Updated October 2020

It can be tricky to find great Halloween activities for tweens and young teens. They’re over face painting and Halloween crafts but really haunted mansions and hayrides can be a bit too much.

So many families staycationing this year and eager for fun local fall actitities.

So, I set out to find local Halloween events across the U.S. for kids ages 10 to 13 or so. Here are ten Halloween happenings in or near 14 major cities.

They should offer enough creepiness, mysteries and cool special effects and fun to give your tweens and yourself a real Halloween treat.

Hopefully one of these attractions is near you. If not, maybe they are the start of a fun fall family weekend away!

More Fall Weekend Travel Ideas
8 Fun Fall Foliage Destinations in the Northeast
10 Activities For a Fall Family Weekend in San Diego
Why You Should Visit Snowmass With Kids in The Fall

10 Halloween Events Just Creepy Enough For Tweens

New in 2020:
I’ve noted whether they are persevering during Covid or on hold this year.
• Assume that you should always buy tickets in advance—there’s no showing up last-minute during a pandemic.
• Assume your family will have to wear face masks.
• Scary Halloween masks are always optional.

Northeast Halloween Events

1. Event: The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Is wall of pumpkins with elaborate celtic scroll work are just some of many cool pumpkin artistry at the jack o'lanter blazes outside of nyc.

Where: Croton-on-Hudson, NY (near NYC)
Bethpage, Long Island, NY (near NYC)

What: The grounds of 18th century Van Cortlandt Manor and Old Bethpage Village are transformed into a Halloween garden with a bridges, tunnels, animals, mythic creatures, even mini movie scenes made from Jack O’Lanterns.

Details: It’s on this year! Plan your visit at dusk or later. The event runs from September until well into November.

2. Event: Ghost Tours of Newport

Follow this fellow around his port town's spooky backstreets to find the ghosts of newport.

Where: Newport, RI

What: On this lantern-lit stroll down historic Newport’s more shadowy lanes folks might happen across and ghosts while ghouls while learning about Ghost Ships, Graveyard Crypts, and the more haunted corners of this harbor town.

Details: It’s on this year! Tours depart nightly, rain or shine on select nights through Halloween. Again, buy tickets in advance.

3. Event: Ghosts on the Banke at Strawbery Banke living history museum

One of the ghosts on the banke at the strawberry banke museum in portsmouth, nh. This one is a pirate.

Where: Portsmouth, NH

What: Dress in costumes and trick or treat among the museum’s historic homes while coming across fortune-tellers, witches and even the ghosts of long-dead pirates and sea captains.

Follow a Jack O’Lantern path, warm up by the bonfire and listen to ghost stories.

Details: Cancelled for this year! Typiically it’s on evenings the weekend before Halloween. For kids 14 and younger.

4. Event: Escape the Museum! at the National Building Museum

The old building museum in washington, dc has halloween thrills for families and a mystery to solve at escape the museum!

Where: Washington, DC

What: These evening tours, which play on the building’s history, architecture and artifacts ask participants to Solve puzzles and find clues to reveal the secret that will allow them to escape the room.

Details: Cancelled this year! The museum is still closed for covid. Normally this hour-long event is for ages 12 and up. Select evenings in late October and early November.

More Ghost Tours Around the U.S.

Southern Halloween Events

5. Event: Night Watchmen Halloween Tours of old Salem

Lanterns light the way for ghosts and people in old salem, nc on annual halloween night watchmen tours.

Where: Winston-Salem, NC

What: Cross the covered bridge to meet your guide, who will lead you by lantern light through Salem’s historic district after darl.

Visit reportedly haunted stops, hear ghostly legends, and perhaps meet some of the city’s more ethereal denizens.

Details: Cancelled For This Year! Tours are usually several times a night on the Friday and Saturday evenings through October 31.

6. Event: Krewe of Boo

How can halloween be anything but fun for tweens in new orleans? Here is a person in a mexican day-of-the-dead costume at the krewe of book parade.

Where: New Orleans

What: The Big Easy’ official Halloween party has scary floats, wicked costumes and jazzy marchers tossing candy along with beads. How can you go wrong?

Details: Cancelled this year! Usually it’s on a weekend a week to ten days before Halloween.

Mid-West & Texas Halloween Events

7. Event: The Night of 1,000 Pumpkins

A young couple admires large pumpkins with elaborate scenes carved on them during the night of 1,000 pumpkins at the chicago botanic garden

Where: The Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago, IL

What: Exactly 1,000 LED-lit pumpkins blaze a trail throught the gardens. Arrive at dusk to appreciat the fall foliage and flowers along with the elaborately carved pumpkins.

Details: It’s on! But alas, Covid has reduced its capacity and it’s sold out for this year. It runs in the evening over two weekends in October.

8. Event: Williamson Museum’s Ghost Tours of Georgetown Square

Ffollow this wiliamson museum docent around georgetown, tx i october and ghosts are likely to follow.

Where: Georgetown, TX (near Austin)

What: Costumed docents lead tour-goers around the town, telling the stories of the ghosts who have haunted local places for more than a hundred years.

Details: It’s on! Tours are in the evenings on the Fridays in October and the First Friday in November.

9. Event: The Haunted River

Don't lose your head like this 18th century lady carrying her's around the san antonio riverwalk on halloween.

Where: The River Walk, San Antonio, TX

What: The River Walk (and the shops at Rivercenter) come alive at night with a haunted parade, seasonal movies, live music and dancing.

Look for trick or treating and more. So much fun a person could lose their head!

Details: Cancelled This Year: Events usually spread out from the Arneson River Theatre at Rivercenter on the Saturday before Halloween from 7:00 pm to midnight.

A Haunted River Jr. is still happenind for kids younger than 11. Tweens are definitely still young enough to love candy, even if most of the events will be better-suited to younger siblings.

West Coast Halloween Events

10. Event: Pumpkin Nights

Pumpkin nights turn jack o'lanterns into treasure inside dead mens' chests, among other things.

Where: Auburn, CA. (near Sacramento)
Pomona, CA (near Los Angeles)
Salt Lake City, UT
Brighton, CO (near Denver)

What: 3,000 synthetic pumpkins carved to fit 8 themes (think Great Pumpkin Reef and Dia de Los Muertos) along a half-mile trail. There’s food, seasonal movies, scavenger hunts and other activities.

Details: Cancelled This Year! This one surprised me by cancelling. It usually runs in the evenings from September through October 29. Arrive after dark.

Pin it for Later!

Photos courtesy of the respective event organizers.

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