October is my favorite month for families in Orange County! I made my picks of the best outdoor fall family traditions in OC based on the family outdoor experience and if it’s low or no-cost.
Wait! Almost forgot. Before you read any further, think about your fall. Think about how you want to spend your time. If you want to snuggle at home with a cup of soup and a good book, that’s okay!
If you want to be out under the trees with the leaves falling all around – you don’t necessarily need the excuse of an event. Just find a park and hang out. The kids will love it.
Better yet – come up with your own family fall tradition:
- a pilgrimage to a special far away restaurant
- an overnight stay at a certain favorite hotel or AirBnB
- making sandcastles on an empty beach
- cooking a family recipe together
- attending a local community event or festival
It doesn’t have to be a big deal at a crowded place to be special!
If you want a day-by-day list of ideas, check out my 31 Days of October Play Plan post which has specific things for your family to do each day (a lot of them easy and at home). It even has a printable calendar and list.
Outdoor Fall Family Traditions in OC (2022)
Make sure you pay attention to the weather and check all the OFFICIAL details for fees and suggested ages. Click on the bold green titles to link to official information.
Outdoor Fall Family Events in Orange County
U-Pick Pumpkin Patch at Tanaka Farms in Irvine is perfect if you want to visit the farm and support our local farmers. There are wagon rides, a barnyard educational exhibit, and lots to do at the farm. Reservations required on weekends. Open through October 31st. The Hana Field Pumpkin Patch in Costa Mesa with U-Pick sunflowers is also open which is a smaller and more relaxed experience.
Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch. Open from through October 31st. (It’s free if you just wander around the patch.)
Apple Picking at Oak Glen* — I, personally, like to wait until it’s COLD. It may mean there are no apples left to pick, but that’s okay with me. Make sure you hike the Children’s Nature Trail and visit the Montane Botanic Garden.
*Not OC, but as my daughter reminded me — it’s tradition so we have to go!
Remember, you don’t have to wait for someone else to plan fall fun! You can always take your kids outside to play anywhere in this beautiful weather (even if it’s just the front yard!).
Fall events in 2nd weekend in October
(FREE Event) is from 10am to 6pm on Saturday, October 8th at Great Park. It’s celebrating its 21st anniversary and there is plenty for families and your kids to experience.
Our family clears our schedule every year for this favorite of fall traditions and we have so many fond memories of the people we’ve met and the stories they’ve shared with us.
They have more for kids this year than ever! Visitors to the expanded Kids Village near the playground and Great Park balloon can enjoy a variety of fun, interactive activities including karate demonstrations, learning to write names in different languages, a henna tattoo station, a puppet show, arts and crafts booths, and more, including:
- Interactive arts & crafts
- Petting zoo
- Inflatable obstacle courses & games
- Face painting & puppet show
- Bubble zone & STEAM activities
Check the entertainment schedule and event map showing the Kids Village and more.
U-Pick Pumpkins at UC South Coast Research & Extension Center [SOLD OUT]
Fall activities starting the 3rd weekend in October
(FREE Event & FREE Parking) for 2 weekends October 14-16 and Oct 21-23 from 4:30pm to 8:30pm. Super sweet family event at an amazing location.
Tour the decorated historical grounds during special park hours and take your picture at a variety of fall and Halloween-themed photo opportunities.
Try to find your way through the hay maze and complete a scavenger hunt for ghoulish goodies at this free, family-friendly event.
Costumes are encouraged and pets are welcome on leashes no longer than 6 feet. Be sure to bring your cameras! 2022 Fall-O-Ween Flyer (PDF).
October 16, 2022. Proceeds benefit their environmental education programs.
Pumpkin Patch, children’s crafts and games, face painting, entertainment, and Savor OC restaurant showcase.
Sunday, October 23rd from 12pm-5pm. “Join together to keep culture and traditions alive. Come dressed or get your face painted at the festival and immerse yourself in the beauty of Dia De Los Muertos!”
We have been to a number of Gente Night Market events this year and I love them all, especially the ones at Heritage Museum OC. It’s an amazing venue and everything is really kid-friendly.
October 22nd & 23rd + October 29th & 30th events from 5:30pm to 7:30pm so you get to experience the zoo after hours in the evenings. Must purchase an advance admission ticket online before you go. They say: “Enjoy boo-tiful decorations, nocturnal animal presentations and a treat trail through the zoo!”
Fall traditions to starting the last weekend in October
Halloween OC Zoo-tacular
Saturday, October 29th from 10am-4pm (2022 Flyer). It’s awesome – the animals get pumpkins filled with treats.
Join them for Halloween fun at the OC Zoo! Activities include trick-or-treating*, spooky kids crafts, a scavenger hunt*, and fun games!
The first 100 children in costume receive a free gift!*(*Children ages 12 & under.) Come see the zoo animals receive treat-filled pumpkins throughout the day!
Reservations are not needed. Activities are free with paid zoo admission ($2 per person, ages 2 & under free).
Zoo coupons and free passes are not valid for this event. Parking is $5 per vehicle.
(It’s easy to pair this outing with the Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch, but it’ll be busy this particular weekend!)
Oct 26th-30th: Get $2 off general admission for each person wearing a costume.
I know, it’s not outside – but hard to pass up a chance to show off a costume.
Originally published in September 2013.