When it comes to Halloween in California, just about every city has several huge events going on at once, some no more than 10 minutes or so away from the front door of your apartment complex. So you have no excuse to stay in this year.
The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor
If you’ve never stepped aboard the Queen Mary, its annual Dark Harbor Halloween event is a perfect excuse to visit. Besides being haunted, the 84-year-old ship is host to six mazes inspired by her creepy history.
If you have kids, Dark Harbor also has a family-friendly carnival with mazes for the little ones off deck. Look for secret passages, hidden doors that lead you to private rooms, and secluded bars you’ll never find unless you accidentally stumble upon them.
Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA (877) 342-0738
San Franciscans call Crawloween one of the biggest Halloween events in California, and with more than 6,000 attendees, that’s no hyperbole. Spanning most of Polk Gulch, you’re free to roam the apartment-lined streets of Lower Nob Hill, hop into one (or all) of the 20 participating bars, enter the costume contests, drink and dance all night.
Costumes are highly encouraged, but you should keep the kids away from this one.
Mayes Oyster House, 1233 Polk St., San Francisco, CA
Mickey’s Halloween Party
This is the big one – Mickey’s Halloween Party! Disney fans talk about this event all year long. Your annual pass or single-day ticket won’t get you into this one though – you’ll need a separate ticket.
The park is cleared out around dusk and special-ticket holders get to enjoy themed attractions, trick-or-treating, exclusive character meet-and-greets, fireworks, parades and a lot more.
Bonus: This is the only time Disneyland allows guests to dress in costumes, but they have to be family-friendly – no Freddie Kruger or Jigsaw outfits.
Disneyland, 1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA (714) 781-4636
Knott’s Scary Farm
If Disneyland’s Halloween event is family friendly, Knott’s Scary Farm is the complete opposite. The park takes pride in making its guests scream and cower, and now in its 46th year, they’ve perfected the horror.
The Farm features nine mazes, four scare zones, four terror-themed performances and hundreds of monsters lying in wait.
Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA (714) 220-5200
Six Flag’s Fright Fest
No one is safe at Fright Fest. Once dusk sets, Magic Mountain is filled with dense fog, and suddenly hideous zombies, ghouls and monsters jump out of dark and in your face with no warning.
There are also a bunch of mazes and scare zones to compliment some of the best roller coasters in California. Keep the little kids away from this event, too – Fright Fest gets a 10 out of 10 on the creep scale.
Magic Mountain, 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy., Valencia, CA (661) 255-4100
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
Don’t let the leafy hills or peaceful views deceive you. Once the sun sets, Griffith Park turns into terrifying forest filled with mutilated villagers, creepy clowns and assorted zombies waiting for a chance to jump out at you when you least suspect it.
It all starts when you’re driven through the gates of purgatory on a hay wagon and left in the woods filled with Halloween mazes.
Griffith Park, 4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles, CA (213) 839-8497
San Diego Zombie Crawl Gaslamp Takeover
Roam the Gaslamp’s streets, lined with apartments and bars, with thousands of others as you and your new zombie friends enjoy one of Southern California’s biggest Halloween events of the year.
Your wristband will get you into more than 25 bars and clubs where you can partake in drinks, dancing and live music. Costumes aren’t required, but you’ll look like the weirdo if you’re not wearing one.
Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego, CA (619) 944-8900
Escape: Psycho Circus
Make no mistake about Psycho Circus – this Halloween event is strictly for people into mayhem like American Horror Story, the old Jim Rose Sideshow Circus and gratuitous terror.
Psycho Circus has the requisite mazes and scare zones, but it also has a rave-like atmosphere to it, complete with renowned EDM DJs, circus attractions and go-go dancers. It’s like a Saw movie come to life.
NOS Events Center, 689 S. E St., San Bernardino, CA (909) 888-6788