Two kids and their dog celebrating Halloween in the living room

It’s almost time for trick-or-treating! Some might already have a costume prepared, while others might just figure it out last-minute, but regardless, there are numerous events around Santa Cruz County—for all ages!—that are perfect for celebrating the spookiest season in 2023. 

As an important note, most events have some regulations when it comes to costumes. This usually restricts vulgar or profane language, weaponry, and sometimes masks. Those choosing to attend any of the events are encouraged to read up on what is and what is not allowed ahead of time. 

Community Parades & Trick-Or-Treating

For the kids, the best part of Halloween is probably the candy—although dressing up is pretty great, too. When trick-or-treating with the little ones, be sure to keep an eye on where they’re going and what candy they’re bringing home (especially in regards to any allergies). 

The Santa Cruz County area has a number of trick-or-treating spots that are pretty popular with families. The Santa Cruz downtown, for example, hosts a trick-or-treating event annually during the afternoon, from 2pm to 5pm. Great for the very little ones (costumes encouraged!), all of Pacific Avenue will be shut down and participating businesses will distribute candy. As well, Capitola hosts their annual family-friendly Halloween parade (on the 29th of October this year), which ends in Esplanade Park.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk

There’s always something happening on the Boardwalk. For those in a spookier mood, the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom is hosting Fright Flicks, exclusive horror movie screenings every Wednesday from the 4th to the 25th. However, as a more kid-friendly option, 13 Days of Halloween begins at the Wharf on October 19th. 

This event includes Great Pumpkin BINGO, a themed photo booth, fun prizes, a zombie performance of thriller on the 28th, restaurant deals, and trick-or-treating from 3pm to 6pm on Halloween. More information, as well as printable BINGO cards, can be found on the City of Santa Cruz website here.


Saint Bernard dog sitting in leaves and grass beside Halloween pumpkins

Roaring Camp

Roaring Camp Railroads, located in Felton, is a popular tourist attraction for Santa Cruz visitors, although their seasonal events are definitely a hit with local families. Roaring Camp is preparing a number of themed events, including the Harvest Faire and pumpkin patch, but the highlight is definitely Thomas and Percy’s Halloween Party. 

Perfect for the little ones, Roaring Camp is switching out its iconic locomotive for a Thomas the Tank Engine and Percy train. And while this is certainly the main event, there is also the chance to meet other characters from Thomas & Friends, as well as live music, a bounce house, and various Halloween games and activities. More information about this event can be found here.

Halloween Parties & Events

Halloween might not be Halloween without a party, and there are numerous all across Santa Cruz County with various themes. Those who are older might enjoy the 21+ events, such as the one hosted by the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. 

This year, the popular museum is organizing their Museum of the Macabre event, which is described as “an evening of creatures, caves, and cocktails.” This includes a costume contest, access to the museum’s newest exhibit, an outdoor movie screening, and, of course, some alcoholic beverages. Tickets for this event can be purchased in advance here.


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