It seems like all of October is one big Halloween party. Throughout the month, there will be a wide range of events across Southern California where you can get into the Halloween spirit. These are some of our favorites (and you can find more in our Calendar in print and online).
If your kids look great in a lab coat, head over to Discovery Cube Los Angeles (la.discoverycube.org) near the Hansen Dam Recreation Center for Spooky Science every weekend in October. New additions this year include the Monster Academy, which boasts a mad scientist lab, slime-making workshops and talent show. There will even be a “day-scare” learning center designed for junior monsters. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and admission is $17.95 adults, $12.95 ages 3-14 and free for ages 2 and younger.
There’s more slime to go around at Kidspace Children’s Museum (www.kidspacemuseum.org) in Pasadena. The Halloween Hunt Oct. 29 features trick-or-treating, a costume parade and a kooky animal scavenger hunt from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $4 in advance or $5 the day of the event.
Kids can don their costumes and do more strange science projects, hear Halloween stories and create fall crafts during Spooky Creatures in the Garden at the L.A. County Arboretum (www.arboretum.org/events/Halloween) in Arcadia from 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 28. There is a $5 fee per child for the activities, in addition to Arboretum admission of $9 adults, $4 ages 5-12 and free for children under 5.
From Oct. 7 until Halloween, Boo At The Zoo! gets all the creatures at the L.A. Zoo (www.lazoo.org) into the act. On weekends, visitors can encounter some of the zoo’s little inhabitants and watch animals get their Halloween treats, see a puppet show and carve pumpkins. The Halloween Maze will be open every day to challenge your sense of direction. The zoo is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and admission is $21 adults, $16 ages 2-12 and free for children under 2.
“Crawlies, Crows and Scarecrows” is the name of the free Kids Club at South Coast Botanic Garden (www.southcoastbotanicgarden.org) in Palos Verdes Peninsula from 1-4 p.m. Oct. 29. Kids who come can learn about the crows and ravens that live in the garden, make a scarecrow, be part of a costume parade and slither through a spider web obstacle course.
Speaking of spiders, the Natural History Museum (www.nhm.org) is hosting its annual Spider Pavilion through Nov. 5. This immersive experience offers an awesome opportunity to observe a wide array of arachnids. Be sure to visit the Spider Den, where you can see the spiders in an enclosed habitat. Just watch out for the webs! Admission to the museum and pavilion, open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, is $17 adults, $14 students, $10 ages 3-12 and free for ages 2 and younger.
Menacing Marine Life
If spiders don’t scare you, consider what lurks in the dark depths of the oceans. At the Sea Scare at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org) in San Pedro, guests are invited to spend the evening of Oct. 28 (from 7-10 p.m.) viewing ghoulish demonstrations, dancing in the Zombie Party Zone and trick-or-treating at the lucky 13 treat stations. This popular event typically sells out, so advance reservations – $7 adults, $3 children – are recommended.
The Marina Spooktacular in Marina del Rey’s oceanfront Chace Park (www.visitmarinadelrey.com) offers free spooky fun during the day and spookier fun at night. Besides a variety of games, crafts and bounce houses, the Oct. 28 Halloween carnival has a non-scary hay maze for tots and pirate ship tours before sunset. There will also be a taller and scarier hay maze for bigger kids, and haunted pirate ship tours during the evening.
On the weekend of Oct. 28-29, you can catch Fishy Fest at Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium (www.healthebay.org) from 12:30-5 p.m. each day. The celebration honors Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos with a lively lineup of themed activities, including crazy-scientist lab experiments, ocean creature meet-and-greets, a spookacular Saturday storytime and a Sunday costume giveaway and parade. Admission is just $5, and free for ages 12 and younger with a paying adult.
Viva Dia de los Muertos
More Dia de los Muertos celebrations can be found in downtown L.A. In Grand Park (www.grandparkla.org), a Noche de Ofrenda ceremony will take place from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 28. This free event, which honors the dead, includes live music and dance performances, poetry readings and a prayer led by the local indigenous community. It will also mark the official unveiling of the park’s Día de los Muertos altars and art installations, which will remain up through Nov. 2.
Community altars will also be displayed at Day of the Dead festivities on Olvera Street (www.olveraevents.com) Oct. 25-Nov. 2. The Novenario Procession, a colorful parade of “Living Muertos,” takes place at 7 p.m. nightly during this nine-day period. On Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 1-2, Olvera Street also hosts an all-day festival with live entertainment, food and activities especially for children.
The nearby LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum (www.facebook.com/LAPlazaLA) presents a free Dia de los Muertos-themed Family Day Oct. 29. Families can enjoy music and dance performances, make Day of the Dead shrines, create calavera masks and decorate Pan de Muerto bread.
Ghosts of Halloween Past
Seek out other spirits of long ago at historical spots around town. Learn about Halloween during the Victorian Era at the Halloween Haunted House Tour at Grier Musser Museum (www.griermussermuseum.org). Happening 1-4 p.m. Oct. 29, the tour showcases the museum’s collection of Halloween antiquities and its “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia. Call ahead to make your tour reservations for a 1 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. tour ($6 children, $12 adults), as the ghosts hate overcrowding.
The Heritage Square Museum (www.heritagesquare.org) explores death and mourning etiquette in the Victorian age at its Halloween & Mourning Tours noon-4 p.m. Oct. 28-29. Families with younger children should plan to attend Sunday’s program, which includes activities and attractions especially for kids. $20 adults, $8 ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and younger.
Life during the Civil War is the focus, not surprisingly, of the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum (www.drumbarracks.org). Kids can come in costume and trick-or-treat for candy at a free event from 7-9 p.m. on Halloween.
If your kids would rather hear spooky tales than visit spooky spots, check out Theatricum Botanicum (www.theatricum.com). On Oct. 28, Theatricum visitors can enjoy Boo-tanicum, an annual outdoor event from 4-10 p.m. that features storytelling, stage performances and games for an admission fee of $15 for ages 6 and up.
For people who prefer poetry, Children’s Book World (www.childrensbookworld.com) will host its free Poetry Slam 3: Pumpkin Poems and Rotten Rhymes at 2 p.m. Oct. 28. Hear writers ages 7-14 read their original Halloween-related works that have been selected for this judged reading. Writers of the winning pieces will be rewarded with store gift certificates.
Spooky Shows And Cinema
Spooks take to the stage at Descanso Gardens (www.descansogardens.org) at 11 a.m. Oct. 27-28 when The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater stops by on its Monster Tour. The troupe invites kids and parents to wear their Halloween finery and enjoy its family-friendly, monster-filled performance for $9 adults, $6 students and $4 ages 5-12.
The Santa Monica Playhouse (www.santamonicaplayhouse.com) revives its original production “Absolutely Halloween,” an interactive musical where the audience can help save Halloween, at 2 p.m. Saturdays and noon Sundays Oct. 1-29. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12.50 for children.
On Oct. 26, the Alex Film Society (www.alextheatre.org) holds its annual “Hollywood Scares!” event. This year’s cinematic selection is the classic 1960 Hammer Films’ horror movie, “Brides of Dracula,” which screens at 7:30 p.m. Buy your tickets ($16 adults, $12 ages 3-12) well in advance for this popular evening, which also includes a horror movie trivia contest and an animated short.
Get started planning your spooky fun now, and you’ll find more than enough treats – and tricks – to fill your family’s calendar.
Michael Berick is Calendar Editor of L.A. Parent.