Round up the kids, put on those cute costumes and hit the town. Here's a guide to fun, family-friendly ways to celebrate Halloween in San Diego this year.
Haunted Aquarium: Spooky Science!
(Oct. 21-Oct. 22) 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Birch Aquarium
Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography lead kids on a journey that explores the world of unusual underwater creatures and spooky species rarely seen at Birch Aquarium. Mini scientists can expect to see a sea of glowing creatures – big and small – and enjoy some scary stories, live music and making their own “seaweed slime” along the way. Costumes are encouraged. Tickets cost $20 at the door (or $18.50 in advance); the event is free for kids 2 and under.
HauntFest on Main
(Oct. 21) 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Downtown El Cajon
Downtown El Cajon will host this family-friendly celebration, which includes all things Halloween: a pumpkin patch, costume contest and activities where you can win Halloween candy. Also on deck, carnival rides, a kids zone, a car show and two stages of live music.
Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt
(Oct. 21-Oct. 23 and Oct. 28-Oct. 30) 5 p.m., Belmont Park
Looking for some early Halloween fun for the whole family? Now in its fourth year, this family-friendly festival filled with spooks and scares transforms the iconic seaside park in Mission Beach into a fall wonderland. The festival runs the last two weekends of October, after 5 p.m., and will include free trick-or-treating for the little ones from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., zombie laser tag ($8 per person), a pumpkin patch and face-painting, costume contests, live entertainment and the Spooky Coaster ($6 per ride) – Belmont Park’s iconic Giant Dipper roller coaster, ready for the Halloween holiday.
(Oct. 23) 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
Just in time for Halloween, take the kids over to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center to meet creepy, crawly, hooting animals and critters of the night. Besides great photo opportunities as the kids hold and pet the animals, this all-ages event includes arts and crafts and free trick-or-treating along the “Haunted Hike” nature trail, where families can listen for clues and search for wildlife. Wear your costume so you can enter a costume contest for a chance to win prizes. Park at Mira Costa College (333 Manchester Ave.); a free shuttle service will transport attendees to and from the Nature Center throughout the event.
SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular
(Oct. 22-Oct. 23 and Oct. 29-Oct. 30) 10 a.m., SeaWorld San Diego
Going strong each weekend in October, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular invites kids to visit the park in their Halloween costumes for a trick-or-treating adventure at 12 stops around SeaWorld San Diego. The park is also hosting some Halloween-themed shows, including Clyde & Seamore’s “Big Halloween Bash” at the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium and Sesame Street’s “Who Said Boo?” at the Mission Bay Theater. Another area of the park celebrates Dia De Los Muertos with lots of colorful décor and activities dedicated to the traditional Mexican holiday which comes just after Halloween. Entry into Spooktacular events is included with paid admission into the park.
The Pumpkin Express
(Oct. 22-Oct. 23 and Oct. 29-30) 10 a.m., 12:15 p.m. & 2:30 p.m., Campo Depot
The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association is hosting its 11th annual Pumpkin Express Halloween Celebration, a chance to ride decorated, vintage railcars through the San Diego County mountains in Campo. The train departs from the Campo Depot at 10 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and winds through scenic parts of the historic San Diego and Arizona Railway. Tickets range between $5 and $18, depending on your age; reservations are required in advance. At the Campo Depot’s display building, visitors can explore two haunted trains, a pumpkin patch and meet some ghouls and ghosts.
Brick-or-Treat Party Nights
(Oct. 22 and Oct. 29) 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., LEGOLAND California Resort
Brick-or-Treat Party Nights return to LEGOLAND on Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 during extended park hours, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Halloween-themed event includes live entertainment, new shows, costume contests, treat stations with more than 1 million pieces of candy, a pumpkin patch, crafts and dance parties. Admission to Brick-or-Treat only is $40 or you can pay $70 to visit the park all day long and stay for the extended Brick-or-Treat hours.
Trick-or-Treat on India Street
(Oct. 28) 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Little Italy
Little Italy businesses will open their doors to little monsters in costume for a fun night of safe trick-or-treating in the cool urban neighborhood. Piazza Basilone (on the corner of India and W. Fir streets) will have a list of businesses participating in the event, plus trick-or-treating maps.
The Boulevard Boo Parade
(Oct. 29) 10 a.m. El Cajon and Rolando boulevards
Billed as San Diego’s only Halloween parade the 12th annual Boulevard Boo Parade returns to El Cajon Boulevard with ghoulish floats, vintage cars, costumes, bands and spooky surprises. The free parade starts at the intersection of El Cajon and Rolando boulevards then travels west to 60th Street. Visitors can view the procession from the south side of El Cajon Boulevard. After the parade, the College Avenue Baptist Church (4747 College Ave.) will host the AfterBOO! Carnival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring carnival rides, games, inflatable play structures, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and live music.
Halloween Family Day 2016
(Oct. 29), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Balboa Park
This free event at Balboa Park invites families to celebrate Halloween in a cool, safe and fun way as more than two dozen museums offer free admission to kids 12 and under with a paying adult. Throughout the day, participating museums will host free craft projects for kids, costume parades and contests, gallery tours and treasure hunts. Attendees can also expect some mini carnival games, a doggie costume contest in the Spanish Village Art Center and a rooftop pumpkin drop at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Food trucks and free activity booths will line the Prado and Plaza de Panama, and some critters from the San Diego Zoo will even make a cameo. Wear your costumes!
Family Day at theNAT: Halloween Edition
(Oct. 29) 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., The San Diego Natural History Museum
Bring the kids to theNat for this Halloween-themed edition of Family Day, which includes a look at bats and other nocturnal creatures. Kids can visit the museum’s Critter Cave, get a temporary tattoo and make a bat-themed craft to take home. TheNat is among many museums partaking in this year’s Halloween Family Day at Balboa Park.
Haunted Tales Aboard the Star of India
6 p.m. to 10 p.m., The Star of India
Is San Diego's iconic Star of India haunted? Hop aboard the famous ship for a night of spooky stories. Every 15 minutes this night, from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., kids can enjoy lantern-led tours of the Star of India and hear eerie tales, including how the spirit of a young man named John Campbell may lurk on board.
Daytime Halloween Party
(Oct. 30) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Liberty Station
The San Diego Comic Art Gallery and Comickaze: Comic Books and More in Liberty Station will host this fun, family-friendly Daytime Halloween Party on the North Promenade featuring free comics, trick-or-treating at participating businesses, a car show, live music and an all-ages costume contest with prizes.