Every year the number of traditions that my son institutes seems to grow exponentially. It’s tough to keep up with all the things he wants to do each year to signify and celebrate the coming Halloween holiday. For him it’s not just the one day of trick or treating, rather it’s the build up that is the most fun. Decorating the front yard, visiting the 99 cent store for more cheesy, scary decorations and of course attending as many Halloween themed events as he can muster!
To make sure you are getting the most out of the season, here is our current list of all the things you can (and according to my 7 year old *must*) do.
Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland
Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland is a a mainstay to our list now. A few years ago, we happened to be at Disneyland on one of the Halloween party days, which meant we were kicked out at 7pm. This gave us a quick glimpse of how awesome it is, with dreams to go! Even if you are annual passport holders, you will still have to purchase an additional ticket, which sort of stinks to be honest. This year, the special halloween party days will be held on Wednesday and Friday’s which makes it a bit easier (and cheaper) to get a ticket.
The deal.. you arrive in costume if you wish to a park that is closed to everyone except party goers. This means you have almost no lines for popular rides, and can breeze through things. The lines are for the trick or treat stations instead. The trick or treating stations are nothing special to be honest. There are no special edition Disney items, but the littles don’t care. Our goal is to focus on the rides, catching the trick or treat stations along the way.
One of our favorites of the season is a visit to the Ghost Train at the LA Live Steamers in Griffith Park. For years we were scared to go, worried it would be too scary for our little guy. We made the plunge last year and he LOVED it. We actually went twice during the short time it was open. There are definitely ghoolish and garish items on display, and you ride the train in the dark, but overall it’s not as bad as we had imagined. There are sounds, lights and some smoke, but overall, it is definitely enjoyable for kids who like a little scare. After a year off, this year will likely be packed with everyone who missed it’s presence last year. This year’s rides will begin on Oct 13th. A new addition this year is the ability to purchase tickets online in advance. Book early!
UPDATE 2017: We are so sad to report that this year’s Boney Island has been shut down by the neighbors. Due to complaints, the city is requiring Boney Island to have a permit that would require lots of money to obtain. We hope something can help settle it for next year as this is one of our favorite Halloween traditions!
Boney Island was a new addition to our Halloween plans last year and is a keeper. For about 1 week at the end of October, Rick Polizzi, the owner and resident of a corner house in Sherman Oaks (and 3 time Emmy winner for the Simpsons) goes all out on decorations and invites the city to come partake in their awesomeness. From the “Haunted” Tree House to the yearly light shows, illusions and more bones than you can shake a stick at, you will definitely enjoy your time cruising around the yard even with the crowds. The fun starts on Oct 21st and goes through Halloween night. On the weekends everything gets going from 6-10 pm, ending an hour earlier on weeknights. Go early before the crowds! Entry to the yard is free, however, if you want to visit the tree house, you will need some cash on hand. There are also treats, light up toys and t-shirts for purchase, also with cash only.
In our effort to decorate and carve lots of pumpkins, we end up at multiple pumpkin patches during the month, but our favorite and must visit remains Underwood Farms in Moorpark. Sure, there are lots of closer pumpkin patches, but a visit to Underwood means you can walk the vast yards picking out your perfect pumpkins, your littles can ride in wagons, watch pig races, pet some farm animals and get lost in the corn maze. It makes a perfect weekend outing for the entire family or even better on a random day when school is out! If you really cannot muster the strength for the long drive or the heat, our we also love the Mr Bones Pumpkin Patch in Culver City and even the little parking lot ‘patch’ in Eagle Rock in front of the Target. Not as cheap or fun as Underwood, but both will give the kids good options for pumpkin selection and some added fun on top!
School Halloween Party
Our yearly go to for school halloween parties was always Rose Scharlin in Silverlake. They know how to throw a great party for the kids for a low price. However, the rumor mill has told this little birdy that they will not be able to have it this year due to troubles with the neighbors. Instead we will be heading to our son’s school party which is pretty great too. I won’t share, because it’s not actually open to the public. But there are lots of other ones that are. Micheltorena has a fun Halloween party on Oct 29th from 3-6 that is open to all. Buy tickets and have fun cruising the booths and enjoying the different scenes set up by the different families and classrooms. Or check out your own neighborhood for fun school carnivals and festivals, even if you don’t attend the school, most are open to all families and it’s a great way to support local public schools!
Boo at the Zoo
Boo at the Zoo is the perfect thing to do for the littlest in the family. It is mellow, not scary, goes on all month and of course is at the zoo which most kids love any time of year! During the week there are plenty of little Halloween additions to keep the kids happy. Explore the dimly lit caves, the ghoulish grove and take photos of your little creatures. On the weekends, the events ramp up with crafts, pumpkin carving demonstrations and a monster mash dance party! Don’t miss seeing the animals receive their special halloween treats on the weekends as well. We love seeing the elephants stomp their pumpkins! On the 28th and 29th of October brave the crowds at the zoo and do some early trick or treating.
Spooktacular at the Bob Baker Marionettes
Backyard Haunted Houses
There are people in the world who love Halloween so much that they build their own haunted houses/mazes in their backyards. I think this is amazing, because it means we can go visit them! There are three that I know of currently: The Rotten Apple 907 Haunt in Burbank, the Backwoods Maze also in Burbank and a haunted house/maze at 4302 Ambrose Street in Los Feliz that was created by a teenager with the help of his parents. All of these open in mid-October and get super busy as the season goes on. The Los Feliz Teen Haunted House/Maze has an early bird 6-7 pm time that offers younger kids a less scary version. For the two in Burbank, I have heard that they are quite spooky with people jumping out, etc so if you have scared little ones, maybe try it yourself first! Go early in the evening and/or when it first opens as they get busier and busier the closer you get to Halloween.
Atwater Village Trick or Treat Parade
When we lived in Los Feliz, there was a yearly trick or treat parade for local families to the shops on Vermont. It was so fun and a great way to get to know more people in the neighborhood. In recent years, we have participated in the Atwater Village Trick or Treat event on the “Boolevard”. It is free and open to kids of all ages. This year’s event will be held on Oct 27th from 4:30-6:00 pm. There are some really great shops around Atwater and it’s awesome to be part of this wonderful community event. Head out to show your support for all the great community events they put together.
Halloween Lights/Decoration Tour in Burbank
OK, this isn’t really a tour, but there are some creatively decorated houses in Burbank that deserve a mention. I foresee that Halloween will become like Christmas where families load up the kids and head out to check out all of the elaborate displays. I know mine is a super fan of doing this! Here are some that we have found out about that are great for a spooky night drive by.
- California Street between Jeffries and Victory
- California, between Magnolia and Chandler
- Toluca Estates Drive (Half of a pirate ship coming out of the ground)
- 2352 N Orchard Drive
- California and Magnolia (A decked out horror house. See above under Backyard Haunted Houses)
- North Glenwood Place, near the Magnolia Carwash
- Backwoods Maze on Pepper Street (See above for Backyard Haunted Houses)
- Clark and Cordova (Turn the radio to 99. and listen to spooky music)
- 1400 Block of Evergreen
- Florence between Clark & Magnolia
- 700 block of Catalina
A Faery Hunt & Fairy Halloween Party
We love the recurring faery hunt shows at Fern Dell in Griffith Park, so we are sure to love their halloween party! On October 21 (at 10:30 a.m.), families and faery hunters will go searching through the forest looking for faeries. Following their regular show, will be a halloween party with storytelling, games, face painting and more. Come in costume – kids and parents!
On Halloween Night
Get Spooky Portraits
I will admit getting spooky portraits is more for the grown-ups than the kids, but it is our top “must do” and our first stop on Halloween night. There is a wonderful photographer and mom who instead of giving out candy for Halloween gives out something so much better (for the parents at least!). She sets up a black walled studio on her front porch and snaps a few photos of your kid (and you) dressed up in front of the black backdrop. Last year was her 3rd year of doing it and I hope it continues for as long as possible. It is my absolutely favorite thing to do with my son at Halloween now.
Rec Center Halloween Parties
If your neighborhood doesn’t go all out for trick or treating, try visiting a local rec center instead. We love the festivities at the Silverlake Rec Center’s yearly Spooktacular party. It is held on Halloween, starting at 3pm. They have games, arts and crafts, costume contests and plenty of treats for the kids. This is also a great place to start before you head out into the neighborhood to knock on a few doors. Other rec centers that we know that do their own parties are in Cypress Park and Glassell Park (Before Halloween on Oct 27th).
Neighborhood Trick or Treating
The one thing I don’t like about LA at Halloween is that not every neighborhood is ready to greet trick or treaters. It was such a different world for me growing up in Texas where our parents never dreamed of driving us to a neighborhood – we visited the houses in our area and that was that. Unfortunately here many neighborhoods do not get in the festive mood. If you are looking for somewhere to go on the east side, try some of our favorites here:
- Holly Knoll in Los Feliz with a Michael Jackson theme party, disco lights in the streets and lots of family fun,
- Armstrong Ave in Silverlake has been our go to for years. Several blocks are cordoned off with most houses on the street participating (although it’s been fewer and fewer each year). It gets crazy busy as the evening wears on, but for younger kids starting right at 5ish will get you up and down the street and finished before the crowds and bigger kids appear.
- Boo-kley (Berkeley) Circle in Silverlake is a small cul-de-sac right in the heart of it all. This little circle closes itself off to vehicle traffic and throws a fun street party. There are not a ton of houses, which makes it great for your first or last stop of the evening. There is always amazing light shows and musical performances and a great community vibe.
- Atwater Village has a growing number of fun streets for the kids to cruise around trick or treating. Lots of walking, but the streets are flat with good sidewalks. It’s a great neighborhood to explore on Halloween.
- South Pasadena is the most like what I grew up with. Head to Monterey Road between Windsor Place & Diamond Avenue or Marengo Avenue & Fair Oaks for kids to get their fill of Halloween treats.
Other Events In October
There are so many other events happening in this massive city that I cannot list them all. However, there a few more events that we have on our potential to do list to check out this year but that have not made it to the “must do” list just yet!
Pumpkin Festival at Kidspace
Kidspace’s yearly Pumpkin Festival is a family-friendly event fun for all ages. The party is hosted in Brookside Park in front of Kidspace and is free for everyone. There are food booths, bouncy houses, a petting zoo and more. Even though admission is free, tickets must be purchased individually for each of these. This year’s event will be held on Oct 14-15th from 9:30-5. Go early to avoid the crowds and heat! We have attended a few times and always have a blast (and spend a ton!).
Monster Tour at Descanso Gardens
Looking for something not so scary and out in nature? Head to Descanso Garden for their Monster Tour series. The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater returns to Descanso with a family-friendly production of stories that are funny, surprising, and slightly spooky. Kids (and grown-ups) are encouraged to come in costume! Runs the 2 weekends prior to Halloween (11am on Saturday and Sunday, October 21 & 22 and 28 & 29).
Knott’s Spooky & Scary Farm
Another amusement park Halloween event we have on our yearly to do list is at Knott’s Berry Farm. The Knott’s Spooky Farm festivities include daytime, non-scary events such as shows, activities, and decorations aimed at kids ages 3-11. On select nights, the park turns super scary for Knott’s Scary Farm with more intense monsters, shows and scary mazes.
I know we have missed a ton of things, so please share with us your favorites! We are always looking for new things to add to our list, especially as our son gets older and is even more into the spooky side of Halloween!
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