adopted across the United States, and San Diego is no different.
Expect live music, dancing, contests, fun costumes, and plenty of craft beer. Below are some of the most popular Oktoberfest events in San Diego this October:
- La Mesa Oktoberfest: Enjoy Bavarian festivities for all ages in La Mesa, September 29th – October 1st, 2023.
- Carlsbad Oktoberfest: Delicious food, games, and a fun beer garden can all be found at Carlsbad’s Oktoberfest, held October 7, 2023.
- Ocean Beach Oktoberfest: One of San Diego’s most lively Oktoberfest celebrations includes live music, contests, and plenty of German beer. The festival will be held October 6th – 7th, 2023.
- Oktoberfest in El Cajon: Indulge in authentic German food, craft brews, and fun games at El Cajon’s Oktoberfest. The annual event will be held September 29th – October 1st, 2023 and October 6th – 8th, 2023.
Nothing says October quite like the sight of carved pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Visiting a pumpkin patch is a fantastic day out for all ages.
Here are some of the many spots to find your perfect pumpkin this fall in San Diego:
- Pumpkin Station: With locations in Del Mar and Mission Valley, this is a wonderful place for a family day out, full of hands-on activities for the kids.
- Mr Jack O’Lantern’s Pumpkin Patch: Kids can decorate their pumpkin and visit the petting farm at this great La Jolla spot.
- Goff Family Pumpkin Patch: Situated at Liberty Station, this pumpkin patch welcomes leashed pets and has a Tap Truck where adults can sip on a beer or wine.
- Here are more San Diego Pumpkin Patches
Nestled on 101 acres of rolling hills at the scenic Splitrock Farm and Retreat, Splitrock Festival promises an intimate and rejuvenating festival experience defined by musical discovery, community, and a celebration of wellness.
- The lineup spotlights buzzworthy acts like Shanin Blake, Equanimous, KR3TURE, Sol Rising, Ruby Chase, Jeff Dye, and more.
- The festival aims to put attendees back in touch with nature and each other through yoga, guided hikes, meditations, workshops, and more.
- The festival also features a variety of food and drink vendors and camping accommodations.
- Tickets (starting at $66): Click here to buy
- Location: Splitrock Farm and Retreat, 39032 Harris Trl, Fallbrook, CA 92028
Celebrate Kids Free Month At The San Diego Zoo
When: Throughout October
Where: San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Balboa Park
While there’s never a wrong time to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, October happens to be Kids Free Month, with free admission for children under 11 for the entire month.
Encounter the many majestic animals which call the zoo home, from hippos and elephants to camels and flamingos.
Plus, enjoy the seasonal events planned for this autumn. Think live bluegrass music, barn dances, hay mazes, and animated wildlife every weekend.
For adults, if you purchase tickets online, you get access to a number of extras that you won’t get if you buy tickets at the entrance.
Be sure to check out the San Diego Zoo Tips before heading out.
Kids Free Month At The Maritime Museum
When: Throughout October
Where: Maritime Museum of San Diego
The Kids Free Month also extends to San Diego’s Maritime Museum. They offer one free ticket for children 12 and under, available with every adult ticket during October.
While here, explore some fascinating ships and submarines, and take in the compelling history of these vessels from friendly and informative guides.
The museum is home to a wide selection of permanent and rotating exhibits. They even offer informative cruises around the bay for an additional fee.
La Jolla Art & Wine Festival
Art connoisseurs, wine lovers, and craft beer fanatics come together at La Jolla‘s free art and wine festival on Girard Avenue, just a short walk from La Jolla Cove.
This festival celebrates art in various forms, including sculpture, painting, photography, jewelry-making, ceramics, and more.
Over 160 artists will exhibit their work during this two-day event, with many pieces up for grabs as part of the silent auction.
After browsing the impressive artwork collections, attendees can kick back at the beer garden. Here you’ll find an exceptional selection of craft beers and wines from over 30 wineries and breweries.
San Diego International Film Festival
When: October 18th – 23rd, 2023
Where: Various venues throughout San Diego
San Diego’s annual international film festival will take place in the latter half of October this year. From countless film screenings and filmmaker panels to award ceremonies and parties, October is an incredible time for movie buffs in San Diego.
There are many different passes and tickets to choose from. Screenings start at $16, while entry to the star-studded Night of the Stars Tribute event comes in at $175.
Some of the most anticipated occasions include:
- Opening Night Film Premiere and Reception: October 18th at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
- Night of the Stars Tribute: October 19th at The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.
- Culinary Cinema: October 22nd at AMC UTC 14 @ Westfield UTC, La Jolla Village.
Dia De Los Muertos
When: October 28th & 29th, 2023
Where: Old Town San Diego
Celebrate the lives of those who have passed at Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. The popular event is held in San Diego’s Old Town, which has been observing this holiday for over ten years. Read our full guide on where to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in San Diego.
It’s believed this is a time for the spirits of those passed to return to their loved ones, and is a joyous occasion.
The Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated on November 1st or 2nd. This festival takes place over a weekend, honoring the dead by constructing countless altars, also called ofrendas or offerings, throughout Old Town to welcome the dead.
Guests can also expect delicious Mexican food, traditional face painting, and live music.
Visitors to San Diego in October are fortunate in that there are so many exciting events and festivals to take part in.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker making the most of the spooky season or are hoping to soak up the southern Californian culture, October is the perfect time to visit.
The desirable, warm weather is just an amazing bonus!