Top Events to Attend in San Diego this November

It’s Fall y’all! I know we’re all looking forward to sweater weather, possibly taking a day trip out to Julian to get in the spirit of the season, or maybe partaking in one of the many special festivities happening in the county. From Fleet Week to the San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival, here are the San Diego November events you shouldn’t miss!

Day Trip to Julian

What better way to embrace the Fall season than with apple cider, apple pies, and a bit of the great outdoors? Just over an hour outside of San Diego, spend the day in the historic gold mining town of Julian. Enjoy hiking the trails at Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, where you can take in the spectacular mix of yellow and reds from the black oak trees, with the best views at the summit. When you’re ready for lunch, head on into downtown Julian for lunch at the kitschy Miner’s Diner. It’s a family-friendly, retro spot to grab a delicious burger before heading over to Mom’s Pie House to satisfy your sweet tooth. With so many combinations to choose from, might I suggest a couple of my favorites? I’m always torn between the Apple Boysenberry Crumb, the Bumbleberry Crumb, and the Strawberry Rhubarb Flakey. Insert drooling emoji here. After you’ve sampled Mom’s baking, head on over to the Julian Cider Mill for cider and a variety of other goodies. If you visit the Cider Mill early enough in the season, you’ll be able to witness the pressing of the cider. Call beforehand to verify the day’s availability and happenings if you’re set on a specific experience; keep in mind a good portion of the shops keep roughly 9am-5pm operating hours.

Dia de los Muertos in Old Town

With over 40 altars celebrating the heritage, history, and culture of Mexico and various Latin American countries, the historic Old Town Historic State Park is the place to be on November 2nd. Old Town will host a Day of the Dead candlelight procession to the El Campo Santo Cemetery at sundown as well as have a Mercado de Arte set up on the north end of the park by the theater. All are welcome to this free event and encouraged to dress in traditional Day of the Dead attire with a sugar-skull-painted face. Entertainment, traditional dishes, and activities for all ages will get you in the spirit and dying for more!

Dia de los muertos in Old Town

Courtesy of Fiesta de Reyes

Balboa Park San Diego Events in November

To catch sight of the color-changing fall foliage without leaving the city, head over to Balboa Park for a leisurely stroll among the vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds of the oak trees. Stop into the Japanese Friendship Garden on November 12th for their Holiday Market to support local small businesses or maybe even adopt a Koi fish. Admission runs from $12-14 with children 6 and under being free. Visitors are welcome to enter between 10 am and 5 pm, while the garden closes at 6 pm.

Starting November 9th and continuing through December 31st, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas will be back at The Old Globe for its 20th year. Showtimes vary, but this whimsical production is one of those must-see events in San Diego. Make sure to take a picture by the extravagantly decorated tree in front of the theaters to remember the experience.

Fleet Week and the Veteran’s Day Parade

Fleet Week was first held in 1935 as a way to celebrate our men and women of the armed forces at the California Pacific International Exposition. The overwhelming support from the public has ever since led to its annual revival. Everyone is welcome to head over to the Embarcadero at Marina Park North to enjoy live entertainment, ship tours, and various other events November 1-13, including a Veteran’s Day boat parade on November 11th. However, Fleet Week on the Broadway Pier is only open to the public November 4-6, so plan accordingly.

Fleet Week and the Veteran’s Day Parade

Courtesy of Casa del Mar

Festivals Happening Around Downtown San Diego

There are plenty of events in San Diego this November when it comes to food, music, and the arts. So, whether your taste buds are intrigued by molecular gastronomy or you’ve just gotta dance, you can’t miss these upcoming events.

San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival

The San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival is one of the best and biggest food and wine festivals in Southern California and a must-attend for any San Diegan. Running from November 8-13, with the Grand Tasting on November 12th, the San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival is one of the top events in San Diego this November. This lively food festival features local culinary icons, nationally admired chefs, and San Diego Bay wine producers. The festival brings together hundreds of domestic and international wineries, craft beer and spirits from around the nation, and dozens of events. Coincidentally, San Diego Beer Week, brought to you by the San Diego Brewers Guild, also takes place around the same time. You won’t want to miss it! Check out their website for more information, as prices vary. 

Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival

From water taxis to yacht parties, and dock concerts to sunset cruises, the Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival is truly a special event. Held in downtown San Diego at Seaport Village on November 18-20, it’s said to be one of the most unique festival destinations in the world. With the rockstar line-up, it’s no wonder this event sells out quickly. Get your tickets now! Passes start at $129. If you miss out this year, plan ahead for this incredible event next year.

San Diego Jazz Fest and Swing Extravaganza

One of the longest-running annual music festivals, the 43rd Annual San Diego Jazz Fest and Swing Extravaganza, takes place November 23-27, Thanksgiving weekend. Put on your boogying shoes and head on over to the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in Fashion Valley. The All Events Badge runs $125. A list of all invited bands and artists is available on the website’s band lineup page.

Coronado Island Film Festival

Taking place across the bay from downtown San Diego on November 9-13 is the 7th Annual Coronado Island Film Festival. From Taste of the Festival to the opening night film to special engagements, this long weekend is jam-packed full of culinary cinema arts. Get your badges now and reserve your space; all-inclusive badges run $275 to enjoy everything the festival has to offer.

Coronado Island Film Festival

Courtesy of Visit California

Encinitas Holiday Street Fair

Taking place on November 20th from 9 am to 4 pm, the Encinitas Holiday Street Fair brings together local, live entertainment on two stages, over 40 restaurants and bars, and vendors displaying their various mediums of artistry. Additionally, a Kids Zone with children’s rides and activities will keep your tots entertained. They also have a Dog Zone to keep Rover busy! This free event attracts well over 60,000 attendees every year. Just make sure you come prepared with some spending cash for food, drinks, and arts and crafts.

Turkey Trots in San Diego County

“‘Gobble, Gobble,’ said the turkey. ‘Soon, it will be Thanksgiving Day. How will they treat me, will they eat me? Then I’ll run away!’” This poem that some of us learned in kindergarten may have stuck with you as it did with me. So, if you’re interested in making your Thanksgiving a ‘Leg Day’, there are a few Turkey Trots happening around San Diego.

Father Joe’s Villages Thanksgiving Day 5K at Balboa Park

Celebrating their 21st Annual Thanksgiving Day 5K, Father Joe’s Villages continues fundraising efforts to feed the homeless through their meal program. This Thanksgiving, give back by participating in San Diego’s original and longest-standing turkey trot while enjoying the scenery of San Diego’s Balboa Park. Registrations run $30-50 per participant.

O’Side Turkey Trot

“Move your feet before you eat!” As one of the top trots in the county for its downhill course and glittering ocean views for over 50% of the course, Oceanside’s Thanksgiving 5M or 5K event offers a costume contest, the largest teams’ competition, live entertainment on the course, live tracking of the runners and, of course, finishing medals for all participants. In support of solving the healthcare crisis through the Move Your Feet Before You Eat Foundation, this special event has also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local nonprofits serving residents of Oceanside. Registrations run $28-45 per participant.

Fallbrook Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot

Turkey trot through the Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens in a fun family Thanksgiving Day 5K. Help the Fallbrook Village Rotary Club Foundation raise funds for the Fallbrook Land Conservancy and Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary, as well as the community. Call ahead or register the day of at 7 am to join. Registrations run $35-50 per participant.

Bing Season at the Del Mar Racetrack

Encore! After the regular horse racing season ends at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Bing Season revs up. Named after the crooner and most renowned owner, the Del Mar Bing Crosby Season Fall Horse Racing runs from November 11th to December 4th. Head on over to where the surf meets the turf for any one of their special events. The Uncorked Wine Festival (November 12th), Free & Fun Sundays, and Brunch & Brews (November 19th). Gates open at 11 am, Friday through Sunday, and at 9:30 am on Thanksgiving Day for their Thanksgiving Brunch. One thing is for certain; Del Mar is as cool as ever!

San Diego is full of fun and entertainment all November long. From festivals to nature hikes, there’s something for everyone. So get out there and enjoy yourself; it’s a nice day for a cardigan!

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This blog was written by Aleezah Davenport. Aleezah is a native San Diegan, and a second-generation PLNU alumna.  She enjoys exploring the city and taking her girls out for dinner on the cliffs at Sunset Cliffs.  Writing about San Diego provides her the opportunity to learn more about the local scene, and share her newfound knowledge about her hometown – two of the things she loves most.  She enjoys sharing her passions with readers and is excited to be writing for a platform that provides fun information to a large audience.