While you probably find haunted houses frightfully fun (looking at you, Bennett’s Curse), kids may find them shockingly scary. Before you cross the point of no return, consider these less traumatizing, kid-friendly happenings. We promise they offer plenty of spooky Halloween cheer, but nothing that will leave the youngest among you shivering with fear.
Boo at the Zoo
This hip Halloween happening at the National Zoo is one of D.C.’s most popular family haunts. More like a huge costume party than a haunted house, Boo at the Zoo caters to families with children 2 to 12. There will be animal encounters, festive decorations, and plenty of tasty treats with more than 30 trick-or-treat stations. Don’t leave the park without a spin around the zoo’s conservation carousel ride (tickets required).
5:30 pm-8:30 pm
2001 Connecticut Ave.
Spook-o-rama 2013: A Halloween Variety Show
You can’t go wrong with gremlins, goblins and witches on brooms, especially if they’re performing in a variety show. Tilted Torch, the District’s premier variety show, presents their annual Halloween production, Spook-o-rama, in historic Anacostia, one of D.C.’s coolest new arts destinations. You and your little ones can join the creatures of the night for a carnival of mirth and masquerade in celebration of All Hallows’ Eve. Costumes suggested!
$10 in advance; $15 at the door
Anacostia Arts Center
1231 Good Hope Rd., SE
Bradley Farm Haunted House
There’s nothing like daylight to ease those Halloween jitters, and Bradley Farm offers a special daytime haunted house suited for kids 8 and under, along with plenty other fun activities for the younger set. Plus, the first 400 kids receive a bag of candy. Now, if you’re also toting older children who require some serious spooking, just wait until the moon comes out and things get a little—or a lot—more “haunted.” The nighttime haunted house promises to dole out the terror. Word on the street is that many people can’t even make it all the way through. Still, Bradley Farm promises “fun for the whole family,” and no gross-out gory scenes. Bottom line: this is a good bet for a mixed-age crowd.
Kids’ Haunt, 1:00 pm-5:00 pm; Haunted House, 6:00 pm-10:00 pm
13159 New Parkland Dr. (Herndon, Va)
The Eye Spy Halloween Train at Cabin John Regional Park
All aboard this miniature train for a not-so-scary journey through a slightly haunted forest. Recommended for children 8 years and younger, this happy Halloween jaunt features an eye spy game card where passengers can track familiar spirits they see as the train winds its way through the spooky woods. Come decked out in your finest costumes.
Oct. 19-20 and 24-30
Train runs every 30 minutes (weather permitting)
$5, plus one canned food item for donation to Manna Food
Cabin John Regional Park
7410 Tuckerman Ln. (Rockville, Md)
Enchanted Forest at Calleva Farm
For those who prefer Halloween fancy over fear, Calleva presents a magical journey through the popular stories of our youth. Walk through the Enchanted Forest where you will fish with Hiawatha, cast a spell with a friendly witch, visit Mr. McGregor’s garden and enter a castle in the woods. This mystical adventure will engage your sense of imagination and wonder, without scaring your socks off. Perfect for younger kids and older scaredy cats.
Oct. 18, 19, 25, and 26
19120 Martinsburg Rd. (Dickerson, Md)
Where does your family go for a little haunting fun? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Photos courtesy of Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Bradley Farm Haunted House via Facebook, Tilted Torch via Facebook, Cabin John Train via Facebook, Calleva Farm