12 Things to Do in Chicago for Halloween
The Windy City gets a bit chillier in the month of October. The days get shorter, and you can smell the aroma of fireplaces burning at night. In addition to simply enjoying the witchy atmosphere, there’s plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween here. Whether you’re into scary stories, pumpkin picking — or simply just the first taste of a PSL — these 12 Halloween activities will surely get you in the mood for All Hallows Eve.
What better way to celebrate the shorter days than heading to the Adler Planetarium? Adler After Dark features nighttime entertainment with rotating themes each month. October brings “The Deep,” an exploration of both deep space and the deep ocean. Which is scarier? You’ll have to stop by to find out. Adler After Dark tickets are only available to those age 21 and older.
The Zoo in Brookfield features a series that’s perfect for the entire family and sponsored by the Ferrara Candy Company. Activities include a 7,000-foot corn maze, pumpkin carving, a costume parade and Halloween-themed crafts each weekend. Of course, the animals will also be front and center, and visitors will get to learn about some of the “scarier” species, including bats and spiders.
Each year Millennium Park offers a variety of Halloween activities, but none is more popular than the Haunted Halloween Ball Party. Dress up in your spookiest costume, and get ready to boogie down with hundreds of other costumed partiers. You’ll be greeted by vampire bellmen and offered cocktails by zombie servers. Entertainment includes go-go dancers and (of course) a DJ. All of this takes place in one of the most haunted hotels in the world.
Trying to find a trick-or-treating spot that’s entertaining enough to keep your kids interested in something other than just candy? Head to the Navy Pier! Kids can collect their candy and a stamp on their “passport” at each designated stop. After all stamps have been collected, participants can exchange their passports for a prize at guest services.
You can’t celebrate Halloween without pumpkins! Luckily, the Chicago Riverwalk Pumpkin Patch pops up on the Chicago waterfront all month in October. In addition to the main event (pumpkins), you’ll be able to check out a spooky carriage ride, a tattoo table and a bounce house. In addition to all the festivities, you’ll get amazing views of the river and have a chance to fill your belly with tons of autumnal foods (sorry, no PSL).
Nothing can get you into the Halloween spirit like a parade and costume contest. The Northalsted Halloween Parade takes place on Halloween each year and was ranked one of the 10 Best Halloweens in the US by Fodor’s.
The event is free to the public and includes a $4,000 cash prize for the coolest costume. Parade entertainment includes a Thriller dance-off with “real” zombies reenacting the famous 1980s dance sequence.
With so many mobsters lurking around Chicago’s history at every corner, it’s no surprise there’s plenty of stories to tell! Discover all about Chicago’s sordid history, grisly murders and terrifying crimes in this two-hour tour. You’ll learn all about this history of such famous sites as the Iroquois Theater, Congress Plaza Hotel, Drake Hotel and the Criminal Courthouse and Hanging Gallows. Fans of the book “Devil in the White City” will especially appreciate this spooky tour as it delves into the history of the Chicago World’s Fair — and the serial killer who used the fair to stalk his prey. https://chicagosfinesttours.com/ghosts-of-chicago-frightseeing-tour/
For Halloween revelers who need a little more fright in their Halloween festivities, the Godfrey Haunted Hotel offers 20 rooms of terror. After you ascend to the final level unscathed, your reward is a rooftop party, replete with refreshments and live entertainment. Themed cocktails grace the bar’s menu, and there’s sure to be a dance party featuring “Thriller” at least once during the evening.
The Glessner House Museum hosts an annual Edgar Allan Poe reading for those who are too “cool” for some of the weekends more frightful festivities. You’ll hear all of your Poe favorites (from “The Raven” to “The Tell-Tale Heart”) as well as some works you might not be so familiar with.
The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago hosts a celebration every year from 3 PM to 8 PM. Browse art exhibitions dedicated to the Day of the Dead. Learn about the ofrenda (altar) that Mexican families arrange each year to honor their ancestors. Activities include face painting, arts and crafts, live music and more. The museum also transforms the Harrison Park soccer field into a festive marketplace. You can even participate in the ofrenda project by submitting a photo of a departed family member to the museum beforehand. The event is free to the public, and festivities will commence rain or shine.
What could possibly be better than the Chicago History Museum’s monthly history happy hour? A reason to don a costume to one. The annual haunted history happy hour starts at 6 PM and ends at 9 PM. Join a few other history geeks while you sip on themed cocktails and explore museum exhibits. The $15 fee includes two drinks and admission to the museum.
Okay, we know that Ipsento didn’t invent the pumpkin spice latte or anything. But if you head to that other famous coffee shop before heading here this fall, you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice. Before you head out to any of these other activities, stop by Ipsento Coffee for their pumpkin patch latte. Made with espresso, real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice, this latte is the perfect way to keep your paws warm as you whoop it up on Halloween.
What are your favorite Halloween activities in the Windy City? Cast your vote by letting us know in the comments below!