Though San Diego boasts pleasant weather year-round, the end of summer definitely heralds some changes for residents. Beaches gradually become less crowded, cafes start offering pumpkin and cinnamon-flavored beverages, and Halloween festivities loom around the corner.
As one of the most diverse, vibrant, and eclectic cities in the world, San Diego offers a huge variety of seasonal Halloween activities you won’t want to miss. From classic haunted houses to kid-friendly events to cultural festivals, and beyond — here’s our guide to San Diego’s top haunted houses, Halloween activities, and seasonal festivals this year.
1. Haunted San Diego Ghost Tours
If you’re drawn to the lore and legends of historic San Diego, then you’ll absolutely love taking a ride with Haunted San Diego Ghost Tours this Halloween season. You’ll take the Ghost Coach on a tour through San Diego’s most haunted sites — from Old Town to Sherman Heights to the Gaslamp District, and finally to the El Campo Santo Cemetery in Old Town.
Along the way, professional storytellers will regale you with tales of the ghosts and hauntings of San Diego. At certain stops, expect to walk up to two city blocks and even enter some haunted locations like a haunted mansion, a graveyard, a historic hospital, and a haunted hotel. Though the tales are creepy, there are no effects or jump scares on this tour. Still, Haunted San Diego Ghost Tours aren’t recommended for children under the age of 10.
2. The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park
Throughout the year, San Diego’s Balboa Park is a cultural gathering place known for the arts, shopping, and gardens. However, during the Halloween season, The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park transforms a mile-long stretch into a one-of-a-kind haunted trail through the forest. You’ll encounter a foggy Stranger Things world, ride a Ghoul Bus, glimpse horrifying clowns with chainsaws, and more.
From late September to the beginning of November, those brave enough to enter will have to find their way through the bone-chilling eXperiment Maze before gaining access to the Trail. To plan for this event, just keep in mind that pregnant women, infants, and small children will not be allowed entry.
3. Balboa Park Halloween Family Day
If you have young children, then the Haunted Trail of Balboa Park won’t be quite the right fit for you and your family. In that case, you may want to head to the renowned Balboa Park Halloween Family Day instead. Held on October 26th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, this family-friendly event is known as the largest free Halloween festival in the area. With dozens of museums and attractions participating, you and your family can head to Balboa Park to experience:
- Costume contests
- Crafts for kids
- Live music and dance
- Food trucks
- Free candy
- Free admission to children 12 and under at some participating museums
4. The Whaley House Museum
History buffs interested in San Diego’s eclectic past might be drawn to The Whaley House Museum this Halloween season. The Whaley House is a California Historical Landmark in Old Town dating back to 1857. According to lore, the house has been haunted since the 1800s by Yankee Jim Robinson — a thief who met his end on the very spot where the Whaley house was later built. Since then, Robinson, along with a growing crowd of other ghosts and spirits, has haunted the property daily.
During the Halloween season, the Whaley House Museum offers extended hours so that locals can check out the haunted house and museum, hear stories about all the house’s ghostly residents, and learn more about 19th century San Diego life.
5. San Diego Zombie Crawl
If you and your friends are looking to enjoy a Halloween-themed night on the town, then you might want to check out the San Diego Zombie Crawl. Tickets for this event grant you ten drink tickets plus admission to more than twenty Gaslamp Halloween parties at places like American Junkie, Coyote Ugly Saloon, and Sign of the Whale. Tip: though costumes are encouraged, you don’t need to dress like a zombie to party!
6. The Disturbance, created by the Haunted Hotel
Looking for the classic haunted house experience in San Diego? Look no further than The Haunted Hotel, which is offering a haunt aptly called The Disturbance for the 2019 Halloween season. There are three featured haunts to experience, none of which are for the faint of heart:
- The Haunted Hotel — Wander among the living dead at a haunted hotel.
- Kill-billy Chaos — Escape scary caverns filled with horrifying “kill-billys.”
- 3-D Freak Fest — Experience a 3-D blacklight maze complete with terrifying clowns.
You can visit The Disturbance from October 4th to November 2nd, but keep in mind that they will not allow entry to pregnant women, infants, little children, or those with heart or seizure conditions.
7. Day of the Dead Festival in North Park
One of the best things about living in San Diego is the incredible cultural diversity that keeps this city vibrant, fascinating, and rich. The Day of the Dead — or Dia de Muertos — is a Mexican holiday created to honor loved ones who have passed away. A day of celebration rather than a day of mourning, you can experience some of the cultural significance around this day by attending the Day of the Dead Festival in North Park on October 26th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Complete with food trucks, tequila and mezcal tastings, sugar skull decorating, music, face painting, and a community altar to honor those who have passed away, the Day of the Dead Festival is a unique way to celebrate the Halloween season in San Diego.
8. The Scream Zone
To attend the renowned Scream Zone festivities, you have to venture slightly outside of San Diego and head to the nearby Del Mar Fairgrounds. Hailed as the largest haunted attraction in all of San Diego County, The Scream Zone runs from September 27th to November 2nd and includes three separate scary experiences:
- The House of Horror takes you through a series of ever-more-frightening rooms, from medieval prisons, to haunted graveyards, to a horrifying zombie maze.
- Take a ride on the Haunted Hayride to experience vampires, zombies, mutants, and more.
- Visit The Chamber for a bone-chilling Wizard of Oz-inspired experience.
If you’re going with friends — and don’t like the idea of being terrified — you can always just hang out (free of charge) at the Scream Zone compound, where you can enjoy food, photo opportunities, and drinks at the Spirit Lounge Bar.
9. Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld
Celebrating Halloween with little ones can be a ton of fun, especially when you take the kids trick-or-treating in neighborhoods like Mission Hills and Little Italy. In addition to trick-or-treating, the Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld is a great way to get in the Halloween spirit and keep kids entertained.
Held on weekends from September 21st to October 27th, SeaWorld’s Spooktacular event features a ton of events for kids and families. From the Sesame Street Halloween Parade to Halloween dance parties to trick-or-treating throughout the park — kids are guaranteed to enjoy the safe, family-oriented Halloween activities at this famous SeaWorld event.
10. WCKD Village
If you love music, monsters, and Halloween, then you definitely don’t want to miss WCKD Village. Held on October 26th from 6 pm to midnight in East Village, this WCKD bash will boast six blocks, four concert stages, and a variety of hip-hop, EDM, and deep house musical performances.
In addition to the music, WCKD Village will play host to various hauntings, like the Demented Circus, the Sailor Jerry Sideshow Bar, and a neon music tent (prepare yourself for neon body paint) at the Madhouse. General admission tickets to the WCKD Village experience include entry to the festival, two drink tickets, and immersion into the festival’s interactive elements, games, tarot card readers, and more.
Experience Halloween in San Diego, CA
Whether you’re looking to have a classic haunted-house experience, learn about the history of haunted San Diego, dance and party the night away, or spend a fun afternoon with your kids, there’s no shortage of Halloween activities in San Diego. Don’t miss an event — plan ahead and purchase tickets well in advance so you can make the most of the Halloween season this year!