Trains in Los Angeles are more or less novelties all year round, which means they hold onto that wonderful Thomas-the-Tank-Engine, Polar-Express mystique far longer for LA kids than for urban kids who take the A train regularly. And for anyone who loves trains, Christmas trains offer the ultimate "old world charm" rail experience. Add an appearance by Santa Claus and a few Christmas trees, and you have a recipe for a memorable holiday experience. Some of the dates are limited, though, so booking ahead when possible is the best way to make sure this train doesn't pass you by. All aboard the Santa Express!
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
When Halloween is over, that can only mean one thing: time for Santa. You get a couple of days to donate or cash in all of that Halloween candy before the advent calendars, candy canes, and Hanukkah gelt start arriving. Rip down the Halloween decorations, quick, because some of your neighbors are already prepping their amazing holiday light displays. Yes, November is the sandwich month, and we're not just talking turkey. Read on for our top November things to do in LA, Ventura, and OC. We'll keep adding to our calendar daily and sending our weekly newsletter in time for each weekend, too; with so much going on, we'll have to!
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.
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 Moanas 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.
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.
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!
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.
If, like many Angelenos, you were once a resident of another state—or even if you can remember to way back before 2009—you may be experiencing your annual attack of Columbus Day confusion. Is there school on Monday? Is it a holiday? Should you be picking something to do from the Mommy Poppins events calendar? And what about Indigenous Peoples Day—is that a thing? Go ahead and check your school district’s calendar if it makes you feel better, but we can end the mystery for you right here: yes, your public school kids have school on Monday.