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Fall is a great time to check out many of the local entertainment venues here in Southern California. By the end of September, tourists have come and gone and there’s less traffic in the Southland to deal with. Thankfully many local tourist spots in Southern California also are offering exclusive discounts to residents only. Better yet, some tickets are even free (a small service fee applies).
Goldstar.com highlights events in Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire and San Diego with everything from family-friendly theater to comedy shows to concerts and more.
So, here’s a roundup of the best fall and holiday entertainment deals in Southern California for families! As always, if you find a great deal that you like, make sure to purchase it immediately. Once tickets are sold, they are gone forever!
Happy Field Tripping!
Southern California Entertainment Discount Tickets
Complimentary Tickets to Enchanted Forest at Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge
Descanso Gardens is famed for its daytime beauty all year round, but when the holiday season approaches, it brings a special treat. It’s a whole new experience to see this SoCal treasure illuminated in glorious light. As the sun sets, the gardens transform into an enchanted forest and your ticket is an invitation to venture in and discover the magical world that waits under the glowing foliage. During this colorful and interactive experience, you can stroll through a mile of Descanso Gardens’ most popular areas while marveling at the gorgeous lighted displays. Located in La Cañada Flintridge, Descanso is a 160-acre outdoor wonderland featuring a Camellia Forest, a fragrant Rose Garden, and the carefully-tended Japanese Garden and Oak Woodland. At Enchanted: Forest of Light, the beauty of these beloved sights is enhanced by the bewitching brilliance of the lighted displays.
Winter Fest OC is coming to town for 18 days and nights, blowing tons of family fun into the OC Fair & Event Center. Winter Fest OC is a giant wonderland of immersive wintry fun, featuring ice tubing down an 8-lane, 150 foot real ice summit; massive snow play and slide area with fresh snow blown in daily; an all new SoCal Dickens Village, where you can take a trip down memory lane through the 1800’s with holidays past, present and future. Decorate Christmas cookies, listen to holiday storytelling, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus (through Christmas Eve), enjoy a pony ride, and visit the new Victorian holiday shops. Make sure you don’t miss the magic of Santa and his Reindeer flying over the fairgrounds through Christmas Eve. Winter Fest OC also includes the all new Festival of Lights walk-through with more than 2 million lights, nightly Christmas tree lighting celebration with spectacular fireworks and snowfall and ice skating under the stars on SoCal’s largest outdoor ice rink. Winter Fest OC is also packed with over 30 carnival rides, attractions and games, a petting zoo, pony rides, trackless train through the Festival of Lights, interactive model trains, craft-making activities and plenty of Instagram-worthy picture opportunities. Make sure you also don’t miss ringing in the New Year not once, but twice, with a special countdown, Orange Ball drop, fireworks spectacular and an unforgettable balloon drop at both 6:00pm and midnight. Multiple live bands will be playing to commemorate the end of the year, and the start of the a new one. Your ticket includes a fast pass, so you can skip the lines and go down the Snowflake Summit ice tubing slide. Go for the season pass and save over 40% and return as many times as you would like over the 18-day run of SoCal’s favorite winter experience.
Complimentary Tickets to The Museum of Illusions, Los Angeles
Hollywood’s newest, coolest pop-up museum comes Instagram ready to put you and the fam right in the middle of some amazing images. The Museum of Illusions is filled with paintings, 3-D set pieces and giant props that produce eye-popping pics, inspired by cartoons, art, current events, movies and more. You can picture yourself on a raft watching the Titanic go down, climb a sheer cliff, become a burger topping or dangle over an MC Escher-like edge. Then show off your shots and really wow your crowd back home.
Connect with 20 years of wonder and memories at the Aquarium of the Pacific, one the nation’s most popular aquariums. Come face-to-face with and touch the ocean’s ultimate predators in Shark Lagoon, hand-feed colorful lorikeet birds and watch Magellanic penguins play. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the Aquarium invites you to learn about and meet animals that have been with the Aquarium since its earliest days, such as Charlie the sea otter and Theo and Lou the sea turtles. A new exhibit, “Tentacles and Ink,” features a rotating display of squid, octopuses and cuttlefish. There’s no better time to visit than now!
Board a historic battleship and see history come to life before your eyes. Named one of the best exhibits to see with your kids by CBS Local, the Battleship Iowa Museum is the West Coast’s only battleship open to the public. Walk the wooden decks and check out the guns, missile decks, bridge, mess areas and the world famous Captain’s Cabin — with the only bathtub installed on a battleship for a president. Known as “The Battleship of Presidents,” Iowa has hosted three presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. New for 2017, you’ll get an up-close look at a Korean War-era Piasecki HUP-2 Retriever helicopter, fully restored and sitting on Iowa’s flight deck. You’ll also be able to have an augmented reality HUP Experience of flying an actual HUP helicopter, as well as take a simulated ride in a virtual reality Navy Flight Theater. The Battleship Iowa is located at the L.A. Waterfront, former home to the US Navy Battleship fleet prior to World War II and an area rich in maritime history.
A not-so-scary Halloween show, The Halloween House comes to Pico Playhouse. Come trick-or-treat and dance to the Halloween beat! Looking for something fun to do this October for the fall/Halloween season that leaves the scary element behind? Then bring the kids and come celebrate with a happy Halloween show experience! Join your favorite characters and some new ones in this fun, upbeat show! Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble, what happens when you take one part not-haunted house, one part show and one part trick-or-treat and combine it all? The most fun family event of the season! Join your favorite characters and some new ones on a fall/Halloween adventure that will have you stomping your feet, dancing in your seat, feeling great and happy that it’s pumpkin spice time! Kids are encouraged to wear their costumes!
Complimentary Tickets to the Museum of Selfies, Los Angeles
Though the idea of another social media-friendly attraction may induce some eye rolls, the 10 fully interactive exhibits at the Museum of Selfies in Los Angeles will no doubt turn those emoji frowns upside-down, allowing visitors to take a deep dive into this fascinating cultural phenomenon — and, of course, snag a few cool pics along the way. With a focus on much more than marketing, the exhibition explores how the current photographic trend developed, as well as some of the psychology behind self-portraiture, both ancient and modern. Plus, the curators have collected an impressive array of Instagram-inspired art for you to capture for posterity, as well as an Iron Throne constructed entirely of selfie sticks.
Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Circus Vargas is back with an all-new show that’s sure to spark joy in the hearts of landlubbers and swabbies alike. America’s favorite traveling big top circus adds a fantastical new level of swashbuckling spectacle to its music-filled extravaganza with Dreaming of Pirates at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. Jam-packed with aerial feats, acrobatics and clowning, not to mention a colorful cast of characters, world-class performers, singing, comedy and more, Dreaming of Pirates has plenty of treasures for the whole family to enjoy. Before the show, kids have the chance to step into the ring and learn circus skills. After the show, stick around to meet and take pictures with the cast.
Head down the yellow brick road with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, too, in Encore’s adaptation of The Wizard of Oz at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Based on the classic screenplay and featuring music from the Oscar-winning movie, this is the beloved story of the girl who wakes up in a strange land filled with witches and wizards, munchkins and flying monkeys — and befriends a lion, a tin man and a scarecrow in her quest to find her way back home. The unforgettable score includes all-time favorites like “Over the Rainbow,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard” and “If I Only Had a Brain.”
Whodunits — you gotta love ’em. From the secluded locales to the cast of colorful characters in which everyone’s a suspect to the final, ingenious twist, the author who did it best was Agatha Christie. One of her most famous stories, The Mousetrap, has it all. A group of strangers trapped by a snowstorm discovers that a murderer is among them, and you’ll never guess who it is! The longest-running play in history, The Mousetrap has been thrilling audiences continuously since its 1952 premiere in London’s West End. Now you can experience the ultimate whodunit at Crown City Theatre Company in North Hollywood.
Calling all kids — hit the bounce house, get your face painted, take a pony ride and best of all, pick your own pumpkin to take home — at Santa Anita’s Fall Fun Fest in Arcadia. The infield will be packed with carnival rides, games and activities for the whole family. Plus, there’s a full lineup of live thoroughbred racing to enjoy.
The beautiful 1920s art deco Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro plays host to this ENCORE production of Peter Pan. Join the boy who never wants to grow up, along with his pals the Lost Boys and the mischievous fairy Tinkerbell, as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime and try to save Wendy, John and Michael from the menacing pirate Captain Hook. Based on the Cathy Rigby stage production, there’s lots of high-flying fun to be had with Peter and his crew in this enduring and beloved musical.