Where to Celebrate Halloween in Washington: Haunted Houses, Scavenger Hunts, and More

Get spooky in a dark forest, look for ghosts at the National Portrait Gallery, and carve pumpkins at Helix Lounge.
Creep yourself out at Markoff’s Haunted Forest. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.
Creep yourself out at Markoff’s Haunted Forest. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Haunted Houses and Forests

Every Washingtonian knows the can’t-miss destination of the season is
Markoff’s Haunted Forest
, entering its 20th

this year. Scream your lungs out on the haunted zipline or
hayride, navigate the winding
trails of homemade frights on the 170-acre farm, and take aim
in the walking dead
shooting gallery. Come in costume, as nightly prizes are
awarded to the best dressed.
The ghouls pop up at dusk and disappear back into the forest at
midnight on October
18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, and 31. Attractions are priced
individually, and tickets are $3, or you can buy
a pack of ten for

Indulge in three frights for the price of one at the
Nightmare Screamplex in Boyds. Navigate the Nightmare Forest, Lost Asylum, and Field of Terror as you
try to escape with your life (or at least your dignity) intact. Roast s’mores on the
bonfires or have a tarot reading while you wait for the frightfests to start. For
those with little ones in tow, November 2 is family night. See the full schedule online.

At Cox Farms’
Fields of Fear, wander 20-plus acres of scares in the Cornightmare and take a ride on the Dark Side
Hayride. For a less heart-racing experience, try the giant torchlight slide or warm
up with a cup of spiced cider or hot cocoa. Avoid the frighteningly long lines and
pre-purchase your tickets online.

Boogey over to the
Track of Terror at Laurel Park on October 26
for an outrageous night of dancing, drinking, and scares.
Sip seasonal favorite Sam Adams Octoberfest before you strut
your costumed stuff on
the dance floor and compete to win more than $1,000 in prizes.
And don’t forget to
check out the two haunted houses set up in secret hallways of
the race track. Save
$5 on tickets (regularly $25) if you buy them online.
Check out LivingSocial Adventures’ VIP package

for information on an open bar and VIP parking.

Leave your fears at home as you battle attacking zombies, decaying bodies, and mad
scientists at Hallow Inc.’s
Warehouse Project: 4.1. The 37,000-square-foot attraction is based on a government study of radioactive
fallout from the 1950s. The good news is you can give your car a night off, as this
urban haunted house is accessible via White Flint Metro. Get the full backstory (and
your $30 tickets) online. The Warehouse Project
opens at 7 PM, and runs through November 3.

Scream for a cause at the 23rd annual
Vampire Manor in Bel Alton. Admission to the fright house is $10 ($5 for kids under 12) and benefits
charities including the Charles County Dive Rescue, the Bel Alton VFD, and local high
school drama programs, which provide many of the actors. Get tickets online.

Tours, Exhibitions, and More

For those who prefer ghouls with a rich historical ancestry, join the six generations
of dearly departed Martha Washington descendants at
Tudor Place’s History Haunt. Explore five acres of ghostly gardens followed by a refreshing spirit of another
kind. The haunting jaunts are offered every half hour from 6 to 8 PM on October 26,
and the evening is strictly 21 and up. Tickets are $15; register online through Eventbrite.

Run for your lives, or at least for 3.2 miles, at the Blood and Guts 5K obstacle run.
Try to evade the zombies, monsters, and goblins that invade the course on November
4 at
Pev’s Paintball Park in Aldie all while navigating obstacles including the blood and guts pit, the tire
gauntlet, and hay pits. And don’t miss the haunted theme park, Terrorville, open from
7 to 11 PM Friday and Saturday through October 28. Take your best shot in zombie paintball
or laser tag and try to survive the Walk of Terror. Bonus: A portion of proceeds from
both events will benefit local charities and Loudoun, Prince William, and Fairfax
county schools. Register for the 5K online and get
full details on Terrorville through the website.

Join the experts at
Watson Adventures as they combine a love of sorcery and art to create three wickedly fun scavenger
hunts. On October 20 from 2 to 4, engage the family in the Wizard School Scavenger
Hunt at the National Gallery of Art to track down a powerful sorceress, a Snape-like
potions master, flying owls, and more. Tickets
are $17.50 for youth (7 to 17) and $19.50 for adults. Or ditch the kids October 26
to 28 as you embark with only a flashlight on a tour of ghost-plagued buildings near
Lafayette Park. Keep your eyes peeled for the spirits of Abe Lincoln, Dolley Madison,
or even the suicidal Mrs. Henry Adams. Admission is $22.50 per person. And lastly,
explore the dark side of art at the National Gallery on October 27 from 2 to 4:30
as you search for skeletons, severed heads, and cold-blooded killers in the galleries.

Everyone loves a good haunting, so explore the haunted past of the
National Building Museum on lantern-lit tours,
said to be led by the ghost of Mary Surratt. See if you can
spot a footless figure, a limping visitor, and a grumpy
horseman. Tours are given
from 8 to 9 PM on select Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and
Wednesdays through November
4. Register for tickets ($20) through the museum’s

Honor the dead at the
Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Dia de los Muertos exhibition. The fourth annual celebration features
altar installations and Day of the Dead-inspired artwork from local artists. See the
art from October 29 to November 4 and celebrate the winners at the costume and dance
party on November 2 from 8 to 11 PM. Enjoy live music from the Torches and learn to
make your own mini altars. Tickets for
the party are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, $10 for students and $35 for two.

Bring your fiercest self to DuPont Circle on October 30 for the annual
Drag Queen Race. Starting at 9 PM, costumed drag queens will run from P to S streets in their most
outrageous getups and heels. An informal block party typically follows.

Sharpen your carving skills and get ready to perform at
Helix Lounge’s eighth annual Halloween pumpkin carving contest. On October 25, a carving station
will be set up on the outdoor patio with 30 pre-scooped pumpkins and carving tools.
Pumpkins are distributed on a first come, first served basis starting at 6. Winners
will be announced at 8 PM in the categories of Most Political Pumpkin (a $50 Helix
Lounge gift certificate) and Most Ghoulish Gourd (a one-night weekend stay at Hotel
Helix). Indulge with pumpkin martinis ($7), Starr Hill Pumpkin Porters ($6), and half-price
burgers through 9 PM.

Treat yourself at LivingSocial’s
Seven Deadly Sins party on October 27. There
are seven “temptation” rooms featuring a burlesque show,
a cash machine, and a dance cage. Each room boasts its own
sin-themed cocktail (Sloshed
Sloth anyone?). Purchase tickets ($59) through LivingSocial,

and remember a VIP ticket ($89) allows you early access, three
full-size drinks, and
an extra turn in the cash machine and spin on the prize wheel.


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