There's no denying the magnetism of autumn's deliciously shivery atmosphere - and I'm not talking about the chill in the air.
San Diego autumn means Santa Ana winds on moonless nights; cauldrons of dry ice; provocative costume contests at Gaslamp nightclubs; the sabotage of summer-long diets with bulk bags of candy; in-home horror movie festivals; and scarecrows that might or might not be alive (yeah, that's how I nearly peed my belly dancer costume in the sixth grade).
We're talking Halloween - the ultimate autumn holiday. No disrespect to Thanksgiving, of course. Halloween in San Diego means it's season for San Diego's Haunted Houses. . . and Hotels, and Trails.
Haunted Houses are the definition of Halloween in San Diego. We're lucky enough to have several, including the Haunted Hotel in Downtown San Diego, The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park, and Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds (er, Scaregrounds). For those too old to trick-or-treat, but too young to lug trick-or-treaters around, San Diego Haunted Houses are the perfect evening diversion. Take a look. . .
San Diego's Best Haunted Houses
The Haunted Hotel
All your favorite - and least favorite - horror movies come to life at the Downtown San Diego Haunted Hotel, located at the corner of 4th Avenue and Market Street in the Gaslamp Quarter. Wander down dark, bloodstained hallways where shadows stream the walls. Read More. . .
Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
Halloween is looming towards us, and the Del Mar Fairgrounds has become the Del Mar Scaregrounds once again, home to San Diego's largest haunted celebration: the Scream Zone. In honor of its tenth anniversary, the San Diego Scream Zone will feature three different doses of dismay. Read More. . .
The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park
Without a doubt, the Haunted Trail of Balboa Park is one of the most fearsome Halloween events in San Diego. By day, Balboa Park is a sanctuary of lush, soothing beauty. By night, it undergoes a terrifying transformation. Read More. . .
Frightmare on Market
This year, Frightmare on Market presents Blood Bayou, a celebration of New Orleans haunts and horrors in the basement of a Victorian mansion, located on Sixth Avenue and Market Street in Downtown San Diego.
Family-Friendly San Diego Haunted Houses
These kid-friendly Halloween events and Haunted Houses offer playful scares and upbeat Halloween fun.
The Mira Mesa Monster Manor
The Mira Mesa Monster Manor boasts a daytime Lite Frite event for kids under 12 (and your easily frightened roommate), as well as a Night Haunt after dark. The event is located in the Target shopping center parking lot at 8235 Mira Mesa Boulevard. See the Monster Manor website for dates and details.
Haunted Birch Aquarium
Something's fishy at San Diego's Birch Aquarium.. (I know, I know). The Haunted Birch Aquarium, held the weekend before Halloween, offers Halloween entertainment for all ages. Play carnival games, listen to spooky "maritime" tales, and even "get slimed". The event is $15, or $11 for Birch Aquarium members. See the Haunted Birch Aquarium website for more information.
Spooky Sleepover at the San Diego Zoo
On October 20th, spend the night among nocturnal critters at the San Diego Zoo's Spooky Sleepover. The event is packed with fun and games for children 4 and up. At a hefty $89, this isn't San Diego's cheapest Halloween event, but it's definitely one of the best. Plus, all proceeds benefit the San Diego Zoological Society. Visit the San Diego Zoo website for more information.
Real Haunted Houses in San Diego
We admit that the aforementioned Haunted Houses are merely simulations. . . except for that guy with a chainsaw lurking down the hall.
San Diego is home to several sites widely recognized as haunted. By real, live (well, sort of) ghosts. Among them are the Whaley House (called "the most haunted house in America" by Life Magazine and the Travel Channel) and the El Campo Santo Cemetery in Old Town, the Horton Grand Hotel and the San Diego Maritime Museum Downtown; and the Hotel Del Coronado. Book a San Diego Ghost Tour
Halloween Night gets even more freaky. Take a look at our featured Halloween Night Events in San Diego.