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Visit these spooky California destinations this Halloween weekend

A man stares spookily while leaning on a box containing a mannequin wearing a scary mask
Icons of Darkness houses the collection of Rich Correll, a former child actor who went on to become a producer and director. It includes props and costumes from horror, science fiction and fantasy movies.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning, fellow Escapists. Halloweekend is upon us, and there is no shortage of adventures to be had, whether you’re seeking a scare or just some spooky-chic fun around L.A.

In this edition of Escapes, you’ll find L.A.’s new horror and science fiction museum as well as a driving tour of the city’s “witches’ houses.” Keep reading to find out details about an allegedly haunted hotel you can visit on your way to or from Yosemite National Park on your next trip north.

Where are you most excited to travel to this fall? Let me know. I’d love to feature your recommendation in a future edition of Escapes.

🧟‍♂️ Visit Hollywood’s new horror/sci-fi museum

Heads up, horror and science-fiction fans. There’s a new museum in town, and it has your name on it.

Icons of Darkness, the brainchild of former-child-actor-turned-producer-director Rich Correll, houses a $15-million collection of horror and science fiction props, costumes and other memorabilia, writes Times business reporter Roger Vincent.

The museum, in the Hollywood & Highland center, boasts iconic pieces such as the witch’s robes worn by Margaret Hamilton in “The Wizard of Oz” and Boris Karloff’s monster costume from “Frankenstein.” Brace yourself as you come face to face with the likes of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and other villains.

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Correll has big ambitions for the museum. “We’re planning to do everything that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame does, only on a more frequent basis,” Correll tells Vincent. The list includes induction ceremonies, celebrity appearances and other livestreamed events.

Only about half of the collection is currently on display. The rest of the Icons of Darkness/the Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Hall of Fame is set to open in late April.

Tickets cost $30 for adults and $15 for children.

Several images of characters on display including a dinosaur, a clown and C3PO.
Sights at Icons of Darkness in the Hollywood & Highland center.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

👻 Book a stay at a ‘haunted’ hotel

Since its start in 1848, the National Hotel and Restaurant has borne witness to the gold rush, two fires and several Prohibition raids. With its colorful history, it only makes sense that the hotel happened to pick up a ghost along the way.

According to legend, the Jamestown, Calif., hotel is home to a specter named Flo, who’s said to have died on the premises from a broken heart after her fiancé’s murder.

If you choose to stay at the historic spot, don’t prepare for too much of a scare. It turns out Flo is a friendly ghost. “As sad as those long-ago events were, tragedy does not seem to be part of Flo’s modern-day persona,” the hotel’s website explains. “However, she is a bit of a mischief-maker.”

Flo’s supposed antics? Just your usual phantom fare — flickering lights, slamming doors and the occasional cold spot.

If you’d like to hang with Flo for the weekend, room rates range from $140 to $200 per night. Plus, located less than two hours from Yosemite Valley, the National Hotel is a convenient stop on your way to or from the park.

An illustration of a cartoon ghost traveling with luggage and coffee.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

🧙‍♀️ Tour L.A.’s ‘witches’ houses’

L.A. is far from Bran Castle — called Dracula’s Castle by many — or Paris’ network of chilling catacombs, but it’s still full of fanciful destinations to visit over the course of Halloween weekend.

Friends of Residential Treasures: L.A., a.k.a. FORT: L.A., along with actor Amber Benson of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame, created a driving tour of five “witches’ houses” spanning Hollywood, Los Feliz and West Hollywood. Included on the drive are the Sherwood House, a Tudor Revival gem, and the whimsical Ivory Tower, once owned by Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.

One more thing: Don’t forget to queue up FORT: L.A.’s recordings of actors reading “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” passages to play while you drive.

Hat tip to Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds and Times features writer Jeanette Marantos, who included this tour in their roundup of 16 L.A. activities to add to your spooky season checklist.

The entrance to a small house with a steeply pitched roof and stone driveway.
The Village Court in Hollywood is part of FORT: L.A.'s tour of “witches’ houses.”
(Michael Locke)

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👩‍🌾 Tour an alpaca farm and sample local honey in Ventura County

If the spooky outing above piqued your interest in driving tours, mark your calendar for Ventura County Farm Day.

On Nov. 6, more than 20 farms, ranches and agricultural organizations in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo and other parts of the county will open their doors to visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The free, self-guided tour includes stops at an alpaca ranch, a honey farm and the Oxnard Historic Farm Park, where visitors can see antique tractors and vintage farm equipment.

To learn more about the county’s farming roots, visitors are also invited to stop by Santa Paula for a walking tour of its murals, which tell the story of the town’s agricultural significance.

Another outdoorsy event in Ventura County? This Saturday, the Ventura Land Trust is hosting a presentation about the Harmon Canyon Oak Woodlands, where visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the county’s wild lands. Find more information here.

Love plants? Don’t miss the other events Marantos included in her breakdown of Southern California plant events for fall.

A shade-covered bench under an oak tree at Harmon Canyon Preserve and alpacas.
Close out October by enjoying the oak trees at Harmon Canyon Preserve — or visit with alpacas on Ventura County Farm Day.
(Photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times; Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times; Getty Image)

📰 What I’m reading

  • Has anyone ever told you “You’re so L.A.”? Last week, I wrote a story exploring what lies behind tourists’ perception of Angelenos.
  • Good news, skiers and snowboarders: Mammoth Mountain will open two weeks early thanks to October snow, reports Times staff writer Lila Seidman.
  • Earlier this week, Disneyland ticket prices increased as much as 8%, with parking rising 20%. Times staff writer Hugo Martín has all the details.
  • After feeling unmoored for much of his life, Louis Chude-Sokei unexpectedly found a sense of home after stumbling upon the Notting Hill Carnival. He writes about his experience in Afar.
  • Speaking of the United Kingdom, the University of Sheffield has an extensive archive of “Ye Olde Haunted House” images. Care to take a peek at the old-school thrills? April White covers the collection in Atlas Obscura.
  • Hoping to avoid crowds in the outdoors this fall? Shawnté Salabert offers her recommendations for national and state parks in California in Condé Nast Traveler.
An illustration of sunglasses with phrase "You're so L.A."
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📸 Photo of the week

People on paddleboards hold oars.
Last year, more than 100 people took part in a Halloween float at Redondo Beach’s King Harbor, sparked by a Facebook group titled Witches SUPers of South Bay.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

🎸 Road song

Song: “Marigold” by Jelani Aryeh

Favorite lyric: “Blazing the space around you with love, light and marigold sounds”

Best place to listen: Waiting in line at the Julian Pie Company in Julian, Calif.

An illustration of stars on a green background.
Julian is about more than pie. It’s also about nighttime stars. Earlier this year, the International Dark-Sky Assn. named it a dark-sky community based on a years-long effort to limit light pollution.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)


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