Los Angeles may be a relatively young city with a young soul. But each year on Halloween, LA is haunted by old ghosts in the form of traditions, long-standing events and legends. Halloween has, of course, become an annual celebration that is just as important to adults as it is to kids. In addition to fun traditions for the whole family, there are some great ways to celebrate the spooky holiday by dancing the night away or exploring scary old Hollywood myths and hot spots.
Altadena’s Haunted Jail
For over a decade the folks at the Altadena Sheriff’s Department have been putting a fright in people using more than just the threat of a speeding ticket. A small (typically $2) donation gains you and your kids or friends entry into a 1948 jail where you will encounter ghoulish prisoners in a Halloween decorated Sheriff’s Station that could give Ghost Hunters a run for its money. Now, that’s what I call a life sentence.Greystone Manor
It’s one of the most famous “old” houses in LA and with that distinction come the spooky legends behind it. An alleged murder/suicide took place in this 55-room Beverly Hills manor in 1928, taking the life of its owner Ned Doheny and his assistant Hugh Plunkett. The latter was supposedly found with a pistol in his dead hands. The case was closed but the mystery and suppositions continue. The mansion has been known to host “fright nights” and other events for different occasions. It’s a must-stop on a Halloween tour--in a Graveline Tour bus or independently.Hancock Park Haunted House
Hannah Montana director Rich Correll (who also organizes the famous Playboy Mansion Halloween party) turns his private home on Rimpau Blvd. in Hancock Park into a haunted house for neighborhood kids each year. He pulls out all the stops, displaying his massive collection (consisting of over 1,900 pieces) of old horror movie relics including masks, life sized figures and a Halloween prop house.Hollywood Forever Cemetery - Dia de Los Muertos
For many celebrities fame is just as fleeting as life. Experience the remnants of both at the legendary celeb cemetery where Hollywood legends like Douglas Fairbanks, Cecile B. Demille, Jayne Mansfield and Rudolph Valentino are buried. It’s also a popular spot to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos (the annual Day of the Dead or ‘Mexican Halloween’). At this time, people create (face-painting, gift and food) stands and decorate graves in celebration of the deceased.Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
LA is home to some of the most glamorous haunted sites in the country. Case in point: the trendy Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Supposedly, some Marilyn Monroe look-alikes were taunted and haunted by a spirit in the basement of the hotel when they tried to use a mirror that once belonged to the legendary blonde bombshell. These days, the Roosevelt has been known to host special Halloween events during which it is cosmetically transformed into the haunted hotel that we all know it truly is.Houdini's Ghost at His Widow's Mansion
The so-called “Houdini Mansion” at 2435 Laurel Canyon Blvd. by Lookout Mountain (technically the remains of the burnt down manor) is said to be the site of his famous spirit’s annual reappearance. As legend has it, famed escape artist Harry Houdini told his wife that he would return to the home and make a special appearance to end all special appearances. So every year on Halloween, some faithful fans and the curious gather around the property to pay homage to the legend...and maybe even catch a glimpse of the elusive escapist. The problem is, quite a few have gotten the address wrong apparently mistaking the chauffeur’s quarters (at 2400 Laurel Canyon Blvd.) for the main house.Knott's Scary Farm Halloween Haunt
Practically an institution in Southern California (as far as theme parks go), Knott's Berry Farm has been around since the ‘40s. Many LA area kids grew up with their annual Halloween Haunt also known as Knott's Scary Farm. During the month of October, Knott's becomes one giant multi-acre plot of monsters, scare zones and mazes. It also hosts the more young kid friendly Snoopy’s Costume Party on weekends in October during the daytime (geared towards children of ages 3 to 11).Playboy Mansion Halloween Party
Scary can be sexy or sexy can be scary. Although it’s not usually open to the general public, the annual Halloween party at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills is a true Los Angeles tradition. Adult guests get spruced up in their sauciest costumes to dance the night away with celebrities and playmates. Sometimes when there is, for instance, a charity associated with the party, they will open it up to a select public (at a hefty cost). But most of the time it’s the V.I.P. event of the social season...a fantasy to aspire to, if you will.West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval
It’s time to strut your costumed stuff in West Hollywood. Each year, people come out in droves to walk the streets for this wild and colorful public Halloween party and parade. Billed as the largest Halloween street party in the world it draws over 500,000 people to Santa Monica Boulevard for a costume contest and of course the crowning of the Queen of the Carnaval. The evening event (taking place from 6 p.m. to midnight) includes live entertainment and pumpkin carving. The city also hosts more kid-friendly activities the week before the parade.The Witch’s House
All the most glamorous witches lives in 90210, didn’t you know that, dahling? Well, at least one of the most famous ones in town does. For decades, a 'good witch' in this crooked little house in the flats of Beverly Hills (at 516 N. Walden Dr.) has been putting on a Halloween show in a manner worthy of this Tinseltown (though, it's been sold to new owners in recent years). Kids and adults from the neighborhood and far beyond have stopped by to check out this classic LA haunted house and to get their ration of the famous salt water taffy treats dispensed by its former owner. The strange looking home was apparently built in the ‘20s for a film studio in Culver City and was ultimately moved to its current location in Beverly Hills. Though the interior of the house isn’t open to the general public, most trick or treaters through the decades have caught a thrill and a chill--and plenty of spooky effects-- just passing by.