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San Diego Halloween Guide

Parties, pumpkins, costumes, more


Get into the spirit of Halloween with San Diego Magazine's City Guide. We show you the best haunted houses, this year's hot costume ideas, where to find your perfect outfit and more. Check back for further updates!

“Spooky” Things to  Do

The Whaley House

Thomas Whaley knew it was all about location, location, location — and 152 years later, his family estate still stands as one of the most famous homes in the United States, thanks to the paranormal activity that’s occurred throughout the house. Built in 1857 by the entrepreneurial businessman, the Whaley House has been called the most haunted house in the country by The Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted. Whaley built this family residence on the site of the town’s old gallows, where dramatic public hangings occurred. Thereafter, the Whaley family suffered tragedy after tragedy with the death of their children, including the disturbing suicide of their daughter Violet. The house has attracted visitors from all over ever since the tragic events, and many have admitted to seeing ghosts, shadows, and flashes. With Halloween just around the corner, this is one haunted attraction you won’t want to miss. Past & Presence Ghost Tours Oct. 11 and 18 10 p.m.-11:30 p.m.; Ghost Hunting Tour Oct. 12, 13, 19, and 20 from 10:30 p.m. to midnight; general admission on Oct. 31 from 10 a.m.-midnight. 2476 San Diego Ave., 619-297-7511

The Haunted Hotel

Take a ride on the hotel's Hellevator down to the basement where terrible horrors await to scare the living daylights out of you. Fridays and Saturdays 6 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday except for Oct. 22, 23 and 29. $15-$17

The Haunted Trail

All month a mile-long terrifying trek awaits you in Balboa Park. Once you've fought your way through the trail, head over to the eXperiment, a maze that's only goal is to never let you leave. Wednesday – Sunday 7 p.m. Also Monday and Tuesday Oct. 29 and 30. Tickets $15-$30

San Diego Old Town’s Most Haunted

Learn about one of San Diego's spookiest spots with a Walking Ghost Tour beginning at 9 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Adults $19, kids $10

Art Attack

California Ballet’s Dracula

A unique combination of seductive drama and movement mesmerizes the audience through its conclusion. October 27-28. $30+

National Comedy Theatre Halloween Spooktacular

Ready to laugh until you die? Then the Halloween Spooktaculuar comedy show is the perfect alternative to the typical terrifying Halloween activities. This hilariously spooky show highlights improv at its finest with dangerous sketches including one scene where a performer immerses his head underwater for the entire act. Oct 26-27 at 7:30 p.m. & 9:45 p.m. with an additional showing on Oct. 27 at 11:45 p.m. 3717 India St., 619-295-4999

House of Ghosts”

Venture out to a retro late-night Halloween film screening, with the local premiere of Chistopher Mihm’s House of Ghosts. October 31.

Kid-Friendly Options

Haunted Birch Aquarium

Take the kids to Birch Aquarium for Haunted Birch Aquarium: Shipwrecked! The entire family can enjoy spooky science activities, explore the "wreckage" for sunken treasures, dance to zydeco band Billy Lee & the Swamp Critters, and enjoy close encounters of the fishy kind. October 26-27, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. $17 in advance, $19 at the door.

Spooky SeaWorld

Head to SeaWorld for its Halloween Spooktacular. Activities include a silly and spooky Pirates 4-D movie experience, The Search for Captain Lucky's Treasure walk-through adventure, Penelope’s Pumpkinfish Patch, Clyde & Seamore’s Spooky Adventure, and an Octopus’ Candy Garden.

Legoland Brick or Treat

Every Saturday and Sunday this month, Legoland gets in the Halloween spirit. Events include trick-or-treating along a special trail filled with spooky creatures made out of Legos, Hubble Bubble’s Dance Party with the Witchettes, and a costume contest on Saturday nights. $30+

Halloween at the Inn

Celebrate Halloween at Rancho Bernardo Inn with two nights of festive Halloween fun for the whole family, on October 26-27. Festivities include a not-so-scary haunted house, costume contest, face painting, pumpkin decorating, and games. Seasonal treats and food items will also be available (including adults-only options like glow-in-the-dark cocktails). 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. $17 per child up to age 14.

Balboa Park Halloween Family Day

Explore a spooktacular array of activities, crafts, and costume parades. Critter Cavern at the Natural History Museum is among the highlights at this year’s park-wide Halloween celebration. October 27, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Kids under 12 are free with paid adult museum admission.

Safe Trick or Treating

Pumpkin Lane in Encinitas will be offering a safe alternative for trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Grab the kids for dancing, games, prizes, food, and more all in the spirit of the night. October 31, 5 p.m. - 8p.m.

Where to Get the Perfect Look

The Costume Shop

With affordable costumes and a wide range to choose from, North Park’s The Costume Shop offers everything you need to complete your look from costumes to accessories to makeup. Open Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sun. 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. 2960 North Park Way, 619-574-6201

Buffalo Breath Co

This year-round costume store has an outfit for anything and everything. Looking for medieval attire? They’ve got it. Need rockin’ ’80s garb? They’ve got that, too. With a plethora of costumes to choose from and a cost-efficient rental option, Buffalo Breath Co. houses a broad variety of Halloween get-ups. Open Mon. – Fri. 10 a.m. -8 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. 2050 Hancock Street, 619-297-1175


Once a year, Spirit rises and brings out the must-have costumes for each October. Locations vary.

Buffalo Exchange

The ultimate thrift store, Buffalo Exchange turns into Halloween heaven during this time of year with unusual costumes and wacky pieces that are perfect for completing a unique look. Patrons can buy, sell, and trade anything and everything they need for the perfect Halloween attire. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. 1007 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach, 858-273-6277; and 3862 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest, 619-298-4411

Party Must-Haves

Experimental Bloody Marys

Presentation and creativity is key when throwing a Halloween bash. Forget the usual plastic cups and serve your spirits in plastic beakers. A spicy bloody Mary dished out in a science beaker will create an eerie mad-scientist vibe that will leave your guests wondering exactly what’s in the mystery concoction.

Pumpkin Bowling

Entertainment and games are a must, and with pumpkin bowling you’ll be able to use a Halloween staple in a unique and fun way. Cover a few two-liter bottles with white paper and draw on Casper-esque faces. Set up the ghostly pins outside and bowl away, using small pumpkins as the balls.

Graveyard Trivia

Add some chilling decorations and create a fun game with homemade tombstones. Cut out a handful of tombstones on cardboard and come up with monster trivia to write on the front. After your guests write down their answers while making their way through the creepy graveyard, tally up who has the most correct and hand out a prize. Need some suggestions? What are the names of the Addams Family children? How many Saw films have been made to-date? Who played the psychotic family man turned murderer in The Shining?

Mozzarella Eyeballs

What’s a great Halloween party without spooky treats? This year jazz up your finger foods with some tasty eyeballs. All you need is individual mozzarella balls with a small chunk of olive appropriately placed as the pupil and a dab of tomato paste to create a bloodshot look.

Fun for Foodies

Hallo-Wine & Spirits Party

Celebrate Halloween at the Del with a trick-or-treating adventure for grown-ups. Sample a variety of wine, cheese, and chocolate tastings from ENO on the ghoulishly decorated Garden Patio, then head to the Crown Room for more food and dancing. October 27, 7 p.m. - midnight. $100 per person. A special Halloween-themed area for kids aged 4-12 is also available for $50 per child (advance reservations required).

Dress Up

Halloween Cruise

October 27th will be a scary good time aboard the special Halloween dance party cruise brought to you exclusively by San Diego's Flagship Cruises & Events. Dig up your most ghoulish friends and best Halloween costume, and come out for a night full of screams out on the water! Dance the night away as Flagship cruises around the beautiful San Diego Harbor. Take a break from dancing and enjoy the lit up San Diego skyline and sights around the San Diego Bay.  For just $40 each, you and your friends receive a three-hour cruise around the San Diego Bay, dancing and music entertainment, a complimentary boarding cocktail, and the chance to win a great costume contest prize.

Halloween Bash at Seaport Village

October 27th Seaport Village will welcome fall and San Diego locals with its second annual Halloween bash 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

Smashing Pumpkin Martini

Start off with The Grant Grill’s Smashing Pumpkin “tini.” Ingredients include Pumpkin and Star Anise infused 10 Cane Rum, Grand Marnier, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Saffron Syrup, Cardamom Bitters, and Fresh Meyer Lemon. This seasonal cocktail can be enjoyed for $12 a glass. Cheers!

Halloween Bash at the Hard Rock Hotel

Halloween costume parties don't get much bigger or crazier than the annual event at the Hard Rock Hotel with three floors, five venues, and 15 DJs. October 27, $60

Monster Bash

The Gaslamp turns into a Halloween wonderland with thousands of partygoers, music, dancing, and a $3,000 prize for the best costume. October 27, 6 p.m. - midnight. $35+

Halloween Weekend at Stingaree

October 26: Havana Brown will perform live featuring Pitbull and DJ Brett Bodley. October 27: Stingaree’s Asylum featuring DJ Cobra. And October 31: “Halloweird’ with ill Gates and Stephan Jacobs Robot.

House of Blues Halloween Block Party

The ultimate party with top DJs including DJ Skratchy and Tribe of Kings, a dance performance by Urban FX and a Halloween costume contest with $500 cash prizes. October 27.

Halloween Pub Crawl Gaslamp Ed

Put on that costume for the World Famous event with a variety of venues throughout the Gaslamp District with excellent drink specials all night long. October 25.

LED Presents AfroJack @ Petco Park

The World’s favorite Dutch DJ Afrojack will be on the West Coast this Halloween with a performance at Petco Park where Bobby Burns, RL Grime, TJR, and Anna Lunoe will help blowout the bass for thousands of costumed EDM fans. October 27.

RA Sushi Boo Bash

October 31 celebrate Halloween with a ghoulin’ good time at Boo Bash 2012. From 7 p.m. to close, guests will enjoy a variety of “Boo Bites” including Spider Rolls, Vampire Shrimp and Voodoo Crispy Chicken, and "Potent Potions." Dress to impress for the costume contest, with a $100 RA gift certificate for the first place winner!

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