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Halloween 2021: Haunted houses, parties and more in San Diego

Hillcrest threw the ultimate Halloween party at its annual Nightmare on Normal Street event on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.
Hillcrest threw the ultimate Halloween party at its annual Nightmare on Normal Street event on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.
(Jared Gase/ )

Ready to get scared? Here are the best haunted houses, trails, festivals and events happening in San Diego this spooky season.

The Haunted Trails of Balboa Park
(Mike Rollerson Photography)

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park

Don’t miss one of San Diego’s nationally-acclaimed haunted attractions: a mile-long trail of terror right in historic Balboa Park. All guests — who must be age 10 or older — follow a dark path littered with frightening characters. While there are certainly blood and guts, this haunted attraction is also known for employing psychological elements in its scare tactics. Face masks are strongly encouraged, but not required.

Price: General admission is $24.99, with free parking at the venue. For a reduced wait time, upgrade to a Timed Ticket ($29.99) or VIP admission ($34.99).

When: Wednesdays through Sundays (and select Tuesdays) until Oct. 31. Times vary per day.

Where: The corner of Balboa Drive and Juniper Road, Balboa Park

Visit: hauntedtrail.net

The Haunted Hotel in Mission Valley
(Mike Rollerson Photography)

The Haunted Hotel’s Disturbance

The Haunted Hotel moves from downtown to Mission Valley and now has three haunts at one location: Killbilly Chaos and 3-D Freak Fest where frightening characters — zombies, clowns and chainsaw-holding creeps — roam the premises. The Haunted Hotel features a “hellevator” to the basement, killer kitchen, bloody bathrooms, ghost-ridden hotel bar and more creepy rooms. There will also be entertainment like axe-throwing, light shows, DJ sets and themed cocktails.

Price: General admission is $24.99, with free parking at the venue. For a reduced wait time, upgrade to a Timed Ticket ($29.99) or VIP admission ($34.99).

When: Wednesdays through Sundays (and select Tuesdays) until Oct. 31. Times vary per day.

Where: 1288 Camino Del Rio North, Mission Valley

Visit: hauntedhotel.com/home

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream

Get spooked at SeaWorld San Diego! The park’s Howl-O-Scream has three haunted houses — Nightmare Experiment, Death Water Bayou and Simon’s Slaughterhouse — plus six scare zones. Entertainment includes performances from The Vampire Circus and Beta7 Rock Concert, along with Halloween-themed cocktails and the chance to ride SeaWorld’s coasters in the dark. And if you don’t want to be spooked by the clowns, chainsaws, vampires and bloody butchers lurking in the shadows, “No Boo” light-up necklaces are available for $15.

Price: Single night tickets are $41.99-$54.99, and unlimited admission tickets are $99.99 and up. Discounted tickets available for season pass members.

When: 7 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, through Oct. 31. (Note: there is no event on Oct. 7)

Where: SeaWorld San Diego, 500 SeaWorld Drive, Mission Bay.

Visit: seaworld.com/san-diego/events/howl-o-scream

Hillcrest threw the ultimate Halloween party at its annual Nightmare on Normal Street event on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.
Hillcrest threw the ultimate Halloween party at its annual Nightmare on Normal Street event on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.
(Jared Gase/ )

Nightmare on Normal Street

Dance the night away at Hillcrest’s haunted block party: Nightmare on Normal Street. Hit up the bar for free cocktails during Haunted Hosted Happy Hour (6 to 7 p.m.) then head to the main stage for live DJ and drag queen performances. The event, which has been happening for nearly three decades, also features a massive costume competition ideal for people watching — or participate for a chance to win $2,000. (And if you need costume ideas, this year’s theme is “Nightmare Prom.”)

Price: Presales are $20 (general admission) and $50 (VIP tickets) with prices jumping to $25 to $55 the day of the event (prices exclude service fees). Purchase at nightout.com/events/nightmare-on-normal2021/tickets.

When: 2 to 11 p.m. on Oct. 29

Where: Pride Flag Plaza on Normal Street in Hillcrest (between University Avenue and Harvey Milk Street)

Visit: fabuloushillcrest.com

Haunted Aquarium at Scripps

This all-ages event invites families to dress up in costumes — bonus points if they are ocean-themed — and explore the aquarium exhibits. Encounter slimy sea critters and uncover truths about mysterious creatures. Entertainment includes a kelp maze, costume showcase and music. And don’t forget the candy: every ticket comes with a treat bag. Facial coverings required for all guests over age 2, regardless of vaccination status.

Price: $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Free for kids under age 2.

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 22-24. (Note: This event is sold out.)

Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla

Visit: aquarium.ucsd.edu/experiences/events/haunted-aquarium

HauntFest on Main

Find your ideal jack-o-lantern at the Promenade Pumpkin Patch or enter the costume contests (available for both kids and adults) for the chance to win cash prices. The five-hour, all-ages event in El Cajon also features carnival rides and games, candy challenge activities, and live music on the Promenade Stage. Need a break from the action? Head to the Kidz Zone to watch an outdoor movie, screened on a 26-foot screen.

Price: Free, but some rides/attractions will require payment.

When: 4 to 9 p.m. Oct. 29

Where: East Main Street in Downtown El Cajon (from Magnolia Avenue to Avocado Avenue/Ballantyne Street)

Visit: hauntfest.org

Great Pumpkin Beer Festival

This 21-and-up event in the Gaslamp Quarter offers more than 40 pumpkin flavored and seasonal brews along with a dozen squash bites. Play or watch various Gourd Games such as pumpkin throwing, the pumpkin pole climb, the pumpkin squat, pumpkin pie eating and pumpkin seed spitting. There will also be live music, a costume contest and the Giant Pumpkin Keg Tapping, which all attendees can taste. Each ticket comes with five to 15 beer tastings, with additional tasting tickets — as well as other pumpkin food, beer and cocktails — available to purchase at the event.

Price: General admission is $38 (five tastings) and $58 (10 tastings); VIP (15 tastings) is $118.

When: 3:25 to 10:25 p.m. Oct. 30

Where: 702 Market St., Gaslamp Quarter

Visit: greatpumpkinbeerfestsd.com

PoeFest with Write Out Loud

Fans of literature — especially tales of mystery and macabre — are invited to celebrate the work of Edgar Allen Poe at PoeFest. Presented by Write Out Loud, the event features theatrical performances of short stories and poetry by the 19th century writer. This year’s reformatted approach offers four interactive shows happening throughout a historic San Diego mansion, including an encounter with the guest of honor. Masks are required for all attendees; those who are age 16-and-up must also show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event.

Price: Tickets available for $30 at writeoutloud.ticketspice.com/poefest-2021.

When: 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m. Oct. 29, 30 and 31

Where: Villa Montezuma Museum, 1925 K St., Sherman Heights

Visit: writeoutloudsd.com/poefest

Brick-or-Treat at Legoland

Legoland puts kids first on Halloween with a wholesome holiday experience recommended for children age 2 to 12. To celebrate, the theme park will be decked out in Halloween decor and full of characters wearing festive costumes. There will be trick-or-treating and live entertainment, plus the rides stay open late. For $14.99, kids will receive three Lego mini-figures that they can build and trade during the event. Vaccination verification or negative COVID-19 test not required, but all guests are encouraged to wear masks and may be required in some areas.

Price: Brick-or-Treat is only accessible with a theme park ticket. Choose from three options: $104.99-$110.99 (Legoland only), $118.99-$124.99 (Legoland and Sea Life) or 120.99-$126.99 (Legoland, Sea Life and Water Park).

When: Every Saturday, Oct. 2 to 30. Brick-or-Treat activities start at 3 p.m. but tickets allow entry into the park starting at 10 a.m.

Where: Legoland California Resort, 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad

Visit: legoland.com/california/places-to-stay/vacation-packages/brick-or-treat-hotel-ticket-package/


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