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Halloween at Descanso
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

Halloween events in Los Angeles for spooky fun

Get in the spirit with these festive events in L.A., from family-friendly Halloween activities to ghostly drive-throughs

By Michael Juliano

Not all Halloween events are hell-bent on scaring you straight. Sure, we’ve stocked our list with some drive-through haunted houses, but you’ll also find family-friendly activities, spooky screenings and trick-or-treating opportunities (all from your car, of course). If you’re looking for a more familiar taste of the fall, you’ll still find apple picking aplenty and—for the thrill-seekers—some real-life haunted places. But if you simply want something festive that you can experience from your car (or safely outside), there’s no shortage of worthwhile Halloween events in Los Angeles.

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The best Halloween events in L.A. this year

Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience
Courtesy Netflix

Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience

Things to do ROW DTLA, Downtown Arts District

This Stranger Things-themed experience will bring the Netflix series to life with an hourlong adventure that transports visitors to Hawkins and the Starcourt Mall circa 1985. And as the name implies, you’ll be able to take it all in from the safety of your own car. Hatched by the UK’s wildly creative Secret Cinema, the experience will take groups of 24 cars at a time through “a world of bitchin’ tunes, mullets and monster hunts,” including sets complete with actors in costume and special effects.

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
Courtesy Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride

Things to do Festivals Frank G. Bonelli Park, San Gabriel Valley

For its 12th installment, the annual hayride is pivoting into a “live drive up experience.” All from within the safety of your car, you’ll venture down “All Hallows Lane” for a slew of Halloween-y elements, including a show screened on a 40-foot screen, scenic environments from previous hayrides and live character. The switch to a car-based experience isn’t the only major change: Griffith Park, where the hayride has previously set up, simply couldn’t accommodate a trail of cars, so instead the event is moving a ways east to Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas.

Urban Legends of Southern California
Courtesy Urban Legends of Southern California

Urban Legends of Southern California

Things to do OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

Urban Legends of Southern California will roll into the OC Fair & Event Center most evenings in October. The experience will translate bits of spooky folklore into a series of special effects and creature-filled sets, plus three interactive show zones that you can park inside of. (Fingers crossed there are sets about earthquake weather and the death of the streetcar—oh, not those kinds of urban legends? Whoops.)

Haunt'oween LA
Image: Courtesy Haunt'oween LA

Haunt'oween LA Halloween drive-through

Things to do Quirky events Location T.B.A.,

Trick or treating will look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the whole family together for a drive-through experience to get spooky. Coming to Woodland Hills on October 9, a new Haunt’oween L.A. event promises jack-o’-lantern tunnels, pumpkin picking, family-friendly sights and even a bit of “door-to-door” trick or treating—all socially distanced, of course.

Nights of the Jack
Photograph: Courtesy Nights of the Jack

Nights of the Jack

Things to do King Gillette Ranch, Santa Monica Mountains

Cruise across the grounds of the scenic King Gillette Ranch as the Santa Monica Mountains hideaway is illuminated with thousands of hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns. Nights of the Jack returns this year with a drive-through edition, with timed tickets required each night. Expect to spend about 25 minutes on the mile-long trail, and just a heads up that there will be no food or beverages for sale, nor will bathrooms be available.

The Bite LA food Halloween event
Photograph: Courtesy The Bite LA

THE BITE LA: Halloween Food Crawl and Creature Safari

Things to do Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, Southeast Cities

This new event is combining the appeal of a food festival with all the creepiness of a haunted trail—and all from the safety of your car. The Bite LA is a Halloween-themed food crawl complete with a virtual campfire and “creature safari,” where you'll drive from station to station and costumed ghouls and other dark entities will serve you eight bites along the way. (Still hungry? There’ll be additional food for purchase, plus vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.)

Heritage Square Museum
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning: An Outdoor Victorian Mourning Faire

Things to do Walks and tours

Heritage Square Museum, which has preserved about a half-dozen local late-19th-century structures, has turned its yearly Mourning Tours about death in the Victorian era into a series of stations scattered across the grounds. You’ll learn all about spirit photography, tools to try and contact the deceased, old cure-alls and cemetery symbols, alongside a station to make your own protective sigil and to participate in a Day of the Dead ofrenda.

Halloween at Descanso
Photograph: Courtesy Descanso Gardens

Halloween at Descanso

Things to do Festivals Descanso Gardens, La Cañada

Neither experienced from your car nor bent on scaring the gourd out of you, Descanso Gardens’ new monthlong event is bringing some fresh air and family-friendly fun to Halloween. Throughout October, you can take a socially-distanced stroll through the La Cañada Flintridge gardens and its seasonal displays: a hay maze, a pumpkin arch, wooden jack-o’-lantern boxes, a scarecrow trail through a forest and a house made entirely out of pumpkins

Knott's Halloween
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Joel

Knott’s Taste of Fall-O-Ween

Things to do Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park

The park is technically still closed, but Knott’s Berry Farm is still finding a way to make the season spooky. The new Taste of Fall-O-Ween includes food stations packed with all the pumpkin-spiced treats, apple cider, funnel cakes, soup bread bowls and other fall fare you could want, plus more eerie options such as frozen “bloody” lemon slime margaritas. And while there will be adult concoctions to purchase, it’s a family-friendly event—so much so that there’s even a children’s trick-or-treating trail.

Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Spider Pavilion

Things to do Walks and tours Natural History Museum, USC/Exposition Park

Face your fears and head to the Natural History Museum’s Spider Pavilion, where you can observe several hundred orbweaver spiders in a living exhibit just outside of the museum. Scared the spiders might be hard to spot in the wild? Fret not. In previous iterations we’ve spotted ones about the size of an adult’s palm. Gulp. (But don’t worry: The scariest ones are in enclosed habitats.)

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