Holiday Travel

Our favorite spooky Halloween events and activities for Families

A list of our favorite haunts in Southern California during Halloween season

A sprinkle of creepy, a dash of suspense, and a handful of fun is the perfect recipe for a spooktacular family adventure!

Halloween is not just a one-night event. No, for my family it is a month long celebration.

So whether you want to travel far or stay close to home, October is chock-full of amazing Halloween events for families – you just have to know where to look.

Here is a list of some of my favorite Halloween activities with kids, and some of the best events we have experienced to help you drink in the Halloween spirit.

And I am sure you will love them too!

Things to consider

Most parents know their children’s fear-level and how much spook they can handle. If you’re kids are fearful and easily upset, it is probably best to stick with mild Halloween activities that focus on the lighter side; however, if your kids are kinda crazy like mine they’ll be able to handle a bit more intensity.

Truth be told, my babies don’t really have a choice because starting October 1st I burst out the all Halloween décor and for a solid month witches, ghosts, skeletons and the occasional shrunken head become members of our extended family and basically take over the house!

Halloween house decorations

We also like to get out and enjoy the season by planning a lot of fall activities including day trips out or even an occasional Halloween-themed family vacation (like Halloween on the High Seas by Disney Cruise Line discussed below). We’ve done both depending on what’s going on that year and on our budget.

Booking a day trip or Halloween vacation is guaranteed to add a lot more magic to an already exciting time of year.

Happy and Harvesty Activities

Parks, Farms & Pumpkin Patches

In almost every town there are city or regional parks, local farms and pop-up pumpkin patches that will host Halloween events for families. Activities may vary depending on actual location, but some of the most common Halloween activities for kids include:

  • Hay Mazes
  • Kid-friendly haunted houses
  • Pumpkin cravings
  • Hay rides
  • Costume parades Halloween cookie decorating

These Halloween activities for kids are usually cheap or free, and are great for spookable children.

Haunted Corn Maze

Disney Halloween Activities

Disney just knows how to take everything to the next level and Halloween is no exception. In addition, Disney is all about the kids, so parents don’t have to worry about anything being too scary for the little ones. The great thing is that Disney is all over the world now, so no matter where you are on the globe a Disney Halloween is never far from reach.

Halloween at Disneyland with Kids Guide

Disney Parks

With theme parks located in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, families across the world are getting into the spirit. Each park turns into a Halloween wonderland for about a month, adding spooky flare to rides, adorning the park in darling festive decor, hosting special parties, parades and events that celebrate the season.

Heck, they usually invite a few extra villains out for the fun. My kids love when they can meet Jack Skellington and Sally from the Nightmare before Christmas.

Since we live in Orange County, CA we usually pay a visit to Disneyland at least once during the Halloween season. I personally love it, but so do the kids.

I wrote a detailed guide HERE if you are planning to visit Disneyland in Anaheim for Halloween.

Disney Cruise Line

Every year, starting at the end of September, Disney Cruise Line turns their fleet of ships into spooky vessels to celebrate Halloween on the High Seas. Not only is the ship decked-out in Halloween decor, but the itinerary is packed with Halloween themed shows, parties and festivities.

I wrote a detailed guide HERE if you want to read more about Halloween on the High Seas.

Disney Cruise Halloween on the High Seas Everything to Know

SeaWorld Parks Halloween Spooktacular

Located in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida, SeaWorld Parks put on a fun-filled Halloween event for families. It is not as expensive as a Disney Halloween, but has just as much spooky excitement with some added marine magic.

Held on select weekends throughout the month, the entire park is decorated in colorful festive fun and jammed packed with seasonal activities. Kids can wear their costumes and trick or treat around the park, see a Halloween-themed show, have a dance party, see a Halloween parade, and check out some of nature’s creepiest creatures!

I wrote a detailed guide HERE if you are planning to visit SeaWorld during Halloween. Check ticket prices at

Seaworld Halloween

Knott’s Spooky Farm:

This one is only in Orange County, California, but if you’re local or visiting I encourage you and your family to check it out. Knott’s Berry Farm is one of our favorite Southern California amusement parks for many reasons, but we absolutely love hanging out in their replica ghost town.

This the hub of all their main seasonal events like the Ghost Town Alive (during summer), Knott’s Merry Farm, and of course Knott’s Spooky Farm. It is a great event for families because it is just spooky enough to be fun and the atmosphere is great.

Hot Tip: This is NOT the same event as Knott’s Scary Farm. That is a separate ticketed event at night designed for tweens, teens and adults who like to be scared…really scared.

Knotts Berry Farm Ghost Town

Public Halloween Parties

Who doesn’t love a good party or any excuse really to rock those amazing Halloween costumes?

Did you know that many hotels, restaurants and, yes, RV resorts across the country host Halloween parties for a small entry fee?

Although some of these Halloween events may be adults only, there are also plenty that are family-friendly. I know because we’ve found ’em!

My advice is to check with your city, local businesses and resorts, so you don’t miss out on fun parties happening in your neck of the woods.

Hot Tip: If you live close to Southern California, one of our favorite family-friendly Halloween parties is Vail Lake RV Resort’s “Terror in the Oaks”, which includes costume contests, haunted houses, haunted hayrides, dance party, craft and more.  If you are interested in more details, I wrote an awesome post about it HERE.

Vail Lake Terror in the Oaks Halloween Festivities

Spooky and Scary Activities

Real Haunts

I LOVE Halloween and all the thrills and chills that come along with it, so I also like to seek out some REAL authentic spooks.

There is nothing like a good ghost story to make you feel alive. BOO!

Haunted Houses

Now, most cities, sporting fields, theme parks and even churches will open a haunted fun house for the season, but I say: Why not visit a REAL haunted house?

The great thing about a haunted house is that practically every city has one. Many historical homes that are open for regular tours likely come with a ghost or two. Visiting during October just makes it all the more spooky.

We have a local haunted house that we visit several times a year, because my daughter just loves the house. You may have heard of it – it’s the famed Whaley House located in Old Town San Diego. It also happens to be the most house in America.

You can read all about Whaley House in my article on Haunted places in America to visit with your kids HERE.

Front of Whaley House Old Town San Diego

Ghost Tours

Ghost tours are a great way to see a city’s most haunted places. Again, you know your kids and what they can handle, but I have taken my kids from a VERY young age on many ghost walks and tours.

Some were spookier than others, but for the most part the kids seemed to do just fine. In fact, my kids have fallen asleep on two of our scarier tours; one in the catacombs of Edinburgh, Scotland and another touring Tombstone, Arizona at night.

You will learn some interesting history about your city that you probably didn’t know before. True scary stories that you can share with friends and family!

Tombstone Haunted hotel with kids

Haunted Hotels

If you are planning to getaway during the month of October, why not stay at a haunted hotel?

Just like haunted houses, most old hotels are associated with some ghost stories. But what makes a haunted hotel so exciting is that you get to stay overnight.

We actually seek out haunted hotels year-round, but staying during the month of October is just little bit more spine-tingling. Some hotels offer guided tours, but most the time it is just fun to have a wander yourself, like the time we took the kids on a ghost hunt at the Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia.

Best Western Plus Windsor Hotel Americus

Some other haunted hotels to check out include:

  • Hotel Del Coronado
  • Cosmopolitan Hotel
  • Queen Mary

Amusement Parks

Although they can be a little pricey, amusement parks usually take Halloween to the next level. I’ve done most of the ones in Southern California and I definitely recommend checking them out if you like to embrace the fear. Actually these are aimed at an older crowd, not for really little ones, because they are designed to basically scare to crap out of you.

Here are some of my favorite amusement park Halloween events:

  • Knott’s Scary Farm: Reasonably priced and wonderfully creepy. Loaded with fun haunted houses and an eerie old western ghost town atmosphere will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. There isn’t an age requirement, so there does tend to be a lot of tweens running around screaming.
  • Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor: What makes this special is the rich history of the Queen Mary and the rumors that it is allegedly haunted for real. This definitely adds a level of spookiness that can’t be beat. Plus guests get to stay in the haunted cabins aboard the ship so the scary fun never ends!!!
  • Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights: Horror-movie magic comes to life at Universal Studios. The make-up, costumes and staged-sets are scarily realistic. The plane crash walk-through is truly terrifying.

That’s A Wrap!

I covered a lot of different options here, but the main take away is that you don’t have to travel far or spend a ton of money for your family to have a great Halloween. But if you want to spend a little dough, there are countless haunted hotels, haunted historic homes, and amusement parks that are calling your name…

Happy Haunts 🙂

How do you like to celebrate Halloween all month long?

What are some of your favorite Halloween events in your town?

Tell me in the comments below!

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Top Family Activities for Halloween


I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".


  1. Pingback: Halloween at Vail Lake Resort |

  2. Michele Peterson Reply

    Lots of great Halloween ideas for every budget! Love your cute costumes!

  3. Pingback: Terror in the Oaks: Vail Lake Resort Halloween Festivities - HotMamaTravel

  4. Pingback: How Disney Cruise Line does Halloween on the High seas - Travel Blog

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