Los Angeles

Get Totally Freaked Out with These 12 Halloween Events in LA

From horrific theme parks to creepy corn mazes, haunted houses, and more.

Nights of the Jack
Nights of the Jack
Nights of the Jack

In Los Angeles, Halloween isn’t just a night, it’s a whole damn season that begins in mid September and ends sometime in early November. Perhaps it’s due to our status as the entertainment capital of the world, but each year for almost the entirety of fall, we’re treated to a zombie super-horde’s worth of costumed actors, creepy corn mazes, and decked-out haunted houses, plus interactive plays that bring Halloween’s classic tales to life. And after a year off due to COVID, you can be sure they’re ultra psyched to make you scream in terror this year. Here are the best places to get ridiculously scared this year, plus a few slightly less spooky experiences for those who just want candy and Instagrammable moments.

Halloween Horror Nights - Hollywood
Halloween Horror Nights – Hollywood
Halloween Horror Nights – Hollywood

Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios (Universal City)
Thursdays through Sundays until Halloween
Basically the granddaddy of LA’s obsession with Halloween, HHN feels just a bit tamer this year, although maybe that’s just because our anxiety’s been at 11 for the past year and a half. This theme park with rides and experiences that pay homage to classic Hollywood films gets outfitted with terrifying mazes that bring horror movies and TV shows like The Exorcist and AMC’s The Walking Dead to life. Perhaps as a nod to our last year of quarantine, this year’s theme is “Never Go Alone” and the special effects in the mazes are incredible, per usual: Regan actually floats in The Exorcist maze, you can smell the “meat” in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the walls in The Haunting of Hill House are literally full of ghosts. VIP here is totally worth it: without the upgrade, the lines are the scariest thing you’ll see all night.
Cost: $69 and up

Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse

2640 Pomona Blvd (Pomona)
Thursdays through Sundays until November 21; also October 20 and 27
If Halloween Horror Nights are the granddaddy of Halloween, Delusion is its gold standard: the ultra-interactive “haunted plays” have become deeply embedded into LA’s Halloween culture. Since that sort of interaction was obviously impossible in the height of COVID last year, creator Jon Braver’s doubled down on the participatory elements this year-be prepared to explore haunted attics, get down on your knees to squirm through crawl spaces, and maybe even have some firearms training when you hit this year’s edition, which returns to the attraction’s haunted house roots by taking over a century-old Victorian mansion (and its entire grounds) in Pomona. The VIP add-on is worth it if you’re especially into the storytelling or still spooked by crowds: it’s an intimate add-on with only four people allowed in at a time.
Cost: $89.99 and up

Reign Of Terror

Janss Marketplace (Thousand Oaks)
Fridays and Saturdays through November 6; also October 24, 28, and 31
Originally a haunted house-style DIY attraction, Reign of Terror has become a must-visit for horror aficionados thanks to its expansiveness (the attraction is composed of over 130 different interconnected rooms) and its cast, who seem to really get the wait-until-the-right-moment memo for maximum fear. The newest addition is called “Unhallowed Ground,” a section that’s populated by a realm of pagan monks; for those who want to maximize their scares, the final night is a “lights out” edition of ROT, with the only illumination one glowstick per group.
Cost: $30-$55

Surfer's Point Live
Surfer’s Point Live
Surfer’s Point Live

Ventura County Fear Grounds

Ventura County Fairgrounds (Ventura)
Thursday-Sundays through Halloween; also October 26 and 27
This brand-new, totally open-air attraction is sort of a beginner’s haunt: not ultra-themed, not insanely scary, but still full of enough jump-scares and fog (SO MUCH FOG) to freak anyone out, or for families with older kids (it’s not recommended for kids under 13). The “fear” grounds are divided into three sections: the chainsaw-guy-enhanced Fright Train, The Cage (with a lot of clanging and banging), and The Terror Trail.
Cost: $29+

LA Haunted Hayride

Griffith Park (Los Feliz)
Thursday-Sundays through Halloween, also October 13, 20, 25, 26, and 27
Now in its 13th year, the Haunted Hayride has become synonymous with Halloween fun, toeing the line between campiness and actual horror. This year’s no exception, with the newest addition a maze that starts in a haunted ‚Äė70s diner, plus attractions that include a Midnight Mortuary with a staff that’s eager for new business, a themed town called Midnight Falls, and everything from killer clowns to killer aliens on the hayride itself. VIP affords you shorter wait times, which could come in handy considering how popular the hayride is likely to be this year.
Cost: $29.99+

Knott's Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Scary Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park)
Thursdays-Sundays through Halloween
Knott’s Scary Farm claims to be the biggest haunt in SoCal and when you’re there it’s clearly not a misnomer: the entirety of Knott’s Berry Farm is taken over with Halloweeniness, with nine mazes (ranging from a new hypnosis-themed maze to classics including the Pumpkin Eater maze, which culminates with the most gigantic squash you can imagine), as well as Halloween overlays on some of the rides and shows including the hilarious improv-minded “Puppet Up!: Uncensored.”
Cost: $53+

Haunt O' Ween
Haunt O’ Ween
Haunt O’ Ween

Haunt O’ Ween

6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd (Woodland Hills)
Every day through Halloween
Launched last year as a drive-thru attraction, this year’s Haunt O’ Ween is a family-friendly ready-for-Insta event that leans more towards the treat side of trick-or-treating: there’s candy distributed throughout the event, which also includes Halloween-themed tunnels and a recreation of the Addams Family mansion-perfectly timed as a tie-in for the new animated movie.
Cost: $35+

Zombie Joe’s

ZJU Theater (North Hollywood)
Urban Death: Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween and 10/31; Vampire’s Puppet: Sundays and Mondays through 10/25
Notorious in the underground haunt scene for full nudity and how’d-they-get-away-with-that gore, Zombie Joe’s may be the actual-scariest haunt on this list. This year they’re offering two totally different experiences: their classic Urban Death attraction, which takes participants through an extraordinarily claustrophobic maze before a show that’s essentially a series of darker and darker macabre vignettes, and the new Vampire’s Puppet, presumably a more traditional stage play…but, honestly, you should come prepared for anything. (A toned-down, family-friendly version of Urban Death is happening on Saturdays and on Halloween at 7 pm)
Cost: $20

Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags’ Fright Fest

Magic Mountain (Valencia)
Fridays through Sundays until Halloween and October 28
Not only does Six Flags have the best rollercoasters in SoCal, which run with their lights off all night through this Halloween extravaganza, but they deck the park out in a bevy of “scare zones,” which this year includes a new one featuring cyberpunk zombies (eat your heart out, William Gibson-literally). There are also mazes, shows, and themed snacks and cocktails.
Cost: $65+

House of Spirits

York Manor (Highland Park)
Fridays-Sundays through Halloween
If you can’t fathom conjuring the dead without a cocktail in your hand, this attraction’s for you: it’s one part interactive theater, one part haunted house, and many parts schmancy cocktail party. Each ticket comes with four drinks (!), which you’ll consume while exploring an open-world haunt inspired by Russian and Scandinavian folk tales.
Cost: $65+

Vampire.pizza

Your house
Ongoing
This at-home Halloween experience is basically an at-home escape room game plus pizza and was launched during the pandemic. This year it’s returned with an all-new experience. Order the pie, play the Roaring 20’s-themed game, and win real-world prizes, including passes to some of the other attractions listed above.
Cost: $29 per person

Nights of the Jack
Nights of the Jack
Nights of the Jack

Nights of the Jack

King Gillette Ranch (Calabasas)
Wednesdays through Sundays until Halloween; and October 25 and 26th
By design, the least scary attraction on this list, Nights of the Jack is the perfect Halloween experience for those who want to get into the spirit of the season without being freaked out. Organisers create beautiful light installations using thousands of pumpkins on a totally immersive trail; there’s also live pumpkin carving, a craft beer bar, and a bevy of LA’s best food trucks.
Cost: $9.99+

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Jeff Miller would love to know about any home haunts, or any major ones he missed. Hit him up at @jeffmillerla on Insta.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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