2013 Family-Friendly Halloween Events in Washington

Haunted train rides, spooky face-painting, costume contests, pet events, and more.

By: Saba Naseem

Hop aboard the Wheaton Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel. This spooky ride—running October 20 and 24 through 30—full of scary sights, sounds, and creatures is best suited for children eight and up. Tickets are $5 and include one ride each on the Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel along with admission to the movie theater.

Have a “spooktacular” time at the annual Boo at the Zoo October 25 through 27. From 5:30 to 8:30 PM, families with children ages 2 to 12 can enjoy a safe environment for trick-or-treating from more than 30 treat stations throughout the National Zoo. Also available is a ride on the Conservation Carousel. Tickets are $30.

Float your way over to the annual Hallowmarine at the National Aquarium in Baltimore October 26 and 27. From 10 AM to 3 PM, take part in a “scare-venger hunt,” a costume parade, and Halloween-themed crafts. The aquarium is also hosting underwater pumpkin-carving. Tickets are free with the cost of admission.

Have an astronomically fun day at the annual Air and Scare at the National Air and Space Museum. Kids can take part in indoor trick-or-treating, spooky science experiments, a puppet show, and hands-on activities at Spook-tivitiy Stations. For the wee ones, there’s a Tot Zone where kids can play dress-up, hear a story, and participate in crafts. The event is October 26 from 2 to 7 PM, and admission is free.

Come with your best trick and get a treat at the Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival at Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia. Watch P-Rex the pumpkin-eating dinosaur, meet the Pumpkin Princess, and go hog wild at the Pig Races. If you get hungry, toast marshmallows at the bonfire and enjoy live music. Open through October 31. Admissions is $10 for children and $12 for adults on weekends.

If you’re looking for a fun fall adventure, take your kids to the Fall Frolic at Glen Echo Park. On October 26 from 1 to 4 PM, kids can decorate pumpkins, get their face painted, and take part in other crafts. Families can stroll through the park’s studios and galleries, including Glen Echo Pottery, the Art Glass Center, the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery, and more.

Throw on your costumes for a fun and safe trick-or-treat at the Old Town Alexandria’s Boutique District October 26 from 11 to 6. More than 30 boutiques are participating and will be handing out treats.

The DC Public Libraries have a full Halloween schedule planned October 22 through 31, from spooky movies to costume contests. Create crafts and learn how to do gory Halloween makeup at the MLK Jr. Memorial Library, gear up for the Halloween movie marathon at the Tenley-Friendship Library, or make your way through a haunted house at the Francis A. Gregory Library. 

Is it ever okay to “boo” the orchestra? Well, on Halloween it is. At the National Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween Spooktacular at the Kennedy Center October 27, the “spirited” performance includes Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, the “Ritual Fire Dance” from Manuel de Falla’s ballet score El amor bruno, a selection from John’s Williams’s score for Harry Potter, and more. The performances are at 1 and 3 PM, and tickets range from $15 to $18.

Take your little Batman, Wonder Woman, or Sherlock Holmes to the Crime Museum for the Kids & Candy Event on October 27. Festivities include a regular museum tour, a police academy activity sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, fingerprint identification cards, and candy. The event runs from 1 to 5 PM and costs $10 per costumed child and $10 for adults.

At the annual Halloween in Downtown Frederick event on October 27 the town welcomes families to participate in pumpkin-painting, trick-or-treating, and games such as the Find Freddy’s Body Parts game. If you want a spooky thrill, stop by Flights of Fancy’s haunted house. 2 to 4 PM. Admission is free.

Don’t forget to include your pets in all the Halloween festivities. The Spooky Pooch Howl-o-ween Celebration gives you the chance to costume up your canine for a two-hour celebration at Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens. Maybe your dog will win the costume contest (prizes for best overall costume, most original, cutest, spookiest, and best owner/dog costume combo); check out these tips to help your chances. Cost is $15 per dog and up to two owners. October 26, 2 to 4 PM.