What delights them at four causes nightmares for the two year old, and many of the things a toddler enjoys best bore your 8 year old to tears. We’ve sorted the best of the best activities to determine what you can’t miss for each age and stage, so everyone had a spooky-but-not-scary, memorable, monstrous and Happy Halloween!
photo: Michel Bernier via flickr
Best for Baby
While baby isn’t all that aware of the Halloween hullabaloo, they sure enjoy animals, colors and cute costumes. And you can’t resist the baby album snaps that commemorate your wee ones first Halloween.
Boo! at the Zoo
Babies love looking at the animals, and bringing your adorable costumed little monkey for a photo op with the real monkeys is a memory you’ll treasure always. There are activities for kids of all ages, and you can always just watch animals munching on their Halloween treats. Daily through Oct. 31. Griffith Park. $15-$20. All ages. Event details.
It’s not like your 3 month old is into the Disney craze. So why bring baby? Because they’re free! Kids under 3 don’t require a ticket, and Mickey’s Halloween Party is less expensive for adults, so you all get to dress up, have a blast and save some cash. Then when they’re older and beg to go, you can show them pictures and prove they’ve already been. Select dates in October. Anaheim. $69-84; kids under 3 are free. All ages. Event details.
Descanso Autumn Festival
Escape the hullabaloo of Halloween at a quiet nature filled Autumn festival with your wee one; there’s a costume parade, pumpkin carving demonstration, great fall treats from Patina and picture-perfect autumnal scenery to serve as backdrops to Halloween portraits. Plus, kids under 5 are free. Oct. 17 & 18 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. La Cañada. Free-$9. All ages. Event details.
Riley’s Apple Farm
Nope, they can’t pick apples or eat ‘em either, but we recommend starting off baby’s first fall with a trip to Oak Glen to go apple picking because it’s a wonderful family tradition to put in place. Plus, Riley’s Farm is a spectacular setting for (you guessed it) pictures! Open Monday-Saturday all fall. Oak Glen. $1 to enter the orchard, then pay for what you pick. All ages. Event details.
Montana Halloween Hop
Montana Avenue in Santa Monica hosts a Halloween Trick-or-Treat in the trendy stores (including Giggle, for all your baby needs). It’s an easy, safe, early and non-scary first Trick-or-Treat experience for babies. And after popping into Giggle, you can grab a relaxing dinner along the street as your baby naps. Oct. 31 from 3 -6 p.m. Santa Monica. Free. All ages. Event details.
photo: A Faery Hunt
Tops for Toddlers
Your toddling tot loves hands-on outings, and these interactive scare-free adventures are just right.
Pumpkin Races at Manhattan Beach Pier
Your little one loves things that go, and pumpkins on wheels are a spectacular sight. Cheer on the kookiest pumpkin! Oct. 25 from noon-5 p.m. Manhattan Beach. Free. All ages. Event details.
Underwood Farms Pumpkin Festival
While practically every preschool makes the pilgrimage to Underwood’s pumpkin patch, it’s fun for you to be the one to introduce your pre-preschooler to the madness that is the Underwood Farm yearly October festival. With animals, pumpkins and loads of entertainment (not to mention plenty of photo ops on the hay pyramid or on the tractors), this is a can’t miss for the youngest celebrants. Saturdays & Sundays in October (weekdays too, but the entertainment is on the weekends) from 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Moorpark. $15. All ages. Event details.
Malibu Bluffs Halloween Party
With carnival games, bounce houses, a costume parade, prizes and a safe and gorgeous Trick-or-Treat Trail that wanders the bluffs above the ocean, this Halloween party is our favorite spot for youngsters. And if you need more, there’s the Pudding Truck, a garbage truck and playgrounds for those that need a break from festivities. Oct. 30 from 3 -5:30 p.m. Malibu. Free admission. Ages 1-10. Event details.
Halloween Faery Party
Following the morning performance of the beloved Faery Hunt show is the Faery Halloween party with a magician, storytelling, dancing, games, fairy unicorn readings, fairy face painting, one-on-one time with the fairies, food and fun. It’s a great party for little fairy worshipers. Oct. 24 at 10:30 a.m. Griffith Park. $15-$25. Ages 2-8. Event details.
Boo at the Teaching Zoo
Kids that can’t resist touching everything will want to get up-close and personal with all the animals who are out to celebrate and show off at the Teaching Zoo. It’s also less crowded than the LA Zoo’s Boo. Oct. 31 & Nov. 1 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Moorpark. $6-$8. All ages. Event details.
photo: Irvine Park Railroad
Perfect for Preschoolers
Ahhh, they’ve discovered the joys of trick-or-treating! They’re also ready for a slightly spooky Halloween story (that won’t keep them up at night) and a pumpkin patch that includes a dark but not haunted train ride…
Bob Baker’s Halloween Spooktacular
Sitting right next to these amazing marionettes brings Halloween to life and allows your kid to start life off as an Angeleno native should: watching a piece of history at the country’s oldest ongoing puppet theater. (Though kids as young as 2 are welcome, we find that the puppets can be a little scary for those under 4 or 5.) Friday-Sunday in October at various times. Echo Park. $15. Ages 2 & up. Event details.
Creatures at the Arboretum
Wander in your costume with the peacocks at this celebration in the beautiful Arboretum (one of our favorite spots for fall leaf viewing, too) where the celebration for kids includes pumpkin decorating, creepy science projects and other autumn crafts. Oct.31 from 9 a.m.-noon. Arcadia. $5 plus admission for kids. All ages. Event details.
There are two Halloween shows at the gorgeous Theatricum Botanicum. The annual Boo-Tanicum is great for the whole family with games, inprov silliness and lots of haunted fun in the woods and takes place on Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10-15, and kids under 5 are free. But for those who are still easily scared in the dark, on Oct. 25 at 11 a.m., there is a show filled with non-spooky Halloween tales. It’s perfect for kids 3-6, and tickets are $9.
Scarariums Making at Purple Twig
Arty tots (and their big siblings) will love getting crafty at Purple Twig to make some amazing eerie worlds in a jar. And you’ll love these original Halloween decorations to keep for years and years at home. Oct. 24 from 3 -4 p.m. Eagle Rock. $35. Ages 4-10. Event details.
Irvine Pumpkin Train
This small train is perfect for Thomas lovers, as it chugs around Irvine Park, making a quick visit through a totally non-scary “haunted” tunnel at the end of the journey. Then you can take part in a variety of activities from cookie decorating to panning for gold and then go home with a pumpkin to carve and some tasty pumpkin bread for breakfast. Daily through Oct. 31 from 10 a.m -5 p.m. Irvine. Free admission, train is $5. All ages. Event details.
photo: Jessica Paterson via flickr
Boo-Filled for Big Kids
Now you can add a twist with science spooks, nighttime adventures and even a little, tiny, controlled “eek.”
Eek! at the Greek
This is a nice mix of fun, spooky and culture! Start the night with a Trick-or-Treat Village, then the concert has some atmospheric classical music and ends with a reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Make this a Halloween tradition, and each year your kids can stay a little later (that first year you may want to skip the Poe!). Sat., Oct 24 at 4:30 p.m. Griffith Park. $8-$55. Ages 5 & up. Event details.
Rise of the Jack O’ Lanterns
Though there’s nothing overtly scary at the Rise of the Jack O’ Lanterns exhibit, we’ve found that since viewing the lit gourds requires absolute darkness, it can be a little scary for the small set. Plus, the intricacies in the carving and building of the amazing pumpkins is best appreciated by bigger kids. But if you’ve also got younger kids, the paths are fine for strollers. Thursday-Sunday through Nov. 1 at Descsanso Gardens and Friday-Sunday through Nov.1 at Santa Anita Park. $14-$28. All ages.
Science gets creepy and crawly at the Discovery Cube LA, where kids can explore bugs of all colors and sizes in over-sized sets and hands-on learning stations. Daily through Nov. 2. Los Angeles. $10. Ages 3 & up. Event details.
A FarmTastic Jurassic Maze
Forneris Farms has next level harvest fun for bigger kids who can get “lost” in the Corn Maze that has a Tyranno-twist (it takes about an hour to complete, but isn’t haunted). Plus they can visit the pumpkin patch to pick out a home-grown pumpkin that was freshly picked. Daily through Nov.1 from 2-5 p.m on weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. $10-$15. All ages. Event details.
See Ichabod in the Huntington Gardens
Get into the spirit of Halloween with a screening of Walt Disney’s animated classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; pre-show activities and entertainment add to the family fun in this spectacular garden setting. Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. San Marino. $20. All ages. Event details.
Ride on the Ghost Train
LA Live Steamers turns their train into a ghostly chug on weekends in October. The 20-minute ride features a series of spooky settings and creepy displays. But you know your kids best—if they scare easily, this may not be for them. We know 3 year-olds who love it and 8 year-olds who are terrified, so it’s more kid-dependent than age-dependent. Select dates in October from 7-10 p.m. Griffith Park. $15. Riders must be at least 34 inches tall. Event details.
photo: Front Porch Cinema
A ‘Wrap Up’ of Events that Delight ‘Mummy’ (And Daddy, Too…)
In between your costume making, treat baking and party planning duties, take time to remember that you love this holiday just as much as the kids do. These events will “leaf” you feeling festive and are also perfectly appropriate (and enjoyable) for the while family.
Scarecrows in Wine Country
You can’t wait to head up to Santa Ynez for a fabulous day of fall wine tasting. Er, we mean to bring the kids to check out all the amazing scarecrows. The Valley will boast more than 200 scarecrows this year, most of which are available for public viewing and voting, so you can find and pick your favorites in the ‘field.’ Oct. 9-Nov.9. Santa Ynez Valley. Free. All ages. Event details.
The Do-Good Halloween Bus
Halloween can be about giving as well as taking (candy). The Do Good Bus promises brings people together to help the community in a fun and social environment. It’s a great way to kick off your holiday weekend. Oct. 31 from 9:15 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Universal City. $20-$45. All ages. Event details.
Tim Burton’s Nightmare Live with Danny Elfman
Danny Elfman takes the stage at the Hollywood Bowl to perform his role of Jack Skellington, singing live to the film Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Bowl will transform into Halloween Town with special pre-show activities. It’s a Halloween event kids and parents alike will adore. Oct. 31 at 8:15 p.m. & Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. Hollywood. $41 & up. All ages. Event details.
Who You Gonna Call?
See a thematically fitting movie (Ghostbusters, in case you weren’t sure) that you love and your kids will, too! Bring chairs and blankets and friends, so you can take turns watching the kids and ducking into the Cinema Lounge for an adult beverage. Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. Santa Monica. Free. Rated PG. Event details.
Halloween Rock and Roll Half-Marathon
Get your tutus and super hero outfits ready to hit the street for the world’s largest Halloween half marathon. Run off the Peanut Butter Cups you’re totally going to sneak out of the trick or treat bags, in advance… And if you’re not running, come out and support those that are and laugh at all the silly costumed runners. There’s also a 5 K for parents or big kids ready to hit the streets, but not ready for a full half marathon. Oct. 25 from 7:15 a.m.-noon. Downtown LA. Free to watch, Registration fee to run. All ages. Event details.
What Halloween adventures did you like best for your kids at each age? We’d love to hear about your family haunted traditions in the comment sections below!