15 Ghoulish Ways to Celebrate Halloween in San Diego This Year

From confusing corn mazes to haunted houses, costume parties, and more, here’s how to celebrate spooky season in San Diego.

It’s time to celebrate the spookiest time of year, San Diego! Creepy mazes in remote cornfields, spooky hotels filled with restless souls, and ghouls roaming abandoned amusement parks will haunt your dreams, but hellish brews and boo-zy cocktail creations will give you liquid courage to carry on. There’s also plenty of ghostly storytelling, a chance to parade with your pet at costume contests, and a high seas Halloween adventure. Here are some of the best things to do in San Diego to make your Halloween a treat, not a trick. If you’re looking for even more hair-raising thrills, check out the most haunted places in San Diego and creepy abandoned spots across California.

Photo courtesy of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa courtesy images

Saturday, October 29
La Jolla
Celebrate Halloween in style at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa's first-ever Mad Hatter's Mischief Tea Soirée. Estancia's beautiful gardens will transform into a one-night-only twisted tea party, where guests are invited to indulge in mayhem and enjoy an evening of Alice in Wonderland-inspired bites, specialty cocktails, and over-the-top decor with live entertainment, flamingo croquet, giveaways, photo booths, costume contests, and more. Grab your tickets online. And remember what the dormouse said—guests must be 21+ and present valid ID at check in.
Cost: $150 +fees

Photo courtesy of Belmont Park

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
Pacific Beach
Belmont Park is transforming into the ultimate fall experience, featuring a lineup of games, live music, specialty sips, and bites through Halloween. Enjoy free trick-or-treating every Sunday in October, live acoustic performances, and a festive beer garden on Friday nights along with specialty treats from Belmont Park’s most popular shops, iconic rides, attractions, and more. The beachside amusement park will also host the Pumpkin “Plunge” where kids can dive for pumpkins or go for a swim at the historic Plunge Pool, and Belmont Park’s seasonal Go Kart track will be open throughout October.

Photo courtesy of Harrah’s Resort SoCal

Indulge in boo-zy libations

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
Various locations
Halloween wouldn’t be complete without themed cocktails popping up at bars and restaurants throughout the city, and San Diego’s favorite watering holes are delivering in spectacular fashion. Town and Country Resort is hosting Flicks & Sips each Sunday night starting at 8 pm at Monkey Bar. For the month of October, they'll be showing everyone's favorite Halloween movies, with complimentary popcorn, creepy specialty cocktails like Poison Apple Martini (apple bourbon, lime-agave mix, pomegranate juice, garnished with a dried apple) and Witches Brew (vodka, melon liqueur, coconut rum, lime juice, Luxardo cherry). Grab some ghoulish, Instagram-worthy cocktails at Spiked, Harrah's Resort SoCal's craft cocktail bar, and experiment with a variety of smoky flavors. Try Black Magic (Teremana blanco tequila, agave, orange bitters, black salt rim, and a lime wheel), Bourbon Candy Apple, (bourbon, apple brandy, cranberry, turbinado syrup), or the epic Bloody Rita, served with Teremana Blanco Tequila and topped with red wine. For a smoky sensation, ask the mixologists for your cocktail to be shaken with smoke.
Cost: Varies with venue

AleSmith Brewing Company
AleSmith Brewing Company

Friday, October 14-Sunday, October 30 (select dates)
Mira Mesa
AleSmith Brewing Company pairs scares and beers on its haunted brewery tour, which takes you through the festive tap room to the shipping docks and beyond, into the wilds of the Zien Family Farm in search of the secret ingredient for its devilishly delicious Evil Dead Red. All ages are welcome to the tasting room, but the haunted event is not recommended for the littles. Several ticket options are available online.
Cost: $35 +fees for general admission, $25 +fees for designated drivers.

Lions, Tigers and Bears
Lions, Tigers and Bears

Saturday, October 29
Take a worry-free guided walk through Lions, Tigers and Bears, San Diego’s only accredited big cat and bear sanctuary, and watch rescued exotic animals chomp on goodie-stuffed pumpkins, splash around in their pools and play with their brothers and sisters at the annual Pumpkin Bash. Costumes are encouraged, and all safety guidelines will be enforced to ensure a safe visit for guests and animals alike. Proceeds will benefit the rescued animals, providing food, enrichment, habitat maintenance, veterinary care, and more.
Cost: Members: $30 for adults and $15 for kids. Non-members: $60 for adults and $35 for kids.

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
SeaWorld still has its kid-friendly SeaWorld Spooktacular Halloween event, but for the adults, its added Howl-O-Scream, with horrifying haunted houses, creeping creatures, terrifying rides, devilishly delicious cocktails, beer and bites, and a Vampire Circus. Howl-O-Scream is recommended for 13+ and is a separately ticketed nighttime event. Spring for an Evil Upgrade and get front of line access. Purchase tickets online.
Cost: $39.99-99.99 +fees, Evil Upgrades run an additional $34-164 +fees.

Photo courtesy of Westfield

Crawl the malls

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
Various locations
The local mall is always a great place to trick-or-treat, and this year is no exception. Three local Westfield malls are hosting festive Halloween events. At Westfield UTC, the Witches of Westfield host “brew stations” and family photos from 4-7 pm, plus mall-wide trick-or-treating on Halloween from 5–7 pm. Westfield Mission Valley has the Pinery Pumpkin Station for family-friendly fun that’s open daily through Halloween. Westfield Plaza Bonita celebrates Dia De Los Muertos, on Saturday, October 29 from 1-5 pm, welcoming families and children of all ages for an evening of traditional celebrations featuring festive décor, lively performances, Pixar’s Coco character meet and greets, custom skull face painting, and more.
Cost: Varies

marshall scotty's amusement park

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
El Cajon
If you grew up in San Diego, you likely celebrated your birthday at Marshal Scotty’s Playland Amusement Park, or know someone who did. Closed since 1998, it’s fallen into desolation and disrepair, leaving it prey to all manner of creeps, clowns, and curiosities lurking around the old ferris wheel, under the roller coaster, and in the hallways of the Houses of Horror. Tickets are sold at the door only.
Cost: $20 +$1 fee for credit card for general admission, $30 +$1 credit card fee for FastPass, so you can bypass the lines. Kids under five are free.

Photo courtesy of Good Time Design

Sunday, October 30
Liberty Station
Strut your stuff with your four-legged friends at The Presley’s annual Doggy Costume Contest, which will run 3-5 pm on October 30 on The Presley’s expansive outdoor patio. You’ll enjoy classic American fare, local seafood and shareable plates, in addition to a selection of craft cocktails while in full Halloween attire. The top three most imaginative human/dog duos will be awarded a prize, so come ready to show off your iconic style.
Cost: Varies

Friday, October 29
Nightmare on Normal Street returns to Hillcrest with a spooky street party. Hillcrest’s BooBash haunted dance party and costume competition begins with happy hour at 5 pm, followed by cocktails, live music and DJs, a runway costume competition with a $2,000 shopping prize for the winner, a pet costume competition, drag queen shows, and dancing till you drop! It all takes place under the Hillcrest Pride Flag at Pride Plaza on Normal Street. Grab a VIP pass and get two cocktails, food credit, private restrooms, and private stage viewing.
Cost: $15 +fees for general admission, $45 +fees for VIP at presale. $25 +fees for general admission, $55 +fees for VIP entry the day of.

Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado

Saturday, October 1–Monday, October 31
Share a spooky night on the beach with your friends and family at the Hotel del Coronado’s Ghost Roast, featuring a blazing fire pit at the beach, s’mores, and maybe even a visit from the Del’s own resident ghost, Kate Morgan. Make a reservation online.
Cost: $195 for up to ten guests.

Saturday, October 29
City Experiences
Spend Halloween weekend gazing at the glittering skyline along the San Diego Bay aboard Hornblower Cruises Pier Pressure Titanic Masquerade. Party aboard The Inspiration yacht, with three decks, two floors of music, seven of San Diego’s top DJs, and spectacular views of the cityscape and Coronado bridge. Reserve your spot online.
Cost: $50-200 +fees.

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park
The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
Balboa Park
Balboa Park’s Haunted Trail begins with The eXperiment Maze, a 3,500-square-foot maze where your childhood fairytales come to life, but you’ll wish they hadn’t. All aboard the Ghoul Bus with a cloister of evil nuns heading down a pathway patrolled by chainsaw-wielding zombie rodeo clowns, then feel your way through the fog of Vecna’s upside down world and saddle up in the Zombie Ghost Town where Santa’s sinister snowmen and evil elves lurk. Your best bet is to purchase tickets online, at the door sales are subject to availability.
Cost: $27.99-$39.99 +fees.

corn maze
Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Get corn-fused in a maze

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
Various locations
Corn mazes across the county are open for safe, open-air family fun now through Halloween, and offer plenty of spooky activities in addition to navigating through the cornstalks. Check out Rancho Bernardo Pumpkin Farm and Bonita Pumpkin Farm for eight-foot tall stalks with a few disarming deadends, plus hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and cut-your-own sunflowers. Carlsbad Strawberry Company hosts a 1.5-mile maze that’s challenging but not crazy-making, as well as a weekend-only haunted Field of Screams that’s definitely best suited for older kids and adults. They also have an awesome apple cannon, tractor rides, and a pumpkin patch. Head to Ramona’s Mountain Valley Ranch for 2.5 acres of corny labyrinths, a corn cannon and pony rides. A cute little maze awaits your young’uns at Summers Past Farms, plus a fun hay fort for the littles to explore, a sweet store with freshly made herbal soaps, and a lovely coffee bar.
Cost: Varies

Ongoing through Monday, October 31
Mission Valley
Haunted Hotel Disturbance in Mission Valley is a three-in-one horrorfest with the creepiest characters imaginable! Start in the zombie-filled Haunted Hotel, where the dead have been disturbed, and are on the loose throughout the killer kitchen, steaming boiler room, and unholy chainsaw bridal suite, followed by Stars of the Silver Scream, featuring horror icons of past and present like Captain Spaulding, Valak, Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Pennywise, and many others who’ll stalk and terrorize you using the tools that made them famous. Finally, you’ll enter a heart-stopping, blacklight 3D Freak Fest infested with demented clowns and malevolent mutants in a pulse-pounding, blacklit maze. Buy tickets online.
Cost: $27.99-39.99 +fees.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.