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5 Safe Kid-Friendly Places to Celebrate Halloween

“Watch out!”

This is something I find myself saying way too often on Halloween. Our neighborhood, in a quiet section of San Francisco, becomes incredibly hectic and busy on Halloween. Not only does my daughter run the risk of colliding with other trick-or-treaters, but I’ve always been worried about all the cars. Our streets are notoriously narrow and with so many people coming to our neighborhood for free candy, crossing the streets can be a dangerous act.

I was more concerned when she was younger (my daughter is now 8), but I still worry. Throw in paranoia about poisoned candy (which is incredibly uncommon) or just an adverse parental reaction to your child going up to a stranger’s door and asking for candy, and you might find that the traditional door-to-door celebration just may not be for you and your family.

RELATED: The Ultimate Halloween Safety Guide

Here are several different options for you and your family. Have you partaken in any of these celebrations?

1. Local Pumpkin Patches

One of the awesome things about pumpkin patches is that you don’t have to wait until Halloween to celebrate, you can go pretty much any time in the month of October. Depending on where you live, you can have a full Halloween experience complete with haunted houses, pumpkin patches, games, face painting and more. Down in Los Angeles there is Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch (which has five different locations) and has pony rides, a petting zoo, a maze and more. Up in Northern California (my neck of the woods) there is Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch that has hayrides, a rock wall, live entertainments and even “award winning” BBQ. Odds are there is some sort of pumpkin wonderland somewhere near you.

2. Halloween Time at Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Throughout the month of October, the “happiest place on earth” throws their own epic Halloween party (Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween at Walt Disney World). But even if you don’t snag tickets to their not-so-spooky soirees, there is plenty of Halloween-inspired fun to embrace at the parks. At Disneyland, Main Street is all decked out with more than 300 pumpkins — and each one of them is totally unique. The Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain both get a temporary makeover, turning them into the Haunted Mansion Holiday (brought to you by Jack Skellington of "The Nightmare Before Christmas") and Ghost Galaxy. There are special treats to indulge in like the pumpkin beignets in New Orleans Square and totally over-the-top candied apples. But the best thing for families is the Halloween Carnival at Big Thunder Ranch. There are characters all dolled up for Halloween (like Goofy in his skeleton costume), a magic show, Halloween crafts, games, plus you can “conjure” a villain. Yeah, Disney does it right.

3. Local Carnivals

I’m not sure about your community, but here in San Francisco this seems to be THE time for festivals at local schools, churches and other organizations. They may not all be themed “Halloween,” but they all seem to have Halloween elements from pumpkin carving to costume contests. Local schools are an ideal place to look since they have are themed and targeted to kids.

4. Neighborhood Trick-or-Treating

You can always go trick or treating around your home. But if your community starts the festivities late or if you are worried about traffic and crowds (which can be an issue where we are), then look to local neighborhoods with commerce. Oftentimes the businesses will organize trick-or-treating for the local kids. What’s nice about that is that they usually take place earlier than later and they are often very generous with their offerings, hoping to impress customers and potential customers.

RELATED: 6 Non-Candy Treats to Pass Out on Halloween

5. Have Your Own Party

Or you can enjoy Halloween without leaving the house! Have your own Halloween party with treats, costumes, pumpkins … the whole shebang. Plus your kids will love to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters that end up at your door. Bonus: You’ll have way less candy in the hands of your children to deal with.

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