Halloween is near and these small thrills will enchant your little goblins just enough, but not too much. We’ve found 8 scare-free events for your mini ghouls to enjoy the lighter side of Halloween fun. From a haunted aquarium and a not-too-terrifying scare zone to a pumpkin express train ride, read on for where to conjure up a shockingly good time.

Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND California

Walkthrough the scary Brick-or-Treat to find rides open late and candy to fill up your bags. Party all night with live music, four daily costume contest parades around Miniland USA and frighteningly delicious seasonal food and drinks. Create freaky Frankenbricks in the Lab to bring your LEGO Monsters to life. Be sure and check out SeaLife Aquarium’s live creatures and underwater pumpkin carving.

New this year is a spook-filled adventure as you uncover clues hidden around the park to help find a missing party guest and unlock an exclusive 2021 Brick-or-Treat pop badge. You’ll also enter the first-ever Scare Zone that will take you through ancient Egypt, a rainforest, an ice cave and a jail cell with not-too-terrifying actors to make it a squeal-worthy time.

WHEN: every Saturday in October 2-30
Event activities start at 3 pm and continue after dark until 8 pm.

(This is a special event, but your regular admission is included with it. Passholders can buy this as an add-on.)

LEGOLAND California
One Legoland Dr., Carlsbad
Online: Event details

Haunted Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium

Enjoy close encounters from the depths of the ocean and search for unusual underwater creatures rarely ever seen in the daytime. Discover a sea of glowing monsters (big and small), get sticky with slime, show off your costume and boo-gie down to live music, all while having a monstrously good time.

WHEN: three dates only – Oct. 22, 23, and 24 from 6-9 pm
(This is an after-hours event and separate advanced purchased tickets are required.)

Note: October is “Kids-Free” month in San Diego and Birch Aquarium participates, check their website for details. The haunted aquarium is a separate event that is not included in the general admission for “kids-free month”.

Birch Aquarium
2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla
Online: Event details

Not So Scary Fall Festival

The Nature Collective

Costumes are encouraged at this Family Day where kids can discover that creepy crawly creatures are not-so-scary after all. Learn about the hoots and the howls at this annual nature-themed Halloween festival. Enjoy hands-on interactive activities from craft-making to animal encounters. This is presented by the Nature Collective + San Diego County Parks Rangers.

WHEN: Oct. 17, 2021 from 10 am-1 pm
(Must reserve your space online ahead of time for this FREE event.)

San Dieguito County Park
1628 Lomas Santa Fe Dr, Del Mar
Online: Event details

Pumpkin Express Train Ride

Dress up for this spooky-fun train ride into the haunted countryside. Ride in decorated vintage railcars through the mountains as fall descends upon Campo, CA. After your trip, walk through the themed display building complete with two haunted trains, a pumpkin patch, and a creepy cast of ghosts and ghouls while you decorate your pumpkins (included for child tickets).

WHEN: Oct. 9, 10, 23, 24, 30 and 31 with departing times between 10:30am-2:45pm
(Buy your tickets online before they sell out.)

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
750 Depot St., Campo
Online: Event details

Halloween at Hotel Del

Jayne L. via Yelp

This landmark hotel in Coronado that’s rumored to be haunted has some beachside fun this season. Carve pumpkins on the beach with all of the supplies provided for you. Try to sign up for the same day when they have an outdoor Halloween movie on the beach or add on a s’mores Ghost Roast to your agenda.

WHEN: select dates Oct. 1-30

Hotel Del Coronado
1500 Orange Ave., Coronado
Online: Event details.

Belmont Park Fall Fest

Belmont Park

Belmont Park returns with its annual beachside Fall Fest in Oct. and Nov. (formerly known as ‘Boomont Park,”). Fall Fest will offer their same festive-themed rides and will add a hay maze, pumpkin patch, seasonal Halloween treats, costume contests, FREE trick-or-treating (starts at 6:30pm), kid’s activities and live music.

WHEN: every Friday-Sunday in October and November, + Oct. 31

Note: October is “Kids-Free” month in San Diego and Belmont Park participates, check their website for details.

Belmont Park
3146 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach
Online: Event details

SeaWorld Spooktacular

SeaWorld San Diego

Kids will love all the fun thrills here like the Halloween dance party, costume parade and the trick-or-treating trail. Costumes are encouraged as you’ll meet mermaids along the way, run through hay mazes, look for pumpkins and catch the sweet Sesame Street Halloween show. If you go during the weekday when no “Spooktacular” events are happening, it’s still fun to walk around and see all the Halloween decorations, especially those leading into the underwater shark cave.

WHEN: weekends from Sept. 18 – Oct. 31
(Trick-or-Treating is only from 11 am-5 pm on Sat and Sun.)

Note: October is “Kids-Free” month in San Diego and SeaWorld participates, check their website for details. This event is included in general admission.

Deal: You’ll want to return for the rest of the year’s festivities so consider buying a Fun Card that will get you in for all of 2022, plus you’ll get the rest of 2021 for Free.

500 Sea World Dr., Mission Bay
Online: Event details.

San Diego Zoo HalGLOWeen

San Diego Zoo

For a wild night out, head to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo! Light up the night with live DJ dance parties, glow-in-the-dark hula hoops, puppets, acrobats, costumed characters, Dr. Zoolittle and tempting fang-tastic food specials.

WHEN: Friday-Sunday evenings Oct. 1-31, from 5-9 pm

Note: October is “Kids-Free” month in San Diego and the San Diego Zoo participates, check their website for details. This event is included in general admission.

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Dr., Balboa Park
Online: Event details.

—Bonnie Taylor & Beth Shea


Your Guide to San Diego’s Best Pumpkin Patches

35 Fantastic Fall Activities for Families

50 Fall Activities to Jump Start Your Favorite Season

Your daily dose of joy and connection
Get the Tinybeans app