Top San Diego Halloween Events 2023

Spooky fun, thrills and chills abound across San Diego this Halloween season.

Celebrate Halloween with these Festive S.D. Happenings

Kids in costume enjoying “Halloween Aglow” at Birch Aquarium at Scripps

“Halloween Aglow” at Birch Aquarium
Oct. 27-28.
 Looking for some family-friendly Halloween fun? The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography is hosting two evenings of festivities. The kiddos can trick-or-treat around the aquarium; watch skeleton divers in the Giant Kelp Forest; get hands-on with an interactive bioluminescence experience (i.e., discover how movement causes bioluminescent plankton to glow at night); play games and dance to live music; and learn more about the interesting research happening at Scripps Oceanography. Family-friendly costumes are encouraged. 6-8:30 p.m. $27 members; $30 general public. 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, 858.534.3474

San Diego Zombie Crawl
Oct. 27, 28, 31.
 Can you handle three days of partying with the undead? Get ready for one hell of a weekend at this bonanza of booze, ghouls and graveyards in the Gaslamp. The chaos kicks off with Fright Night on Friday at American Junkie and ends with Freakish Finales at Parq Nightclub. Tickets include access to more than 20 bars, clubs and restaurants, all within walking distance; hosted “welcome potions”; dining and drink discounts; special parking and hotel rates; and more. Tickets start at $35. 628 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter

Dancing at Chula Vista’s Día de los Muertos celebration 

Día de los Muertos Celebration in Chula Vista
Oct. 28.
 The largest Día de los Muertos celebration in South Bay, this third-annual, family-friendly event returns to downtown Chula Vista—which will be transformed into a place to honor deceased ancestors and welcome their return as memories. Festivities include an altar-building contest, with three categories and cash prizes; a Catrín/Catrina ensemble competition; myriad themed photo opportunities; a screening of Guillermo del Toro’s film, The Book of Life, on the Papel Picado Stage (7:30 p.m.); live music and dance performances; face painting; and food vendors. 3-8 p.m. Free entry. Downtown Chula Vista

Nightmare on Normal Street
Oct. 28.
 Eat, drink and be scary with the return Hillcrest’s infamous Halloween block party and costume competition. Highlights include a “monstrous bar” serving beer, wine and cocktails; a special VIP area; local food trucks; beats by top local DJs all night long; a massive outdoor dance floor; and some of the best people-watching you’ll find anywhere. The evening’s famed costume competition will offer $3,000 in prizes, complete with celebrity guest judges. There’s even a pet costume competition! 5-11 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Pride Flag Plaza, 1500 University Ave., Hillcrest

“HalGLOWeen” at San Diego Zoo
Through Oct. 29.
 The San Diego Zoo comes aglow at night, with the return of its Halloween-themed spectacular—running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October. Enjoy plenty of interactive family fun—including “Boolamoves” with physical activities to get the kiddos moving; performances by the Skeleton Band the Boo Crew scarecrow stilt-walkers; performances by acrobatic spider performer “The Spider’s W.E.B.” at Wildlife Explorers Basecamp; the eerily glowing “Python Path” through the Reptile House; and much more. Festivities start at 5 p.m. See website for admission info. 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park, 619.231.1515

“Savage Gardens” at S.D. Botanic Garden
Through Oct. 29.
 Get into the Halloween spirit with a visit to the San Diego Botanic Garden, which presents its exhibition: “Savage Gardens: The Real and Imaginary World of Carnivorous Plants.” Visitors can explore three larger-than-life installations inside and around the glass-enclosed Dickinson Family Conservatory—featuring a moving, interactive Venus Flytrap sculpture, a walk-in Fanged Pitcher Plant Nepenthes and more; plus a collection of real carnivorous species on display; and spooky Halloween decorations dotted throughout the property. See website for hours and tickets and reservations. 300 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, 760.436.3036

Family-friendly fun at Trick-or-Treat on India Street

Trick-or-Treat on India Street
Oct. 29.
 The Little Italy Association promises a spooktacular time at Trick-or-Treat on India Street—during which Little Italy’s India Street will be closed for families and kiddos to safely stroll among local businesses to collect candy and treats. Start at the Piazza della Famiglia, whose 10,000-square-foot, alfresco gathering space will be transformed into The Nightmare Before Christmas—complete with a 13-foot-tall Jack Skellington photo op; Halloween decor, music and stacks of pumpkins; and an Oogie Boogie booth offering maps of local participating businesses. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Along India Street, Little Italy

The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park
Through Oct. 31.
 Test your fears of the dark and unknown by experiencing two “haunts” at one location. The 3,500-square-foot eXperiment Maze turns your cherished childhood fairytales into adulthood “scarytales.” (You’ll never think of Pinocchio in the same way again!) And The Haunted Trail—named by CNN as one of the “Top 5 Best Haunted Attractions in America”—takes you on a mile-long path of terror through twisted pines, oaks and unpleasant surprises. Five words: zombie rodeo clowns wielding chainsaws. See website for hours, tickets and parking tips. Corner of Balboa Drive and Juniper, Balboa Park, 619.696.7227

SeaWorld’s thrilling rides after dark during “Howl-O-Scream”

“Howl-O-Scream” at SeaWorld
Through Oct. 31.
 Are you afraid of ghosts? SeaWorld San Diego invites you face your fears, as the park transforms into a haunted wonderland after sundown. This means multiple haunted houses; “scare zones” and “roaming haunts” (watch your back, literally!); live performances from sinister dancers and zombie DJs; creepy cocktails and treats; and a chance to ride SeaWorld’s most thrilling coasters and attractions after dark. “Howl-O-Scream” takes place on select dates through October, beginning at 7 p.m.; check website in advance for schedule and admission info. 500 SeaWorld Drive, Mission Bay, 619.222.4732

“The Mad Hatter Experience” at The US Grant
Through Oct. 31. In the spirit of Halloween, The US Grant is offering some fun Mad Hatter-themed programming. Pop into the Grant Grill Lounge, where a special bar menu offers “smoking cocktails” like the Skull Popper in a crystal skull; and “twisted bites” such as the “Soil and Bones” marrow and root vegetables, smoked braised Lamb with nutty mole, and meatball sliders. And make reservations now for The Mad Hatter dinner on Oct. 28—when just 13 diners will get to partake in a 13-course tasting menu at Grant Grill. 326 Broadway, downtown, 619.744.2077

Mr. Jack O’Lanterns Pumpkin Patch
Through Oct. 31.
 Pick your preferred pumpkin patch experience with a variety of offerings at two Mr. Jack O’Lanterns locations in San Diego: La Jolla and Belmont Park. Visitors can pick out their perfect pumpkin and partake in family-friendly activities and games, including a bounce house and pumpkin bowling; as well as shop for Halloween costumes and decorations such as hay bales and corn stalks; along with pumpkin-carving kits and decorating kits available for purchase. Open daily. Free admission and parking at both locations. See website for hours and addresses. 844.452.2567

Carlsbad Strawberry Co. Pumpkin Patch
Through Nov. 5. This family farm’s fall wonderland is fun for all ages. After picking your perfect gourd from the ample pumpkin patch, wander through an enchanting corn maze; take a tractor ride; meet Shetland sheep and Nubian goats; and explore fields of marigolds and lavender. There’s even a separate haunted corn maze for teens and adults (F-Sa 7-10 p.m.); plus festive fall treats and beverages. Open daily at 9 a.m. $10 general admission (ages 5 and under are free); $25 per person for haunted corn maze admission. 1050 Cannon Road, Carlsbad, 760.603.9608

Photo credits: Trick-or-Treat on India Street is courtesy of the Little Italy Association. All other images are courtesy of the venues and events featured.


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