Autumn marks the transition from summer to winter when the duration of daylight becomes shorter and the temperature starts to cool.
It is an INCREDIBLE time of year to visit CALIFORNIA’s CENTRAL COAST.
Come see the changing hues of its vineyards, the variety of blues of the ocean, the yellows and golds of the rolling hills, and the oranges of both pumpkins and monarch butterflies.
Halloween gets an early start here with The Great Big Boo at Gilroy Gardens where little ones can trick-or-treat in their “spooky but not too scary” Halloween event.
What goes with Halloween? Pumpkins, of course! Check out Gilroy’s Pumpkin Junction throughout October, or the Pumpkin Patch at Limoneira where pumpkins fly from a French Trebuchet (catapult), a hay maze, wagon rides, and entertainment. How about a Pumpkin Rolling Contest in Carmel?
What else goes with Halloween? Scarecrows! For the entire month of October, the most artistic, creative, and lively scarecrows line the streets of Cambria’s East and West Villages, Moonstone Beach, and San Simeon at the Scarecrow Festival.
Looking for something scarier? Zombies roam Ventura Harbor Village to perform the classic Michael Jackson “Thriller” simultaneously around the globe for the world record! Sign up to participate or come and watch zombies by the sea at Thrill the World: Zombie Dance. Or Join a Zombie Invasion (5k run) in San Luis Obispo. If you dare, visit the GhostWalk in Santa Paula where you’ll meet colorful ghosts along a walking tour who share their stories “real or imagined”.
In late October, costumed pets gather at pet-friendly Ventura Harbor Village for a fun and fluffy Howl-O-Ween Pet Costume Contest. Prizes for spookiest, sea-worthy, creative/original, best in show, and more! The whole family is invited to come in costume for Zoo Boo – a “spooktacular” (but not too scary) evening at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero. Santa Barbara Zoo transforms for three nights of safe, traffic-free trick-or-treating during Boo at the Zoo. (Come back to the Zoo on Thanksgiving Day and watch as the elephants, gorillas, and other Zoo animals play and interact with pumpkins.)
Fall is the time for beer steins and Lederhosen. Come enjoy authentic German food, German beer, and a costume contest at Oktoberfest in Avila Beach. Baywood Park’s Oktoberfest and Car Show features a 4k run, music, good and a Beer Wagon for the adults. PeterB’s Brewpub in Monterey celebrates Oktoberfest with 25 oz. mugs of craft beer, bratwurst, and live music.
Welcome Fall at Harvest Faire & Steam Festival with children’s activities like scarecrow making, pumpkin patch picking, candle making, and gold panning. It’s free for the whole family. Harvest time means it’s time to stomp grapes! Stomp grapes barefoot in vats, dance to a live band, and enjoy food at Solvang Grape Stomp. And Fall is when the Monarch butterflies return! Pacific Grove celebrates with Butterfly Parade and Bazaar. Santa Cruz invites you to participate in numerous activities at Welcome Back Monarch Days, including arts & crafts, games for kids, music, hand-cranked “Monarch” ice cream (pumpkin), and learn how-to’s for a butterfly garden.
Get a taste of California’s Central Coast through Fall food festivals like the Apple Festival in Avila Beach, Goleta’s two-day Lemon Festival, the Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival, and the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival.
Download or request a Central Coast Visitor Map here.
For additional assistance in planning your Central Coast Road Trip, check out these helpful Itineraries here.
Discover all of California’s Central Coast Regions here.