Things to Do

13 Kid-Friendly Events to Celebrate Halloween in the DC Area

Air & Scare, Boo at the Zoo, and Harbor Halloween are back this month.

Visit the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for Air & Scare on October 28. Photograph by Dane Penland, courtesy of Smithsonian Institution.

Happy Thursday, DC!

Have a bunch of BOO-tastic fun with the entire family this Halloween season at an area costume party, pumpkin-carving, or carnival. These kid-friendly events are great options to add to your Halloween plans:

1. Brick-or-Treat Monster Party

LEGO Discovery Center | October 6-31

There’s a monster takeover at the recently opened LEGO Discovery Center in Springfield. All ages can participate in endless Halloween activities like building a pumpkin made of LEGO bricks in the Monsters’ Garden, watching a screening of 4D Halloween movie Monster Party, and playing Monster-themed games to win prizes  ($28+).


2. Halloween Eye Spy Trains

Cabin John Regional Park and Wheaton Regional Park | October 7-31

All aboard! Youngsters can ride the miniature train and carousel at Cabin John Regional Park and Wheaton Regional Park every Saturday and Sunday this month. The trains—designed as replicas of an 1863 historic locomotive—will chug through “Trainslyvania” while riders can spot seasonal items along the tracks that match their Eye Spy cards ($6+).


3. Boo at the Zoo

Smithsonian National Zoo | October 20-21

Take a family-fun adventure through the Jack-O-Lantern-decorated National Zoo in your favorite spooky outfit. All ages can participate in trick-or-treating, after-hours animal spectating, dancing, and other seasonal cheer ($35).


4. Family Mystery Day

Library of Congress | October 21

Teens and young children can solve mystery stories at the Library of Congress this month during the Family Mystery Day writing workshop and scavenger hunt. There will also be storybook character appearances from children’s novel Dead Wednesday, a teenager-friendly author chat with writers Delilah S. Dawson and Kayvion Lewis, and opportunities to browse the collections (free, but timed-entry passes are required).


5. Lil’ Pumpkin Festival

BlackRock Center for the Arts | October 21

This pumpkin-themed jamboree in Germantown is all about spooky fall fun. The rain-or-shine event will include trick-or-treating, pumpkin painting, hourly dance parties, costume parades, music by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and a movie screening of Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie. Also, there’s an artisan’s market and biergarten for adults (free for all kids activities, $5 for the dance party).


6. Family Costume Party

Children’s Science Center at Fair Oaks Mall | October 21

Here’s an educational way to commemorate Halloween. Children can visit the “Haunted Lab” to make ooey-gooey slime, watch a mad scientist STEM educator dissect an experiment, and engineer a launcher for spiders; there’s a costume contest for prizes, too ($15).


7. Harbor Halloween

National Harbor | October 22

This annual fall party returns with outdoor activities for families and pets. Kids can go trick-or-treating, take a free ride on the Capital Wheel if they come dressed in costume, watch a showing of Hocus Pocus on the plaza, and cheer on local chefs in a pumpkin-carving contest. For dog lovers there’s a Pet Pawrade (free).


8. NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular

Kennedy Center | October 22

Appropriate for ages 5 and up, this musical performance for Halloween and Día de los Muertos will feature a ghostly attired National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Emil de Cou. Prior to the show, youngsters can grab sweets at trick-or-treating, and play instruments in the Haunted Hall Musical play space ($18+).


9. Hill-O-Ween

Eastern Market | October 27

Capitol Hill’s family fright night is back at Eastern Market. Details of this year’s event have yet to be announced, but previous festivities have included DJ tunes for little ones, face painting, wagon rides, giveaways, moon bounces, and of course a ton of cool costumes (free).


10. Air & Scare

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | October 28

This creepy Air and Space Museum extravaganza out near Dulles airport is already sold out for the outdoor portions of the day, but indoor tickets are still available. Scare attractions for all ages inside include a sing-along, puppet show, Star Wars-themed story time, paper airplane flying, and lots more (free).


11. Fall Frolic

Glen Echo Park | October 28

If you are looking for something artsy to do with your family for Halloween, this crafty event at Glen Echo Park is for you. Kids (and adults) can come styled in their best costumes, and together can decorate trick-or-treat bags for the kids. Afterwards, children can load up their designed bags with tasty snacks from the resident art studios and galleries (free).


12. Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon | October 28

Visit the historic Mount Vernon grounds to collect sugary 18th-century-style treats. Kids can participate in a costume parade, gather goodies in a special Mount Vernon treat bag, meet General and Lady Washington, learn about 1700s magic, and watch a puppet show ($15 for youth, $25 for adults).


13. Frankenskate

Ridge Road Recreational Park | October 28

Bring a pair of roller skates to the Inline Rink at Ridge Road Recreational Park in Germantown for a spin in your best Halloween costume. A live DJ will be bumping throwback songs at the Frankenskate party while kids play lawn games, and munch on candies (free).

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Briana A. Thomas is a local journalist, historian, and tour guide who specializes in the research of D.C. history and culture. She is the author of the Black history book, Black Broadway in Washington, D.C., a story that was first published in Washingtonian in 2016.