Updated: Feb 28
Being born and raised in Upstate New York, I grew up in one of the most beautiful areas of the world for the Autumnal season. While my Los Angeles falls haven’t quite lived up to those of home, there are many places that help fill the void. And hey, we can still wear a sweater in seventy degree weather and drink pumpkin spice frappuccinos. Here are ten places to give you your fall fix or feed your spooky Halloween soul.
** Make sure to click the web links to find the hours and additional covid safety information for events. Let’s keep this spooky season safe for everyone **
The Cozy Family Feels
Brookshire Farms - San Luis Obispo, CA
Be on the move with peddle carts, hay rides, and grain-cart rides or stick to your own two feet by getting lost in either the corn or the hay maze. Get fresh produce from the farm stand, pick out the perfect pumpkin to carve, or participate in a number of fall games. On October 29th and 30th, you’ll have the opportunity to do my favorite autumnal activity - a night-time corn maze in the shape of a spider web! Heads up, the farm is closed on Mondays.
Underwood Family Farms - Moorpark, CA
This pumpkin farm has it all, with a corn maze, wagon ride, pumpkins a plenty, instagram worthy displays, farm animals, and even a wild west themed weekend all included in your ticket price, Underwood Family Farms has been where I have been looking forward to visiting most this October. While on weekdays you’ll avoid the heavier crowds and get in at the low price of $10, weekends provide live entertainment with music, animal shows, and demonstrations. Weekend tickets cost between $16.00 and $22.00 per ticket and by buying online you'll skip the line.
Harry Potter World - Universal City, CA
If you have yet to visit Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, this is the perfect time to do so. With the weather growing colder, you can indulge in a warm butterbeer while you walk the streets of Hogsmeade, buying sweets from Honeydukes and taking a ride on a Hippogriff. Whether you are the type who knows your personal patronus and house, or someone who just recalls seeing a movie or two, you will feel like you hopped on your broomstick in Los Angeles and landed in a magic world. Bonus, you’ll also get to see some of the set ups for Halloween Horror Nights, without the screams.
Los Rios Rancho - Oak Glen, CA
Located about 2 hours east of Los Angeles is the apple orchard filled neighborhood of Oak Glen, where you will find Los Rios Rancho. Not only do they have u-pick apples, u-press cider, a corn maze, petting zoo, horseback rides, and live music, they also have the farm fare of festivals I frequented back east, including tomahawk throwing and my personal favorite - candle dipping. Visit their website to get their free itinerary and have your day masterfully planned. The surrounding area of Oak Glen is filled with more autumn vibes and small businesses to feed your passion for fall.
Pumpkins in the Pines - Lake Arrowhead, CA
Who said Santa couldn’t get a little Spooky? When you think of SkyPark at Santa’s Village, you probably think of Christmas but they really start their holiday season with Halloween on weekends throughout October. Pumpkin patches and painting, a family-friendly “Fantom Forest,” cookie decorating, costume contests, and lively entertainment are only some of the reasons why this destination should be on your radar this fall. Make sure to check their website to find which dates your top attractions are open. Experience on Saturdays and Sundays from October 9th-31st, 10am-9pm.
Carved at Descanso Gardens - La Cañada, CA
While Descanso Gardens is beautiful any time of the year, Carved is an experience catered to those who love Halloween. While walking this mile long trail is enjoyable throughout the day with pumpkins visible in every direction, walking at night takes it to a new level. Pathways, trees, pumpkins, and displays are illuminated in various colors that impress on multiple levels. Bonus, there is spiked hot chocolate and cider available for purchase!
You can start this unique day with a train ride in decorated vintage rail cars through many of the most notable spots of the historic railway and the surrounding mountains. Then, you will be dropped off at the Railway Museum where each child will receive a pumpkin included in the price of their ticket. There will be opportunities to decorate the pumpkins, visit the outdoor pumpkin patch, view the Halloween scenes set up throughout, and experience a haunted train. Costumes are encouraged at this family friendly event. Tickets are available to purchase for Saturdays and Sundays throughout October.
The Haunted History
Santa Barbara Ghost Tours - Santa Barbara, CA
World class wine, ghost stories, a bag of treats, and a guided walk through the historic Presidio neighborhood: what more could you ask for in an evening?! Though it can’t be guaranteed you’ll see ghosts, you will learn about stories of the hauntings and histories of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara Ghost Tours offers wine-tasting ghost tours, haunted walking tours, and VIP tours, all ranging from midday to late evening and they can arrange private tours for special events.
Día De Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery - Hollywood, CA
Halloween won’t be the only holiday celebrated the last weekend of October. Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s Día De Los Muertos celebration, the largest in the United States and taking place on October 30th, is not to be missed! This year partnering with CIELO, an organization that brings resources and visibility to Indigenous migrant communities, and celebrating the return of Quetzalcoatl, a god to the Mayans and Aztecs, this event is filled with culture, food, live music, art, and more flare than you could ever imagine. Tickets are available to purchase for daytime or evening time slots, both with fantastic festivities. Filled with its own rich history, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the perfect setting for this authentic and traditional celebration, but if you are not able to make it to these fantastic festivities, visit the cemetery anyway to take in its beauty and celebrate the lives of those who are remembered there.
RMS Queen Mary - Long Beach, CA
While the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor event is cancelled for 2021 due to safety concerns, that doesn’t mean that we can’t view the exterior of the ship in all of her glory by eating at one of the ocean side restaurants with a view. While even being in the proximity of such an iconic paranormal hotspot is worth the trip, keep the ship on your radar and come back when it is open. Throughout the year, visit the restaurant or hotel on board, both of which are immaculate, or sign up for either the historic or haunted tours of the ship. At their annual dark harbor, hopefully returning in 2022, you get to experience a haunted house inside of an actual haunted location. They host monsters in mazes, provide provisions at secret bars, and the terrifying fun spills off the ship into a surrounding carnival.
Whaley House - Old Town San Diego, CA
Built on the land of many public executions and lived in by a family stuck with tragedy, the Whaley House is one of the most haunted places in the United States. Located in the beautiful and historic Old Town San Diego, you can make a whole day of exploring the area before taking a haunted evening tour. In this home, visitors have heard footsteps, smelled french perfume, seen a young woman believed to be Violet Whaley, and more. So check out any of the multitude of shows it has been featured on to get you in the mindset before visiting. If you are a fan of history and hauntings, I’m sure that this is already rightfully on your bucket list!
Alchemy - Sherman Oaks, CA
By far and away my personal favorite bar in the Los Angeles area, Alchemy, a speakeasy attached to Te’Kila, pulls out all the stops. Above their dark, alchemical themed lounge or their convenience to some of the tastiest Mexican cuisine in the neighborhood, you have to come here for the bartenders. Not only do they give you a real show, making delicious drinks that change color, light on fire, or burst with bubbles of smoke, they are the most genuine people I’ve met across all of Los Angeles nightlife.
Beetle House - Hollywood, CA
Beetle House is a bar and restaurant that keeps it spooky year round. They claim to take inspiration from Tim Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, Bram Stoker, Washington Irving, and Edgar Allen Poe amongst others, all of which is evident in the menu options. The ambiance here is everything, with actors dressed in character taunting guests, shows with all types of variety acts, and thrilling decor that sets you into another world.
Halloween Cocktail Soiree - Highland Park, CA
If you want a chance to score a ticket to this event, you’ll have to move fast as they have limited spots left. Brought to you by fever entertainment, this Rasputin and Romanov royal family themed immersive cocktail experience set in a Highland Park mansion promises an evening of both music and magic. A ticket will grant you four miniature themed cocktails, variety acts, a giant ouija board and a great reason to put on some vintage attire - though dressing in period clothing is not required.
Noble Experiment - San Diego
A speakeasy attached to the back of Neighborhood restaurant, Noble Experiment has to be added to any San Diego bucket list, particularly in October. The enchantingly dark space recreates the feel of the Paris catacombs with its wall of skulls, and sends you to a Paris museum if you look up at the portraits on the ceiling. Make sure to set your reservation on their website.
The Scream Inducing
Halloween Horror Nights - Universal City, CA
If you go to this event, be prepared to scream and for me to praise you for your bravery. Halloween Horror nights is a Los Angeles staple where Universal Studios is transformed into a scene from your worst nightmares. With mazes, live entertainment, and characters popping out every which way, Halloween Horror Nights doesn’t give you a single moment to breathe. Be prepared to be terrorized by characters from The Haunting of Hill House, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Purge, The Exorcist, The Walking Dead, The Bride of Frankenstein, and more.
Knott’s Scary Farm - Buena Park, CA
Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of being scared, but if I was, Knott’s Scary Farm would be at the absolute top of my list. They boast being the largest and most haunting event in Southern California for the Halloween season and I can see why. Mazes, fear zones, shows, thrill rides taking place in the dark, and sinister creatures lurking everywhere. Make sure whoever you go with can handle this event, because there is a lot to see and you won’t want to have to leave early because you brought a scaredy cat like me along.
Haunted Trail at Balboa Park - San Diego, CA
Rated by CNN as one of the ten best haunted house attractions in America, the Haunted Trail at Balboa Park offers two haunts for the price of one, transforming the beautiful and beloved park into a horror-ridden realm of evil. A 3,500 ft maze forces you to encounter the girl from Ring, Chucky, Freddy, Jason, and Micheal Myers just to name a few. Next, you will head into the forest and walk over a mile through bloody, psychological, and unique scenes that have you embrace fears you didn’t even know you had. Enjoy, but I’ll restrict my walks in the park to the daytime.
Truthfully, this list just skims the surface of what SoCal has to offer this October. If you attend these events or any of the hundreds of others, tag me on Instagram @annakathleen16 so I feed my spooky season cravings vicariously through your pictures!