These are scary times, but that doesn’t mean your family can’t have some safe and spooky fun. Here are our picks for the best Halloween happenings in the Southland this year. All in-person events follow public health guidelines, requiring face masks and social distancing. Drive-through events require participants to remain in their vehicles.
Pick a pumpkin
Irvine Park Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch (www.irvineparkrailroad.com) boasts pumpkin picking and activities for all ages. It is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and until 6 p.m. weekends through Oct. 31. Free activities include a haunted house, hay maze, picture stands and a hay pyramid for kids to climb. Hayrides, train rides, a moon bounce, face painting, panning for gold, John Deere racers, a pumpkin ring toss, cookie decorating, carnival games and pumpkin decorating require tickets, which are $6 each or $75 for a book of 15. There is a $3 vehicle entry fee to Irvine Regional Park on weekdays, $5 weekends.
Mr. Jack O’Lanterns Pumpkin Patch (www.mrjackolanternspumpkins.com) in Hollywood will offer in-person shopping, online ordering, delivery and contactless curbside pick-up Oct. 3-31. Mr. Jack O’Lanterns’ Pumpkin Decorating Kit is $10 and comes with a softball-size pumpkin, washable paint, a paint brush, glitter, glue, Halloween-themed stickers, pompoms, rhinestones and googly eyes. The Premium Pumpkin Carving Kit is $22 and comes with a basketball-size pumpkin, carving tools and your choice of a flameless tea light candle or an actual tea light candle.
Tina’s Pumpkin Patch (www.tinaspumpkinpatch.com) has moved this year to the Westfield Sherman Oaks Fashion Square parking lot off Woodman Avenue. In addition to pumpkins of all sizes, there are opportunities for terrific seasonal photos and a free straw maze. Petting zoo admission and train rides are $3 each, pony rides are $6. The pumpkin patch is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Oct. 1-31.
Fall Harvest on the Farm comes to Underwood Family Farms (www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com) in Moorpark Oct. 1-31, offering more than 40 acres of pumpkin patch and pick-your-own harvest. Meet the animals and enjoy roaming entertainment (at a distance). Included with admission are visits to the Giant Spiders, Pumpkin House, Harvest Basket and Giant Tractor, Misting Tunnel and Hay Pyramid. Weekday admission is $8 and sold at the gate only. Weekend tickets, available online and at the gate, are $15.
Peek at a performance
“HaLLoWe’eN SpoOkTaCuLaR,” a seasonal tradition from The Bob Baker Marionette Theater (www.bobbakermarionettetheater.com), comes to Zoom this year with a 10:30 a.m. show on Halloween morning. You’ll be digitally delighted by this showcase of sweet spooks, including the Purple People Eater, Dracula and the Invisible Man. Tickets are $10. You can also tune in to “The Witching Hour” on Instagram Live at 4 p.m. Sundays for spells and impromptu dance parties with the Green Witch.
‘Absolutely Halloween’ Online from Santa Monica Playhouse (www.santamonicaplayhouse.com) brings this sweet tradition right to you. Enjoy the musical story of Candy, who learns surprising lessons about life, love, laughter and sugar from a delightful array of characters who take her on an All Hallows’ Eve adventure. Can she save Halloween for one more year? Performances are at 11 a.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 3-31. Tickets are $19 per household, $15 with the discount code LAPARENT.
Happy Halloween, a Family Drive-Thru Experience (www.happyhalloweenla.com), comes to Pico Rivera Bicentennial Park from 5-10 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. Oct. 15-31. This fun family experience includes a monster ally, a Jurassic adventure with life-size dinosaurs, strolling magicians and illusionists, a Dia de los Muertos zone, drive-through photo opp and candy for the kids. Tickets are $60 per car for up to four passengers, $10 per additional passenger.
Nights of the Jack (www.nightsofthejack.com) returns to King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas Oct. 1-Nov. 1, reimagined this year as a contactless drive-through adventure filled with thousands of illuminated hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns. Families can hit the trail from 7-11 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. Oct. 1-25, and 6:30-11 p.m. Mon.-Sun. Oct. 26-Nov. 1. Tickets are $69 per vehicle and grant access on a specific day and time.
Hauntoween LA (www.hauntoweenla.com) is a drive-through experience happening from 3-9 p.m. daily Oct. 9-31 outside the former Promenade at 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. The kid-friendly adventure from award-winning Hollywood experience providers Experiential Supply is full of social-shareable environments, vehicle video ops and interactivity – plus lots of candy and a pumpkin to take home. The event will include “door-to-door” trick or treating. Vehicles will pass down two streets, and costumed and safely masked actors will come out of their “homes” with poles and buckets filled with candy. There is also a jack-o’-lantern tunnel boasting more than 1,000 pumpkins. Tickets are $70 per vehicle and reservations are recommended.
Urban Legends of Southern California (www.urbanlegendshaunt.com) is a scary experience at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa that is best for ages 12 and up. However, a Little Legends Night for ages 12 and younger is planned for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 31. Come dressed up and deck out your vehicle for a spooktacular parade! There will be COVID-safe goody bags of packaged candy. The big-kids event, 7-11 p.m. Wed.-Sun Oct. 1-Nov. 1, uses immersive scenes, coordinated lighting and sound effects, live performances and special effects to create a terrifyingly fun Halloween experience. Tickets for both versions of the experience start at $49.99 per vehicle (no more than five people).
Go and do
Halloween at Descanso brings seasonal surprises to Descanso Gardens (www.descansogardens.org) in La Cañada Flintridge from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Oct. 1-31. Families will find socially distanced, pumpkin-filled spooky (but not scary) displays in the forest, and great fall photo ops. Explore a twisting hay maze and the Gardens’ signature Pumpkin House, made entirely of real pumpkins. Everyone age 14 and younger is free to wear a costume – and mask. From Oct. 17-30, hours will be extended until 8 p.m. and small treat bags will be given out to the kids. Tickets, $4-$15, must be purchased in advance.
Haunted Little Tokyo (www.hauntedlittletokyo.com) will again haunt L.A.’s historic Little Tokyo neighborhood, this year from noon-8 p.m. Oct. 31. Centered around the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple on East 1st Street, the community-driven celebration promises socially distant trick-or-treating fun. Advance registration is required.
The Spider Pavilion returns to theNatural History Museum (www.nhm.org) Oct. 25-Nov. 29. Walk through the open-air pavilion and marvel at these shy and fragile creatures. You’ll see a variety of spectacular webs – including those of the garden spider, which can reach up to three meters in diameter. Talk to educators about the natural pest control that spiders provide and peer into enclosed habitats that are home to tarantulas, wolf spiders and jumping spiders. Pavilion hours are 11:20 a.m.-5 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. $6 per car for parking, $6 admission.
Eat sweet treats
Free Sweets from Randy’s Donuts (www.randysdonuts.com) will be given out on Halloween. The chain, with take-out and drive-through service in Inglewood, Century City, El Segundo and Downey, is offering free candy topped Randy’s Rounds to everyone ages 15 and under – costume or no costume – while supplies last.
Marina Halloweek, Oct.25-31 in Marina del Rey (www.visitmarinadelrey.com’), hopes to lure families to Marina restaurants, which will be decked out in Halloween decor and serve up fall-flavored menus and spooky treats. Put on your best costume and upload a social media photo with the hashtag #mdhalloweekfor a chance to win fun prizes including restaurant gift cards, water recreation rentals and a weekend stay for your future travel plans.
Knott’s Taste of Fall-o-Ween (www.knotts.com) comes to the Buena Park theme park’s California Marketplace beginning Sept. 25. Guests of all ages can dress in costume – with protective face coverings – to experience themed food and treats and an all-new “Into the Fog” art show. The celebration takes place from noon-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., noon-8 p.m. Sun., through Nov. 1. Regular tasting cards for ages 12 and up cost $35 and include five food tastings. Junior tasting cards for ages 3-11 cost $20 and include three tastings plus a trip through the Camp Snoopy Trick-or-Treat Trail.
Christina Elston is Editor of L.A. Parent.