The Valleys

Ultimate Halloween Guide: 24 Best Celebrations in LA for Spooky or Free Fun

If you've already spent on the Halloween costume (and perhaps a second one if you bought too early), and the pumpkin (and perhaps a second one if you bought too early), and the Halloween candy (and perhaps an extra aerobics class, if you bought too early), then you might have reached your limit with spending money on this mother-of-all kids' holidays. That's when it's time to start sniffing out which are the key Halloween activities, and which are the free ones, that keep the mood going at this haunting time of year. The following 24 events are the Halloween parties not to miss—the scream of the crop!

35 Fun Things To Do with Kids around Pasadena

If you're working your way down our bucket list of 100 things to do before your LA kids grow up, you might start to notice how many of those things are in Pasadena—and we're not just talking Rose Parade. The inland community rivals Santa Monica for family friendly, walkable streets and variety of arts and entertainment. It's also one of the oldest communities in the LA area, which gave it a head start on collecting cool stuff. Let the tourists spend their days in Hollywood; we know there's more going on most weekends in Pasadena, a city so bursting with kid and family-friendly activities that we couldn't stop at just 25. Read on for 35 things to do around Pasadena.

Say Boo at the Zoo: 5 LA and OC Zoos with Cool Halloween Events

Let the record show that there is more than one way to smash a pumpkin, and handing it to a hippo is definitely one of them. A gorilla does the job pretty well, too, as does a tiger, or—well, just about any other animal at the zoo. This discovery by our nation's zookeepers has led to a peculiar Halloween tradition—that we highly recommend!

Each year Southern California's zoos (and Griffith Park is only one of the options, as you'll see below) plan Halloween events, usually treating resident critters to their favorite delicacies stuffed inside pumpkins. For some, the delicacy may actually be the pumpkin itself (chomp chomp), while the more carnivorously inclined seem to view the pumpkins more as wrapping paper (smash smash). Either way, zoo animals smashing pumpkins ups the ante on traditional pumpkin patches. Check out all the beastly fun at Southland zoos this season.

Best Neighborhoods to Trick-or-Treat for Los Angeles Kids

Trick or treat! Los Angeles moved down to fifth place in Zillow's Halloween list of the country's 20 best cities for trick-or-treating—but that's not slowing down anyone around here. The real estate website bases its trick-or-treat ranking on criteria like home value and crime rates. That's good, but what about special effects and Halloween decorations? If one figures in the number of film industry creatives living in a given metropolitan area, LA wins first place by a country mile. Speaking of country miles, if you've walked the distance between houses in the most expensive LA neighborhoods, you know that higher home value does not always translate to better trick-or-treating. What does? Well, keep your Halloween hats on, because we've got a list of some of LA and Orange County's most legendary trick-or-treat neighborhoods. I defy anyone in Philadelphia to beat these!

Best Home Haunts, Haunted Houses, and Spooky Tours for Halloween in LA

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.

Farewell to Boney Island: A Favorite Halloween Attraction Gives up the Ghost

Some sad news came out of a much loved street corner in Sherman Oaks yesterday: Boney Island is no more.

We have been visiting—and raving about—Boney Island for years. It is, or was, a home haunt that could only happen in the Entertainment Capital, particularly since it took place on the lawn of the Emmy Award-winning animation producer of The Simpsons. No one does Halloween better than Hollywood on its day off, and this suburban lawn filled with skeletons performing everything from levitation to mind reading to phosphorescent water shows is a SoCal legend. Not satisfied with bringing my own kid every year, I've visited this wonderful example of Halloween creativity with just about every kid I know, and it has never failed to delight. Its closure is a sad day.

Halloween Ghost Trains and other 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. Well, 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 hay ride 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.

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

I have a mama friend who refers to this time of year 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.

October GoList: Best Things To Do with LA and OC Kids Halloween Month

Kids cannot live by Halloween alone—or can they? Just in case, we've included a couple of events on our October GoList that actually are not about Halloween. Just a couple. Of course, if Halloween festivals and pumpkin patches are what you're craving, they're with us all month long in abundance. Ghost trains and mega-haunts, too. But with all the activities October has to offer, a little curating is definitely in order. Read on for our top choices of things not to miss in LA, Ventura, and OC this month. We'll keep adding to our calendar daily and sending our weekly newsletters, too; with so much going on, we'll have to!

Corn Mazes and Haunted Mazes for LA and Orange County Kids

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 and broken cornstalks. And if you head into the maze at dusk, be sure to bring a flashlight!

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