“Trick-or-treat!” has never been a more loaded phrase! Will there be tricks on Halloween or treats this year? The jury is still out and it may be neighborhood dependent so be sure to check your local city and neighborhoods for the most up-to-date info. Even if you can’t or choose not to trick-or-treat, there are lots of fun ways to celebrate with the kids and be sure to check out our Halloween festivities guide. Read on for some previous year’s best bets for major candy hauls and get ready to map out your best route for trick-or-treating in the Bay Area in 2022.
Belvedere Street (between Parnassus Ave. and 17th Street)
Most houses here are decked out (think: haunted garages and elaborate lights) with the sweet spot on Belvedere St. from Parnassus to 17th, as it’s closed to thru-traffic. Belvedere is on a hill, so crafty parents will head out early (to ensure candy doesn’t run out!) and bring wagons or strollers so shorter legs can get a ride. Truth be told, the scariest part about trick-or-treating in this neighborhood is the parking. Your best bet is to take the N Judah, 43 Masonic, 6 Parnassus, or 37 Corbett; or arrange a willing driver to do a drop-off and pick up on Cole Street.
Tip: Try Cole St., both before the merchant area (Carl) and up past (Parnassus) and some of the corresponding side streets for a quieter, decreased sensory trick-or-treat fix.
Noe Valley (24th Street)
The younger crowd will love trick-or-treating with the merchants along 24th before the sun even sets. The hills that surround 24th St. feature many darling decked out Victorians, so wear comfy walking shoes and have fun exploring as the evening wears on. Parking is very difficult this evening so consider MUNI: the 24 and J Church run nearby.
Fair Oaks Street (between 21st and 26th Streets)
Not far from 24th Street in Noe Valley/Outer Mission this street is also a great bet—it’s closed to traffic so tots can focus on candy-getting instead of car-dodging. Be aware that most houses don’t start doling out the candy until after 6 p.m. so grab an early dinner on 24th Street before heading out for trick-or-treating.
Presidio Heights/Outer Richmond/Clement St.
The chic-yet-haunted houses of Presidio Heights would make Martha Stewart proud while the nearby Outer Richmond neighborhood can be a hidden gem to trick-or-treat with a little less fervor. The decked out houses near California & Clement and 25th is the perfect, calmer experience for your newbies.
If you want luxe + spooky then this is the ultimate SF trick or treating neighborhood. The possibility of thick fog rolling in? Check. The sound of the sea pounding against the cliffs, heard only occasionally over the din of squealing trick or treaters? Check. Fancy houses with actual front yards and the quest for the illusive full-sized candy bar will keep everyone amused. Gets crowded after 7 p.m. so arrive early if you can.
St. Francis Wood
Two blocks east off Stern Grove, the massive houses (with yards big enough for fake graveyards!) and tall spooky trees give this neighborhood the perfect creepy vibe.
Cleveland Heights/Haddon Hill (just west of Lake Merritt between Lakeshore and Park)
The Hills are alive with the sound of spooky-music! This Oakland neighborhood is notorious for it’s all out decorations and generous candy distribution which makes it a great bet for all ages.
Trestle Glen Street
Nearby, Trestle Glen St. off Lakeshore attracts families from around the East Bay. Be sure to check out The House with a Halloween play and performances throughout All Hallow’s Eve.
Berkeley Hills (Mariposa Avenue)
The street is closed off to cars so kids can delight in the bouncy house and elaborate decorations. Parking super-close is tricky but doable, especially earlier in the evening.
The East Bay’s best kept Hallow-secret just might be trick-or-treating on “the island.” The majority of the residential part of Alameda is divine for trick-or-treating for those kids whose bedtime is just-after-dark, from noon to 4 p.m on the 31st, kids can trick-or-treat the merchants on Webster Street. Don’t miss the 300 block of Haight Street!
Oakland, Haddon Hill
This ‘hood gets an A+ for atmosphere when all the swank houses turn into cobweb-covered haunted mansions for the kiddies.
Burlingame (Cabrillo Avenue)
Burlingame offers sweet trick-or-treating with elaborate decorations and basically no stairs, so even the little ones can load up without pause. Parking isn’t overly challenging, but it’s also right on the Caltrain line (Broadway Station) if you want to add a train ride into an already amazing night.
Millbrae (Taylor Street)
This tree-lined street is filled with family homes nicely clustered together. It gets a bit more crowded than some of the other spots on the Peninsula but it’s way worth it. There are plenty of decorations, and the neighborhood closes off the block to cars so that the hordes of kids can run around working out their candy buzz.
The perpetually sunny little hamlet of Brisbane comes to life on Halloween night like no other. This is one of the greatest spots in the Bay Area for Halloween splendor. Full of town pride, houses all over this village go all out. Even the local dentist hands out goodies—toothbrushes! It’s hard to believe you are less than 20 minutes from the heart of downtown San Francisco. With hundreds of houses just near downtown alone to hit up, this is a guaranteed haul for your candy-loving crew!
Downtown Los Altos
Rather spend the night alone in a haunted house than deal with a sugar-crashing toddler at 8 p.m.? Bring those wee ones over to downtown Los Altos on Oct. 29 from 12-4 p.m. where they can trick-or-treat the merchants and still be home in time for supper!
The southwestern San Jose neighborhood, Cambrian Park, is the kind of charming area that makes you want to quit SF. Lots of Halloween spirit, this ‘hood is occupied by a ton of families.
Los Gatos: Almond Grove
Tait Avenue in this area is closed off to traffic from W. Main to Hwy. 9. Houses go all out with candy and decoration and there’s no traffic on the street, making it safe and stress-free for parents while the kids roam in search of the best candy (psst: its Snickers).
This vintage San Jose neighborhood (which boasts a 5+ acre rose garden) includes impressive Victorians and classic Cali-bungalows. Trick-or-treating here is relaxing, not overly crowded, and very accessible (close to the heart of San Jose).
The Willow Glen area makes for great treats (without needing too many tricks!). The merchants along Lincoln Ave. between Minnesota and Willow will host a trick-or-treat on Friday, Oct 29. Babes-in-arms/strollers; toddlers, and preschoolers can head over from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and the school-aged crowd can trick-or-treat from 3-4:30 p.m.
Bonus: The South Bay is notoriously warmer than other parts of the Bay Area, so you won’t have to worry about a heavy coat crushing those fairy wings!
Mill Valley (Sycamore St.)
With beautiful trees and tactfully cobwebbed front stoops, Sycamore St. is Halloween Central for many Southern Marin families. You’ll also note the many family and group costumes that add to the festive atmosphere.
Tiburon (Bel Aire)
In Tiburon, the Bel Aire neighborhood (behind The Cove Shopping Center) features sprawling front-lawn “cemeteries” and other wicked goodness. Plus, flat streets and close houses make it stroller-friendly which is a win when the little ones are tired but the older goblins need more treats.
Larkspur’s Heatherwood neighborhood will not disappoint. You can follow the circle of the Heatherwood neighborhood, along Heather Way as it intersects with Diane Lane and William St. and call it a night. Even with dozens of costume-clad kids, this area is easy to navigate, even with a stroller.
San Anselmo (Sleepy Hollow)
Because a) you know you want to trick-or-treat in a place known as Sleepy Hollow and b) this area is low-key but festive enough that your little goblins will feel like they’ve really lived it up. This area is easy to navigate, too, which helps when you have a carload of sugared up kiddos.
Bamboo Terrace (Terra Linda/San Rafael)
For those willing to travel a little further north, this area boasts outdoor movie screens, elaborately decorated homes and arguably one of the most festive and interactive atmospheres on Halloween night in all of the Bay. It can get crowded, but that’s just because everyone wants in on the fun.
—Christine Lai, Kate Loweth, Erin Feher and Amber Guetebier
Featured image: iStock
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