A Kid’s Guide to Día de Los Muertos in Old Town San Diego

In the heart of San Diego, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park comes alive with the spirit of Día de Los Muertos, offering children and families a chance to learn, create, and celebrate together. Let’s explore the delightful kids’ activities that are part of this enchanting celebration.

Community Altar:

One of the central elements of Día de Los Muertos is the community altar, a place where families come together to honor their loved ones who have passed away. Kids can participate in this beautiful tradition by writing the names of their departed family members on paper “gravestones.” These gravestones are then placed on the seven-tiered community altar in Plaza de Las Armas. It’s a touching way for children to connect with their heritage and remember their ancestors. The altar is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 28, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 29.

Bilingual Story Time:

In Plaza de Las Armas, young ones can join Odie the Coyote and the San Diego Public Library for a special bilingual story hour. This engaging activity not only introduces kids to the rich storytelling traditions of Mexico but also fosters a love for language and culture. It’s a fantastic opportunity for children to broaden their horizons through the magic of storytelling.

19th Century Magic Lantern Shows:

For a journey back in time, head to the Seeley Stable Theatre, where Matt Schnittker presents a fantastical Halloween 19th-century magic lantern show. These short 15-20 minute shows are sure to captivate young imaginations with their historical charm. It’s an educational and entertaining experience that combines history and magic.

Hands-On Art:

Altars de muertos (altars of the dead) are intricate works of art that incorporate various elements like statuary, seed art, flowers, and hand-cut paper. Kids can learn the art of creating Seed Art inspired by traditional designs found on these altars. They can also try their hand at crafting brightly colored papel picado, a type of decorative paper, to hang at their own altars at home. This hands-on art activity allows children to express their creativity while learning about the cultural significance of these artistic traditions.

Sugar Skull Workshops:

Making sugar skulls is an indigenous Día de Los Muertos tradition in Mexico. At Old Town’s Plaza de Armas, kids can participate in workshops led by Sugar Skull Artist Carolina Celaya. They can decorate their hand-made sugar skulls in honor of loved ones who have passed away. It’s a meaningful and artistic way for children to connect with the spirit of Día de Los Muertos. Please note that these sugar skulls are for decoration purposes and not for consumption. There is a $10 material fee for this workshop.

Movie in the Park:

As the day winds down, families can enjoy a free community showing of Disney Pixar’s “Coco” in the Plaza de Armas on Saturday, October 28, at 7 p.m. This heartwarming animated film beautifully captures the essence of Día de Los Muertos and is a perfect way for kids to wrap up a day of cultural exploration and creativity.

The Old Town San Diego Día de Los Muertos celebration offers a diverse range of activities that cater to the interests and creativity of children. From storytelling and art workshops to magic lantern shows and movie screenings, there is something for every young enthusiast. These activities not only entertain but also educate children about the rich cultural traditions and history associated with Día de Los Muertos. So, mark your calendars and bring your kids to Old Town San Diego for a memorable and educational Day of the Dead celebration filled with fun and learning. It’s an experience that they will cherish for years to come.


  • Saturday, October 28, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 29, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Phone – (619) 220-5422

Address – Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, 4002 Wallace St, San Diego, CA 92110

Website www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=31340