photo: Beth Shea

Halloween is the ultimate night out for a kid. What could be better than bypassing bedtime to go door to door with the sole intent of collecting candy galore? We’ve found the best neighborhoods across the city to trick-or-treat with your little pumpkins. Read on for the scoop on where to scare up some serious fun and candy-laden loot on this kid-favorite holiday!

Bird Rock
This hidden, quaint section of La Jolla offers a warm community feel for families wanting a traditional trick-or-treating experience. Get your beachy Halloween on at the awesomely-decorated shops along La Jolla Blvd. Then, make your way into one of the nearby gated communities for easy back-to-back treats without a long walk. The community of Bird Rock asks residents to stop hand candy out between the hours of 5-8 p.m., so arrive early!

Mission Hills
This neighborhood goes all out with over-the-top decorations, ghoulish goblins and creepy crawlies around every turn. Residents often report upwards of 500 tricker-or-treaters at their door! Tiny tots might be scared by some of the more elaborate hauntings, but families with older kids will get a kick out of the spooky sights on Sunset Boulevard.

Little Italy
Get a jumpstart on the Halloween festivities (and have the next day off school to recouperate) at the 11th Annual Trick-or-Treat on India St. in Little Italy on Fri., Oct. 27th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Start off at Piazza Basilone where Little ghouls and goblins can go door to door to the businesses along India Street to collect candy and Halloween treats. Note: Maps of the participating businesses that are passing out Halloween treats for Trick-or-Treat on India Street will be available for families to pick-up at the Piazza.

In this quaint community, you’ll see every member of the family trick-or-treating. Even the doggies venture out in costumes (on leashes of course). These happy haunts make for a terrific candy gathering experience. Park near the Starbucks on Adams and Marlborough then follow little ghosts and goblins deeper into this howlin’ hood. Homes on Edgeware and Canterbury Dr. tend to get backed up with lines, so be prepared for the crowds.

Carmel Mountain Ranch 
The highly walkable and stroller-friendly cul-de-sac neighborhood streets of Carmel Mountain Ranch make for easy paths to fill up your goodie bags. Little ones who need to make an early bedtime or want to pre-party can head to Carmel Mountain Plaza’s free trick-or-treat festival from 3–5 p.m on Halloween. Participating stores hand out candy to kids age 12 and younger and you can enjoy balloon art and listen to live music from 80’z All-Stars.

photo: RebeccaVC1 via Flickr

Del Mar Heights
This suburban neighborhood (just east of Del Mar) has plenty of treats and strollable streets. But save time to attend the Del Mar Highlands Town Center Community Halloween event. From 4 – 6 p.m. on Halloween, ghouls and goblins can trick-or-treat at participating stores and enjoy live music by Wild Nights. Several restaurants will be offering dinner specials too, so stick around for eats that are more than candy.

Don’t miss the awesome Safe Trick-or-Treat event in downtown Encinitas on Halloween from 5-8 p.m. This event attracts thousands of costumed locals of all ages on the hunt for treats and to behold the spectacular pumpkins that are grown hillside above downtown and then carved and delivered by the monks from nearby Self Realization Fellowship. Stroll Encinitas Blvd. to K Street, to view the pumpkins at multiple locations while dozens of merchants will hand out goodies to the kiddos. Rounding out the fun are Halloween-themed activities and games in The Lumberyard Courtyard and dancing to the live music of Bucket Ruckus. Note: Self Realization Fellowship converts the parking lot next to their K Street store into the Queen’s Court, where little ones line up to share their wishes on stage with Her Royal Highness.

If you’re in the armed forces (or have friends who are), military housing complexes are some of the best spots to go trick-or-treating. A high density of families means tons of kids in costume and parents eager to share the experience.

Santa Fe Hills in San Marcos
Santa Fe Hills has previously been voted the #1 best neighborhood for trick-or-treating in San Diego––and for good reason! The houses in this community transform into festive and spooky abodes with carved pumpkins and decorations that wow––but beware––some of the decor and spectacles may be too scary for very young kids, so proceed with caution. If you do feel like braving this neighborhood, you’ll surely get an eyeful! While in San Marcos, kick off the evening with a fun Halloween celebration at nearby Jack’s Pond Nature Center.


Coronado’s “Downtown Goes Ghostly” celebration takes place on Halloween from 3:30-5 p.m. The merchants in the central downtown area will be ready and eager to welcome trick-or-treaters during that time. Make a day or weekend of it by checking out our insider’s guide to Coronado!

Where are you going trick-or-treating in San Diego this year? Tell us in the comments.

––Nikki Walsh & Beth Shea