The store shelves have been screaming Halloween for weeks – and likely so have your kiddos. If candy is their end game, there are plenty of places to go hunting and gathering in this area. There are the typical places like malls and libraries, which we didn’t include in this list (because obvious), and many lesser-known ways to get your tricks and treats this season. For instance, go ghost hunting at the National Building Museum or Congressional Cemetery, or channel your inner sleuths at an overnight adventure in the American History Museum. Something more low-key fit the bill? Check out the fall festivals, carnivals and concerts we list here, all of which promise the one thing on all of our minds right now: candy.
Photo: Tom Kelly via Flickr
Wouldn’t be caught dead in a cemetery any time, but especially not around Halloween? Reconsider. Take an annual twilight tour and hear the stories from one of the Dozen Decent Docents of the people buried at Congressional Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark. The hourlong tours leave every 15 minutes.
Cost: $22/adult and $12/child under 12
When: Oct. 20, 21, 27 and 28 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays
Where: 401 F St., NW
Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon
Traipse around George and Martha’s old place while doing a scavenger hunt or take a wagon ride on the 12-acre field. There are also demonstrations of old-fashioned activities such as wool carding and spinning, chocolate-making and fishnet-making. Got a sugar high? Shake it off with some 18th-century dancing in the upper garden before meeting the first First Lady. Bonus: A children’s costume parade happens at 5 p.m., and the best George and Martha getups will win a prize.
Cost: $12/adult, $6/child 11 and younger
When: Oct. 27 and 28, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. (Mount Vernon, Va)
The Glow: A Jack O’Lantern Experience
Check out more than 5,000 jack-o-lanterns carved by 20-plus artists. We’re not talking simply a pumpkin with a neat face. Some are some joined together to create dinosaurs and nature scenes. Timed tickets are required for entry and spots are selling out, so get yours ahead of time online.
Cost: $16/adult, $10/kid on Thursdays, $22/adult, $16/kid ages 3 to 12 other days
When: Through Oct. 29
Where: Lake Fairfax Park, 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr. (Reston, Va)
Eye Spy Halloween Trains
Ideal for kiddos 8 and younger, the miniature train at Cabin John and the Wheaton Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel will be decked out as “Trainsylvania.”
When: Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Cabin John, 7410 Tuckerman Ln., Rockville; Wheaton train and carousel, 2002 Shorefield Rd., Wheaton
Photo: North Charleston via Flickr
Fall Festival and Fields of Fear at Cox Farms
One of the biggest Halloween events happens annually at Cox Farms. Fields of Fear, which includes nighttime hayrides and a corn maze plus bonfires and slides, is intended for kids 12 and up, although anyone under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For less scary silliness, head to the farm for its ($10 to $20), chock full of slides, farm animals, play areas and the corn maze – only in broad daylight.
Cost: $15 to $30
When: Friday and Saturday nights through Nov. 4.
Where: 401 F St., NW
Trick-or-treat at participating locations at National Harbor between noon and 2, watch “Hocus Pocus” at 12:30 and take a spin on the Capital Wheel with a free ticket for each kid dressed in costume. (Sorry, adults, you still have to pay.). Swing by the Black Dog retailer with furry friends for its Howl-loween party, including a parade of animals.
When: Oct. 29, noon to 2:30 p.m.
Where: 165 Waterfront St. (National Harbor)
Halloween in the Garden at Annmarie Sculpture Garden
Do some daytime trick-or-treating here among 70-plus booths. Free activities and food vendors will be provided. Bonus: The garden has a quarter-mile walking path through woods punctuated by sculptures, including more than 30 on loan from the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art.
Cost: $2, to be donated to the Holiday Food Basket Program and the Annmarie Scholarship Fund
When: Oct. 28, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: 13470 Dowell Rd. (Dowell, Md)
Trick-or-Treat in the Garden at Tudor Place
Think Easter egg hunt meets Halloween. Kids in costume will walk the estates paths looking for treats throughout the North Garden. They can also paint pumpkins, do crafts, get their faces painted and play outdoor games.
Cost: $5/adult chaperone, $10/non-member child, $7/member child
When: Oct. 28, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: 1644 31st St., NW
Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Come for the trick-or-treating in resident art studios and galleries, and stay for a costume parade around the park. Families can also decorate pumpkins for $2 a pop. Don’t forget about the playground and carousel — or the aquarium and theaters when you’re planning the trip.
When: Oct. 28, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: 7300 MacArthur Blvd. (Glen Echo)
Fall Festival, Haunted Circus Climb and Candy Climbs at Sandy Spring Adventure Park
Lots of activities to choose from here, emphasis on activity. After all, it’s an adventure park. Swing from tree to tree and also get your face painted, hear music and get warm by a bonfire. Climbers will get free hot cider, and every climber under 15 will get a free mini pumpkin to paint and keep. Or opt to test your skills to the tune of spooky music and glowing objects. Or complete a course to get a treat in the Candy Climb.
Cost: $45 to $55
When: Oct. 27 Fall Festival, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Oct. 28 Halloween Circus Glow in the Park, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Oct. 29 Candy Climb
Where: 16701 Norwood Rd. (Sandy Spring, Md)
Boostravaganza at Frying Pan Farm Park
Spend an evening playing games, enter the Boo Barn and take a wagon ride around the farm’s grounds. Remember to stop at the playground and visit with the resident animals, including peacock, turkeys, goats, chickens, cows and horses.
When: Oct. 27, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. or 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: 2739 West Ox Rd. (Herndon, Va)
Knock out two birds with one event by celebrating fall and Halloween in Clarendon’s Market Common. Activities include scarecrow-making (one per family), mini pumpkin decorating, a petting zoo, Big Barn Puppet Show and Song, sand art, face painting and balloon sculptures. Oh, and trick-or-treating.
When: Oct. 28, 1 to 4 p.m.
Where: 2800 Clarendon Blvd. (Arlington, Va)
Halloween on the Green
Do a spooky craft, play games, win prizes, hear stories, bop around in a moon bounce, and check out the petting zoo at this event sponsored by Vienna Parks and Recreation. Bonus: Carve or paint your own pumpkin while supplies last.
When: Oct. 14, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: 144 Maple Ave., E (Vienna, Va)
Photo: Cherrywood 78722 via Flickr
Del Ray Halloween Parade
The 21st annual event will give out prizes for best pet costume, best decorated business, best decorated home and best decorated stroller. More than 7,500 people participated last year, so get those ideas flowing. At the end of the route, kids get goodie bags, although healthy options without candy are available.
When: Oct. 29, 2 p.m.
Where: Parade starts at Mt. Vernon Ave., south of E. Bellefonte, and ends at 2017 Belle View Blvd. (Alexandria, Va)
Spooky Tots at Fairfax Corner
The plaza at Fairfax Corner will offer this annual event, including trick-or-treating at shops and restaurants, music, games and pumpkin painting. Bonus: There’s a Ben & Jerry’s in case the candy doesn’t cut it, and a Peet’s Coffee and Tea for moms and dads in case it does.
When: Oct. 25, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: 4100 Monument Corner Dr. (Fairfax, Va)
Ninth Annual Monster Mash at the Village at Leesburg
Trick-or-treat around the center shops and restaurants, decorate pumpkins, make your way through an inflatable corn maze, check out the Creepy Critters Encounter (if you dare), watch street performers, and enter costume contests for kids and pets.
Know of any other hauntingly festive Halloween celebrations for D.C. kids? Tell us about them in the comments section below.