Across the country, communities are gearing up for Halloween. While many places will play host to pumpkin patches and haunted houses, family travel expert Kerri Zane found 15 family-friendly Halloween events that are as unique as a homemade costume.
1. Santa Clause, Indiana
For Halloween, Holiday World will have 12 acres of corn mazes, the Holidog’s 3D show, a Carnival, and Mummy’s Treasure Maze. Kids will also have the chance to chat with Gourdin the talking pumpkin. Saturday nights end with a Halloween-themed laser light show. Discount e-tickets are $29.99 for General Admission, and tickets for those under 54″ or over the age of 60 are $22.99. Children two and younger are free.
2. Roswell, Georgia
If your family wants to try an alternative Halloween event, try the Halloween Hike at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. The guided night hike is on a lit trail where nature-themed characters, Box Turtle and Water Drop, tell nature stories. Prior to the hike, kids can make bat puppets at the arts & crafts center, enjoy face painting, live music, and sip a warm drink by the bonfire. Activities begin at 7 p.m. and run until 9:45 p.m.
3. Columbia, South Carolina
From October 16 through 30, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, South Carolina will host its annual Halloween spook-tacular event Boo at the Zoo. Children ages 12 and under who wear costumes will be treated to fun activities like a trick-or-treat trail, Frankenstein’s Foam Zone, an eeky freaky dance party, spooky safari, spots and stripes railroad, haunted carousel, and much more. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $10 but are limited, so it’s recommended you purchase them online in advance. Children under age two are free.
4. Denver, Colorado
The Denver Union Station & The Crawford Hotel will be hosting the 2nd Annual Kids Halloween Parade & Party on October 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. The celebration will feature trick-or-treating in the merchant shops, palm readers, balloon twisters, magicians, and live music. The highlight of the day is a costume parade from Wynkoop Plaza through the Great Hall. There will be prizes for best overall and best group/family costumes. The event is free and open to all. The Parade will begin at 5:30 p.m.
5. St. Joseph, Missouri
From October 9 through 11, St. Joseph, Missouri will host the Pony Express PumpkinFest. Located on the grounds of the Pony Express Museum, this arts festival features a children’s costume parade, festival rides, crafts, and live music. The crown jewel of the event is the lighting of the Great Pumpkin Mountain. On opening night, you can see hundreds of carved pumpkins lit at once.
6. Alpharetta, Georgia
On October 3, the city is hosting a Scarecrow Harvest Festival. There will be music and over 100 scarecrows made by local businesses and schools lining the streets.
7. Plymouth, California
Campgrounds have also recently ramped up their Halloween festivities. One example is Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort in Plymouth, California. The park’s Halloween themed events during the last three weekends in October include create-a-haunted-campsite and “best scream” contests. Drama students from the neighboring Amador High School have also been invited to tell scary stories to the younger campers.
8. Covington, Louisiana
Another campground getting in on the Halloween action is Land-O-Pines Family Campground. Over four consecutive weekends there will be a “Kiddie Halloween Bash” for kids 12 and under. The events include a nighttime candy hunt, trick or treating, a costume contest, coloring contest, music, hayride, and kids-only bingo. There’s also a zombie weekend with a “Find the Hidden Body Parts” contest, a Zombie Obstacle Course, a Zombie Costume Contest, and a Zombies versus Humans Game. The weekends of October 23 to 25 and October 30 to November 1 will also feature haunted house contests—which campers design themselves at their campsites—and a Great Pumpkin Race.
9. Scottsdale, Arizona
Butterfly Wonderland is the largest glass-enclosed butterfly conservatory in the U.S., and between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on October 31, you and your little ones can attend the Halloween costume parade. The top three winners will receive a special gift and will be featured on the Butterfly Wonderland website. Visitors dressed in costume as their favorite butterfly or critter will also receive a coupon for the laser maze walkthrough at the OdySea Mirror Maze next door.
10. New Paltz, New York
Between October 30 and November 1 Mohonk Mountain House will host a Halloween Haunts and Happenings weekend. At this event you’ll be able to meet live timberwolves, go trick or treating, sit by a campfire, attend a costume ball, and more.
11. Chestertown, Maryland
Chestertown will host the 2nd Annual Harry Potter Festival on October 2 and 3. The festival aims to celebrate the spirit and theme of Harry Potter while promoting arts within the local community. This year, the festival will benefit the Garfield Center for the Arts and the Kent County Fund through the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. Donations for the event start at $10.
12.East Madison, New Hampshire
On October 24, check out Halloween Town at Purity Spring Resort. Each cabins at the resort’s Camp Tohkomeupog is theatrically transformed with its own theme, and they range from kid-friendly to downright spooky. There’s a lighted Trick or Treat Trail winding throughout the camp where you and your kids can stop and grab a Halloween surprise. There’s also a kid carnival, petting farm, food court, tethered hot air balloon rides, and more.
13. Manitou Springs, Colorado
Join in the fun on October 24 at the Emma Crawford Coffin Race & Parade. This event is inspired by a tall tale about 19-year-old Emma Crawford, whose dying wish was to be buried atop Red Mountain. After years of weather and erosion, her remains were washed down the mountainside. It is believed she still haunts Red Mountain today. To honor Emma each year, Manitou Springs holds a coffin race and parade. Teams of five create and decorate a coffin that is raced down Main Street. After the race, a parade shows off all of the coffins. This is a free event. The parade begins at noon, and events continue until 4 p.m.
14. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Dress up your kids in their best Halloween costumes and head over to the Strawberry Banke Museum for some historic house trick-or-treating. This ten-acre outdoor history museum hosts Ghosts On the Banke on October 30 and 31. It costs $8 per person and runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission for children under one is free.
15. Gretna, Nebraska
A pumpkin patch is a pumpkin patch, but Vala’s Pumpkin Patch near Gretna is one you won’t want to miss. Sure, you can pick your own pumpkin, but this patch is more like a county fair. Your kids can feed animals, there are 23 places to get food, seven places to shop, live entertainment, rides, and many other activities. It has been dubbed the largest pumpkin patch in the country, and it’s only open for 42 days. Daily ticket prices vary, or you can purchase a season pass.
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By Kerri Zane for PeterGreenberg.com. Kerri Zane is a family travel expert and author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding the REAL One. For more advice on health, parenting or Kerri’s exclusive MomEscapes, visit her at KerriZane.com.