Autumn in the United States signals back to school, cooler temps, and vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange. Along with these indications comes the anticipation of Halloween, and whether you’re on the West Coast, East Coast, or somewhere in between, there’s bound to be Halloween fun in your neck of the woods. If your kids enjoy trick-or-treating or love a good scare, we’ve got the scoop on top spots in the U.S. that love to celebrate Halloween.
Check out our guide to Halloween fun at amusement parks across the US!
Orange County, California
Orange County has so many Halloween events you’ll have a tough time deciding where to head to first! Knott’s Berry Farm has two types of Halloween celebrations: Knott’s Scary Farm for older kids that like thrilling experiences and Snoopy’s Costume Party for young ones that love to dress up and meet Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. Disneyland Park hosts Mickey’s Halloween Party filled with dance parties, fireworks, and trick-or-treating stations with both candy and healthy snacks. Orange County Fairgrounds Annual Trick or Treat Festival is a daytime event featuring a costume parade, puppet show, and lots of goodies. Your kids can dress up like their favorite animal for Halloween Zootacular at Orange County Zoo or enjoy the Howl-o-ween presentation of “Myth and Lore of Wolves” at the Fullerton Arboretum. Pretend City brings out the Halloween fun and its themed areas take out the fear and adds in Halloween cheer as little ones Trick or Treat through “The City.” Irvine Park Railroad has an annual Pumpkin Patch with train rides, hay rides, games, face painting, and a bounce house. Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Festival offers u-pick pumpkins, a corn maze, and animal lovers will adore the petting zoo.
For kids interested in a scientific take on pumpkins and Halloween, Fullerton California State University hosts an annual Pumpkin Launch where homemade trebuchets hurl pumpkins through the air to test the speed and learn about the science behind the flying fruit. Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana lets kids discover all things creepy and slimy with Spooky Science where they’ll learn about moon phases, creepy crawlies, and pumpkin innards.
Salem dedicates the entire month of October to Halloween, and the spooky season is kicked off with The Haunted Happenings Grand Parade. Thousands of kids from kindergarten on up take part in the parade, and there are always plenty of spots to catch the kick-off to Halloween fun. You know the phrase, “Give a kid a toy and they want to play with the cardboard box it came in”? The Global Cardboard Challenge does just that: it gives kids boxes, recycled materials, and tape, and lets their imaginations and creativity run wild to create giant creatures. Wicked Weekends at Gallows Hill Museum/Theater has face painting, trivia games with prizes, and entertainment. Saturday nights in October at Salem Common is movie night featuring a kooky, spooky, kid-friendly film and families can bring a lawn chair or cozy blanket to keep warm. Families that want to experience Salem at Halloween without the fear factor will adore Professor Wonder’s School of Magic. The interactive show features wizardry, magic, and comedy and is jam-packed with fun. Take the kids on a stroll through Pioneer Village and they’ll love checking out all of the carved pumpkins while hearing tales about Old Salem.
Central Florida is a mecca of Halloween fun! Starting in September, family-friendly parties loaded with trick-or-treating and elaborate costumes draw families that want to be thrilled and those that simply want to enjoy the fun of Halloween in the sunshine State. Walt Disney World hosts Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and offers meet and greets with several Disney characters who only come out for parties, candy trails for trick-or-treating, and a parade twice per night that visitors queue up for an hour in advance to catch a good viewing spot. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights is geared toward teens and will definitely get their adrenaline pumping. Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND Florida has treat stations and spooky fun every weekend in October. There are tons of candy, fun shows, and aquatic-themed activities at SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular where parents can join in on the Halloween fun and dress up in costume right along with their kids.
Lowry Park Zoo is hosting the largest family Halloween event in Tampa Bay, Zoo Boo, with attractions from no scare to big scare based on their “Skull Rating.” For teens that love that heart-pounding feeling of being scared, Busch Gardens Tampa is the place to visit for Howl-O-Screams and the uber-scary Halloween fun of their popular pulse-pounding rides in the dark.
Chi Town loves to celebrate Halloween! Whether it’s teenagers heading to Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America for some heavy scares or families with young kids heading to Daley Plaza to check out the orange fountain, Chicago has Halloween themed events for every age and thrill level. Chicago Children’s Museum has inspiring sugar skull and costume design workshops to help you with dressing up your house and your kids. Lincoln Park Zoo‘s Spooky Zoo Spectacular encourages kids to dress up and learn about its animals in a fun, safe environment. Families can take their dogs to Chicago Botanic Garden‘s Spooky Pooch Parade to watch canine companions and their owners participate for awards and prizes. Halloween at Navy Pier has a low-scare daytime option for kids that want the fun of the haunt without the fear. Shedd Aquarium offers Spooky Seas– an overnighter filled with food, presentations, and Halloween costumes surrounded by sea creatures. Boo! at the Zoo in Brookfield Zoo has cookie decorating, pumpkin carving, and a fun costume parade in the afternoon.