Dia de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever
October 27 and 28, 2017—The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is crawling with activity during the annual Day of the Dead Festival, known as Dia de Los Muertos. The Aztecs believed that death should be exulted, and each October, thousands of revelers honor this tradition with art, music, and dance. Stroll through the 62-acre grounds and visit graves decorated with marigolds, loafs of bread, toys, and photos. This two-day family-friendly event also includes a ritual dancers, an art exhibit, arts and crafts, Mexican cuisine, theater performances, face painting, and an evening concert. Admission $20; children 8 and under get in for free. Limited parking. 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. 1-323-308-4765; ladayofthedead.com.
The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
September 28 through November 1, 2017—The RMS Queen Mary, which first set sail in 1936, is notorious for sightings of lost souls wandering her Art Deco passageways. These paranormal tales and the ship's dramatic setting lend an air of authenticity to the 18th annual Halloween event, which consists of several winding mazes that lead visitors around and inside the historic ocean liner, including to places rumored to be haunted, such as the first-class swimming pool area. Pyrotechnics, psychic readings, performers in elaborate period costumes, and live music add to the eerie ambiance. Because the mazes are quite dark and cast members are experts at startling guests, the event is best suited for teenagers and adults. 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach. Tickets start at $24. queenmary.com/events/dark-harbor/.
U-Pick Pumpkin Patch at Tanaka Farms
September 29–October 31, 2017—If your kids think pumpkins grow in shopping mall parking lots or in supermarket bins, it’s time to head to Tanaka Farms, a 30-acre working farm in the middle of suburbia. Take a wagon ride around the fields, wander through the corn maze, or visit the petting zoo. But most important, pick your pumpkin right off the vine. On weekends, enjoy a harvest festival with games, ATV rides, and fresh roasted corn. Admission $3, children 2 and under get in free. On October 28, there will be a Halloween event with a Sanrio Costume Contest, along with appearances by Hello Kitty.
5380 ¾ University Drive, Irvine. 1-949-653-2100; tanakafarms.com/tours-pumpkin-patch.
Haunted Trail of Balboa Park
Through October 31, 2017—First, feel your way through the dark and disorienting Experiment Maze, where fog swirls, lights flicker, and ghouls lurk at every turn. Then venture up the Haunted Trail, past gnarled oaks and twisted pines that might just conceal your worst nightmare. You won’t get lost: Freddy, Jason, and friends will be thrilled to guide you. Just follow the screams. Not recommended for children 9 or younger. Balboa Drive and Juniper Street, Balboa Park, San Diego. 1-619-696-7227; hauntedtrail.net.
Día de los Muertos Family Festival
November 5, 2017—This Day of the Dead celebration will offer traditional music and dance from the OC Mariachi Kids, Raices de Mexico dance troupe, and Xipe Totec Danza Azteca, along with the Colombian-inspired fusion sounds of El Santo Golpe. There will be sugar-skull crafts and face painting for the kids; adults can leave notes for departed family members at the ofrenda (offering). Visitors of all ages can indulge in pan de muerto and Mexican hot chocolate. Bowers Museum, Santa Ana. 1-714-567-3655; bowers.org.