Written by Bill Zavestoski
Halloween is only a week away. Before you indulge in a night of trick-or-treating with a bevy of ghost, goblins and ghouls, make time for your family to enjoy these great Halloween-themed day trips:
12320 San Mateo Road (Highway 92)
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Though Lemos Farm is a year-round venue, Halloween brings out its best, especially with the addition of a Scare Zone. Unlike other times of the year, the farm is open daily, and parents have a choice of buying an all-day pass or paying a fee only for rides that appeal to them and the kids. A pony ride, train ride and petting zoo are the biggest hits with the small fries, and a play town and hayride are offered as well. Your kids likely won't let you leave without picking out a plump pumpkin from the extensive Lemos Farm patch.
Families have a choice of “scary” or “mild” in the haunted house, so let the attendant know which you prefer. It's much darker in the scary mode, so little ones may not like it. Also, there is plenty of free parking, but getting to Half Moon Bay at this time of year is always going to take a while, especially if you're coming in on Highway 92. Allow some extra travel time. And expect to wait in line 30 minutes or more to get on the train ride.
If the little ones won't quake in their boots when they're placed on an animal, the pony ride makes for some great photos. The petting zoo also is a hoot, but watch out for the goats, which have been known to sample any and all possessions that you don't protect.
The Fine Print
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October. Most single-ticket attractions range for $3 to $5 (the petting zoo is $1), so the all-day pass at $15 for kids 14 months up to 70 pounds is a bargain. It also includes the haunted house, which even at the single-visit price of $3 is a bargain. Adults and the bigger kids pay only $5, a real deal. Food prices are moderate, about $3.50 to $5 for munchies like hot dogs and pizza.
14485 Monterey Road
San Martin, CA 95046
Who needs New England maples for fall colors? Between thousands of pumpkins and marigolds, you can take in all the orange and yellow hues of autumn right here in the Morgan Hill area. Kids and adults can get frustrated by the mystifying turns of their own individual corn maze, there are several trains to hop aboard, and even a pumpkin pyramid. Pony rides, a petting coral, a carousel and a free hay jump will keep the little ones amused.
The pony rides and petting coral are open only on weekends, when there is a $3 parking fee. Since nearly every place you go is covered either by dirt or hay, wear shoes that are comfortable and clean up easily. Credit cars are accepted at the ticket booth and gift shop only, not for meals or refreshments.
Kids of all ages will enjoy the Pumpkin Blasters, cannon-like guns you stand behind to fire small pumpkins at distant targets at speeds of up to 90 mph. The fee is $5 for three shots in this sort of horizontal pumpkin drop.
The Fine Print
Through October, the park opens at 9 a.m. daily and closes at 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays (but 5 p.m. on Halloween), 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 8 p.m. Sundays. There is no admission fee but rides tickets can add up quickly. They range from $2 (children's corn maze) to $7 (adult maze), with a $4 to $6 savings available by purchasing a weekday ($30) or weekend ($37) all-ride park pass, good for one ride on each available attraction.
Dead Time Dreams
2501 Tully Road at East Capitol Expressway (by Eastridge Mall)
San Jose, CA 95122
More nightmare than sweet dream, Dead Time Dreams can give anyone the creeps. Three so-called “immersive attractions” are included for the price of admission: Outbreak, simulating a virus release at a military installation; House of Voodoo, a house of horror set in the Louisiana swamps; and The Dead Zone, with zombie-filled caverns and cemeteries. Expect to be screamed at as you come face to face with the spooky actors. Incidental bumping or touching can occur.
Parents should decide which of their kids could handle the intensity of this place, which is geared toward children at least 10 years old. An adult must accompany anyone under 13. Also, costumes are not allowed (you might get mistaken for an actor) and rain might force the evening's action to be canceled, so call ahead if the weather is iffy.
For the first time this year, a “Midway of Terror” provides a place to be spooked before heading into the three main attractions. It beats waiting in line and the show changes nightly. You're promised a “dark and intense experience.”
The Fine Print
Dead Time Dreams is open daily, 7 to 11 p.m. on weeknights and 7 to midnight on weekends, through Nov. 2. The $20 tickets (there is no youth or child rate) may be purchased online or at the site. Credit cards are accepted and parking is free.