Fall ushers in slightly cooler weather, clearer skies, fun festivities and plenty of opportunities to explore the very best of Balboa Park. From guided hikes to Halloween happenings, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy this sublime season.
Canyoneers Guided Hikes
Where: San Diego Natural History Museum
With its wisp of crisper air, fall is the perfect time to take in some of Balboa Park’s trails less traveled. The good news, you don’t have to guess which trail to take and you don’t even need to do it alone as the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Canyoneers, a dedicated group of volunteers, offers a variety of guided hikes in Balboa Park and around the region. Most of the hikes happen on the weekends but there are some weekday hikes, too. The Canyoneers are trained citizen scientists who aren’t just trail guides but educators who can give you the skinny about the park’s and region's natural history. If you are looking to go on your own timetable and pace, be sure to pick up Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors, which details the best hikes in Balboa Park and beyond.
Haunted Trail Of Balboa Park
Where: Starts at Juniper Road and Balboa Drive
'Tis the season for scares and screams, and Balboa Park is the place where you can get both - not to mention some steps - at the storied Haunted Trail. This one-mile trek with make you want to holler with fright with trips to the swampy fog of the upside-down world from Stranger Things and to a replica of the Birdbox Cabin. But that, as they say, is not all. Those brave enough to traverse the Haunted Trail will also have to contend with a ghoulish bus filled with giant babies, chainsaw-wielding steampunk clowns and a Merlin's Forest filled with plenty of black magic. The frightening fun runs through November 2.
In the fall, sunlight has a special way of dappling with a heavenly hue that is hard to resist. One of the best places in the park to see and celebrate this golden glow is the always picturesque Japanese Friendship Garden. On October 5 you will not only be able to treat your eyes but also your taste buds at its Setting Sun Sake garden party. The event will, obviously, feature sake as well as local craft beer, cider and wine. Local chefs will be on hand to offer up food pairings. Live performances and local artists will also be a part of the festivities.
Balboa Park Halloween Family Day
Where: Plaza de Panama and El Prado
Looking for a Halloween celebration where cute kids in costumes collide with culturally inspired activities? Then Balboa Park ought to be your destination on Oct. 26 for the 11th annual Halloween Family Day, which runs from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. There will be craft projects, Day of the Dead-themed displays and activities, costume contests, live entertainment and, of course, food trucks. A selection of museums will be offering Halloween-inspired activities and there will even be a Thriller flash mob.
If you look at autumn as a time to slow down and settle in, then some yoga sessions should be on your short list. The good news is Balboa Park offers up a couple of options to stretch yourself - all with backdrops designed to help you "drop in" as the yogis say. The Museum of Man has all-levels teacher-guided flow classes every other Saturday in its always-remarkable rotunda - before the museum opens its doors, if you were wondering. Looking for an outdoor yoga class in a serene setting? Then try the Japanese Friendship Garden, which offers a variety of yoga classes - from Vinyasa to Yin & Yang - throughout the week at different locations within the garden. They even offer meditation and Reiki classes
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