Top 5: Halloween in the OC

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday (yup, even over Christmas)! I loved watching all the Halloween specials on TV, going to haunted houses and trick or treated all the way up to my freshmen year at the university! I only got busted because I went with my friends that are of normal height. A neighbor asked, “Aren’t ya’ll too old for this??” But it’s okay – I moved on to super scary haunted houses and crazy parades. Fast forward to kids and suburban life and I have a totally different list to share with you of local events. I didn’t want to narrow it down to 5 specific events so I lumped a few fun ones by category. Happy haunting!

  1. “Scary” Activities: Yes, I know there’s Knott’s Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights, but I am sticking to things to do in South County. There’s a Haunted Maze at Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo for ages 13+ but they also have a kid friendly one on select days for ages 6-12 years. Laguna Niguel is returning with their 18th Annual Haunted Trails for ages 8+. Casa Romantica in San Clemente turns into Casa Creepy for ages 8+. Into the paranormal? Check out the Ghosts & Legends Tour in San Juan Capistrano.
  2. Animals: If scary stuff isn’t your thing, animals are always a hit for all ages! Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar goes dark with Creatures of the Night. A cute place is the Santa Ana Zoo for Boo at the Zoo. If you don’t want to go far, the Ocean Institute has Spooky Seas.
  3. Museums: I love Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and I am always on the look out for their family programs. This year they are doing a Dia de Los Muertos Festival. We’ve been going to Pretend City in Irvine since 2012! Unfortunately, we stopped our membership last year due to COVID. We haven’t been back but they do have a cute Trick or Treat event. For a little older kids, I recommend the Discovery Cube’s Spooky Science.
  4. Family Friendly: I love attending our local community events because they are almost always FREE! We usually go to Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest every year for Halloween and Christmas. I am so glad they are bringing back a Halloween event this year. It looks like they changed it up a bit and added a few more dates! It is now Fall-O-Ween and FREE! Next up, is another event that has become a family tradition: Dana Point’s Halloween Spooktacular but this year they are teaming up with the Dana Point Police (back the blue, baby!). Last but not least, Dana Point started doing themed trolleys during the pandemic. Check out one of the stops from the Spooky Treat Trolley!
  5. Arts & Crafts: For something more low key, check out some of the local libraries for free events. The Dana Point Library usually does free events but haven’t posted it to their site yet. However, Ms. Whipple told me they will have a Pumpkin Decorating Open House scheduled for Oct. 26th between 1 pm and 5 pm. Michael’s does free or low cost themed crafts on Sundays. Fashion Camp in Tustin is doing no sew Halloween costumes on site or you can pick up a kit and throw your own party at home.

If you have any favorites not on this list, drop a comment below. Also, if you are interested in any of these events, you should start making reservations. Some of these events will sell out. (Oogie Boogie Bash at California Adventure sold out months ago!) Stay tuned for another post on my top 5 Halloween movies to stream!

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