Why Los Angeles is the best place to spend Halloween

Los Angeles is the capital of the world for Halloween, writes Aziz Al-Sa'afin.
If you can time a trip to LA around Halloween, you won't regret it. Photo credit: Getty

Los Angeles is known for many things - it's the heart of blockbuster, it's hot 365 days of the year and it's absolutely packed with celebrities. 

It also has the most museums in the world, per capita - bet you didn't know that. 

But as I recently found out, it's also the home of Halloween. 

Whether you're a fan of killer clowns and creepy possessed dolls or you're more of the true-crime story type, there's something sadistic for everyone in LA on October 31. 

The city does Halloween BIG. There's festivals, full neighborhood decoration takeovers from the start of October, and tours that will take you to the places of your wildest nightmares. 

Here's my guide to Halloween in LA.

Dearly Departed Tours

Starting off at the haunted Piculo building, you'll hear about the dark side of LA on this tour.

From murder mysteries and paranormal activity to the world's most famous unsolved crimes, you'll feel like you're in an episode of True Detective

Dearly Departed Tours visit a variety of memorials and death locations in LA.
Dearly Departed Tours visit a variety of memorials and death locations in LA. Photo credit: Getty

It was quite a sight to see the hotels that made dark history, like Issac Newton's Hotel Barclay, where over 40 murders have taken place.

Cecil Hotel of Richard Ramirez-fame and more recently the death of Canadian student Elisa Lam, whose video of her last appearance behaving erratically in the hotel's elevator went viral. 

And then of course, there's the Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia. 

Ask any local about LA true crime mysteries and chances are they'll immediately mention the grisly, unsolved 1947 murder of the beautiful, aspiring actress who was found cut to pieces and arranged like a surrealist sculpture in a vacant lot in Leimert Park. 

I Like Scary Movies
 

If you treat this world like your giant playground, the I Like Scary Movies Experience is one for you. 

As put by Robyn Snodgrass & Maximillian, who are behind the pop-up experience, they are in the business of creating happiness and blurring reality. 

The attraction allows one to walk the halls of The Shining, posing with the creepy twins, or enter into the desolate and decaying lair of the one and only Freddy Kruger.

I Love Scary Movies LA experience.
If you love horror movies - add this place to your bucket list. Photo credit: Newshub.

Scenes out of Beetlejuice (don't look behind you), or featuring Friday the 13th's Crystal Lake and IT's torturing of Pennywise are amazing.

The intricate construction, attention to detail, and life-like scale movie sets are just breathtaking.

But the best part about this experience was the staff. Throughout it, they were extremely helpful, just as excited just as I was, and took great, gram-worthy photos.

I walked out with a whole album worth of photos to spam everyone at home.

Aziz Al-Sa'afin at I Like Scary Movies in Los Angeles.
The venue allows horror fans to effectively play inside popular movies. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Magic Castle

 

For a uniquely LA dinner experience, head to the Magic Castle. 

It bills itself as "the most unusual private club in the world" and has been running for 55 years.

It's in keeping with Halloween as it's been home to some of the greatest magicians in the world and as well as a meal and a cocktail or two, you get treated with a dark arts show... or 10.

It's a labyrinth, and you can easily get lost in exploring all the different rooms, theatres, and magic phone-booths. There's even a secret staircase that leads to a seance room. 

There's a strict no photo-video policy (which they take very seriously, as I found out), and a dress code that will deny you entry if you're not in formal, elegant evening wear or business attire. 

So how do you get in? It's a members-only club which is what makes it so exclusive, but where there is a will there is a way. Other than knowing someone who is a member, the club actually encourages people to contact magicians who are part of the castle on social media and see if they can score an invite.

The easiest way, however, is to book yourself into a night at the Magic Castle Hotel, which grants you automatic entry. 

The Haunted Hayride
 

Created by Melissa Carbone, this has been running for 11 years in the middle of Griffith Park Old Zoo. Visitors enter the gates of purgatory into a terrifying village full of ghouls, monsters and other terrors.

This year's theme involved an '80s village stuck reliving Halloween day after day, after day. 

From a selection of mazes to get lost in, to the actual hayride itself, the whole experience starts the moment you drive into the parking lot and only finishes the moment you drive off. Think super-charged Spookers. 

You may wonder why anyone would want to scare themselves in such a way - Carbone rightly says: "Fear is a drug, and people can't get enough of it".

Newshub's Aziz Al-Sa'afin at the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride.
Aziz Al-Sa'afin at the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. Photo credit: Newshub.

Halloween Horror Nights
 

It would be akin to blasphemy if you didn't visit Universal Studios theme park when in Los Angeles and there's no better time than a Halloween Horror Night. 

It's fitting that the movie studio that spawned the original monster movie genre now breathes new life into real-life nightmares.

So what exactly will you get at its Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights? Ghouls running around scaring you at every turn, madmen charging at you with chainsaws and just when you lower your guard - killer clowns jumping at you from every direction.

And that's only the beginning. 

Freak out with Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios features many scares and thrills. Photo credit: Universal Studios

There's mazes and rollercoasters that can feel like they're taking you to lands of the living, the dead, and the in-between.

I lost my voice in the madness after realising just how high pitched it could actually go.

...

Los Angeles is a charming place. It's warm, the people are interesting, and the city is forever growing. 

Aziz travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of DiscoverLA.

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