Though we may not get the same technicolor leaf display as the East Coast, here in Anaheim we make the most of our sunny, 85-degree fall days all season long. Throughout the region, there’s an array of autumnal activities to experience that go way beyond apple picking. Whether you want to explore Anaheim’s history through food, race a go-kart like your favorite video game character, or find out which cheese goes best with a shot of absinthe, Orange County has it all. Add to that a costumed dog parade and oh-so-many brewery events, and you have a pretty fine itinerary of fall activities.
Ongoing Anaheim There’s little left of the orange groves and packing factories that used to take up nearly all of Anaheim. Thankfully, the Anaheim Packing District took a former citrus plant and surrounding historic buildings and turned them into a very fancy food court. The variety is far beyond mall fare, though, as they have everything from Japanese crepes, to a speakeasy, to high-class comfort food. Try delicious dishes, listen to live music, and learn a bit of Anaheim history along the way. Cost: Free to enter, food and drink prices vary
Every Saturday Orange Experience the roots of Orange, California, with the Vintage Orange Food Tour. Old Towne Orange is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (it’s the largest registered district in all of California), was the original home of the Sunkist company, and still has 1,300 beautiful older buildings to enjoy. You’ll start eating your way through history with artisan breads, cheeses, and specialty sodas and desserts. Along the way, you’ll also get a tour of important architectural landmarks of the town like the restored Santa Fe Depot and the Villa Park Packing House. Over the mile-long, four-hour tour, you’ll get to know the artistic, historic, and culinary importance of this SoCal city all in one afternoon. Cost: $69
Select Thursdays through November Santa Ana The Electric City Butcher in Santa Ana is not only committed to working with small farms with humane practices, but they’re also teaching their butchery skills to the rest of Orange County. In their workshops, you can learn how to properly butcher a pig, make sausage from scratch, or break down a chicken. In November, they offer a Thanksgiving 101 course that’ll give you the confidence to carve the mighty bird… and actually know what you’re doing. All classes come with free tastings, discounts, and essential butchery knowledge. Cost: $35-$200
Ongoing Fullerton Just because we live in SoCal doesn’t mean we can’t do autumnal leaf peeping of our own. The Fullerton Arboretum is beautiful year-round and unlike back East, you can peruse the grounds without freezing your stems off. View trees and plants from Mediterranean, desert, and woodland climates, then learn about the arboretum’s 40th anniversary in their new museum exhibit. Cost: $5 suggested donation
October 17-20 Home & Villas by Marriott International Palm Springs Modernism Week is not to be missed -- and Marriott Bonvoy is here to make sure their members tackle the festivities right. That would mean a package for six guests in a villa, complete with a custom stocked kitchen by Chef Stephanie Izard. She’ll even video chat with the host to share tips about her curated recipes and how to cook the ultimate homemade meal. Of course, tickets to Modernism Week are included, too. Marriott Bonvoy offers benefits and endless experiences at more than 7,000 hotels across the globe, so you’re bound to find a perk that fits your lifestyle. Cost: Starting bid at 110,000 points. Auction terms apply.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, September 20 to October 27 Anaheim Whether you’d like to join a sausage-eating contest or just learn some polka moves to Alpine tunes, Oktoberfest at the Phoenix Club serves up a genuine German experience. Each weekend, there’s live music with folk dancers, pretzel necklaces, and more authentic (and delicious) German food. Plus, there’s a “giant beer tent” with at least nine varieties of German brews. We probably should have led with that. Cost: $10, plus food and drink costs
September 20-October 13 La Mirada Watch comical curmudgeons sing and dance in Grumpy Old Men: The Musical at the acclaimed La Mirada Theater. The musical, based on the 1993 Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon film, is making its West Coast debut with ’70s sitcom star Hal Linden (Barney Miller) and Cathy Rigby, who played Peter Pan on stage for over 30 years(!) The charmingly cantankerous characters are surprisingly funny, while the cold-weather setting gets you in the perfect fall mood. Cost: $14-$74
Select nights September 19-November 2 Buena Park A former berry farm might not sound like a frightening place, but when Knott’s Berry Farm turns into Knott’s Scary Farm, they pack a lot of horror into their 160 acres. With haunted mazes and characters roaming through the park to spook you at every turn, you’ll get more than a few legitimate scares. Then, take a break from creepy clowns to enjoy the thrill rides and delicious (but much less frightening) boysenberry pie. Or should we say “poison-berry pie!” Oh… no, it’s just boysenberry. Cost: Starting at $43
Dates throughout October Orange Create everything from a cheese board to a pocket knife with these woodworking workshops. Rockler Woodworking and Hardware in Orange offers workshops for more advanced techniques and “Take and Make” classes, where you get to learn the basics and walk out with your own hand-carved creation, just in time for your holiday charcuterie spreads. Cost: $35-$100
Select nights in October Fullerton Talk to paranormal experts and learn about the ghosts of the city’s past in the Fullerton Haunted Walking Tour. The tour relies more on colorful stories than tales of bloody crimes, so the experience is more “spooky and educational” than “scary and gory.” After hearing about actual advances in paranormal research, you’ll be led through 1.5 miles of Fullerton’s fascinating history. Cost: $18 for museum members and $20 for the general public. Halloween tours (October 29-30) are $20 for museum members and $25 for the general public.
Select Saturdays: October 5, November 2, December 7 Anaheim Stretch your mind and body, then relax with a beer at Asylum Brewery’s Brewery Yoga. Each ticket gets an hour-long, all-levels yoga class and one free beer. The attitude is relaxed and fun and whether you’re an experienced yogi, a total beginner, or someone who just wants to drink a brew in triangle pose, this is the event for you. Cost: $15-20
Sunday, October 20 Anaheim Leave the oatmeal behind and celebrate your real favorite breakfast at Donut Fest Orange County. The Golden Road Brewery in Anaheim is hosting a day of donut samples, coffee and tea tastings, and (of course) locally-brewed beers. A live DJ will be there to serenade you as you enjoy eight to 10 donut varieties. Each visitor gets a goody bag and a chance to help choose Anaheim’s favorite donut. If 10 tastes aren’t enough, enter the donut-eating contest to prove your superior capacity for fried breakfast treats. Cost: $20-$45
October 25 Fullerton Combining magical lore and beer drinking, The Wizard’s Beer Festival lets you try more than 20 fantasy-themed beers and ciders. Hosted at the Wizard Mansion, the event will be decked out in all your favorite magical decor, from the Lair of Secret Cider and Potions to the Boozy Cauldron Tavern. Try the Adult Butterscotch Beer for a unique, enchanted treat. Cost: $42
October 26 Anaheim Since 1924, Anaheim has celebrated Halloween with the Anaheim Fall Festival and Parade. During the day, there are all the classic festival activities: merchants, kids costume contests, and lots of food. At night, they have a vintage-themed Halloween parade with an impressive array of creative floats and entertainment. But the real draw comes around 3pm -- the costumed dog parade. Bring your own pooch in a wig or watch with glee as adorable puppies march down the street in their Halloween best. Cost: Free
October 29 Anaheim Learn the history behind Oscar Wilde’s favorite spirit at this absinthe and cheese pairing, where you’ll experience the unusual, botanical libation alongside three specialty cheese courses. Though you won’t have to worry about hallucinating (the psychoactive claims were just rumors), be sure to enjoy the strong spirit responsibly. Cost: $50
November 2 Fullerton Get an extra dose of Halloween at the OC Haunted Brewery. Here, they are extending the celebrating of the spookiest weekend of the year with a costume contest, more than 30 selections of beer and cider, and a night of unlimited tastings. Plus, you’ll get a custom glass to take home and a chance to meet a variety of ghostly bartenders. Cost: $40-$50
November 9-10, November 16-17 Anaheim Get the chance to be a go-kart champion at the Mushroom Rally, where you’ll take a 10-minute race through an indoor go-kart track, dressed as the video game character of your choice. Along with your race entry, you’ll you have access to two hours of retro-themed games, and a chance at plenty of prizes. One winner from the Anaheim rally gets to show off their skills at the National Championship in Las Vegas, too. Plus, every racer gets to bring a spectator for free, so they can cheer you on as you live out your video game fantasies IRL. Cost: $65
December 1 La Habra The Tamale Festival in La Habra is the largest festival of its kind in Orange County and is not to be missed. Home cooks can enter their personal dishes for a chance to win Best Savory Tamale (or Best Sweet Tamale, if you prefer the dessert version). Of course, if you’d rather just munch on Mexican masa, you can enjoy lots of authentic tamales as you watch dancers from local troops and groove to the music of Soto and the Mariachi Divas. It’s a great way to find the best tamales for the upcoming holiday season. Cost: Free to enter, food prices vary.