The Valleys

Say Boo at the Zoo: 5 LA and OC Zoos with Cool Halloween Week 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 on Halloween Night with Los Angeles Kids

Trick or treat! Los Angeles consistently makes the top 5 cities on Zillow's Halloween list of the country's best spots for trick-or-treating. 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!

Handcrafted Marshmallows? This Burbank Sweet Shop Serves Ultimate Indulgence

Long before becoming Mommy and Daddy, my wife and I were determined to have a favorite indulgence we loved even more than cake at our wedding reception: s’mores. So when Plush Puffs Handcrafted Marshmallows opened in Burbank this fall, I jumped to take my daughter to enjoy one of my favorite, decadent treats. But take note: these are far from the average bag of mallows that are probably aging in the back of your cupboard.

Ultimate Halloween Event List: 34 Best Celebrations in LA for Free or Spooky 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), 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 events are the Halloween parties not to miss—the scream of the crop!

Best Home Haunts, Haunted Houses, Halloween Decorations, and Spooky Tours 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.

6 Restaurants Ideal for Throwing a Kids' Birthday Party in LA & OC

Planning a birthday party for your kid can be tough, no matter how easy-going your little one might be. Beyond balloons and party favors, there's the question of where to have the shindig (unless you have a large home you're willing to clean extensively before and after). The location has to be family-friendly, fun—and has to serve food your kids (and a lot of other kids) will eat. A restaurant is a good pick, but which one will let you bring in a horde of hungry, bouncy kids? We've found six that serve up lunch and a side order of playtime so you can relax (or, more likely take lots of photos) while the kids run off all that great food you didn't prepare.

Free in October: 25 Totally Free Things To Do with Kids in Los Angeles this Month

Boo! It's spooky season here in Los Angeles, which means you're probably already committed to spending on costumes and candy. If you don't have a lot of spare cash to spend beyond the trick-or-teating, no problem; there's still plenty of free fun to be had by the whole family. From Halloween happenings to sweater weather shenanigans, you can hit the town without breaking the bank. Here are just a few of the free events happening all month long.

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.

America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College: Up-Close Animal Encounters for LA Kids

This may come as a surprise, but LA has more than one zoo. You probably know the one in Griffith Park. And if you haven’t been to the one in San Diego, it's doubtless on your SoCal wish list. You may even have made the trip up to the see the one in Santa Barbara. All great zoos. But have you ever wondered where the people who work at these zoos learn their trade? And, if so, have you considered that the college offering a degree in zoo skills might be right in our backyard – with a teaching zoo open to the public and much cheaper admission than any other SoCal zoo?

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