A Zombie Crawl, a High-Seas Adventure, and More Only-in-San Diego Halloween Events

From creepy cocktails to family-friendly festivities and bears eating pumpkins, here are the best Halloween events in San Diego this year.

haunted corn maze
Photo courtesy of Carlsbad Strawberry Company
Photo courtesy of Carlsbad Strawberry Company

It’s one of the best times of year in San Diego. It’s time for creepy mazes in remote cornfields, scary hotels filled with restless souls, and ghouls roaming abandoned amusement parks all across the county to terrify your days and haunt your dreams. There’s also plenty of ghostly storytelling, a zombie bar crawl, and a high-seas Halloween adventure. Here are some of the best Halloween events in San Diego to make 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.

The Haunted Amusement Park haunted house
Photo courtesy of The Haunted Amusement Park

Haunted Houses in San Diego

Various dates through October 31
El Cajon, $25
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.

Through October 31
Balboa Park, $32.99 and up
Balboa Park’s Haunted Trail begins with The eXperiment Maze, a 3,500-square-foot maze where characters from your childhood fairytales have come to life, but you’ll wish they hadn’t. After you survive the maze, it’s all aboard the Ghoul Bus with zombie prisoners heading down a pathway to a crazed clown house. Along the way, you’ll visit Demented Doll Island fishing village and the Haunted Hotel. Your best bet is to purchase tickets online, as at the door sales are subject to availability.

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa party invitation
Photo courtesy of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

Halloween Parties in San Diego

October 28
Hillcrest, $25 and up
Nightmare on Normal Street returns to Hillcrest with a scary street party. Hillcrest’s BooBash haunted dance party and costume competition begins with happy hour at 5 pm, followed by cocktails, live music, DJs, a runway costume competition with a $2,000 shopping prize for the winner, a pet costume competition, and dancing until you drop. It all occurs under the Hillcrest Pride Flag at Pride Plaza on Normal Street. Grab a VIP pass and get two cocktails, food credit, a VIP bar, and a private stage viewing. Tickets are available online.

October 28
La Jolla, $115
Celebrate Halloween in style at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa’s Wicked Black and White Ball. Its beautiful gardens will transform into a one-night-only, twisted cocktail party, where guests are invited to indulge in mayhem and enjoy an evening of bites, specialty cocktails, and over-the-top decor with live entertainment, giveaways, photo booths, a costume contest, and more. Grab your tickets online. Guests must be 21+ and present valid ID at check-in.

October 28
City Experiences, $49 and up
Spend Halloween weekend gazing at the glittering skyline along the San Diego Bay aboard City Experiences Pier Pressure Titanic Masquerade. Party aboard The Inspiration yacht, with three decks, two floors of music, four of San Diego’s top DJs, and spectacular views of the cityscape and Coronado Bridge. Reserve your spot online.

Various dates through October 29
Mira Mesa, $30
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.

October 31
HIllcrest, $13 and up
The party never really stops at Urban Mo’s, a het-friendly gay bar famous for its daily bottomless mimosas. On Halloween, join in the fun with Spooketti & Show Tunes, an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner for just $7.50, and show tunes with the Dinner Theatre Divas, hosted by crabby queen Miriam T and featuring Chi Chi Fuera, Miss Gay San Diego Tiffany Roze, Winter Sinclair, Max Cadillac and Tinkle Belle. Dress in your finest for the costume contest, with $500 in cash and prizes up for grabs. Don’t miss out on this fabulous night–grab your tickets before they sell out.

Various dates through October 31
Gaslamp Quarter, $69 and up
Grab your crew and head down to the Gaslamp Quarter for the hottest Halloween party in San Diego! Celebrate at more than 20 clubs, bars, and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other along Fifth Avenue. Party on Friday, Saturday, or Tuesday with free entry, welcome shots at seven different venues, exclusive food and beverage specials, entertainment, discounted hotel and parking, and more. You’ll start your night with an opening party at American Junkie, where you’ll grab your map of suggested routes, culminating at an after-party hosted by Parc Nightclub. This event is sure to sell out, so grab your tickets before they’re gone!

kids trick or treating in Belmont Park
Photo courtesy of Belmont Park

Family-Friendly Halloween Events in San Diego

October 28
Alpine, $30 and up
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 siblings 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.

Various dates through October 31 (select dates)
Seaworld, $41.99 and up
SeaWorld still has its kid-friendly SeaWorld Spooktacular Halloween event, but for the adults, it added Howl-O-Scream, with horrifying haunted houses, creeping creatures, terrifying rides, devilishly delicious cocktails, beer, and bites. 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.

Through October 31
Pacific Beach, Prices vary 
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 seasonal beer-on-tap, 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.

Through October 31
Coronado, $210 for up to ten guests
Share a scary 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.

Corn Mazes

Through October 31
Various locations, Prices vary
Corn mazes across the county are open for safe, open-air family fun now through Halloween and offer plenty of scary 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 too hard, as well as a weekend-only haunted Field of Screams that’s definitely best suited for older kids and adults. They also have goats, rabbits, tractor rides, and pumpkin patches. 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.

Through October 31
Downtown, $19.50 and up
Celebrate the scary season at Rooftop Cinema Club Embarcadero at the Manchester Grand Hyatt with the ultimate outdoor cinema experience. Classic Halloween films are lined up for the entire month of October, covering every genre from The Addams Family to American Psycho. Rooftop Cinema Club gives you a luxe movie experience with panoramic views of downtown San Diego, state-of-the-art wireless headphones, and brand-new Adirondack chairs and loveseats. Craft brews, movie-themed cocktails, and plenty of noshes are available. Check out the entire Halloween schedule and buy tickets in advance here.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer.