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.
Years spent at Nickelodeon prepared Roberta to launch Mommy Poppins' Los Angeles branch. She served as LA Editor for GoCityKids, National Editor for ParentsConnect, and Editor for NickMom. After two years as Mommy Poppins' LA Editor, Roberta became Editor-in-Chief at Mommy Poppins - which works out well for her son, who enjoys his role as Chief Guinea Pig for all things fun in LA and beyond.
Latest posts by Roberta
We may have grown up cruising the streets unchaperoned eating loosely wrapped candy on Halloween night, but we’d no sooner let our own children do that than bounce around the back of a station wagon without a car seat. And while some of us are fortunate enough to have friendly, festive neighborhoods to walk our Avengers and Elsas through, many parents prefer the safety and self-contained nature of a mall, museum, or other organized trick-or-treat event.
Keep an eye on our events calendar and Halloween Fun Guide for complete listings; some venues hold their Halloween celebrations on the weekend, to maximize the holiday. October 31, of course, is the night for ringing doorbells, but for those who prefer to collect their candy in a confined space, we have more than 25 local options below.
If you want to get your Halloween on without being scared by those haunting Halloween theme park prices, there are lots of free Halloween yard haunts across Los Angeles. Our house loves Halloween so much it's super scary. We reconnect with neighbors hanging ghosts in trees, weaving skeletons into the jasmine, and smearing cobwebs in the shrubbery. Our normally zen rock garden becomes a graveyard, with last year's Halloween costumes for inhabitants. And we feed our macabre creativity by avidly checking out other Halloween addicts' handiwork; we love ghost trains, festivals, pumpkin patches, and 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 spectacles at the big theme parks. For real. We've collected the scream of the crop below.
Kids cannot live by Halloween alone—or can they? Just in case, we've included several events on our October GoList that are not about Halloween. Just to mix it up. Of course, if Halloween festivals, pumpkin patches, and corn mazes are what you're craving, they're with us all month long in abundance. Ghost trains, 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!
No parent likes to contemplate it, but the day will come for our kids when trick-or-treating is no more. If your family is as hooked on Halloween as ours is, you'll want to find a way to keep the magic going, even once your baby starts to look really big to other people (particularly people opening their doors at night). Filling this void is the main reason for the many seriously spooky big kid haunts around the Southland—haunts like Universal Horror Nights, Knott's Scary Farm, and Dark Harbor. But how to transition? You can't just hit the brakes on collecting candy with Elsa and suddenly start running from chainsaw wielding zombies.
The first time I visited this haunt, I had a theory that Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary might be the perfect tween transition to a different way of celebrating All Hallows' Eve, and I committed so fully to this theory that I booked our whole family (and some friends) for an overnight on the haunted, haunting ship. And guess what? It worked! Three tweens I know had the time of their lives screaming with the spooks all night at the Queen Mary. The evening was enormous fun, and I think a few things we did to prepare helped stack the deck in favor of success.
Kids eat free: three little words that make a restaurant dinner feel possible. Even if we suspect that a box of mac and cheese and a couple of chicken fingers have lured us into buying a $10 margarita, how can we regret that margarita if it comes with a free kids' meal?
We’ve put together a list of restaurants throughout the Los Angeles area that offer free meals for kids at least one night a week (and up to four!). The restaurants vary from local joints to national chains, from the Valleys to the beaches, from Italian to Hawaiian, and from seafood to steakhouses—enough to satisfy picky and non-picky eaters.
Also check out our lists of birthday freebies with more free meals for kids (and adults!), and, of course, some kid-friendly happy hours on the Westside, in Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and in Orange County.
Hauntingly close to Halloween, El Día de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead – is a magical holiday that's also a living history lesson, demonstrating the tendency of conquerors to absorb indigenous customs into their own. Christian Europeans arrived in Mexico already fans of All Hallows Eve (modern-day Halloween), only to stumble upon an ancient tradition celebrated by the Aztecs on November 2, with a spookily similar theme. Day of the Dead is a time when the door between worlds is meant to open so that celebrants can honor departed loved ones and hopefully lure them back for a visit.
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.