Six spooky Bay Area destinations to visit this fall

Reviewing various autumn-themed locations to get into the Halloween spirit

October 23, 2021

Filoli Historic House & Garden: Historic Estate and Orchard

Overall: This estate is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a peaceful peek into fall. Beautiful orchards and gardens were also a mesmerizing aspect of the experience. The greenery and flowers blooming throughout the estate painted the landscape with vibrant colors and brought a sense of tranquility to visitors. Walking through the historical, colossal estate was fascinating. The informational posters spread throughout the house provided for an informative as well as unique experience.


Spook/Fun: While the estate did not provide the same thrill that amusement parks or haunted houses do, visitors could enjoy the pleasantries of fall in alternate ways. The house managers had set up a path that people could follow to experience all aspects of the estate, starting with the house. Although the path was a little confusing at times, visitors could take a picture of the large map at the front to help guide them. The interior of the house was beautifully decorated where visitors could learn all about the wealthy families that had lived there in the past. After exiting the house, visitors followed the path to the back of the house, where they saw the first of the extensive gardens. A large stretch of grass provides shade to those who would like a bit of rest while still giving them a view of the lawn and flowers. After completing the path, visitors can visit the garden shop or the cafeteria to relax. The garden shop sold a variety of garden tools and seeds, as well as Halloween garden decor. The cafeteria also offered food and drinks, all of which were tasty and filling.


COVID-19 Precautions: The estate enforced a variety of COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing rules and enforcement of mask wearing. Additionally, the management had created a one-way path to manage COVID-19 safety as well. However, quite a few visitors had their masks off when they were outside.


Price: The tickets to this place are moderately priced at $15 for children between five and 17 and $25 for adults. However, children under the age of five are admitted without any cost. For students, teachers and military members, tickets are priced at $20, while visitors aged 65 and up pay $22. The cafeteria food was moderately priced as well, and visitors could buy large meals without it being too expensive.

Queen’s Pumpkin Patch: Pumpkin Patch

Overall: Just before 11 a.m. on Sunday, Queen’s Pumpkin Patch is a crowded, dusty field with an apparent lack of parking spots. The initial anticipation of the pumpkin patch is negated by the 15 minute-long line under the hot sun. Additionally, the crowded photo areas and long lines for other activities creates a tedious experience with an abundance of crying children and overpriced pumpkins. 


Spook/fun: A strong aspect of Queen’s Pumpkin Patch includes its many photo opportunities along with the activities and games that are available. One side of the pumpkin patch has many pumpkins of various shapes and sizes. The decorative signs that adorn the pumpkins also help people identify the different types of pumpkins. A large red and white tent located in the center of the pumpkin patch contains common carnival foods, such as cotton candy and popcorn. 


COVID-19 Precautions: Although the pumpkin patch is outdoors and has a guest mask mandate, ​​none of the staff members wear masks. Meanwhile, almost everyone who paid to enter the pumpkin patch wears masks, due to the large population of young children and families that have yet to be vaccinated. 


Price: Admission is $4 per person and each additional event requires tickets in order to participate. Overpriced food and games are to be expected, and the events help contribute to the overall fun fall experience. The pumpkins themselves are also extremely expensive in comparison to supermarket prices — however, there is a large variety of pumpkins to choose from. 


Great America’s Halloween Haunt: Haunted House/Amusement Park

Overall: Amusement park and Halloween decoration enthusiasts are bound to have a blast at Great America’s Halloween Haunt. The park offers the same rides and attractions Great America is best known for, as well as frightening costumed staff members interspersed throughout the park, haunted mazes and a special Haunt-themed performance. However, massive crowds, stuffiness and unreasonably long wait times, which can extend beyond 45 minutes, prevent visitors from total enjoyment. 


Spook/Fun: Madame Marie’s Midnight Masquerade and Tooth Fairy are family friendly mazes with carefully planned themes, elaborate sets and props and frights. However, due to the large number of visitors in the mazes, one can anticipate the jump scares by the screams of the people in front. The amusement park offers more than just frights and haunted houses, though. A few hours into the Haunt, visitors can enjoy a grand show, which includes a dance performance and a group of bikers and skaters doing exciting jumps and tricks.


COVID-19 Precautions: Due to the park’s large number of attendees, it becomes difficult to maintain six feet distance during lines and rides, and the rides involve a lot of direct contact. Additionally, many park visitors do not wear their masks properly while strolling through the park and waiting in line, though park staff ensure everyone wears masks before entering the rides and mazes. 

Price: Though the cost of the ticket, parking and food is on the pricier side, the price is somewhat reasonable considering that it is the same price as a typical Great America ticket, but includes additional sites, decorations and performances exclusive to the Haunt. Selecting a single day to visit the park where one can commit to the full five hours is the best way to maximize the cost of the visit. The lines for the mazes move pretty quickly, but the lines for the rides, especially the more popular ones, are very time consuming.

Those planning to attend Great America’s Halloween Haunt should bring friends and prepare for a chilly and thrilling night. 

Natasha’s Attic: Costume Store

Overall: Natasha’s Attic is a welcoming store filled with staff members who are old friends of the owner. Many of them flew in from different parts of the U.S. to help out with the business during the busy month of October. Along with the pleasant ambiance of the store, there is a choice to either purchase or rent costumes from their vast inventory.


Spook/Fun: Browsing through the different costumes and observing the customers who are being fitted for costumes feels like a fever-dream. Travelling through time periods, there are glimpses of the Renaissance, pirates and fairy princesses walking around the store in their glamorous outfits. 


COVID-19 Precautions: As customers try on costumes in various shades and sizes, they keep their masks on. However it is a little difficult for customers to socially distance themselves because of the size of the store, which is crowded with costumes and racks of clothing.


Price: Contrary to its small size, Natasha’s Attic is well stocked with a variety of costumes. While costumes and costume rentals do fall on the pricier side, moderate tailoring is also included. Yelp reviewers claimed to have spent around $100-200 on costumes. However, many of these customers went all out by purchasing high quality makeup and tailored outfits.

ABC Tree Farms and Pick of the Patch Pumpkins: Pumpkin Patch

Overall: ABC Tree Farms provides a welcoming and comfortable environment for visitors. The pumpkin patch provides a variety of unique opportunities, including a designated spot for birthday parties, something that isn’t typically offered at other spots. Additionally, a large park of inflatable jump houses offers yet another exciting and rare entertainment option for visitors. However, the fun experiences are only for children under 12. The pumpkin patch itself was scarcely populated with pumpkins, and the pumpkins were misshapen and poor quality. The picture backdrops were old and chipped and set up in poorly-lit spots. Additionally, the food choices were limited to packaged cookies and chips, resulting in an unsatisfactory meal. Older visitors may find themselves unable to truly enjoy themselves at the patch.


Spook/Fun: For children below the age of 12, this pumpkin patch is one of our top recommendations. The various inflatable jump houses induced shouts of excited children which echoed from every part of the pumpkin patch. However, for teenagers and adults, there isn’t much to do. There aren’t any pumpkin carving tables, which eliminates one of the typical activities for older visitors. The pumpkin patch itself prioritized aesthetics rather than pumpkins, as there were few pumpkins to choose from and most were grouped around large hay structures, giving the patch a monotonous look.


COVID-19 Precautions: The patch did a poor job with enforcing COVID-19 guidelines, as they did not enforce masks nor were the workers wearing any themselves. Under the large shaded structure in the inflatable area, the gathered families did not follow social distancing rules, as many were seated close together. Inside the inflatables, most children had removed their masks as they jumped.


Price: Entrance to the pumpkin patch was free, however, families were required to pay to enter the jump houses. The prices were rather unreasonable, at $15 for 30 minutes and $19 for 60 minutes. However, the pumpkins and food were priced well, with the largest pumpkins only costing $25 and food costing $2 per item. 

Moon Zooom: Costume Store

Overall: In contrast to the small, simplistic and grey-toned exterior of the store, Moon Zooom is an exciting store bursting with color and vibrancy. The owner and staff are very friendly and resourceful, often conversing with customers as they shopped. The costume selection is located at the back of the store, and there is a unique stock of vintage costume items that are fun to peruse.  


Spook/Fun: The store is filled to the brim with unique costumes, and every time one thinks they’re done looking at the merchandise, there’s always another room of different items. Though the variety of interesting knick knacks and accessories is vast, Halloween shoppers looking to purchase certain costumes are not guaranteed to find what they are looking for, since the costume selection is not as wide as classic Halloween stores such as Spirit Halloween and Party City. Still, the store is well suited for people who are trying to find authentic costumes and fashions from different eras, and after careful sifting there are several hidden gems. 


COVID-19 PrecautionsMasks are required, and all customers and staff members are masked at all times. Still, the sections of the store are small and packed with products, so it is sometimes difficult to maintain distance with other customers. 


PriceThe prices vary based on the item, but stay in the $10-25 range for the costumes, which is reasonable for vintage items. To further lower prices, customers could use coupons, receive generous discounts and even bargain with salespeople.

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