Ghoulish Greetings, My Frightful Friends! A Halloween Hello
Oh hello, long lost friends! It’s been a few months since my last post (though if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve seen me there), and instead of waiting until I finish one of my many in-progress drafts about a favorite travel topic, I figured I’d check in with an informal update. (And, of course, I couldn’t resist some good alliteration in the title.)
I suppose it should come as no surprise that it’s been hard to keep a travel blog active in an era of such major disruptions to tourism. Just when we thought things were looking promising for those of us eager to explore, the Delta surge sent many of us back into our little hidey-holes until further notice. So, needless to say, it has not been a banner year for travel, or even for enjoying local activities or thinking enough about travel to blog about it.
Then, in late July, I lost my aunt, the next day I lost my grandma, and in early September, I lost my uncle. I’m not really ready to write about those losses on a public medium like this blog, but the three of them were major parts of my life, and their losses were devastating.
Add that to an extremely busy work schedule (with things getting even busier over the last few weeks because of some structural changes), and you can probably understand why this blog has fallen victim to my neglect.
I figured if I’m going to ease back into keeping this blog updated, the best strategy is to start with something informal and unstructured. Years ago, I had a lot of fun sharing informal observations about Halloween in Spain and spooky season activities in Sydney. Why not revisit that theme by sharing some how I’ve been celebrating Halloween locally year?
Knott’s Spooky Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm is the king of theme park Halloween events, having launched the tradition of theme park haunts back in 1973. Their annual nighttime event, Knott’s Scary Farm, features mazes and scare zones and is just a bit too frightening for my scaredy-cat blood. The good news is their daytime festivities, Knott’s Spooky Farm, are just my speed. While much of Knott’s Spooky Farm is oriented toward children—like trick-or-treating and shows starring Snoopy and pals—I think it’s a ton of fun for adults too. In fact, in recent years, Knott’s has probably become my favorite place to celebrate Halloween each October. My mom and I stopped by at the beginning of the month, and it was the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit.
I mentioned this last year when I wrote about their Taste of Fall-O-Ween Event, but Knott’s really takes Halloween décor to the next level. Even just wandering around the park admiring their skeleton displays, jack-o-lantern fountain, Día de los Muertos adornments, and other decorations is a blast. But this year, rides are back open, and Knott’s has some of the best roller coasters of any theme park I’ve been to. A few even have Halloween overlays: the Calico Mine Ride becomes the adorable Calico Candy Mine Ride and the Timber Mountain Log Ride gets converted into the rollicking Halloween Hootenanny.
Carved at Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens is a botanical garden located in La Cañada, California, an L.A. suburb and my secondary hometown. It’s a great place for peaceful strolls and beautiful flowers, and I grew to appreciate it even more at the height of the pandemic when it was one of the safest, most enjoyable ways to get out of the house.
Each October, Descanso Gardens hosts a nighttime Halloween event called Carved. The event features hundreds of jack-o-lanterns, as well as light displays and sculptures that any Christian Girl Autumn influencer would go wild for.
This was my first year at Carved, and it easily exceeded expectations. The gardens’ transformation into a Halloween wonderland is pretty striking, and some of the artist-carved pumpkins are truly jaw-dropping.
Halloween in the Neighborhood
It seems that more people are decorating their houses for Halloween each year, to the extent that I’m starting to see almost as many houses dressed up for Halloween as I do for Christmas. And I am so here for it. Angelenos in particular seem to go all out for the holiday, perhaps because of the abundance of Hollywood set decorators and production designers who bring their craft to their front lawns.
Last year, with Halloween parties being out of the question, we spent the holiday taking a long walk around the neighborhood and admiring our neighbors’ decorations. This year, we plan to do the same, and I can’t wait to see what the area has in store for us. Lawn decoration tourism may not be the most exotic thing I’ve ever done, but if the pandemic has done one thing for me, it’s made me appreciate the local scenery.
Perhaps in a future year I’ll do a comprehensive round-up of Southern California’s plethora of Halloween events and activities, but consider this just a quick hello after a long stretch of silence. It has been—and will continue to be—a pretty low-key October for me, but I’m content with that. Whatever your Halloween may bring this year, enjoy!