Spooky stories, costume contests, family-friendly festivals bring Halloween to La Jolla

Zombies, pirates and ghosts, oh my! La Jolla will be crawling with costumed creatures this month, with Halloween events from Bird Rock to The Shores, and across San Diego that are so fun its scary.

Highlights include a seasonally themed game of capture the flag, spooky stories for children and adults, a Halloween carnival and costume contest, and more.

Here’s a list — in chronological order — of events not to be missed.

In La Jolla

For the first time, a segment of Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores will be closed for the annual Fall Fest, 1-4 p.m. Sunday Oct. 15. Music from La Jolla High School and La Jolla Country Day School bands, children’s activities, trick-or-treating, a photo booth and a dunk tank. For $10, a “passport” grants participants an item or sample from participating merchants. The signature Fall Fest train will also provide Fest-goers with rides.

While in The Shores, stop by Barbarella Restaurant to check out the Halloween-obsessed floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall décor at the 2171 Avenida de la Playa restaurant. (858) 454-7373.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) hosts its annual Haunted Aquarium, themed Sea Monster Mash, 6-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21. Experience close encounters with SIO scientists and search the galleries for unusual underwater creatures rarely seen at Birch Aquarium.

Discover a sea of glowing beasts (big and small), get sticky with slime, and enjoy spooky stories, all while boo-gieing down to live music and having a monstrously good time. 2300 Expedition Way. Admission: $13.50-$18.50 in advance, $20 at the door. (858) 534-7336.

Get up close and personal with creatures from the deep at Birch Aquarium during the Haunted Aquarium event.
Get up close and personal with creatures from the deep at Birch Aquarium during the Haunted Aquarium event. (Courtesy)

Halloween Window Painting on La Jolla Boulevard returns for spirited artists in grades K-5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22 on windows in the Bird Rock merchant district. The art will be on display through Halloween (and maybe a little bit beyond). To ensure sufficient supplies and windows, participants must pre-register by e-mailing Bird Rock Community Council president Andrew Ward:

To get you in the Halloween spirit, Warwick’s will host four of the authors of “California Screamin’ ” an anthology of dark fiction that takes readers on a hellish road trip down the 101. The authors, Alexandra Neumeister, Chad Stroup, James Jensen and Lori R. Lopez, will gather 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at the bookstore, 7812 Girard Ave. This event is free, but only books purchased from Warwick’s will be signed. (858) 454-0347.

The La Jolla Library tradition of Halloween storytime and trick-or-treating is back 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7555 Draper Ave. Costumes are encouraged.

But, what else might be lurking in the library? New this year is the Humans vs Zombies Capture the Flag tournament, 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28. No registration required, free. Snacks provided. For grades 7-12. (858) 552-1657.

La Jolla Rec Center’s Halloween Carnival is 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 at 615 Prospect St. with games, jumpers, costume contests and more (in the event of rain, the event will be moved inside).

The costume contest schedule is: 1:30 p.m. for those age 2 and younger; 2 p.m. for ages 3-4; 2:30 p.m. for ages 5-6; 3 p.m. for ages 7-8 and 3:30 p.m. for ages 9-10. Wrist bands are $5 each for games and activities. Food tickets are 25 cents each. (858) 552-1657.

For this year’s Pillage the Village, a community trick-or-treating event, 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31 sponsored by La Jolla Village Merchants Association, participating merchants are going to show their spooky spirit by carving pumpkins and showing their creations.

As in year’s past, Girard Avenue businesses with posters in their windows will give out candy or treats. REBA will provide bags and host the costume contest.

Worth a trip

Belmont Park becomes Boo-mont Park every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October and Halloween night. At the Pumpkin Patch, buy one on site ($2-$12) and decorate it for free. Activities include trick-or-treating, free for kids under 12; Zombie Laser Tag, $8 per game or $20 unlimited; costume contests; crafts 5 p.m. every Sunday. Fall sweets, such as pumpkin spice funnel cake and caramel apples available for purchase. Free admission and parking. 3146 Mission Blvd. (858) 228-9283.

For this year’s SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular, there’s free admission to children with each full-paid adult, weekends through Oct. 29. Trick-or-treating, dance parties, an area dedicated to Día de los Muertos, Clyde and Seamores’ Big Halloween Bash (featuring SeaWorld’s resident sea lions), Sesame Street’s party “Who Said Boo,” Manta madness and more. Events included with park admission, which starts at $69.99 at 500 SeaWorld Drive. (800) 257-4268.

Whaley House in Old Town is bringing its A-game with Halloween events throughout the month to 2476 San Diego Ave. Starting at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 13-14 and 20-21, Whaley House Museum staff will lead a “ghost hunting tour,” of one of America’s most haunted places, advanced purchase recommended, admission $50.

The specter of Edgar Allen Poe (as portrayed by actor Travis Rhett Wilson) visits the Whaley House to recite Poe’s spookiest works, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 15, admission $25. Silent films of horror and suspense screen 6, 8 and 10 p.m. on Oct. 25, $15 per film or $40 for all three. Whaley House tours and late-night admission also available select nights. Learn more:

Is the Star of India haunted? You might think so after hearing some of the ghostly tales offered every 15 minutes 6-9:15 p.m. Saturdays Oct. 21 and Oct. 28. The ship is docked on the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego at 1492 North Harbor Drive. Lantern led tours around the ship provide much needed light during eerie legends from the Star of India’s past. Included with general admission. Tickets $18, family package (admission for two adults and two children, ages 12-3) is $45. (619) 234-9153.

Maritime Museum of San Diego hosts its second Buccaneer Monster Bash, a haunted pirate-themed party for adults ages 21 and up, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28. The evening includes costume contests, games, live music, photo booth, dancing, trivia contests, costume contest and general piratical behavior. Tickets are $35 and include complimentary photos and appetizers. (619) 234-9153 extension 106.

Mexican singing icon Eugenia León, known for her victory on behalf of her country in an international singing competition just two days after the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake, is the guest of honor at the City Lights Special Concert, “Day of the Dead with Eugenia Leon,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown San Diego. Tickets from $22. (619) 235-0804 or (619) 235-0800.