Halloween in LA comes alive with wonderfully over-the-top special effects and decorations in some amazing trick-or-treating neighborhoods. So if your street doesn’t celebrate spectacularly, put those costumed kiddos in the car and visit one that goes all out. From a pirate cul de sac in Valencia to car-free twinkling waterways in Venice, we’ve rounded up the very best family-friendly spots for spooktacular candy gathering.

trick or treatphoto: eyeliam via flickr

Toluca Lake (Cross Streets: Toluca Estates Drive and Valley Spring Lane)
We have to start with Toluca Lake, because it’s legendary for trick or treating. Literally. Though we’ve never confirmed it with anyone who actually experienced it, the urban legand held that Bob Hope used to personally give out full sized bars at his home here. Whatever the truth was, Toluca Lake has seized on the idea that they do Halloween best, and the hood is closed to traffic and filled with decked out lawns and homes. And yes, there’s plenty of candy!

Mid-City Los Angeles (Cross Streets: Sweetzer Avenue and Drexel Avenue)
Head south of Third Street and west of Fairfax to this sidewalk-friendly neighborhood where plenty of doorbell ringing and candy-giving will be in full swing. Families usually gather for a house party and then head out in big groups to gather loot. Houses are brimming with pumpkins, ghosts, spiders, witches, and more.

Spadena-Beverly-Hills-Witch-House-Halloweenphoto: Tiffany L. via yelp

Beverly Hills (Walden Drive)
One look at the famous Spadena House, a.k.a. the “Beverly Hills Witch House” at 516 Walden Dr., and you’ll know you’re in the right place for Halloween. Get there at 5-5:30 p.m. to beat the crowds.

Pacific Palisades (Huntington Palisades, West of Sunset)
In the Huntington Palisades neighborhood is flooded (in a good way!) with parents, kids, and beautifully decorated Halloween houses. Some residents get really into the “spirit” and give out wine and hot toddies. Yep, we’re looking out for you, as well as your kids. The narrow Alphabet Streets north of Sunset (also known as North Village) are some of the best, most trick-or-treater friendly streets, with names that go in alphabetical order – good for remembering where you started and how to get back!

Studio City (Cross Streets: Laurel Terrace and Mound View)
This modest neighborhood just west of Laurel Canyon is the go-to spot for families living in the surrounding hills. It’s like one big block party with homes decorated to the hilt with pumpkins galore, haunted scenes and witches brews. Residents say that more than 700 little candy gobbling goblins routinely make there way down these streets, so it’s a lively and fun atmosphere. Begin your pilgrimage on Mound View and fan out to the surrounding streets. While you’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for the likes of Will Ferrell, who has been spotted in previous years ringing doorbells with his kids.

Pirate-Ship-Valencia-Halloweenphoto: Shannon Guyton

Valencia/Santa Clarita (Alta Drive)
The hottest place to take your candy-fixated, costumed tots in the Santa Clarita valley is hands-down the Alta Drive “Pirate Cul-de-sac”. A giant pirate ship (see above), built just for Halloween, juts out of a house, and an elaborate Pirates of the Caribbean-esque setting on the lawn along with all of the in-character pirate residents to interact with will keep you entertained for hours. There are plenty of houses in this area showing off intricate and realistic Halloween productions, from magicians to haunted houses to space age adventures. Heads up, the house with the very still scarecrow on the porch is a real person. Boo! (Gets us every year). Parents get just as into character as kids and saunter the cul-de-sacs in crazy get-ups.

Silver Lake (Armstrong Avenue)
This is one of the biggest and most well-known block parties in the whole city. Homeowners go through more than 2400 pieces of candy and often run out—so come early if you are coming for candy as much as atmosphere. The street is blocked to traffic so families take to the streets and enjoy the festivities and ghostly scenery, and think big because every single house is done up with intricate settings ranging from haunted houses to creepy crime scenes. There are even stage shows most years, so if you see a crown in front of a house, wriggle your way forward to catch the act.

Santa Monica (Gillette’s Regents Square)
Our favorite spot for little ones who tire quickly is in Santa Monica at Gillette’s Regents Square where you will save those little feet a lot of walking around and still get plenty of candy (and plenty of chances to show off that super costume).

Another great spot (and another celeb haunted locale) in Santa Monica: 16th Street north of Montana between Alta on Georgina, but this spot can be a little spooky for little ones.

Spiderman-Toddler-Trick-or-Treat-Halloweenphoto: Eric Peacock via flickr

Venice Canals (Cross Street: Dell and South Venice Boulevard)
This traffic-free destination is perfect for trick or treating. The four block area is magically spooky with pumpkins and twinkle lights strung along the canals, fantastic decorations, and plenty of the requisite sugar treats. Homeowners are dressed up to dole out candy and even some of the boats are sporting ghoulish displays. Remember that the narrow walkways get crowded with little ones on a mission, so get there early—parking gets difficult as well.

Hancock Park (North of Wilshire Boulevard)
This neighborhood is notorious for hundreds of trick or treaters who roll through every Halloween night by the bus load (literally). With over-the-top decorations and fabulous mansions, the most popular streets like Arden, Rossmore or around the Larchmont shopping area can see several hundred kids in a night. However, this neighborhood is best for early trick or treating, as it can get very crowded as the night goes on and might be overwhelming for the littler set. Trick or treat tip: stay north of 3rd Street if you’ve got little ones, as the houses to the south can be so tricked out they scare tiny tots.

Burbank (Cross Streets: Mariposa and Valleyheart)
Hooray for Hollywood: this quiet neighborhood is home to some Disney folks who take Halloween seriously. Some of the homes go all out with costumes and decorations worthy of a movie set, and a few even set up haunted houses and shows on their lawns. Best of all, it’s safe and fun.

Ladybug-Toddler-Trick-or-Treat-Halloweenphoto: Jonas Seaman via flickr

Sierra Madre (Cross Streets: Baldwin and Alegria)
We love this spot for the small town, hometown vibe, where houses are tricked out, but it’s not all about the treats. Bonus: being in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains means that there are trees around, and kids actually may get to scuffle through leaves as they make their way down the streets, giving a dose of nostalgia to East Coast and Mid-West parents. But the gorgeously decorated craftsmen keep you firmly rooted in California.

Atwater Village (Glendale Blvd.)
Glendale Blvd. in Atwater Village turns into “Boo Boulevard” on Halloween. Parents of toddlers who turn into pumpkins by 8 p.m. will appreciate the early start time of 4:30 p.m. It’s easily walkable, has a neighborly feel, and all the shops give to all the adorable trick or treaters.

Pasadena (Cross Streets: Monterey Road between Windsor Place & Diamond Avenue or Marengo Avenue & Fair Oaks)
While the happenings in Old Pasadena can’t be beat with all the shops handing out candy, costume contests and more, for good old-fashioned trick or treating head to either of these two neighborhoods. Families are out in full force pulling little ones in wagons while older tykes charge safely from house to house filling their bags.

Brentwood Glen (The ‘Alphabet’ Streets between Church and Beloit)
This pocket neighborhood just West of the 405 freeway is ideal for toddlers enjoying their first trick-or-treat experience. The neighborhood is filled with family homes located very close to one another, most of which have great decorations. There are several kid-friendly ‘haunted’ houses and very few cars.

—Shannon Guyton

Did we miss your favorite neighborhood for trick or treating? Let us know in the comments below!

main photo of trick or treat girl by Emily Sullivan via flickr