October 28, Saturday
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The free annual Balboa Park Halloween Family Day gives families a safe, fun, and culturally inspired way to kick off their Halloween activities. Over two dozen participating museums and cultural attractions will present free craft projects for kids, costume parades and contests, and other spooky surprises from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participating museums offer free admission to children 12 and under with paying adult.
Presented by the Balboa Park Conservancy in collaboration with the City of San Diego Park and Recreation, prior years’ park-wide Halloween Family Days have included mini-carnival games, costume contests for prizes, a doggie costume contest in the Spanish Village, the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s rooftop pumpkin drop, food trucks, and free activity and prize-drawing booths on the Prado and in the Plaza de Panama.
Families looking to save money and avoid parking during Balboa Park Family Days can take advantage of MTS Family Weekends, which allows two children 12 and under to ride any MTS service for free on Saturdays and Sundays when accompanied by a paying adult passenger (18+). Rapid 215 provides limited-stop service to the San Diego Zoo and the museums on Balboa Park’s east side. Visitors can also access Balboa Park directly via MTS Route 7, which runs along Broadway, Park Boulevard, and University Avenue, as well as MTS Routes 3 and 120, which provide service to the Park’s west side along Fourth and Fifth Avenues. To plan your trip, visit sdmts.com.
SPECIAL FAMILY DAY ACTIVITIES AND OFFERS
(Check back for updates)
Balboa Park Visitors Center: Free gift to kids in costume who are accompanied by an adult (while supplies last). Enter a drawing to win:
- Old Town Trolley/Seal Tour tickets
- Live in Concert CD and 4 free tickets to a San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory concert in 2017–18
- San Diego Junior Theatre Family 4-Pack of tickets to an upcoming show
- 4 tickets to San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Fleet Science Center: Pop-Up Creature activity using hand tools, PVC pipe, and other clever materials to create a pop-up ghost or vampire to scare your friends and family on Halloween. Price per project is $5. All ages are welcome. 11:30am–3:30pm in the Tinkering Studio, on the second floor.
Friends of Balboa Park — Balboa Park Carousel: Free carousel rides for children 12 and under who are in full costume. The carousel will be open from 11am to 5:30pm.
House of Pacific Relations International Cottages: Open houses and trick-or-treating at International Cottages from noon to 5pm.
Japanese Friendship Garden: Drop by the Yokai exhibition of supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore in the Inamori Pavilion to make pipe cleaner spiders with lollipops and participate in a carnival-style yokai shooting game.
Metropolitan Transit System (MTS): Two kids (12 & under) ride free with each paying adult on Saturday and Sunday.
San Diego Air & Space Museum: Engineer your own wind-powered rover, 11:00am–4:00pm; participate in and witness a rooftop pumpkin drop experiment at 2:30pm; and watch kid-friendly short films in the 3D/4D movie theater (simulators not included).
San Diego Junior Theatre: Buy one adult ticket to Tuck Everlasting and get a child ticket free through November 12 (subject to availability).
San Diego Museum of Man: Kids ages 12 and under receive free general admission with paid adult general admission and can enjoy the family-friendly exhibition, Monsters! More adventurous visitors will want to check out Cannibals: Myth & Reality for just $7 more. Attend Monsters’ Story Time in the Monsters! Clubhouse at 12:00pm and 3:00pm, learn all about San Diego’s many bat species and their habitats during Batty about Bats at 1:00pm in the Education Center, and create Monsters!-inspired artwork throughout the day in the main rotunda.
San Diego Natural History Museum: Celebrate bats and other creatures that lurk in the night at The Nat. Meet some crepuscular critters, get a tattoo, and make a bat craft. Children 12 and under receive free general admission* with a paid adult or can pay $5 to enjoy unlimited access to 2D and 3D films in our giant-screen theater. To redeem this offer, download the coupon from the San Diego Museum Council and present in person at the admissions desk. *Free general admission does not include 3D films. Coupon must be presented at time of visit. No retroactive discounts. Limit two free child admissions per paid adult. Cannot be combined with other offers.
San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory: Free, open orchestra rehearsals (classical melodies) on the second floor of the Casa del Prado building, rooms 207 & 205, 8:30am–7:15pm.
San Diego Zoo: Free admission to all children through 11 years of age, regardless of adult ticket purchase. Part of “Kids Free Month” (October) promotion.
Spanish Village Art Center: Dress up your pup and take part in the annual Doggie Costume Contest, or stop by to enjoy the show at 1pm; decorate your own trick-or-treat bag (all day) and then go on a studio trick-or-treating run (with accompanying adult).
The San Diego Museum of Art: “Mask and Costume” Search and Find handout to guide families on a hunt for artworks in the galleries that feature masks and costumes. 17 and under FREE.
UNA International Gift Shop: Free Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF box to take along while trick-or-treating to benefit children around the world who need clean water, food, school supplies, etc.; one free U.N. pen to take home (while supplies last).
Activities along the Prado and in the Plaza de Panama
Fab Trailers Photo Booth: Come in costume and take fun photos of yourself and your kids to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and to email to friends.
Fleet Science Center: Make your own slime.
Food Trucks (Village Place): Enjoy special selections from 13 popular local food trucks, including Tacos la Mezcla, Sicilian Breeze, Super Q, Yo Yo Bento, and many more.
House of Pacific Relations International Cottages: Meet the HPR Queens who provide festive fun as well as information about HPR, the national cultures it represents, youth programs, and year-round events.
Japanese Friendship Garden: Make chochin-obake (haunted Japanese lanterns) out of toilet paper rolls, strips of toilet paper, and googly eyes!
Metropolitan Transit System (MTS): Pick up punch-out cardboard Rapid and Trolley banks, coloring books, and other fun items for kids, in addition to MTS Rapid, Bus, and Trolley route and schedule information.
Museum of Photographic Arts: Step into our darkened chamber and delight in the spectral images of the surrounding festival! MOPA’s walk-in camera obscura gives an inside look at how the magic of photography works. Also, craft some fun props and pose for a selfie at our photo op and pick up a sticker for free admission to our galleries.
San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society: See first-hand and learn about nature’s creepy plants that have teeth and fangs to eat things! Free candy and plants for sale.
San Diego Civic Dance Arts: At 12-12:40pm, witness dance hocus pocus, learn the “Thriller” moves, and join Civic Dance Arts dancers in bringing the Plaza de Panama to ghoulish life with a “Thriller” flash mob.
San Diego Civic Youth Ballet: Make your own crown or tiara, take photos with costumed characters from The Nutcracker, and learn more about San Diego’s historic youth ballet.
San Diego Junior Theatre: Opportunity drawing and special ticket offers for Tuck Everlasting. Mingle with costumed cast members and learn how to become involved in San Diego Junior Theatre.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum: Play “Pumpkin Pitch” and “Pumpkin Toss,” and make a fun “Pumpkin Train” craft.
San Diego Museum of Man: Free candy handouts and information about the museum.
San Diego Natural History Museum: Make a bat craft to take home.
San Diego Park and Recreation (Plaza de Panama): Test your skills at various mini-carnival games to win prizes (11am-3pm). Halloween costume contests in multiple age categories from 11:30am to 1pm; prizes for first, second, and third place. Halloween Costume Contest age divisions and times: 3 & Under, 11:30am; 4-6 years, 12:00pm; 7-9 years, 12:30pm; 10-12 years, 1:00pm.
San Diego Public Library: Take part in a mask-decorating craft, sign-up for a library card, spin the prize wheel, and learn about free library resources from library staff.
San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory: Join SDYS’s family BAM (Baby and Me) Band for family-friendly songs, singalongs, and dancing at 1pm in the Plaza de Panama.
Save Starlight: Save Starlight is an initiative to restore, revive, and revitalize Starlight Bowl—an open-air amphitheater in the heart of San Diego’s Balboa Park. Learn the latest on the Save Starlight campaign and find out how you can get involved!
Sophia Isadora Academy of Circus Arts: Performers from the school demonstrate circus arts, including stilt walking, juggling, tumbling, and riding a unicycle, in front of the lily pond.
Spanish Village Art Center: Pick up a free bag to take back to Spanish Village to decorate for trick-or-treating at participating Spanish Village studios.
Timken Museum of Art: Craft your very own hand-print spider—the perfect decoration to hang on your front door or in your window at home!
WorldBeat Center: Halloween-themed activities from the multicultural arts organization.
Worldview Project: Free exotic snacks from faraway places (while they last), culture quiz to see how much you know about world cultures; and a “Been There, Want to Go There Next” activity for the whole family.
XEWT Channel 12: Join XEWT TV for a fun Day of the Dead crafting experience.