For many, Halloween is the best time of the year--better than Christmas even. For one day, people are allowed to dress up as whatever they want--a slice of pizza, Walter White, one of the guys from Daft Punk--and not get strange looks from anyone. It's a time when mortals welcome paranormal activity (simulated ones, at least), thoughts on death, and spookily decorated desserts. This Halloween, there are all sorts of things you can do in the county: you could get trapped in a haunted maze, for one, or participate in a ghost walk. Whatever you prefer, here are ten great Halloween events we think you should know about (and they all have food for you, of course).
10. Irvine Regional Park Pumpkin Patch (Orange)
If you don't want to do anything extreme on Halloween, visit Irvine Regional Park where there's a pumpkin field and hay maze. Kids can play in the bounce houses, ride a train, and--if they dare--enter the haunted house. During down-time, indulge in some food and a cookie-decorating session to relax.
1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange; irvineparkrailroad.com
9. Scare Away Hunger with The OC Food Bank (Tustin)
You have to admit, the old Wilcox Manor in Old Town Tustin is a great venue for a Halloween event whether it's actually haunted or not (we'll leave that up to you when you go there...) On October 31st, enter the 19th century home for some food and wine pairings from Beau Soleil, Bistro Bleu, True Seasons Organic Kitchen, Roma d'Italia, Pandor Artisan Boulangerie, and many others. All proceeds will go to the OC Food Bank's Hope for the Holidays campaign which provides meals, winter clothing, and toys to families and children in need.
Wilcox Manor, 310 Pasadena Ave, Tustin; website 8. Tanaka Farms U-Pick Pumpkin Patch Tours (Irvine)
What better way to get in touch with fall (and ignore Southern California's summer weather) than with a pumpkin patch tour? At Tanaka Farms, a wagon will take you through the patch and stop at points where you can pick your own vegetables. On weekends, the farm hosts a Fall Harvest Festival with food, games, ATV rides, and other attractions.
5380 University Dr, Irvine, tanakafarms.com
7. The Haunted OC Hotel (Costa Mesa)
The costume party is for the OC version of Tina Fey's mean girls, who probably exist. On October 30, the Wyndam Hotel will reserve two floors for music and dancing, where four DJs will be playing throughout the night. For food, head to the Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar inside the hotel for sliders and steak.
3350 Ave of the Arts, Costa Mesa; website
6. Huntington Haunt Experience (Huntington Beach)
If being thrown into a haunted house for 35 minutes is your type of fun, check out Huntington Haunt Experience, where you'll embark on a candlelight tour through the Newland House, the oldest residence in the city. The event, which runs from October 28 to 31, includes a carnival with games and food--so, if the haunted house ends up ruining your day, at least you have that.
The Newland House, 19820 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach; huntingtonhaunt.org 5. 18th Annual Trick or Treat Festival and Halloween Hearse & Bug Show
There's practically everything at this festival: a hearse and bug show featuring funeral cars and vintage VW and Bugs, demonstrations by pumpkin sculptor Doug Goodreau, an exhibition of snakes, reptiles, and tarantulas, and a freak show featuring sword-swallowing, glass-eating, and a bed of nails. Least scary of all, though, is the I Scream of Ice Cream Contest presented by Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour.
OC Marketplace, 88 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa
4. Halloween Time at Disneyland (Anaheim, CA)
Mickey's Halloween Party--a special event that includes trick-or-treating and a Halloween Screams Firework Show--is unfortunately sold out, but at least Halloween Time is still running until November 1. During this period, the park isn't only decorated in Halloween gear--its rides, like Space Mountain, are given a spooky spin, too. As for food, try the Dia de los Muertos-inspired apples, cake pops and crispies. The park will also carry pumpkin-inspired baked goods, dirt and worm apples, and ghost marshmallows.
1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim 3. Knott's Scary Farm (Buena Park)
For those who're brave enough to walk through a haunted hospital maze or be chased by zombies, Knott's Scary Farm is the place to do it. A classic Halloween event for Southern Californians everywhere, you come here ready to scream, run, and have a memorable night with friends. If you ever find yourself in a safe zone without guys running after you with chainsaws, get a bite of funnel cake or a burger at one of Knott's several restaurants.
8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park; knotts.com
2. Haunted Ghost Walk (Orange and Santa Ana)
Little do you know, Old Towne Orange is possibly haunted. Learn all about it during a ghost walk led by a tour guide who'll tell you which antique stores and restaurants may have housed the paranormal. The tour starts in front of the historic Royer Mansion and ends at the Orange Undertaker's morgue. Bonus: if you're there on the evening of October 29, a community event called Treats in the Streets for games, trick-or-treating, a costume parade, entertainment, and food. Santa Ana also has a ghost walk hosted by the same company, which begins at the historic Howe-Waffle Mansion and explores tales of execution, murder, death that have been buried in the city's past.
1. Dias De Los Muertos (Multiple Locations)
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No matter where you are on Halloween, there is a Dias De Los Muertos celebration with live entertainment and food happening near you. In Santa Ana, there will be one at Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center on November 1, another at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary on November 2, and the classic Noche de Altares on November 7. The Museum of Latin American Art is also hosting a Dias De Los Muertos gala on October 30 that will include performances by Thee Commons, Boogaloo Assassins, and other artists as well as an "Art & Altar" exhibition.
Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary, 1702 E. Fairhaven Ave. Santa Ana; website Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, 1000 East Santa Ana Boulevard, Santa Ana; website Centro Cultural de Mexico, 313 N Birch St. Santa Ana; website Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach; website