Halloween in San Diego is something to be proud of. Transplants get it, but many San Diego natives take for granted the ways in which we celebrate this haunted holiday. I personally didn’t realize it until I lived in San Francisco for a number of years. San Francisco celebrates Halloween with a big party that is on the scale of Mardi Gras while the few children that reside there have the “opportunity” to trick-or-treat in the local malls. That is pretty much the extent of the holiday that has the most potential for fun. Many other cities around the country, you will find the same. Parties, trick or treating, but very little skill in the decoration or scare department.
The elaborate embellishing skills of San Diego residents and the history that made for real haunted houses, such as the Whaley House in Old Town, has created a culture that takes Halloween to a whole different level. Haunted houses, both amateur and professional spring up all over this city during the month of October that are truly hard to beat.
Scary stories, horror films and haunted houses, some of the most necessary components to Halloween, I really prefer not to partake in. Particularly, I tend to steer clear of haunted houses after an incident that happened when I was about 10 or 12 years old where I got “lost” from the group in a haunted house. I ended up being surrounded by the “actors” in a gory hospital scene involving disorienting strobe lights, large hypodermic needles and lots of blood. I freaked. One of the girls finally broke character and escorted me out.
But for some strange reason, I was compelled to find a haunted house while in college in San Francisco, I guess missing the abundance of freak out opportunities from back home. The only one I could find was a genuine haunted house, known as the Winchester Mystery House located in San Jose. They do midnight flashlight tours during the month of October. Other than that, there was no haunted anything to be found, not even a converted garage or community center.
However San Diego is loaded with opportunities to scare your soul out of you, both real and constructed, amateur and professional. Here is a listing of things to this season to make your stomach lurch or at least enough to get your fill of Halloween excitement.
The Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
The Haunted Trail in Balboa Park
Monster Manor in Mira Mesa: Roger says this is the best one in San Diego
Haunted House at Otay Recreation Center: Many community centers in San Diego do something of this nature. You just might have to do some digging.
Sadly, Frightmare on Market Street is no longer open.
The Birch Aquarium also does the place up scary-like, however they ended their hauntings last weekend.
Haunted For Real
The Whaley House
Haunted San Diego Ghost Tours
Ghostly Tours in History
There are a number of recorded haunted hotels and houses in San Diego, the listing above only includes those offering tours.
Sadly, since I will be on a plane to NYC on Friday, I feel like I have missed out on a bit of the Halloween fun. No costume, no decorations, only a couple party invites. Next year, with the new house we will probably do Halloween properly.