What do ballet, fresh-squeezed lemonade and sugar skulls all have in common? This weekend in the Bay Area. With the chill and the thrill of Halloween in the air, there’s plenty of pumpkin-themed activities to keep your little imps busy all weekend but there’s also an epic Day of the Dead celebrations and activities, an outdoor hootenanny in the heart of an East Bay forest and a bat-seeking night hike in the headlands. Who needs sleep?

Presidio Pumpkin Carving Workshopphoto courtesy Presdio Trust

San Francisco

Michael Jackson Tribute at SFJAZZ’s Family Matinee
For this season, SFJAZZ’s resident all-star ensemble presents sparkling new arrangements of music by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and freshly minted compositions by the band. Wear your single gloves or other classic MJ garb and do the Moonwalk over to this concert. Sat., 11 a.m.–noon. Hayes Valley. $15/adult; $5/child. All ages. Event details.

Portable Day of the Dead Altar Making at Potrero Library
Honor a special loved one, or your ancestors as part of Day of the Dead. Design and create a miniature, portable altar with all the features to make visiting souls welcome. Sat., 4-5:30 p.m. Potrero Hill. Free. All ages. Event details.

Pumpkin Carving Workshop in the Presidio
Head to the Presidio’s Main Post and create your very own pumpkin masterpiece. Free pumpkins from Arata Pumpkin Farm will be available (while supplies last) or you can bring your own. Tools will be on site, but you can bring your own stencils, stickers and anything else you want to trick out your jack-o’-lanterns. There will also be a crafts table where littles can decorate mini pumpkins and make spooky paper chains as well as face painting. Food available for purchase. Sat. & Sun., noon–5 p.m. Presidio. Free. All ages. Event details.

Tutu School West Portal Grand Opening
Local favorite ballet school, Tutu School is opening in West Portal and you are invited to the grand opening and open house. Offering classes for kids as young as 18 mos. up to 8-years-old, you can head over to check out the digs, meet the teachers, do some crown crafting or share a story with a ballerina, and grab a gift certificate to Shaw’s ice cream across the street. Plus you can find out about free trial classes. Sun., noon-5 p.m. West Portal. Free. All ages. Event details.

East Bay

Spooky Sundown Safari at Oakland Zoo
This eerie overnight at the includes a trick-or-treat night tour through the Children’s Zoo, make jack-o’-lantern enrichment treats for the animals, and meet live, creepy, crawly animals up close! Before bedtime listen to the scary stories and chomp on Ghost S’mores. Includes a hot breakfast and admission for the next day to check out the Boo at the Zoo pumpkin fest and other fun. Sat., 5 p.m.–Sun., 10 a.m. Oakland Zoo. $$75/members; $85/non-members; save $5/per person if registering 5 or more. 4 and up. Event details.

Sunol Wilderness Hootenanny
Celebrate Sunol Regional Wilderness’ pioneer and ranching heritage at the annual Hootenanny Festival. Enjoy square-dancing, banjo music, squeeze your own lemonade, make a corn husk doll and learn the fascinating history of barbed wire in the West. Plus make your own rope, play tug-o-‘war, try out stilts and more. There will be prizes. BBQ available for purchase or pack a picnic. Sat., 3-7 p.m. Sunol. Free except for $5/parking fee per vehicle. All ages. Event details.

Sausal Native Plant Nursery Sale & Open House
Check out more than 80 native plant species for sale, a presentation with live raptors at 11:30 a.m., bluegrass at 1 p.m. and a variety of tablers including the Spider Chick and her live arachnids, Alameda County Master Gardeners, urban homesteading and free face painting. Sun., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Oakland. Free. All ages. Event details.

OMCA’s 21st Annual Day of the Dead Celebration
This year marks the 21st annual community Day of the Dead celebration at OMCA.The big community party includes calavera (skull) painting and Mexican tin-art crafts; sugar skull making demo; Mariachi music; chalk art; an impressive artisan’s mercado; and food trucks from Off the Grid. The exhibition, Rituals & Remembrances will continue through January 3. Sun., 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Oakland. $15/adult; $6/child 9-17; children 8 and under are free. All ages. Event details.


Zoppe Family Circus
Don’t miss this traditional Italian circus featuring a Unicycle Built for Two, the flying trapeze act known as the Daring Jones Duo, Nino the clown, acrobatics, and canine capers all under the big top of a 500 seat tent. Join this seventh generation Zoppé family for a matinée or evening performance that will please the lil’ ringmaster in your crowd. Fri., 4 & 7 p.m., Sat., noon, 3 & 7 p.m. and Sun., noon, 3 & 6 p.m. Redwood City. $17-$26/adults; $12-$16/child; children 2 and under are free. All ages. Event details.

2015 Tiny and Tot Expo
Get access to everything to parenting networks in the community for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and beyond at the 2015 Tiny and Tot Expo. Kids will be entertained by crafts and activities and parents will receive a free 4×6 photo of their children just for attending. Meet health care and educational organizations, find out about a variety of kid’s activity programs in the area plus products, services and more. Sun., noon–4 p.m. San Mateo. Free. All ages. Event details.

PreSchool Family Fun Day
PreSchool Family and Young Fives hosts its 32nd annual Family Fun Day, packed with carnival games, train rides, magic shows, live music, food, a bake sale, a book sale and more. All ages are welcome, most activities are geared toward ages 2–5. Sat., 9:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Palo Alto. Free. All ages. Event details.

Gamble Garden Halloween Party
Experience the beguiling antics of Rav the Wizard as he conjures up magic and bewitching jokes. Find your own pumpkin in the Gamble Garden Pumpkin Patch, win the costume contest (everyone is a winner!), eat candy, drink witch’s brew, get the Wizard’s spooky autograph, and watch a delightful magic show. Sun.,10:30 a.m.–noon. Palo Alto. $20/general; $15/member. All ages. Event details.

South Bay

Spooky Times at Deer Hollow
Explore haunted barns and a “dark forest” and try your hand at fun kid’s crafts and activities. Meet the farm animals in open pens. Ideal for ages 2-10, but all ages are welcome. Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Cupertino. $7/person; $5/with costumes. 2-10. Event details.

Winchester Mystery House Flashlight Tours
Tour the rambling mansion at night with only the moonlight, a souvenir flashlight, and your imagination to light your way through the rooms and halls. Advance tickets are highly recommended. Fri., Sat. & Sun. Tours begin at 6:30 p.m., last tour begins at 11:30 p.m. San Jose. $49.95/person. Best for 8 and up. Event details.

Thomas & Percy’s Halloween Party
Percy will be joining Thomas the Tank Engine on the rails. Kiddos can wear their Halloween costumes, play Thomas- and Percy-themed activities, including the opportunity to take a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine and Percy. Plus meet  Sir Topham Hatt, Controller of the Railway, and enjoy art & crafts, storytelling and more. Sat. & Sun., 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Felton. $20-$24; children 2 and under are free. All ages. Event details.

Marin County

Tam Valley Haunted House
TCSD presents is pleased to present their annual Tam Valley Haunted House with this year’s theme of Nightmares! Dare to enter into a world of your worst nightmares and see if you can survive from one terrifying room to the next. The Haunted House has three different tours: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Not Scary for children under 8 with all the lights on and a fun tour of the different areas; 5:00-6:30 p.m. Scary for children over 9; Closed 6:30-7:30 p.m. to feed the volunteer monsters then back open 7:30-9 p.m. for a truly horrifying experience. Fri., Sat. & Sun. See event listing for best time to attend. Mill Valley. $5. All ages. Event details.

It’s DOGtoberfest at Strawberry Village: treats for the tots plus a costume contest for your pet! Wear your costume for some pre-Halloween free trick-or-treating from 3-6 p.m. at Strawberry Village merchants, then register your pup for $15 at Woodlands Pet Food & Treats for the contest and parade at 5 p.m. All proceeds go to the Milo Foundation, a non-profit pet rescue and sanctuary. Sat., 3–6 p.m. Mill Valley. Free. All ages. Event details.

Headlands Night Hike & Campfire
Take a guided night hike through the headlands and explore the mysterious lifestyle of nocturnal animals and learn about special adaptations that allow owls, bats and other nighttime critters to hunt by moonlight. The hike will be no more than 2 miles and not a high-impact so it’s great for all ages. After the hike, enjoy a campfire with S’mores, skits and sing-alongs. Sat., 5:30–8 p.m. Sausalito. $12. All ages. Event details.

Trick-or-Treat at Town Center
Get ready for Halloween night with a sweet little trick-or-treat the Sunday before at Town Center in Corte Madera. Participating merchants will have goodie bags to hand out for your little ghouls and dolls, perfect for little ones who might not be old enough to burn the midnight oil on Halloween! Sun., noon–3 p.m. Corte Madera. Free. All ages. Event details.

Visit us on Instagram and Facebook to let us know how you and your family totally #rockedtheweekend. 

—Amber Guetebier