Family Friendly Fall Activities in the San Francisco Bay Area

Updated for 2023

Today is officially the start of Fall!  That time of year when the air becomes a little crisper, you can put on sweaters, and you can engage in all things pumpkin spice.  In the Bay Area, we aren’t known for our fall foliage but that doesn’t mean there is a lack of activities to get in that Fall Family Fun Spirit!  We are in the Fruit Basket of the country, with farms galore to grab a pumpkin or do some apple picking.  There are also train rides, festivals, and even a ballet get you and your family happy and in the fall spirit.  Check out some of our favorite fall fun activities here in the Bay Area

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that allows me to earn a small commission at no cost to you. I only link to products I would or have used myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. You can read the full disclaimer here.

Pumpkin Patches

Lemos Farm

Lemos Farms Pumpkin Patch Sign

A fun farm in the Half Moon Bay Area, it’s been a Bay Area favorite since the 1980s. There is a train ride, pony rides, a haunted house, a petting zoo, and so much more.  We took the kids when they were younger, and they loved running around the farm, picking out pumpkins, playing on the rides, and my son wanted to do the train ride over and over again.  This is great for kids who are 70 lbs. or less.  Once your child hits 70 lbs., the rides they can enjoy becomes limited.  You can buy timed entry passes online for either the morning or the afternoon. Tickets will be sold at the door but are not guaranteed and may be limited if capacity is reached. 

Dell’Osso Family Farm

This one is a bit of a drive, but worth it.  Out near Tracy, there is Dell’Osso Farms.  It’s known for its elaborate corn maze, where you can quite literally get lost in the corn.  They also have rides, bounce houses, a haunted castle and more.  We went when my son was a toddler, but I have wanted to return with older ones for a long time.  It really is a fun experience for any age, even adults.  And there is a food court and gift shop, so you can spend a whole enjoyable day here.  This one opens September 30th – Halloween.  Check online to pre-purchase tickets.   

A young boy looking at the camera in a corn maze, with a young woman and man walking ahead

Apple Picking

Chileno Valley Ranch

A gorgeous farm out in  Marin county, this popular apple picking farm is only Sundays in September and October for picking.  You can pick from Orin, Pinova, Candy Crisp, and Jonagold varieties for $2 a pound.  Kids love going along and picking the apples off the tree, as well as checking out the animals and the hay stack to climb.  You will go nuts picking apples, and dreaming of pies.  They do not have a shop for food, so make sure to pack a lunch or plan to stop someplace accordingly.  This place is popular to make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time.  They normally sell out before Sunday so do not count on being able to walk in. 

Full disclosure:  I have not been to the Apple Farms below.  These below are well recommended by numerous Bay Area sites, particularly Red Tricycle and 510 Families.

EARTHseed Farm

Located in Sebastopol, a cute town along the ocean that was features in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, it’s a popular spot in Sonoma County to go Apple Picking.  It’s about an hour from San Francisco but feels like a world away.  The $35 fee covers a Saturday U-Pick time slot. Apples are $4 a pound.

Train Rides

Pumpkin Patch Express

A young girl looking out the side of a train going past a river

We did this train ride last Halloween and it turned out to be an amazing surprise find.  Just outside Sacramento, it’s a 2-hour affair that includes an hour steam train ride through the farmlands outside Sacramento, trick or treating with the costumed attendants, fun games with prizes in the field outside after the ride including some panning for gems, a costume contest, and a pumpkin to take home from the pumpkin patch.  The seating is mostly open-air seating.  Kids are encouraged to attend in costume, making it a fun outing for the day. 

Tilden Park Stream Train

Closer to home, there is a fun little steam train ride right in the hills of Tilden Park in Berkeley, CA.  It’s a small train, for little ones, but it takes you though the hills of the park, helping you feel far away from the urban sprawl just a few miles from the spot.  It’s very affordable, with five rides being just $16.  Each ride is about 15 minutes, and we usually rode it at least 2x when we went with the kids when they were little.  No need to make reservations but know that it can get crowded on the weekend and you might have to wait in line. 

A young boy sitting with his mom on an small open air train in the woods

Halloween / Día de Los Muertos Activities

Luna Mexicana – Oakland Ballet

The stage at the Paramount Theater

One of the newer ballets by the Oakland Ballet Company, it celebrates the Mexican culture and centers around Día de Los Muertos.  It takes place in 2 locations, at the Hammer Theater in San Jose the weekend before Halloween (Oct 28th & 29th), and at the beautiful Paramount Theater, an art deco theater rich with history in downtown Oakland the weekend after Dia de Los Muertos (Nov3rd & 4th).  

Boo at the Zoo – Oakland Zoo

The Oakland Zoo is back with its fun holiday themed events.  This year Boo at the Zoo is everyday in October.  A hay maze, a self-guided scavenger hunt, goodie bags with treats, and children are encouraged to come in costume (no inflatable costumes, they scare the animals).  There will be a costume contest this year where the winners will receive tickets to Glowfari!  Make sure to book your tickets in advance, they will sell out!

To sky gondolas at the Oakland Zoo overlooking Oakland

Kids Boo Fest and Fright Fest – Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Out in Vallejo is the Six Flags Discovery Kindgom full of huge thrill roller coasters for your teens and kiddie rides for the littles, and moderate thrill rides for those in-between.  One of the most anticipated events of the year is Fright Fest.  Held at night, there are haunted houses, scare zones, and shows.  This is really aims at the teens and older who can handle and want to be scared out of their minds.  This year, they added Kids Boo Fest.  During the day, there is trick or treating and family friendly Halloween activities for those who don’t want to be a victim of jump scares.  Costumes encouraged!  Make sure make your reservations.  Both are included in your 2023 Season Pass.  (If you want to know more about navigating Six Flags check out Trips with Tykes blog )

September and October are a great time to get out in the Bay Area.  It’s generally before the rain really comes on, and the weather is still beautiful (though it can be hot mid-day).  The fields are golden in color, and all the fall fruits and vegetables are out and ready for the picking.  It’s a wonderful time as a family to bond, and if you are looking to get those holiday photos, now is a good time to take them with the gorgeous outdoor fall colors.  Make sure to plan ahead and enjoy this time.  You will always appreciate the memories. 

Family Friendly Fall Activities in the San Francisco Bay Area

* Starred Photos taken by Atma Photography

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