It’s easy to feel like you don’t really live in Atlanta, especially during the fall when football games and pumpkin patches take you out of the city many weekends, and house guests and other obligations keep you on a very focused loop during others. But beware! Letting a few frightfully fun fall family activities pass you by will certainly come back to haunt you, especially when the littles get a little bit older and only want to celebrate Halloween with their friends. Before your little monsters morph into teenagers, be sure to hit the following in-town options for celebrating the fun, freaky, and (very mildly) frightening sights close to home.


Oakland Cemetery
Atlanta’s first cemetery, Oakland predates the Civil War and is the final resting place of notable Atlantans, including Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, and 3,000 unknown Confederate soldiers, among others. Don’t get too creeped out, though, because Oakland was designed during a period of American history that sought to make public green spaces and parks out of cemeteries. As such, Oakland is a beautiful site listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the littles will love the spooky factor of the mausoleums, elaborate headstones, and meandering paths. Go on a weekend and take  a picnic the way the Victorians would have, or go on October 19th at 9:00 a.m. to watch as the Run Like Hell 5k begins and ends in the cemetery (the littles will love the costumed runners, and if you’re so inclined, they can even run in their very own Run Like Heck Fun Run, after the 5k). 248 Oakland Ave, SE, Atlanta, Ga 30312, Free admission to watch the races, Registration fees apply for runners


Atlanta Botanical Garden
No place rejoices more in the fall, and finally a break in the swelter of summer, than the Botanical Garden. You can pick practically any weekend in October and find something festive to get you in the mood for Halloween, but our favorite activities include hunting for scarecrows (hundreds are installed during the month and are on display during regular operating hours of the Garden), and attending Goblins in the Garden on Sunday, October 27 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. After saying “no, you can’t wear your Halloween costume to (fill in the blank here)” all month long, you can finally say “yes, wear it!” Let the kiddos deck themselves out and strut their stuff on the Goblin Runway, hear stories told by a friendly witch, and then ride a pony and a train. Heck yeah, kiddos, it’s Halloween! Get your spook on at the Garden. 1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, Ga 30309, Free with admission, Pony and train rides are $3 and $4 each

L5P parade

Little 5 Points Halloween Parade
Proud to be one of Atlanta’s quirkiest neighborhoods, L5P takes Halloween seriously, celebrating the weird and wonderful in a parade that begins at 4:00 p.m. on October 19. Because of the size of the parade and the number of spectators, plan on arriving early and enjoying the spectacle (and the live music). Kids will love the elaborate costumes and watching the adults who’ve come out to play, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the really scary costumes, and have a diversion tactic ready (Look! Sofia the First is on my phone!). If yours are easily frightened, put the L5P parade on your bucket list in a year or two, but be sure to hit it sooner or later. Euclid Avenue at Moreland Avenue; Free admission; Attendees are strongly encouraged to take MARTA to the Inman Park/ Reynoldstown stop, and be sure to bring your stroller!


Boo at the Zoo
Treats, games, hay mazes, entertainers, and oh yes… animals! Don’t leave home without your Halloween costume for this four day family fun festival at the Zoo. From 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on October 19-20 and 26-27, the Zoo rolls out the red carpet for little ghosts and goblins, and you’ll no doubt be explaining to the kiddos in July why they can’t wear their Halloween costumes to the Zoo all the time. But this is October, and all you have to do it dress them up, poke a few Tootsie Rolls in their mouths, and let them have a blast. 800 Cherokee Avenue SE, Atlanta, Ga 30315, Free with admission


Fernbank Boo-seum
Some might think that the dinosaur installation is spooky year round, but on Saturday, October 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the ghosts, goblins, princesses, and pirates come out to strut their stuff amid the monoliths. Designed to be a safe, not scary afternoon of family fun, activities include trick-or-treating in the museum, games, and entertainment. When the Halloween excitement wears off, catch that elevator up to the top floor and turn your wild ones loose in the Nature Quest exhibit. You’ll enjoy the sound of sugar burning out of their little systems before corralling them towards the car. 767 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, Ga 30307, Free with admission

Where will you scare up some spook-tacular fun this Halloween? Tell us below!

—Shelley Massey

Photos courtesy of Zoo Atlanta via Facebook, Oakland CemeteryThe Atlanta Botanical GardenLittle Five Points Halloween Parade, and Fernbank Museum via Facebook