Tick Tock…the countdown to Halloween has started! While many kids are fixated on just trick-or-treating, there are plenty of family friendly pre-Halloween activities to get your crew geared up! Snag some candy from George Washington or create some culinary candy apples at Maggiano’s. Whatever your family fancies, there’s plenty to do this fall season from festivals to carnivals and ,of course, candy. Read on for the best of Halloween fun.

photo: Rawpixels

Soul Strolls
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 hour-long tours leave every 15 minutes.

Cost: $23/adult; $12/children; free 12 & under
When: Oct. 18, 19, 25 and 26, 7-10 p.m. on Fri.; 6-10 p.m. on Sat.
Where: 1801 E St. SE
Online: congressionalcemetery.org

photo: Mount Vernon 

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 get-ups will win a prize.

Cost: $16/adult; $8/children 11 & younger
When: Oct. 26 from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Where: Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon, VA
Online: mountvernon.org

Jack’s Pumpkin Glow
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 displays utilize multipile pumpkins 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: Prices vary by age and day of week
When: Through Oct. 27
Where: Lake Fairfax Park, 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr., Reston, VA
Online: theglowjackolantern.com

Eye Spy Halloween Trains
Ideal for kiddos 8 & younger, the miniature train at Cabin John and the Wheaton Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel will be decked out as “Trainsylvania.”

Cost: $6/person; 2 & under free
When: Fri. 4-6 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. through Oct. 27, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Cabin John, 7410 Tuckerman Ln., Rockville, MD; Wheaton train and carousel, 2002 Shorefield Rd., Wheaton, MD
Online: montgomeryparks.org

photo: Cox Farms

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 & up, although anyone under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For less scary silliness, head to the farm for its Fall Festival ($7 to $20), chock full of slides, farm animals, play areas and the corn maze – only in broad daylight.

Cost: $7 to $30
When: Fall Festival: Daily through Nov. 5, 10 a.m-6 p.m.; Fields of Fear: Fri.-Sat. through Nov. 2 from 7:30-11 p.m.
Where: 15621 Braddock Rd., Centreville, VA
Online: coxfarms.com

Harbor Halloween
Trick-or-treat at participating locations at National Harbor between 1-3 p.m., watch “Hocus Pocus” at 1:30 p.m and take part in the National Harbor chefs pumpkin carving contest.

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Cost: Free
When: Oct. 27, 1-4 p.m.
Where: National Harbor, 165 Waterfront St.,, Oxon Hill, MD
Online: https://www.nationalharbor.com/events/harborhalloween/

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. 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden, 13470 Dowell Rd., Dowell, MD
Online: www.annmariegarden.org

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;  $15/child,
When: Oct. 26, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Tudor Place, 1644 31st St., NW
Online: tudorplace.org

photo: Steven Labralon via Unsplash

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.

Cost: Free
When: Oct. 26, 1 to 4 p.m.
Where: Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD
Online: glenechopark.org

Kid’s Halloween Carnival Dance Party.
Enjoy Halloween themed arts and crafts, dance games and activities, a piñata and a “Thriller” dance lesson!  There’s also face painting and a costume fashion show.

Cost: $10
When: Oct. 27, 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Salsa with Silvia Dance Studio, 3232 Georgia Ave NW, Suite #104
Online:   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kids-halloween-carnival-dance-party-tickets-74195920997

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 a peacock, turkeys, goats, chickens, cows and horses. Reservations required

Cost: $10/person,
When: Oct. 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m. or 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park, 2739 West Ox Rd., Herndon, VA
Online: fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/fryingpanpark

MCC Fall Fest
Knock out two birds with one event by celebrating fall and Halloween in Clarendon’s Market Common. Activities include pumpkin decorating, family photos, kid’s arts and crafts, and a dog costume contest. Oh, and trick-or-treating.

Cost: Free
When: Oct. 26, 1-4 p.m.
Where: Market Common, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA
Online:  http://marketcommonclarendon.com/2019/09/mcc-fall-festival-is-coming-oct-26-1p-4p/

photo: Jose Martinez via Unsplash

Del Ray Halloween Parade
The 23rd 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 in years past, so get those ideas flowing. At the end of the route, kids get goodie bags, although healthy options without candy are available.

Cost: Free
When: Oct. 27, 2 p.m.
Where: Parade starts at Mt. Vernon Ave., south of E. Bellefonte, and ends at 2017 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria, VA
Online: visitdelray.com/Halloween

Hilloween
Hilloween is a Capitol Hill tradition along Eastern Market.  There will be bouncy houses, food and drink for purchase and plenty of goodies for children and adults. Bring a bag!

Cost: Free
When: Oct. 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Eastern Market, 225 7th Street SE
Online: facebook.com

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.

Cost: Free
When: Oct. 19, 3-7 p.m.
Where: Village at Leesburg, Village Market Blvd. SE, Leesburg, VA
Online:   https://villageatleesburg.com/event/monster-mash-2/

Air and Scare Family Day
Create Halloween themed crafts and try out spooky experiments. Come dressed in costume and go trick or treating throughout the museum.  The smallest ones can play dress-up and hear a story in the Tot Zone. This event tends to get crowded, so arrive early.

Cost: Free admission, $15 on-site parking
When: Oct. 26, noon to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA
Online: airandspace.si.edu

photo: National Zoo

Boo At The Zoo
A popular DC Halloween event appropriate for children ages 4 to 12, Boo at the Zone is a ton of fun (and not just because there are over 40 treat stations!).  Have a howling good time walking along decorated trails, finding seriously spooky animals and watching animal demonstrations.

Cost: $20 members; $30 non-members
When: Oct. 18-20, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave.  NW
Online: nationalzoo.si.edu

Storytime at the Hirshhorn: The Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything
Boo! As Halloween approaches, join the Hirshhorn for an encounter with the sculpture Post-Balzac, by Judith Shea. There will also be a reading of The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams followed by creating your own ghostly sculptures. Costumes encouraged!

Cost: Free
When: Oct. 30 10-11 a.m.
Where: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW
Online https://hirshhorn.si.edu/

Halloween Kids Cooking Class at Maggiano’s DC
Let the Maggiano’s Chef guide your little one on creating a culinary Halloween masterpiece. Enjoy a Maggiano’s Breakfast Buffet followed by a hands-on how-to on caramel apples, step by step!  Pumpkin and Cookie decorating is also included during this fun filled morning! Kids will receive their own chef hat and apron to take home.

Cost: $25/children; $15/adults
When: Oct. 26 10 a.m.
Where: Maggiano’s, 5333 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Chevy Chase, MD
Online https://www.eventbrite.com/e/halloween-kids-cooking-class-at-maggianos-dc-tickets-65317716047

NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular
Enjoy spooky fun for the whole family at this annual tradition! The Concert Hall transforms into a ghostly sight when our ghoulishly attired musicians perform new and old classics to celebrate Halloween. Nicholas Hersh leads this exciting concert experience, which features music from Harry Potter and more. Arrive early for trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.”

Cost: $15-$18
When: Oct. 20  2 p.m. (sensory friendly show) and 4 p.m.
Where: Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW
Online: https://www.kennedy-center.org/

photo: Julia Raasch via Unsplash

Family Friendly Halloween Yoga
Join Little Moon Yoga at Capitol Cider House for a morning of Halloween Yoga fun. This family yoga class is for families of all ages and abilities. While wearing your favorite costume, you’ll practice playful yoga postures and games all centered around a Halloween theme.

Cost: $15-$18
When: Oct. 26  10 a.m.
Where: Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Avenue, NW
Online: https://www.evensi.us/family-fun-halloween-yoga-capitol-cider-house/341317487

Halloween Hop at Dulles Landing
Dress up in your favorite costume and dance ‘til you drop at Dulles Landing’s Halloween Hop featuring family friendly musical entertainment and a Halloween dog parade! Join us for free activities including arts and crafts, face painting and giveaways. Dressed up dogs and their owners will gather and walk the parade route, ending at PetSmart for a group photo and giveaways!

Cost: Free
When: Oct. 13 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Dulles Landing Clocktower, Dulles Landing Dr., Dulles, VA
Online: https://www.loudounchamber.org/events/halloween-hop-at-dulles-landing/

—Guiomar Ochoa with Yolanda Johnson and Stephanie Kanowitz

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