Halloween is near! Add these 16 L.A. activities to your spooky season checklist

An illustration of two vampire teeth and map locator pins
(Illustration by Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

Masks? Check. Gallows humor? Check. Reminders of mortality? Check, check, check.

This year Halloween and Día de Los Muertos carry a different sort of resonance after 18 months of the pandemic, with Southern California full of holiday events, many of which were canceled or virtual last year.

Here’s a sampling of seasonal shows and displays as well as a roundup of activities at a trio of theme parks. (Note that L.A. County mandates masks — covering your nose and mouth — in indoor public settings for visitors 2 or older, and businesses may choose to require masks indoors as well.)

There are so many things to do right now in L.A. to keep gardeners and plant lovers happy, including hayrides, spooky outings, gardening classes and more.

Sept. 17, 2021


Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’ Oscar Frights! series presents Oscar-winning and -nominated horror films at the museum’s new sphere-shaped 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, now through Oct. 31. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. except as noted: “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Sixth Sense” (10 p.m.) on Oct. 30 and “Get Out” on Oct. 31. Tickets available online, $5 students, $7 seniors and $10 adults. 6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.

Beware the Dark Realm in Santa Clarita is a free “home haunt” designed to raise money for the nonprofit Family Promise of Santa Clarita. It runs 7 -10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 30. The Sivley family, which stages the all-ages event, calls it a “high intensity, walkthrough attraction filled with terrifying live monsters, amazing special effects and incredible sets.” (The monsters won’t touch you.) A $10 donation is recommended. 28621 Sugar Pine Way, Santa Clarita.

Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Fest: This tradition returns from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sundays and 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. This year’s pumpkin patch will feature 30,000 Cal Poly-grown pumpkins for $5 to $7 each, plus farm demonstrations, live entertainment, food and a variety of activities at Cal Poly Pomona’s AGRIscapes Center. Activities include hayrides, a corn maze, a sunflower patch, a petting farm (featuring Oreo, the celebrity lamb named last year in a popular contest), the new “Moo Moo Cow Train” pulled by an antique tractor, and a farmers market with campus-grown agricultural items, crafts and snacks. The Insect Fair will not be held this year, due to COVID restrictions. Admission is free on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but visitors must register online, and attractions are limited to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. On Fridays, admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors, children 3-12 and anyone with a Cal Poly Pomona ID. Weekend tickets are $8 and $6. Children under 3 get in for free with paid adult admission. Wristbands offering unlimited access to activities are $14 on weekends and $11 on Fridays. All tickets must be purchased in advance. Proceeds support the school’s Huntley College of Agriculture’s farm operations, student clubs and outreach activities. 4102 S. University Drive, Pomona.

The 21st Annual Dia de Los Muertos Family Festival, put on by Main Street Canoga Park, is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 7 on Sherman Way between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Canoga Avenue. The event will feature live music, classic cars, dancers, altars, food trucks and vendors.

Cemetery Lane at the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles promises “spooky but safe” trick-or-treating among the museum’s eight restored Victorian homes and several other stops. The attraction runs Oct. 27-31. Tickets are $25-$30. Organizers say that “while intended for all ages, the event is less scary during our daytime hours and gets spookier as the night goes on.” 3800 Homer St., Los Angeles.

An aerial view of large Victorian houses with people in front.
The Cemetery Lane attraction at Heritage Square.
(Brandon Scullion)

“Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse”: This interactive play happens in a 19th-century Pomona mansion. Shows are staged Thursdays-Sundays through Nov. 21. It’s typically a 90-minute experience, heavy on the occult overtones. Open to ages 12 and older. General admission from $89.99. 2640 Pomona Blvd., Pomona.

Descanso Gardens: In the evenings from Oct. 11-31, the gardens will offer “Carved,” which features hundreds of sculpted pumpkins as well as other items made of natural materials along a mile-long path through the Camellia Forest and Oak Grove. Other features include a house made of pumpkins and a hay maze. The event is 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly, with timed admission. General admission is $32-35 for non-members. 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge.


A woman stands by a colorful altar with photos of people
Consuelo G. Flores designed an altar called “The Roots Of All Resistance” for a 2020 Día De Los Muertos exhibition at Self Help Graphics & Art in Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Grand Park: This green space in downtown L.A. pays tribute to Día de los Muertos with a public art installation from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2. The display, presented in partnership with Self Help Graphics & Art, will include more than 20 altars created by local artists and organizations, including a community altar designed by the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2018 National Heritage Fellow Ofelia Esparza. From 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 23, the park will host a Noche de Ofrenda (Night of the Offerings) with dance performances and calavera (skull) art workshops led by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for all ages. 200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles.

Griffith Park: Haunted Hayride, a return attraction, is focused on an area transformed into the town square of Midnight Falls. For the hayride alone, admission begins at $29.99. For access to the hayride, trick or treat, Midnight Mortuary and Dead End Diner area, the cost is $39.99. (There are VIP and Platinum options, too, which promise shorter wait times.) Bear in mind, parents and vegetarians, that the Dead End Diner includes overtones of cannibalism, and organizers warn that the event “may be too intense for children 12 and under.” 4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles.

The Velaslavasay Panorama offers visitors a variety of strange, immersive experiences.

Oct. 4, 2021

Los Angeles Zoo: Boo at the L.A. Zoo is running every day in October, with photo opportunities, trick-or-treat candy stations, “spook-tacular” science demonstrations, an extinct-animal graveyard and weekend pumpkin feedings and other activities, mostly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. All activities are included in the zoo’s usual price of admission ($22 for adults and $17 for children ages 2-12). Trick-or-treating will happen Oct. 23, 24, 30 and 31. Costumes are allowed for children or adults on those day, so long as you avoid “full face masks, weapons, obscenity or anything that could cause disturbance to either patrons or animals.” And which animals will be eating pumpkins? A black bear, a tortoise, meerkats, otters, elephants, hogs, hippos, jaguars, cassowaries, snow leopards, flamingos, piranhas, peccaries and howler monkeys. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles.

A meerkat with a pumpkin.
A meerkat with a pumpkin at the L.A. Zoo, which is offering plenty of Halloween fun this year.
(Jamie Pham / Glaza)

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch in Culver City aims for a family audience. An Ultimate Kids Pass ($30) gives a child access to slides, a bounce house, straw maze, giant rocking horses and a petting zoo. Access to the pony rides, face-painting and pumpkin-decoration stations costs extra. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 7-31. 10100 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City.

Underwood Family Farms: This Moorpark farm, which leans toward pumpkins and away from horror, has filled its October with Fall Harvest on the Farm events, beginning with a big pumpkin patch. Among the weekend features: a tractor-drawn wagon ride, corn maze and labyrinth, pig races, live entertainment, access to pick-your-own field, hay pyramids, a chicken show and slides. General admission is $10 on weekdays, $16-$22 on weekends. Weekend themes include Antique Tractors (Oct. 16-17), the Wild West (Oct. 23-24) and all About Pumpkins (Oct. 30-31). 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark.

Being alone in the desert wasn’t the salve I thought it would be after our breakup.

Oct. 2, 2021

Witchy Architecture Tours: A team of architectural preservationists has come up with a free, family-friendly driving tour of L.A. “witches’ houses,” including castles, cottages and other structures fit for a fairytale or ghost story. The list will be posted as a free download Oct. 13 by Friends of Residential Treasures: LA (FORT: LA), and this year’s itinerary covers five structures chosen by actor Amber Benson (who co-starred in the series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) including buildings in Hollywood, Los Feliz and West Hollywood. The group has also recorded actors reading bits of “Grimms’ Fairy Tale” passages, so you can listen while you drive.

Houses with turrets and brick walkways
A look at Normandie Towers in West Hollywood. The apartments have been featured in the Witchy Architecture Tours.
(Michael Locke)

Among theme parks:

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park have a variety of seasonal offerings through Oct. 31, including costumed characters, elaborately hand-carved pumpkins, and an emphasis on Día de los Muertos in Disneyland’s Frontierland and California Adventure’s Paradise Gardens Park. One-day adult admission to one park costs $114-$154. 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim.

Knott’s Scary Farm is basically a seasonal transformation of Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. Since the 1970s, the park has been adding mazes, themed shows, evil clowns on the Boardwalk, “boo-fet” dinners and “more than 1,000 horrifying creatures lurking in the fog and hiding in every corner of the park.” The spectacle is not recommended for children under 13. Open selected nights (including Thursday-Sunday) from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. through Oct. 31, depending on the night. Tickets are $53 and up. Parking is $25. (Knott’s Spooky Farm, staged Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31, aims for ages 3-11. It’s part of the regular park admission price.) 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park.

Universal Studios Hollywood has brought back its Halloween Horror Nights, which lean toward spookiness and carry a general admission price tag of $69-$102. A Terror Tram is promised, along with scream-filled Scare Zones. Universal warns that the “intense” presentation “is not recommended for children under the age of 13. No costumes or costume masks allowed.” 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City.