by: Joshua Wilner
I spent the summer of 1990 working at a camp just outside of Toronto. The first questions the friendly Canadians peppered me with were: did I ever see any actors/actresses, was I in a gang and what was it like to live in a city that only had one season?It is a common misconception about our fair city of Angels, the idea that we all live beneath bright blue skies and drive convertibles. More than one person has tried to suggest that Angelenos don’t really have four seasons.
They’ll tell you that the leaves don’t change colors and that warm summer nights are never replaced by the brisk winds of autumn.Those of us who live here know that is far from the truth. The signs of fall aren’t limited to pumpkin-flavored lattes and television. All you have to do is look around and a hundred pumpkin patches have sprung up around the city.
Halloween Harvest Festival at Pierce College
20800 Victory Blvd.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Sept. 23 – Oct. 31
Sun-Thu: 10am – 10pm
Fri–Sat: 10am – 12am
Update for 2011: This year the Halloween Harvest Festival is expanding our festival to include larger festival grounds as well as an expanded 6 acre corn maze.
I readily admit my bias towards Pierce College. As a native Angeleno I went on more than a few field trips to visit the farm so it was only natural to share these experiences with my children.
The Halloween Harvest Festival is something that has become a family tradition. The children love to wander through the corn maze. Each year they measure their physical growth against corn stalks and try to figure out when they’ll be tall enough to see over them.
Later on they’ll wander around the festival and shout out requests for food or tickets to enjoy one of the rides. I have fond memories of watching them hold hands on the hay ride at the 2009 festival.
One of the nice things about the festival is that it really does cater to a wide range of ages. I expect that in the years to come the kids will visit the festival at night like I used to and enjoy the Factory of Nightmares Haunted House.
Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
Sept. 23 – Oct. 31
Weekends starting at 7pm. Open some Thursdays.
You can’t mention Halloween without including the theme parks all of which participate in Halloween activities on various levels. In my experience Universal Studios does an outstanding job but is really directed towards teenagers and adults. It is a lot of fun but I wouldn’t take young children there.
The Halloween Horror Nights are separate from the daytime activities and require a separate ticket. In the days before young children my friends and I used to recommend it as a good date night. It was fun, it was exciting and it was different.
Not to mention that if you were interested in getting closer with your date it was a good way to encourage hand holding and hugging. Of course as a father I get to do quite a bit of this, but this isn’t the same as asking my daughter to hold my hand while we walk through the parking lot.
I am told by several married couples that it still is a great date, so keep that in mind.
Oktoberfest at Alpine Village
833 W. Torrance Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90502
Sept. 9 – Oct. 23
Friday: 6pm – 12am
Saturday: 6pm – 12am
Sunday: 1pm – 6pm
2011 marks the 44th Oktoberfest at the Alpine Village and we’re making plans to head out there again. Oktoberfest at the Alpine Village is something that offers a number of opportunities for a family. It is a chance to talk to the children about geography and where the United States is in relationship to Europe.
And when you are through with the geography lesson you can enjoy an Oom Pah Pah band and eat/drink/shop your way through the festival. Sundays are a family day and special games/activities are available for the children.
Apple Picking at Riley’s Farm
12261 S. Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, California 92399
Mon-Fri: 10am – 4pm
Sat: 9am – 7pm
Riley’s Farm is a great day trip to take with your family. It is about 80 miles or so from Los Angeles but it is worth the trip.
I am partial to Apple Pie and Hot Apple Cider, especially when I can say that it is homemade and there is no better way to do this than to pick your own apples.
The farm offers more than just apple picking. On Saturdays they offer archery, tomahawk throwing and candle making. In addition they offer a number of “historical” tours such as the Colonial Farm Adventure which offers a chance to experience farm life as it was during the colonial time.
Other tours include the Gold rush, Civil War and Revolutionary War. As a history buff these are all things that grab my attention. My understanding is that though these are group tours sometimes individuals can a join a tour in progress.
So if it was me I would probably schedule time to join a tour and pick apples. I love when I can “fool” the kids into thinking that a educational activity is “fun.”
Third Street Promenade/Santa Monica
Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
In other parts of the country it might sound strange to suggest a visit to the beach during Fall, but not in Los Angeles. When the weather is nice there is no reason not to take advantage of the clear skies and enjoy time outdoors, sometimes with a little snap of chill in the air.
The promenade is one of my favorite places to take the family. It is always nice to get everyone outdoors for some fresh air and exercise. One of the nice things about the promenade is that it offers a variety of things to do.
You can window shop, watch street performers and there are numerous places to grab a snack or a meal. And let’s not forget that the beach is a short walk away.
Joshua Wilner is a father of two and a writer in Los Angeles.