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8 Delicious Fall Food Festivals in California

Sampling food at the best fall food festivals in California
by: Welk Resorts | October 31, 2018

Whether you’re a foodie who appreciates the finest ingredients or someone who simply enjoys a  hearty, tasty meal, California has plenty of treats to keep you satisfied. The state has some world-class culinary talent and local produce that make California a natural destination for restaurants, food festivals, cooking competitions, and all things food. Plus, pleasant weather and the relaxed culture make California one of the cheeriest places to visit throughout the year, but especially late summer and fall. Keep reading to find out about some of the best festivals in California for you to enjoy as the heat wanes and the fun continues.

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Half Moon Bay hosts one of the most-loved fall festivals in California each year. The Pumpkin Festival is a celebration of all things related to the harvest season and the cooler months. Costume contests, pie-eating contests, and pumpkin weighing competitions can be enjoyed by all members of the family. You can also come out to enjoy local beer, wine, and food from a wide selection of vendors. Be sure to try some of the seasonally appropriate and delicious Pumpkin Harvest Ale. After you have your fill of pie and other treats, you can also burn some calories by completing an obstacle course or running the Pumpkin Run/Walk with your family.

San Diego Beer Week

Beer lovers rejoice! San Diego Beer Week is the greatest time of the year for anyone who has a soft spot for California’s craft breweries. You can find India pale ales, German-style lagers, milk stouts, and other delicious beer choices. This festival is a great opportunity to be bold and adventurous as you try new flavors and brews.

San Diego’s restaurants also join on the fun with this fall festival by preparing special offers for festival-goers. Some restaurants open stands where they showcase a unique menu, created specifically for the event. The diverse selection of beer and food options makes San Diego Beer Week stand out among festivals in California.

Escondido Tamale Festival

Traditionally a Latin dish, the tamale has become a staple treat throughout California cuisine and culture. Now you can find this delicious food as the guest of honor at the Escondido Tamale Festival. This fall food festival is part of San Diego Beer Week and helps you learn about the Spanish and Mexican settlers that came to the area. You can come see how they influenced the multicultural community of Escondido as well as enjoy some of the culinary traditions that have resulted from that mix. It’s a great chance to try traditional and gourmet tamale varieties, pre-order your holiday tamales, and enjoy other food truck and festival fare. Plus, the festival is a short drive away from your home away from home, Welk Resorts San Diego, so you’ll have a comfortable place to rest after a relaxing evening of food, drink, and music.

Gilroy Garlic Festival

A small town near the agricultural center of California, Gilroy offers a pungent focus for their yearly festival—garlic. This city has been nicknamed the Garlic Capital of the World, and it’s no surprise why. Every year, people from far and wide come to celebrate the main crop of the region with all kinds of tasty bites from garlic fries and garlic-seasoned grilled foods to more adventurous treats like garlic ice cream. There are plenty of cooking competitions with thrilling demonstrations for the entire family to watch. You can also enjoy all sorts of live performances by musicians from a range of genres including jazz, rock ‘n roll, country, blues, reggae, swing…and more!

Julian Oktoberfest

Downtown Julian in the fall.

Photo by TripSavvy

If you’re looking for a quaint, traditional fall celebration, head on over to Julian, a city situated in the Cuyamaca mountains east of San Diego. This charming area is known for delicious apples and its pioneer history. Conveniently located on Julian’s Main Street, the Julian Oktoberfest is a great opportunity for you and your family to enjoy German folk music and dancing—but you don’t have to wear a lederhosen to have a good time! After working up an appetite, visit one of the on-site vendors for a German lager and tasty food or go for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. And don’t forget to pick up some delicious apple pies—a Julian staple!—before you leave town.

The Night Market

Creative fusion foods at The Night Market.

Photo by Heather Fern

For creative, fusion foods with extra attractions, the Night Market is the festival for you. Taking place during late summer and early fall, the Night Market can be found in Orange County, Arcadia, and Pleasanton. Inspired by late-night Asian markets, this festival features all kinds of delicious morsels, from sweet to savory, traditional to interpretive. You have great Asian foods like ramen with all the bells and whistles as well new interpretations of local cuisine like Hot Cheeto burritos and rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches. You can also find all kinds of vendors selling fun crafts and merchandise throughout the event!

Greek Festivals in California

Ready to celebrate and shout “opa!” with your family and friends? There are a number of Greek festivals in California where you can enjoy a range of authentic, flavorful dishes as well as delicate pastries and desserts. Throughout the year, you can find festivals occurring from the north to south in the state. Some of the larger fall festivals include those taking place in Santa Cruz, Cardiff by the Sea, and Long Beach.

Guitar Strings vs. Chicken Wings

Add some extra excitement to your vacation in Tahoe by enjoying one of the more unique, intimate festivals in California. Guitar Strings vs. Chicken Wings is equally pleasing to the ears and taste buds. Located next to Lake Tahoe in Squaw Valley, this music and food festival is a one-of-a-kind experience that you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else. During the festivities, local restaurants face off against each other trying to win the top spot for chicken wing glory while live bands also go head to head in a battle of the bands. Chicken-lovers can feast on fried chicken wings, grilled chicken wings, buffalo chicken wings, and other variations. Lemon pepper fried chicken is a favorite among festival-goers. This tasty festival is also easy to reach since it’s near Welk Resorts Lake Tahoe, you’ll be able to explore during the day and relax in the evening in your private accommodations.


These flavorful events can help you enjoy the dynamic food and drink options that festivals in California have to offer throughout the fall. With four resorts in California, Welk Resorts makes a great place to stay and relax as you explore all these events have to offer. Book your stay today and start planning your next delicious, unforgettable food adventure.

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