Less Trick, More Treat: Halloween Activities for Kids

Looking for a not-so-spooky way to celebrate Halloween with kids? Here are some seasonal activities with little ones in mind.

By: Emily Leaman


Six Flags America Fright Fest
Saturdays and Sundays October 3 through November 1, plus Friday, October 30

Fright Fest at Six Flags America includes rides and entertainment for the whole family. Young kids can take a hayride or trick-or-treat with Looney Tunes characters. For older kids—or anyone who’s not afraid of a few ghosts—there’s a Halloween-themed stunt show, a zombie dance performance, a haunted train ride, and more. All of the park’s regular rides will be operating. Kids under 54 inches are encouraged to come in costume, but face masks aren’t allowed. Tickets are $49.99 for general admission and $24.99 for kids under 48 inches; kids under age three are free. Go here for a special online ticket price—buy one general admission ticket and get one free. The park is open 1 to 10 on Saturday, until 9 on Sunday, and 5 to 10:30 on Friday, October 30.

Wheaton Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel
October 10 and 11, 15 through 18, and 23 through 30

Wheaton Regional Park’s wooded train ride takes a creepy turn for Halloween. The haunted ride is appropriate for kids over age seven. Other activities include a haunted carousel, face painting, and a tour through the Hall of Jack-o’-Lanterns. Same-day tickets ($6) are timed for entry and available starting at 2. The train runs from 6 to 9.

Boo at the Zoo
October 23 through 25

Head to the National Zoo from 5:30 to 8:30 and trick-or-treat among the animals. There’ll be treats galore plus festive decorations, haunted trails, zookeeper talks, and animal encounters. Tickets are $15 for Friends of the National Zoo members and $25 for nonmembers; kids under age two are free. Tickets are available here.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival

October 23 and 24

This free annual tradition in Greenbelt includes a community pumpkin-carving party and an evening walk through a maze of lit jack-o’-lanterns. The carving takes place Friday from 4 to 8 at Roosevelt Center (Crescent Rd. and Southway Dr.). Free pumpkins and some carving tools will be provided, but you can also bring your own. Then on Saturday night, you can walk a trail of lit pumpkins through Northway Fields (entrance at the intersection of Northway and Ridge roads.). You can take a pre-dark walk from 5:30 to 6—this is good for little kids—or a nighttime stroll until 9. The 15-minute walks are self-guided, so you’re encouraged to bring a flashlight. Free apple cider and hot chocolate will be available.

Air & Scare
October 24

Costumes are encouraged at this annual event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. It features trick-or-treating, face painting, spooky science experiments, puppet shows, simulation games, and more. Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and other costumed Star Wars characters will be on hand for photos, and there’ll be a costume parade at 2:30. The event is free, but parking is $15.

Kids Halloween Spooktacular at Borders
October 24

Several area Borders bookstores are hosting this family-friendly special event, which includes games, music, crafts, and more. Go here to see if a store near you is participating.

Del Ray Halloween Parade

October 25

Kids and pets get dressed up for this annual parade, where they can win prizes for the best costumes. There’s also music to set the mood and refreshments for purchase. The event is free and runs from 2 to 3:30 along Mount Vernon Avenue between Bellefonte and Hume avenues in Alexandria.

Vienna Halloween Parade
October 28

Thousands of spectators and participants are expected to come out for Vienna’s annual Halloween parade, which features costumed kids and professional performers. The parade runs along Maple Avenue from Branch Road to Center Street—about a half mile. It starts at 7 and lasts about 1½ hours.

Not So Spooky Halloween Show at Discovery Theater
October 29 through 31

The National Children’s Museum and Discovery Theater have teamed up to perform two Halloween-themed shows for youngsters: a puppet play and an interactive story that invites kids to participate. The noon performance on October 31 also includes face painting and a treat for kids. Other showtimes are Thursday at 10:15 and Friday at 10:15 and 11:30. Tickets are $4 to $10, depending on date and time; kids under age two are free.

National Firearms Museum Trick or Treat
October 30 and 31

Trick-or-treat at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, where candy stations will be set up alongside spooky decorations. Costumes are welcome. Friday 4 to 7 and Saturday 9:30 to 7. Free.

Hallowfest at the United States Botanic Garden
October 31

This free event includes pumpkin decorating, spooky cooking demonstrations, and crafts. There’ll be a costume parade at noon, and prizes will be given for the best plant outfit and adult and child costumes. The event runs from 10 to 1.

Harry Potter’s Plants & Potions
October 31

Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria hosts a Harry Potter-themed crafts-and-learning day to celebrate Halloween. The one-hour event includes make-your-own wizard’s wand, potion recipes, and lessons from the experts on Harry Potter’s favorite magical plants. The workshop costs $18 for one adult and one child.