Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Halloween is my favorite thing in the entire world, ask anyone. Every year I scour the internet looking for a full month’s worth of Halloween activities to take my kids to so we can wear our costumes many times and get all the items on our Halloween bucket list checked off. Pumpkin patch, check. Corn Maze, check. Trick or Treating, Check. Spooky stories, check!
This year, my enthusiastic list-making is to the reader’s benefit. If anyone loves Halloween as much as I do, take notice, because I’m about to spell it out. These are my ten do-not-miss Halloween festivities for 2018!
All Hallow’s Read
Author Neil Gaiman ( Of Coraline, Chu’s Day, and Fortunately The Milk) would love for all families to participate in this new way to celebrate Halloween. How to celebrate is up to the revelers, but the gist is this; its a book gifting opportunity. Learn more about All Hallow’s Read and make new traditions! www.allhallowsread.com
Jack O’Lantern Jamboree
Children’s Fairyland really throws a party the weekend of October 28th and 29th with the usual unlimited rides and fantastic entertainment but the big deals are the balloon animals,costumed characters, treat bags, parades, pirate school, and bounce houses. Come in costume for the extra fun. 10a.m.-5p.m. 10/24 and 10/25. $10/general admission, $5/members. All ages. Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. 510-238-6876, www.fairyland.org.
4th Street Trick Or Treat
Berkeley’s 4th Street merchants, such as Peet’s, Sur La Table, MAC, and Crate & Barrel set up a fantastic experience for kids who might not have a safe neighborhood to trick or treat in, or are too tiny to stay up late but still want to show off their costumes. Participating merchants will have a marking on or above their doors to let revelers know where the candy is. There will be live music too and some entertainment, even a few treats and free samples for grown ups.
2p.m.-5p.m. 10/31. 4th St., at Hearst, Berkeley. www.fourthstreetshop.com
47th Annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival
Half Moon Bay might not be famous for many things, but pumpkins are one thing that has put this little hamlet on the map. The coastal air makes pumpkin magic and grows some gourds that are as big as a smart car. All ages will be agog at the marvellous and gigantic pumpkins, but will also love the rest of the festival with crafts for sale, art, live music, food, wine, and children’s activities to do too. Expert pumpkin carvers will amaze the crowd with epic works of art unbelievably carved from pumpkins and gourds. There will be pumpkin flavored everything from pies to cocktails, as well as zip line rides, bungee jumping, and more. 9a.m.-5p.m. 10/14-15. Free admission. All ages. Main St. between Mill and Spruce, Half Moon Bay. 650-726-9652.
The Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito puts on an amazing Halloween to-do for the early childhood crowd. My two girls have so much fun at this candy-free event. Children can dress up and enjoy bounce houses, pony rides, petting zoo friends, a small train ride, a bunch of “everyone wins a prize” games, popcorn, face paint, stick on tattoos, and various local parenting-centered sponsors giving out shwag and providing fun activities. Buy tickets online in advance to bypass the lines at the door. 10a.m.-4p.m. Oct 21-22. $16.95/general admission, $13.95/members. Babies under 6 mo. are free. All ages. Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds Way, Sausalito. 415-339-3932, www.baykidsmuseum.org.
Halloween Hoopla- San Francisco
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts hosts their 16th annual Halloween event, and it is fantastic. Local celeb Unique Derique is the Emcee. Kids will enjoy decorating candy bags while zany clowns run amok. Games, prizes, fortune tellers and more. Music and dancing are followed by a parade that everyone gets to join. Oct. 29. 1200p.m.-2p.m. Free. Kids under 10. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco. 415-978-2787, www.ybca.org
Boo at The Oakland Zoo
The Oakland Zoo will host a fantastic annual Halloween event. Visitors are encouraged to dress up and have fun trick or treating around the zoo. Make Halloween enrichment treats for the animals, ride the Boo Train, get faces painted, and join the costume parade. 10a.m.-3p.m. Oct 28/29. Members Free, $17.75/Adults, $13.75/children. All ages. Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland. 510-632-9525, www.oaklandzoo.org.
Zootoberfest at the San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco zoo is switching it up this year. Instead of a one-weekend Halloween party, they’re having a month of weekends Harvest Festival! German foods and beers will be added to their epic cafe, and there will be hay mazes with play areas inside! Plus, there might be POLKA at any time!! All the extra fun is included in the regular admission price. $20/adults, $14/children. All ages. Every weekend in October. San Francisco Zoo, Sloat Blvd. at Highway 1, San Francisco. 415-753-7080, www.sfzoo.org
“The Coolest Corn Maze on The Planet”
Between the bay area and Sacramento is a little farm town called Dixon and it boasts the coolest corn maze on the planet. Its actually way more than just that. There are tubs of dried corn for kids to “swim” in, giant haybale structures to climb, and 50 acres of mazes and fun, including hay rides and a pumpkin cannon! It is open throughout the month and has free parking. There is food, drinks and pumpkins available for purchase. $12/person for the maze, ages 5 and under are free. $5/person for kids fun zone. All Ages. Cool Patch Pumpkins, 6585 Milk Farm Rd., Dixon. 530-746-8725, www.coolpatchpumpkins.com
The Pirates of Emerson
This crazy scary haunted house is for older kids and teen and adults. They mean to scare people, and it’s no joke! Its great for the crowd that’s too cool to trick or treat. There are 5 haunted attractions, including a maze, a pirate themed attraction, and some crazy voodoo stuff! There is entertainment each night, fortune tellers, and a sideshow of oddities. Spooky! They allow all ages but it is not for little ones. See the website for the various show times throughout October, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and Halloween, of course. $25/general admission. All ages but best for teens and up. Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park, Valley Ave., Pleasanton. ( At Alameda County Fairgrounds) www.piratesofemerson.com
So start working on costumes now and make a game plan to hit all the hot spots to maximize the Halloween fun! Don’t forget to read those spooky stories on All Hallow’s Read to wrap it all up.
Haley Reen is an East Bay-based freelance writer