As we approach Halloween 2020, the world certainly seems terrifying, though perhaps not quite in the ways we usually associate with the holiday. Pandemic and political turmoil hang heavily in the air, but if you’re in need of a bit of fun and mischief–or perhaps a good, cathartic scream–there are still ways to celebrate safely. Be sure to check the county health guidelines before making any Halloween plans.

To adapt to 2020, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride had to drop the “hayride” part–but they’re still haunting. The event is now billed as a “first of its kind immersive experience” where you navigate your own car through a multimedia show, that includes video and real-life performers. Fittingly, the theme is a haunted drive-in movie theater. September 24-November 1. Bonelli Regional Park, San Dimas. $49.99-$199.99 per car.

Colorful Surfer

Netflix is bringing its eerie series Stranger Things to life in downtown L.A. Driving into the “Hawkins Portal” brings you into an immersive environment inspired by the show, featuring a mix of custom installations and actual props and set pieces from the production. Dressing with 1980s style, in keeping with the show’s setting, is recommended, but not required. This pop-up opens in time for Halloween, but will be sticking around through the winter. October 28-February 28. DTLA; specific location revealed to ticket holders. From $89 per car.

stranger things drive-into experience

A drive-thru Halloween experience suitable for all ages, Haunt’oween comes from Experiential Supply, a firm that typically creates sets and effects for Hollywood productions. The experience will have photo ops, a jack-o’-lantern tunnel, and a pumpkin patch for picking your own pumpkin to take home (after it’s sanitized, put into a single-use bag, deposited in your trunk though contact-free delivery). Of special note is the trick-or-treat experience, featuring a spooky “neighborhood” populated by (masked) actors who will hand out candy to kids via poles and buckets that offer distancing. October 9-31. 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. $70 per car.

Roger’s Gardens is, essentially, a retail shop and nursery, so they are able to be open as usual. And, for them, “usual” means going all-out for Halloween, creating pumpkin and gourd patches, and doing up an Instagram-worthy shop display of everything Halloween to explore. Daily through Halloween. 2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd., Corona del Mar. Free.

Decorative gourd season is in full effect. Thousands of hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins are on display along a drive-through path. Expect to see squash of all shapes and sizes, decorated with images from pop culture, traditional scary motifs, and some creative interpretations of the form. October 1-November 1. King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Hwy., Calabasas. $69 per car.

Many theme park attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm remain closed, but the California Marketplace will be open for a family-friendly outdoor fall festival. Costumes are encouraged when guests come to enjoy themed food, a Camp Snoopy Trick-or-Treat Trail, and other Halloween activities. September 25-November 1. 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. From $35.

Descanso Gardens is hosting a “pumpkin-filled extravaganza” to get you in the spirit of the season. A variety of pumpkin-centric displays, mazes, and installations are available to explore on foot at your own pace. Kids under 14 are encouraged to wear costumes. After your stroll, stop into the on-site cafe for seasonal snacks and hot drinks. October 1-31. 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. $5-$15 for non-members, free for members; on sale September 28. 

halloween drive thru hauntoween

Photo: Courtesy Mr. Jack O’Lanterns Pumpkin Patch

Enjoy a traditional gourd-gathering mission–with COVID protocols, of course–at Mr. Jack O’Lanterns Pumpkin Patch. Open for in-person shopping or online preorders, you can explore the sanitized patches and pick up everything you need to decorate your seasonal squash. October 3-31. 1814 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. Free.

This elaborate drive-thru haunt is not for kiddos or the easily spooked. The experience features four “interactive show zones,” special effects, live performances, and spooky settings. VIP tickets include additional shows, experiences, and a dedicated driving lane. October 1-November 1. 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa. $59.99-$89.99 per car.

TV network Freeform plays Halloween movies daily in October, and they’re bringing that same energy to life with this event. Roll through Heritage Square Museum for an experience that draws inspiration from Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and other spooky flicks. October 2-5. 3800 Homer St., Montecito Heights. Free.


Los Angeles Magazine