Orange County

Halloween Festivals and Theme Park Haunts LA Kids Can't Do Without

I have a mama friend who refers to this time of year with all the Halloween Festivals and Theme Park Haunts as the High Holidays, and she ain't talking Yom Kippur. She's also not wrong; there really is no higher holiday on the kid calendar than Halloween. And Southland families can enjoy a long slow build to All Hallows' Eve with more spooky celebrations, haunted happenings, and evil events per capita than any other urban area. Little ghouls and goblins have their pick of pumpkin patches, haunted houses, corn mazes, and ghost trains—but wait; there's more! SoCal theme parks get all creepy at this time of year, too, and the annual festivals below scream Halloween like nobody's business.

Halloween's Best Ghost Trains and Spooky Rides for LA Kids

So you've already been to the pumpkin patches, and you're ready to take Halloween to the next level; you're ready, in fact, to put it in motion. We know several deadly ways to take this haunt on the road before it's time to trick-or-treat, with everything from an old-fashioned train ride through fields of pumpkins, to a spooky tour through the bowels of a haunted ship, or even a scream-filled hayride through fields of zombies. Whatever Halloween means to your family, you can make it a ride at one (or more) of these vehicular annual haunts. After all, the family that hunts down armies of zombies together stays together.

Best Pumpkin Patches for LA, Ventura, & Orange County Pumpkin Picking

Ready to talk pumpkin patch? Yes, the time has come to surrender to the Great Pumpkin—who is, frankly, spoiled for choice around the Southland in Halloween season. We would never presume to call one pumpkin patch more sincere than the others, but LA’s pumpkin patches (and pseudo pumpkin patches) run a satisfying gamut from small to large, folksy to commercial. Whether you're hoping for a hit-and-run Halloween photo or a day's outing in autumnal reverie, your pumpkin picking destination is below...

Corn Mazes and Haunted Mazes Closest to LA and Orange County

As kids are mostly settled into the new school year, and local orchards are open for apple picking, the next sign of autumn is the corn maze.

Corn mazes are created by a tractor in a growing field of corn—usually following a fairly intricate design. For large mazes, GPS is often used to create a picture that can be seen from the air. A mature corn maze is a true adventure, with walls of corn that are taller than most adults; children (and adults) can for sure lose their way! Most operators recommend kids be at least 5-8 years old before going in alone; use your judgment, of course. Closed-toe shoes are recommended for comfort (sneakers are best), as corn mazes involve walking on uneven ground amid broken cornstalks. And if you head into the maze at dusk, be sure to bring a flashlight!

September GoList: Best Things To Do with LA and OC Kids This Month

September is bitter-sweet. The relief of having back all those hours in the day is tinged with the loss of long, balmy summer evenings without homework or lunches to prepare. And who among us is ready to hear the word "Halloween"? No, better to look to the September weekends as an opportunity to pretend that summer is still with us. Luckily the weather and the SoCal fun generally cooperate! Read on for the best of September in LA, Ventura, and OC. We'll keep adding to our calendar daily and sending our weekly newsletter in time for each weekend, but here's your chance to plan ahead for these September favorites.

Best Festivals this Fall for Families in Los Angeles and Orange County

Other places have a season called fall; LA has something more like summer with school and a pumpkin aisle at Trader Joe's. Of course, the beauty of an endless summer that fades gently into Halloween or Thanksgiving—usually right up until that guy in the red suit arrives—is that summer festivals keep right on going, all the way through September and October. Check out some of our favorite annual faux fall festivals, from Labor Day through Day of the Dead.

10 Best Children's Museums near LA and Orange County

A museum in Los Angeles where kids are encouraged to touch all of the exhibits, climb on the furniture, and ask as many questions as they want (not in an inside voice either): Fellow parents, this is the beauty of a children's museum, and in the greater Los Angeles area, we are blessed with several of them. Now don't get me wrong—LA has plenty of local museums to excite and inspire visitors of all ages. But the 10 museums below are specifically designed to entertain and enrich the lucky kiddos of Southern California.

7 Best Zoos near Los Angeles: the LA Zoo Is Just the Beginning

Did someone say zoo? If your little ones have fallen for the non-stop furry cuteness of LA's petting zoos (and there are plenty in and around LA), there's a chance they're going to start thinking bigger. There are lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) to see at many zoos, and while petting is not recommended for most of the occupants (seriously, keep your kid out of the bear enclosure), young ones love seeing creatures live and in-person that they usually only read about in books. Here are some of the many zoos within easy driving distance. While the Los Angeles Zoo is naturally on the list, it's hardly the only game in town.

Orange County's Best Kept Secret Is a Water Park Right on the Beach

Apologies, but I am about to blow a well kept secret wide open: Newport Beach has a cove hidden in plain sight that may be the best family beach day in the Southland. Of course the definition of "best family beach day" may not be the same for everyone; only continue reading if your ideal beach day would include kayaks, SUP boards, paddle boats, and an inflatable water park in a warm surf-free lagoon surrounded by clean sand, fire rings for s'mores, easy parking, and clean bathrooms. Only head to Newport Dunes if you're prepared for that level of nirvana.

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