Pumpkins, apples, hay mazes, puppets, scarecrows, and, yes, the occasional spiderweb, too?
These are some of the sweeter symbols of the spooky season, and the sorts of sights that many families favor when seeking fall outings in late September and throughout October.
There are several of those sights ready to flicker around Southern California, with pumpkin decorating, goat petting, snack enjoying, and other not-too-haunted happenings cropping up, many in the outdoors (though do check ahead).
Ready for a fall experience without too many eeks? Scroll on now...
Four festive days, one furry-filled wonderland of animal joy? Boo at the Zoo is ready to hoot, roar, and frolic at
Santa Ana Zoo on Oct. 23, 24, 29, and 30, 2021. The hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., fun 'n friendly costumes are encouraged, and all tots get a treat before they depart. Tickets? You'll find yours here (they're $29.95 for non-members and kids ages 3 and under may enter for free).
Go "Back to Ghoul" by calling upon
"Spooky Science," the annual October-fun extravaganza from Discovery Cube OC. Pumpkin launches, educational activities, and visits from cool critters (like tarantulas) are part of the grow-your-knowledge happening. Just check the schedule, as some of the animal presentations occur at specific times and dates. Oh yes: Costume parades, too, are on the merry roster.
Knott's Spooky Farm
Knott's Spooky Farm is the daytime, weekend-sweet alternative to Knott's Scary Farm, the more intense offering at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Loads of activities, and opportunities to go trick-or-treating, are on the schedule.
Fall-O-Ween, a free outdoor event presented by OC Parks, will add autumn glow to Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest on Oct. 15, 16, and 17, and again from Oct. 22-24 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.. Look for a hay maze, fall photo opps, and lots more.
Tapia Bros. Farm just opened its adorable annual pumpkin patch over the first weekend of October 2021, with several family-fun to-dos. A petting zoo? Find furry sweetness every weekend at the Encino-based agricultural destination. Pony rides? Those are happening on weekends, too. The corn maze is open every day but Monday, if you're looking for a little autumn adventure. Read all know about this classic Valley experience.
Mr. Jack O'Lanterns Pumpkin Patch
Mr. Jack O'Lanterns Pumpkin Patch is hopping into several Southern California spots as October rolls out, with locations in Torrance, Hollywood, and beyond. Check the opening date of the spot you want to visit before you go, then daydream of the sweet sights you may see, from cuddly animals to an array of games, from pumpkin bowling to candy corn hole. Games will vary by location, as will offerings, but here's something true: These patches have So. Many. Nice pumpkins, if good gourds is what you seek.
Bob Baker Marionette Theatre
Spending a fall day at the circus can be sweet, but if you want to make merry at a museum, while still enjoying the nostalgic vibes of a three-ring scene, stop by the Laguna Art Museum on Sunday, Oct. 10. The art institution is celebrating its exhibit
"Wayne Thiebaud: Clowns" by welcoming several of the celebrated puppets from the Bob Baker Marionette Theater for a sweet Circus Day. A non-member ticket is $25, a member ticket is $20, and the revelry will last from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (chances to make art are also part of the effervescent event).
Beverly Center Pumpkin Patch
A pumpkin patch at a famous shopping center? That's happening, for the second year, at the
Beverly Center. The squash-sweet scene is open from Oct. 1-31, entry is free, pumpkin prices vary (with minis starting at $2), and there shall be photo-ready spots for a quick pic. Make for the mall's 3rd Street entrance to find the festive scene, which is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday (Sunday hours: 11 a.m. to 6 o'clock).
Underwood Family Farms
Sweet bleats: Underwood Family Farms is ready to kick-off its annual
Fall Harvest Festival on Sept. 25, 2021. Pumpkins, activities, and, yes, those adorable Underwood goats will all be part of the merry Moorpark tradition.
SkyPark at Santa's Village
Pumpkin in the Pines will delight mountain mavens over a few October weekends. The spot? Ho, ho, ho: It's all festively festooning SkyPark at Santa's Village.
Pumpkin patches started to proliferate in mid-September. Both Tanaka Farms in Irvine and the Irvine Park Railroad in Orange have the orange orbs, plus wagon or train rides and other to-dos.
Alysia Gray Painter/Michael Moeller/EyeEm
Cemetery Lane is unfurling at Heritage Square over the final five days of October 2021. Nostalgic trick-or-treating is on the roster, and other cute staples of the season (with a bit of spookiness, but not too much).
Ian 'Doc' Singleterry/Eyeem
mega pumpkin patch will return to Pomona on Oct. 2, with activities aplenty, but keep in mind that you'll need to make reservations ahead of time.
Longing for an autumn adventure with an educational component?
Spider Pavilion will spin a wonderful web at the Natural History Museum over the fall of 2021.
Boo at the Zoo chomps at the LA Zoo in October 2021. Note that more activities will roar over the finaltwo weekends of the month.
Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch
Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch, a classic SoCal pop-up, adds cheer and charm in Culver City over much of October. Admission prices vary by date and time, do note.
Star Foreman/Linnea Bullion
Bob Baker marionettes are back at their Highland Park theater, all to bring Halloween joy, of the gentlest variety, to kids and adults alike.