October 14, 2014 (San Diego)--Ghouls, goblins and zombies, oh my! Halloween is coming and County Parks has something planned every weekend as the days count down to the big event. From a haunted trail to a pumpkin patch, Parks has you covered.
First, the woods come alive with creatures natural and supernatural at Dos Picos County Park in Ramona during its Seventh Annual Haunted Trails event Oct 18. Hundreds turn out every year to see what goes bump in the dark of the night and don’t be surprised to see the stuff of nightmares, even chainsaws. If you go, wear good shoes, bring a jacket and a flashlight and proceed with caution. Spirit guides will lead the hike starting at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Sound like too much for your little ones? Take them out to Family Discovery Days Not-So-Scary Estuary Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. The tykes can meet creepy, crawly and hooting nocturnal animals. Kids can also pretend to be spiders themselves and climb through a giant spider web. There will be trick-or-treating around the loop trail and prizes for the most creative, most eco-friendly, and best nocturnal themed costumes. The festivities are free.
Halloween in Hellhole sounds rather frightening, and if that’s what you’re aiming for, check out the haunted trail at Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve in Valley Center Saturday, Oct. 18. You can get spooked on the trail from 4:30 to 8 p.m., and then shake off that eerie feeling during the costume contest at 5 p.m. or the pumpkin decorating contest 6:15 p.m. The first 20 pumpkins will be provided, but bring your own carving tools. Bring along lawn chairs, a flashlight, blankets, and some warm clothes too and after the sun goes down, catch the free outdoor movie!
A giant pumpkin patch will sprout up at the Waterfront Park downtown in front of the County administration building on Sunday, Oct. 19. Kids can pick out their very own pumpkin and then decorate it at one of the arts and crafts decorating booths. There will be giant inflatable bounce houses, a magician, local entertainers and a festive family photo area. Food trucks will be on hand for folks who want to buy a bite to eat. The event itself is free and runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead will be celebrated Saturday, Oct 25 at Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista. This colorful festival is celebrated as a holiday in Mexico and in other parts of the world. While typically celebrated on Nov. 2, Rancho Guajome will honor the tradition the weekend before Halloween. Expect to find altars honoring the dead, traditional music and dancing, arts and crafts, food and self-guided tours of the adobe house, which dates back to 1853. The celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is only $1 for everyone over the age of four. Parking is free.
On Halloween night, community centers in Lakeside, Fallbrook and Spring Valley are holding free spooktacular parties for youngsters. Those little monsters, action heroes and princesses can get treats, play games, and compete for prizes. The Lakeside Halloween Festival runs from 5 to 7 p.m., the Fallbrook Safe Halloween event runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and the Spring Valley Halloween Festival goes from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Not to be outdone, the Waterfront Park is scaring up a movie for Halloween. You can bring chairs, blankets and of course, the kids to watch Hotel Transylvania. The film will begin around dusk but come early for lawn games at this free event.
For those who just can’t quite give up Halloween for the year, check out the free San Dieguito Fall Festival from 12 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1st at San Dieguito County Park in Solana Beach. You can wear your costumes one last time, decorate pumpkins, drink cider, visit a critter camp of park pets and discover what wildlife lives in the area.