Why wait until the actual day to celebrate one of the best holidays of the year? Besides the bonuses of getting more mileage out of costumes and having extra excuses to indulge in sweets, Halloween festivities are a treat any day. And there are loads of ways to get into the spooky spirit during the days leading up to the grand event. From no-fright fun to wicked cool thrills, here are the many ways you can scare up a good time this Halloween season. (Be sure to note that a few events will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)
Spooky SPY Family Night
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 11, 6-9pm
Has your brother been spying on you? Is grandma really a secret agent? Does dad really have lethal ninja skills? Now’s your chance to find out as your family of spies gains exclusive after-hours access to the Museum, including the new exhibition Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains. Test your family’s spy skills as you run top secret missions, go deep undercover and transform your appearance with the help of professional make-up artists, challenge yourself in Code Cracker competitions, play VINGO (Villain Bingo), and enjoy SPY snacks and a chance to explore all forms of spy tradecraft. Come in disguise as your favorite spy! Includes exclusive after-hours admission, SPY snacks, scavenger hunt, prize competitions, and more! Space is limited — advance registration required.
“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 12, 13, 19, 20, & 24-30
Admission: $5 and a can of food
Hop on board the Halloween Train! Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” features just enough “boo” power for kids age 8 and under. Along the ride through the woods on the train, kids can try to find Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off their “Eye Spy” game cards that they receive with admission. Guests can also enjoy Halloween movies every night, face painting on Saturdays and Sundays, and light refreshments for sale. The train runs 3-8pm on weekdays and 1-8pm on weekends. Purchase tickets online.
Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 12, 13, 19, 20, & 24-30
Admission: $5 and a can of food
Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel are back and scarier than ever! This annual Halloween attraction is best for guests ages 8 and up, because they do their best to make it “very scary” (and this is part of the website description, so take their word for it). Admission includes one ride each on the train and carousel, plus entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns movie theater presenting scary films every night. The train runs 6-9pm each night. Purchase tickets online.
Planet Spooky & Trick-or-Treat with Dinos
Where: Kings Dominion
When: Weekends October 6-28, 12-5pm
Admission: Free with park admission
A brand new event at Kings Dominion, Planet Spooky will feature all of the treats (but no tricks) for little ones to enjoy! Some of adventures include a pumpkin painting patch, petting zoo, foam pit, pedal tractors, a hay maze, live shows and more, that all take place in the new Planet Snoopy at Kings Dominion – which features 18 rides, with many of the rides designed for families to experience together. During Planet Spooky, all of the rides in Planet Snoopy will be open. The park also unveiled its all-new Trick or Treat with Dinosaurs! Kings Dominion has a 6-acre animatronic dinosaur park called Dinosaurs Alive, with 39 life-sized dinosaurs that make sounds and move as if it was 65 million years ago. New in 2013, Kings Dominion will dress up several of these dinosaurs in costume and offer children a chance to trick-or-treat through Dinosaurs Alive with their families before Halloween!
Dia de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 6-27
Join the American Indian museum for its annual Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), a celebration originating in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Central America, to commemorate the lives of the dearly departed and welcome the return of their spirits. Learn and take part in this centuries-old tradition, which includes pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs alike. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 17, 6-8pm
Children ages 3-8 are invited to come to the Indoor Arena Barn dressed in their favorite costumes anytime between from 6-8pm. Enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. Finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. Reservations are required, and space is limited, so go here to sign up.
The Spooky Magic of Joe Romero
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: October 19, 1pm
BlackRock celebrates the Halloween season with Joe Romano providing tricks that are a real treat. This skilled and exciting magician will perform jaw-dropping illusions for the whole family. Joe will float on a broom, turn a child into Harry Potter, make a friendly ghost appear, and more! Go early to join the free pre-show party, with arts & craft and a snack. The one-hour performance is recommended for children ages 4 and up.
Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 25-27, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members
Princesses, mythical creatures, kid-wizards, and other costumed guests are invited to join us at our annual Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo. There’s no safer or more exciting way for families with children ages 2-12 to trick or treat. A ticket is required for all attendees 2 years and older. Enjoy animal encounters and festive decorations along with tasty candy and delicious snack foods from more than 30 treat stations throughout the Zoo. Take a ride on our Conservation Carousel, too! Tricks optional. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)
Fall Harvest Festival Halloween Weekend
Where: Great Country Farms
When: October 26-27
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult, free for ages 2 and under
The farm’s annual seasonal festival includes Halloween fun for the weekend, when guests are encouraged to come in costume. Celebrate and create an unforgettable experience picking pumpkins, cheering on the fastest piglet, smashing pumpkins with P-Rex, getting lost in our corn maze and having your little princess meet their little princess. And don’t forget those freshly made Cider Donuts!
Where: Madame Tussauds
When: October 26, 10AM – 4PM
Admission: $20/adult, free for ages 4-12 (online)
Join Madame Tussauds for fun Halloween crafts, costume competitions, spooky tales and more! Three sessions are available at 11am – 12pm, 1-2pm, and 3-4pm.
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 26, 7-9pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2
Wear your costume and enjoy fun fall themed activities. Explore the museum’s gallery and all of its hidden haunts. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.
Where: Market Common Clarendon
When: October 26, 10am – 1pm
It’s a day of fall fun at the shopping center, including trick or treating, a costume parade (for people and pets), a Rocknoceros performance, a petting zoo, face painting, a kids circus, strolling entertainment, balloon creations and much more. People and pets in costume are invited to join in the FALLoween Parade at 11am, led by The Jokesters. Visit the website for the schedule of festivities.
Halloween at the Medical Museum
Where: National Museum of Health & Medicine
When: October 26, 10am – 12pm
Join NMHM for some spooky Halloween fun on Saturday. Children of all ages are invited to learn about skulls through fun arts and crafts activities at NMHM’s free Halloween event. Visitors can also tour the Museum’s exhibits, which feature several full human skeletons and skeletal preparations. Halloween costumes are welcome.
Air and Scare
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 26, 2-7pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 7pm
Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 9th Annual Air & Scare! Arrive in costume for safe indoor trick-or-treating. Participate in creepy crafts, spooky science experiments, and other Halloween-themed activities. Bring the tiniest visitors by the Tot Zone to play dress-up and hear a story. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars character! (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)
Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: October 26, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities
It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, and performances at Glen Echo’s annual celebration. There will be pumpkin decorating and face painting ($1 fee for pumpkin; $1-2 for face painting) and other craft activities, including decorating trick-or-treat bags to use in the Park. And new this year are pumpkin-themed kiddie games with prizes. The Halloween celebration will conclude with a costume parade through the Park at 3:30pm. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)
Trick or Treat with the Boo-tiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 26, 11am – 6pm
Bring your ghosts and goblins for a day of trick or treat in the Old Town Boutique District. The OTBD’s annual Trick or Treat with the Boutiques event is a great way for families to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween day in Old Town Alexandria. All of the participating OTBD stores will offer treats, and some may also offer family-friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.
Where: Maryland Science Center
When: October 26
Admission: $16.95/adult, $13.95/ages 3-12
Celebrate the chills and thrills of Halloween at our fifth annual Spooky Science, where creepy chemistry and mysterious science combine to provide a hauntingly good time. There will be hair-raising activities, creepy crafts, and fangtastic demonstrations. Visitors can look forward to making gooey, glowing slime, decorating pumpkins and trick or treat bags, playing mummy bowling, and exploring mystery boxes filled with eerie items. Save room for more spooky fun with Reptiles Alive! Their live animal show will feature slithering snakes, terrifying toads, beaded dragons and more. Shows will be at 1pm and 3pm.
Fall-o-ween Family Festival
Where: Port Discovery
When: October 26
Admission: $13.95/ages 2 and up
Dress the kids up in their favorite costumes and join Port Discovery’s annual festival! Enjoy not-so-scary, family friendly programs and performances include nature-themed activities, crafts, tutu making, wildlife adventures, spooky science, live entertainment, and more.
Haunted… Chocolate House Workshop & Tea
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 26, 10am & 1pm
Admission: $12/members, $15/non-members
Enjoy a Spooktacular family friendly tour through the historic gardens. After the tour, children participate in a chilling chocolate workshop to create their own 3D haunted chocolate houses to take home! Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Where: National Children’s Museum
When: October 26, 10am
Admission: $10, under 12 months are free
Bring your little “monsters” for a day of Halloween surprises, mask making, Sesame Street character fun and much more! Make sure to wear your best Halloween costume!
Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Where: National Building Museum
When: October 27, 1-3pm
Admission: $10/members, $15/non-members, adults are free
Celebrate the spirit of Halloween as you design your very own pop-up haunted house. Learn the pop-up architecture technique from guest artist Carol Barton. Decorate a spooky haunted house scene to take place on your window sill. Fun for the whole family, the festivities include crafts, treats, and ghosts stories (more silly than spooky!) about the Museum. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Prepaid registration required. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Baby Loves Disco Halloween Ball
Where: U Street Music Hall
When: October 27, 11am
Admission: $15/ticket or 4 for $55
Come dressed up in your costume (you, too, Mom and Dad!) for a special Halloween family dance party. Prizes, contests, tricks, and lots of treats will be part of the fun along with the always-groovy DJ-spun music set and energetic MC.
Crime Museum Halloween – Just for Kids!
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 27, 1-5pm
Admission: $10/costumed child, $10/adults accompanying children
Batman, Wonder Woman, police officers, and all other costumed characters can enjoy a day of Halloween fun at this Penn Quarter museum. Festivities include a regular museum tour, Police Academy Jr. Activity Sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, finger print identification cards, candy, and more.
NSO Halloween Spooktacular: The Sequel!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 28
Is it ever cool to “boo” the orchestra? It is on Halloween! But watch out, because at this frightfully fun follow-up to the NSO’s popular Halloween Spooktacular program, ghoulishly attired musicians might “BOO” you from behind their instruments in return! Don your spookiest ‘ween wear and come early for pre-concert trick-or-treating plus a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Then take your seats for a “spirited” performance as an incognito Ankush Kumar Bahl conducts a new round of goosebump-inducing favorites. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Joanie’s Halloween Party
Where: Discovery Theater
When: October 31 – November 1, 10am & 11:15am
At this session of Tot Rock: Jammin’ at the Smithsonian, there’s no reason to scare up an excuse to dance like crazy when the energetic Brooklyn-based, kindie-rock band Joanie Leeds and The Nightlights make their Halloween debut at Discovery Theater. Leeds brings songs from her latest album, Bandwagon, along with other hits and kid-friendly Halloween tunes. The band will be in costume—and families can be, too! (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Capitol Hill’s annual event is a legendary neighborhood event for little ones. The block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market will be closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. Hayrides, moon bounces, goody giveaways, and even a mini carousel add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.
Nightmare Manor Family Night
Where: Ijamsville, Md
When: November 1, 5-9pm
Family Night is a fun and interactive Halloween experience suitable for all ages. Scares are toned down for younger children, and kids going through the haunt will be given magical rings that are capable of warding off all forms of ghosts and monsters in case they get too frightened. Go hungry and roast smores over the bonfire, or enjoy our other delicious foods.