By Jamie Davis Smith
- Air & Scare: Every year, for one day, the Udvar-Hazy Center annex to the Air & Space Museum is transformed into a Halloween wonderland fun for kids – and many adults who attend in elaborate costumes. In addition to being able to view all of the regular exhibits, there are science exbibits, trick-or treating, and other Halloween-themed activities. In past years, many characters from Star Wars, including a working BB-8 and R2-D2 have been in attendance with their human counterparts in extremely detailed costumes. This year’s Air&Scare will be held on October 20th from 12:00 – 5:00. Attendance is free, but parking is $15.00.
- The Glow: Many families have a tradition of visiting light shows around Christmas, but now you can visit a light show for Halloween as well. The Glow: A Jack O’Lantern Experience is a Halloween wonderland. Visitors walk along a trail filled with glowing pumpkins, some real and some not, carved into an incredible variety of designs from dinosaurs, to Prince Harry with his bride Meghan, to princesses, presidents, aliens, and more. Many displays, including a band, an alien invasion, and a castle guarded by a dragon are larger-than-life, while others feature special effects like fog in a haunted graveyard and a patch of pumpkins that sing. At the end of the 1/3-mile long trail, watch a master carver at work. Make an evening of the experience by arriving early to grab dinner from one of the on-site food trucks. Tickets start at $16.00 and parking is free.
- Fall Festival & Pumpkin Picking: Halloween isn’t complete without heading to a pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin! Pumpkin picking is best as part of a Fall Festival, and Summers Farm hosts one of the best in the area. Take a trip to the very large pumpkin patch hitched to the back of a tractor, jump on enormous jumping pillows, go down giant slides, visit the petting zoo, get lost in a corn maze, and take part in tons of other activities on the farm. A visit to the farm is the highlight of October for many families. Some farms stay focused just on the pumpkins this time of year and Homestead Farms is one of the best. Once you are done in the pumpkin patch, stay for apple picking or a hay ride.
- Boo at the Zoo: Every October the National Zoo hosts the very popular Boo at the Zoo. For one weekend only, the zoo is filled with Halloween decorations and lights. Around dusk, trick-or-treaters are welcome to invade the zoo in costume to get treats and observe animals at night. This year’s Boo at the Zoo runs from Friday, October 19, 2018 to Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. It’s hard to walk more than a few feet without being offered a treat so come prepared with a big bucket! Tickets start at $30 for non-members. Even if you don’t attend Boo at The Zoo, it’s worth a visit to the zoo that weekend just to see the decorations.
- Fright Fest: Six Flags doesn’t close down when school starts. Weekends and some Friday nights in October the park hosts Fright Fest so that visitors can get into the Halloween spirit. Although the website or Fright Fest looks scary, Fright Fests actually offers a lot for younger visitors, including a not-so-haunted house where kids can trick-or-treat and cute shows like Monster Mash. At the stroke of 6:00 smoke machines come on and monsters and zombies come out. While the monsters do try to scare the more grown-up guests, in our experience they are friendly towards kids. Older kids might enjoy the many haunted houses at Six Flags for an extra cost but there are easily avoided by the younger set. Costumes are encouraged!