Halloween in San Diego

Where to go for Halloween frights in San Diego

Property of Lou Rusconi

These days, Halloween seems to be yet another one of those holidays that adults have co-opted for themselves to use as an excuse to role play, dress silly - or sexy - and get drunk in a bar. Kinda like St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Arbor Day (OK, so maybe not Arbor Day...yet).

At the same time, Halloween is still a kid's holiday, a day to eagerly anticipate, to plan on a scary costume and collect lots of yummy candy.

Never mind we rarely get but a handful of kids trick-or-treating in the neighborhood anymore - a sad commentary on our society.

Yet, what do you do if you want to celebrate in the Halloween festivities but fall in the "I'm too old to trick-or-treat, I don't want to mix it up with the boozers in the bars, or I don't know anyone who is throwing a party" category? Well, there are still some traditional fun - and hopefully scary - things to do around San Diego. Here are some suggestions:

Reminder: Keep your pets safe at Halloween. Read more here.

Haunted Hotel (Gaslamp District, Market Street):
The Haunted Hotel, located downtown in the Gaslamp District, is the longest running haunted house in San Diego. It was named by Haunt World Magazine as one of the top 13 haunted houses in America and has been featured in “America Haunts IV” on The Travel Channel in 2009. The horror filled nights run through Halloween.

This year, see where the Hellevator takes you, explore Freddy Krueger's workshop, and you'll go crazy in rooms inspired by Legion and Shutter Island. Meet the night riders on the moving Subway and try to escape the virus outbreak in our Zombie office. Open through Oct. 31, closed Mondays and Tuesdays except 10/22, 10/23, 10/29, 10/30.

Doors open at 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays. Tickets are $15 to $17. You can purchase tickets online or at the door. 424 Market St., San Diego, CA, 92101.

The Haunted Trail:
Located in Balboa Park, The Haunted Trail is San Diego's only all-outdoor haunted attraction. The Haunted Trail is a stroll through the park you will never forget. Enter the mile long Trail through the twisted grove of pines and gnarled oaks. Visitors watch your back, you’ll never know which way the terror will hit you. True to form, the Trail is not for children under 10 or the faint of heart. Experience an outdoor terror that is simply too big to house indoors.

This year The Haunted Trail features an additional maze called "The eXperiment". For five extra bones you can find out what happens when Mother Nature takes her eye off the ball for even just a second. Runs through Oct. 31, closed Mondays and Tuesdays except 10/22, 10/23, 10/29, 10/30. Open at 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays. Tickets are $15 - $17. You can purchase tickets online or at the door. Located just east of 6th & Juniper in Balboa Park, one block south of Laurel Street bridge.

The Scream Zone:
It won't be the same old scares when the ghosts, goblins and ghouls return to The Scream Zone. Featured this year:
New blood-curdling scenes in the House of Horror. This attraction is not recommended for children younger than 10.

Haunted Hayride: The Haunted Hayride is a one-of-a-kind attraction where riders huddle together on a tractor-pulled haywagon while stalked by ghosts, zombies and other-worldly creatures! Stick close together during the journey through the haunted barn area on the back side of the Del Mar Racetrack. Terrifying fun for the family or anyone brave enough to come along for the ride! (May not be appropriate for small children.)

The House of Horror features themed rooms filled with terrifying sights, horrendous sounds and blood-curdling scares lurking at every turn and corridor.

Not recommended for children younger than 10, The House of Horror is the most ghoulish and spine-tingling attraction of all. It features a surprise ending that will send you screaming! The House of Horror is not for the weak of heart, pregnant women, or wimps!


The Chamber features the largest "spinning tunnel" in San Diego. This twisting, turning labyrinth of scares has suspense and surprises, with several frightening dead ends.

2012 dates:
Oct. 4–7 (Thursday through Sunday)
Oct.11–14 (Thursday through Sunday)
Oct. 17–21 (Wednesday through Sunday)
Oct. 24–31 (Wednesday through Wednesday)

7:00 p.m.-midnight, Fridays & Saturdays
7:00-11:00 p.m., other days

2012 Prices:
Sundays through Thursdays:
Triple (Combo) Haunt: House of Horror, Haunted Hayride & The Chamber — $27.99
Double Haunt: The Chamber plus House of Horror or Haunted Hayride — $18.99
Single Haunt: House of Horror or Haunted Hayride — $14.99

Fridays and Saturdays:
Triple (Combo) Haunt: House of Horror, Haunted Hayride & The Chamber — $29.99
Double Haunt: The Chamber plus House of Horror or Haunted Hayride — $20.99
Single Haunt: House of Horror or Haunted Hayride — $16.99


Mira Mesa Monster Manor:
Unfortunately, Monster Manor will not be in production this year due to funding issues.

National Comedy Theatre Halloween Spooktacular
The National Comedy Theatre's annual Halloween Spooktacular features scenes and games that we've never done before, creepy themes to all of the suggestions, death defying sketches - including one where a performer's head is submerged in a bucket of water for the entire scene, and the weirdest ending to a comedy show you that you have ever seen. This year, the shows will be on Friday, October 26th and Saturday, October 27th at 7:30 & 9:45 p.m. With an additional MIDNIGHT SPOOKTACULAR on Saturday, October 27th at 11:45 pm. Tickets are just $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.


Click here for more Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations in San Diego.

Halloween Bash on the Bay  Halloween As summer fades away, Seaport Village will welcome fall and San Diego locals with its second annual Halloween bash on Saturday October 27 2012 from 3:30 to 8 p.m. The Halloween event invites all the little monsters, vampires, pirates and zombies out to the village for a pet costume contest, live music, photos with a living scarecrow and more than enough treats to go around.

Entertainment will abound from 3:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. and trick-or-treating from 5 pm - 8 pm

Gaslamp Monster Bash Block Party  The witching hours will fall upon the city this Halloween, at San Diego's biggest Halloween Block Party, the 12th Annual Monster Bash. The madness begins on Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 6:00 PM to Midnight on the outskirts of the Gaslamp Quarter as ghosts and ghouls enter through the Gates of Hell at 6th Avenue between Market and J Street General admission tickets to San Diego's most exclusive Halloween Block Party are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.


Haunted Ghost Tours in Old Town
Haunted San Diego is a History Tour loosely based on documented ghost stories. See the fascinating places where these stories actually took place and hear the tales of who lived there, died there and who still haunts there today. With tongue in cheek laughs, you'll witness a "haunted artifact" and even see "proof" that ghosts Exist.Be transported in spooky style abaord The Ghost Bus.

Visit 5 local sites and disembark at each stop to get up close to documented haunted locations.

Ghost Sightings:
There are several places where ghosts have been claimed to have been sighted. Here are a few suggestions to get spooked:

The Whaley House:
The Whaley House is one of only two "haunted" houses registered in California.

Located in Old Town, from swinging cleavers hanging on the kitchen wall to the scent of lavender perfume, ghost sightings in the Whaley House are documented.

El Campo Santo Cemetery:
Located blocks from the Whaley House, the cemetery's 477 gravesites include hanged thief Yankee Jim Robinson, as well as the founder of Tanner Theatrical Troupe, another Whaley House "resident."

Day of the Dead - Dia de los Muertos - Celebrations

Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, which honors departed loved ones, is popular in Mexico, and by our proximity, here in San Diego. It is best known for the playful use of skulls and skeletons, as well as personalized ofrendas (altars) that are decorated with photos, notes, flowers, food and drinks. It's a joyful way, rather than a somber way, to commemorate those who have passed away.

Day of the Dead celebrations typically take place Nov. 1 and 2. Here are some celebrations you'll find in San Diego.

OLD TOWN DIA DE LOS MUERTOS - Nov. 1 and 2. The premier Day of the Dead event in San Diego County, Old Town’s Dia de los Muertos is designed to celebrate the history, culture and heritage of the region. Old Town’s predominantly Mexican, Spanish and Native American and legacy makes it the best site in San Diego to hold this special and beloved celebration.

There will be a tour of more than 30 altars, a candlelight procession and live music. At Fiesta de Reyes in the state park, five life-sized Catrina dolls in historic dress will delight visitors as well as altars in nearly every store. Face painting and an after party are also planned for Nov. 1. This two-day-long activity will also feature workshops, performances and lectures. For more information, visit facebook.com/DiaDeLosMuertosOTSD or call (619) 297-7511.

2012 Oceanside Dia de los Muertos
Oceanside's annual celebration of Dia de los Muertos is at Mission San Luis Rey. Many of the traditions of the festival will continue including; the altars (ofrendas) celebrating lives of departed loved ones, the chalk cemetery and the educational component provided by Professor Carlos von Son of Palomar College.

Over twenty-thousand attendees will enjoy the largest festival of its kind in San Diego County. The mission will come alive with entertainment at this FREE family-friendly event including mariachi bands, local ballet folklorico dancing groups, Aztec entertainers, elaborate alters and much more. Your children will be entertained all day with a variety of interactive arts and crafts activities and an exciting mini-carnival. Oceanside’s Dia de los Muertos Celebration for 2012 takes place on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 4050 Mission Ave, Oceanside, 92057

Chronos Theatre Group
Chronos Theatre Group celebrates two nights of Dia de los Muertos on Thursday, November 1st, and Friday, November 2nd at the Victory Theater with staged readings of "Don Juan Tenorio" by Jose Zorilla, directed by Celeste Innocenti, and "Johnny Tenorio" by Carlos Morton, directed by Goyo Flores.

The Victory Theater is a local historical site, and many of the older residents of the area recall its heyday as a movie theater dating from the silent film era. To commemorate the members of the community who have passed on, there will be a traditional altar, and the public is encouraged to remember their own loved ones.

Admission to both readings by donation. All proceeds will be split by Chronos Theatre Group and Victory Theater. 2558 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, 92102

Sherman Heights Day of the Dead 2011-12
On Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, many local families will create traditional Mexican altars inside the Community Center (2258 Island Ave SD 92102). There will be food, folk art and many activities for everyone to enjoy.