Trick or Treating In The City: A Field Guide to A Family-Friendly SF Halloween

Maybe you’ve just moved here with your kiddies, or maybe your little ones have just come of age to trick-or-treat. Either way, I know figuring out Halloween in a big party city can be frightening, especially concerning the amount of violence that goes down on each Hallow’s Eve

Luckily, the city has recognized that this needs to stop and is making efforts to keep the violence to a minimum – mainly by shutting down the Castro Street Halloween party a few years ago. But safe or not, Halloween is hard for kids in the city. Where do you go? Which houses do you avoid? Do you try apartment buildings? Are businesses viable? Which neighborhoods are best?

Here’s a run-down of the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating, based on safety, walkability, and amount of candy.



via Terry Tyson @

1. Sea Cliff
– Safety: HIGH. The Marina is a high-income neighborhood with beautiful houses and sea-side views. Its residents tend to be quiet and the crime rate is low. The area is well-lit and accessable by bus.
– Walkability: HIGH. Somewhat hilly in certain spots but mostly very doable.
– Amount of loot: HIGH. These residents love to give out candy. Keep an eye out for Robin William’s mansion, which is done up every year with incredibly decorations and a themed yard. You’re guaranteed to get a ton of candy from this neighborhood.

2. The Richmond/The Sunset
– Safety: HIGH. Both these neighborhoods are quiet and have low crime statistics. The residents tend to be either 50+ or college-aged. The neighborhoods are visible, well-lit, and accessible by bus.
– Walkability: HIGH. These neighborhoods are pretty flat and easy to walk. The only downside is that the blocks look very similar, so keep track of where you’re trying to go. 
– Amount of loot: MEDIUM – HIGH. These houses are very Halloween-friendly! Most of them will decorate the stairs and keep their lights on. You may come across a few full-on haunted houses.

3. Twin Peaks
– Safety: MEDIUM.  This residential neighborhood is another high-income area with low crime rates and lots of families. There are somewhat dark areas due to foliage and parks, but otherwise very visible and friendly. Relatively good bus connections.
– Walkability: MEDIUM. Somewhat hilly and difficult to maneuver due to the amount of parks/side streets/foliage. Keep an eye open for uneven sidewalks.
– Amount of loot: MEDIUM. These families are very friendly and most houses will have their lights on and welcome trick-or-treaters, but you may find some streets mostly dark.

Here are some of the worst neighborhoods for trick-or-treating:

1. The Tenderloin
– Safety: LOW. The Tenderloin is an area with high drug use and high crime rates. The streets are generally unclean and not well-maintained.
– Walkability: HIGH. Although it is very easy to maneuver through and easy to get to via bus, it’s not a particularly hygenic or scenic walk.
– Amount of loot: LOW. The buildings are mostly apartments and businesses and the area is not trick or treat friendly.

2. The Financial District
– Safety: HIGH
This is an area with almost all businesses, so it’s very well lit and accessable, with low crime rates.
– Walkability: HIGH. Some hills, but mostly flat. Lots of bus routes and easy to navigate streets.
– Amount of loot: LOW. This whole area is sky scrapers and businesses, many of which close relatively early in the day.

Want to go to a pumpkin patch or a day event before you hit the streets for loot? On that note, here’s a forecast for the biggest and best child-friendly Halloween events within San Francisco’s borders.

1. Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch

Located at 1620 7th Ave in the Sunset district, this is a pet-friendly pumpkin patch with gourds, corn stalks, hay barrels, and free parking.

2. 13th Annual Halloween Hoopla

This big mixed-media arts and crafts fair takes place on Sunday, Oct 27th at the Yerba Buena Center. It features interactive performances and games for kids under 10.

3. Family Halloween Day

If you want more arts and crafts, head up to the Randall Museum on Saturday, Oct 26th from 10 AM to 2 PM. The museum is loaded with games, treats, and activities for your younger children, with a magic show to wrap the festivities up.


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