Our house loves Halloween—no, really loves Halloween. We reconnect with neighbors as we hang ghosts in trees, weave skeletons into the jasmine, drape pumpkin lights along the fence, and smear cobwebs all over the shrubbery. Our normally zen rock garden becomes a graveyard, and last year's Halloween costumes become its inhabitants.
One way we feed our macabre creativity is by avidly checking out other Halloween addicts' handiwork; we love the ghost trains, festivals, and pumpkin patches—we even love a good scream at the Queen Mary—but the real beauty of living in the film capital of the world is that private haunted houses frequently rival the spectacle of the big theme park spooks. Seriously. We've collected the scream of the crop below.
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The Rotten Apple 907
October 20-21 & 27-28 & 31, 2018
907 N. California Street
Burbank, CA 91505
The family who lives at #907 takes the holiday very seriously and has done for decades. Preparations for this private haunt begin months in advance, with a different theme every year to entertain their neighbors and lure other people's neighbors. Admission is free, but a box is put out to collect for Family Promise of East San Fernando Valley.
The Spooky Hollows Home Haunt
October 26-28 & 31, 2018
Fri-Sat, dusk to midnight and weekdays dusk to 10:00pm
16418 Gilmore Street
Van Nuys, CA 91406
This home haunt has a decorated yard and a walk-through maze with some impressively scary (and punny) scares (though this haunt is family-friendly). There's a clever pun based on the TV show The Walking Dead that's a warning about some not-so-dangerous walkers, and keep your eyes peeled for a snapping alligator. Bring a can of food, and it will be donated to a local charity.
The Backwoods Maze Yard Haunt
Fri-Sun, October 12-31, 2018
1912 North Pepper Street
Burbank, CA 91505
Creepier than your average backyard haunt, this one is set in post-apocalypticTexas and features every horror movie extra you can imagine. For sure this private spookfest is too intense for the average trick-or-treater, but older kids who are ready for something more wicked than that "smell my feet" rhyme won't be disappointed.
Photo courtesy of The Backwoods Maze
Beware the Dark Realm
October 13, 19, 20, 26, 27, 2018
Free (donations benefit the local nonprofit SCV Domestic Violence Center)
28621 Sugar Pine Way
Santa Clarita CA 91390
This haunt may require a little more of a drive, but this family has been producing yard haunts for decades and does it up in style. The Dark Realm is based on a medieval castle, with flickering torches, stone walls, a torture chamber, three-dimensional ghosts, live scare actors, and a fire-breathing creature. Please note that children under ten are not encouraged to attend.
October 28-31, 2018
13243 Mission Tierra Way
Granada Hills, CA 91344
These guys take their spooking and special effects seriously, making for a home haunt worth a drive from any neighborhood. Expect animatronics, top-notch design, and plenty of surprises.
Photo courtesy of Haunted Groundz
Haunts that charge admission
October 12, 13, & 19, 2018
Stough Canyon Park & Nature Center
1335 Lockheed View Dr.
Burbank, CA 91504
Stough Canyon Park and the Starlight Bowl host this haunted event each year, with food trucks and carnival games to round out the evening. The Haunted Adventure is a fifteen-minute walk among the ghouls, suitable for kids over the age of 6. Proceeds benefit the Burbank Park, Recreation & Community Services Department’s Nature Program.
Reign of Terror Haunted House
September 29 and October 5-6, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28, and 30-31, 2018
Kids' daytime tours October 20 & 27, 2018
Adult/Teen tour $15 & up; Kids Lights On tour $5 (parents free)
7pm-10pm; open until 11pm on Saturdays
197 N. Moorpark Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
A thoroughly terrifying treat for teens and adults by night, the Reign of Terror Haunted House offers two special Lights On Tours for spook-loving tykes on the afternoons of October 21 and 28. Parents are admitted free of charge for the afternoon version, which has no scary actors or dark corners.
Grier Musser Museum Haunted House Tour
October 28, 2018
Adults $12; Children $6
403 South Bonnie Brae Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057
This one isn't a private home, but it used to be. The Grier Musser gussies up for Halloween with pleasantly spooky tours of the Victorian mansion. This is high on Halloween spirit, low on creeps and gore. The tour isn't free, but refreshments and parking are.
Dearly Departed Haunts:
We keep these listed in case you're assuming that they will be around, as they were in the past. There's little worse than promising a kid a cool haunt and producing an empty lawn...
No longer a free home haunt, Boney Island moved to Griffith Park in 2018.
The skeletons have packed up and moved to Griffith Park, where animated (and bony) host Maestro Maxilla is set to amuse, amaze, but not scare (this is a family-friendly haunt) visitors. Water will dance and leap from cauldron to cauldron as music plays, grinning Jack-o-lanterns will perform, and surprises are likely in store, especially for those who never saw Boney Island's house haunt.
The Haunted Shack
Taking a break in 2018, with a promise to return in 2019
5112 Maricopa Street
Torrance, CA 90503
Doubtless the coolest spot in Torrance for trick-or-treating, the draw at this house is not the candy. The maze and special effects are planned for ages 5 and up—higher on the scare and surprise scale, lower on the gore scale. The haunt is free, but donations are taken for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The House at Haunted Hill
Has announced a year off in 2018, to return hopefully in 2019.
4400 Saltillo Street
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
The Valley classic, scaring the socks off the neighbors since 2000, is back after a year off. This private haunt models itself on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Follow the spooky tale of a Hollywood starlet who mysteriously disappears, amid a cast of scary characters, haunting music, and creepy special effects. The city obligingly shuts down the street to traffic on haunt nights.
The House of the Restless Spirits
1008 Euclid Street
Santa Monica. CA 90403
The private haunt was a legend in this Santa Monica neighborhood for decades, telling a spooky tale from days gone by. Alas, those days have now gone by. Thanks for the memories, restless spirits.
Venice Haunted House
414 Rosa Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
The Eternal Rest Cemetery, aka the Venice Haunted House, threatens to return each year; check the website to see how to help that happen.
Don't forget we have a whole separate page for theme park haunts and Halloween festivals!
Originally published September 20, 2011