17 ways to celebrate Halloween in Pittsburgh

Dressing up as a superhero, princess or silly character is a big part of Halloween appeal for kids. Amid health fears, many families are opting out of door-to-door trick-or-treating this year. But that doesn’t stop Halloween fun. October is packed with spooky, funny and creative ways to celebrate the season of witches, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Never fear, all these activities keep safety in mind with special precautions.

1. Sensory-Friendly Booseum Trick-or-Treat

Kids can wear their costumes and trick-or-treat among mummies and dinosaurs at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The sensory-friendly Booseum takes place before the museum opens to the public, running from 8:30- 10 a.m. Oct. 31. Expect Halloween-themed activities and plan on meeting the museum’s creepiest live animals. Register here in advance.

2. Campfire Ghost Stories

Gather around a roaring, crackling fire to hear spooky stories and sing songs at this Allegheny County Parks-hosted event. Kids can dress in costume for the chance to win a prize. Campfire Ghost Stories are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday evenings at various parks from Oct. 11-25. Check the schedule and register for free here.

3. ZooBoo Drive-Thru

Trick-or-treat at the Pittsburgh Zoo is reimagined with the ZooBoo Drive-Thru, a Halloween parade of cars filled with your costumed little monsters. The $60 per car admission includes an audio tour and stops for candy and other treats throughout the zoo. Add to the family fun by decorating your vehicle in a festive “car-stume.” Purchase a timed ticket in advance for Oct. 17, 18, 24 and 25.

4. Owl-o-Ween

Celebrate seasonal thrills and chills with The National Aviary’s Owl-o-Ween on Oct. 17 and 24, with social distancing planned every step of the way. Kids will receive a fun-packed trick-or-treat bag, visit the theater to see and learn about a Spectacled Owl or Eurasian Eagle Owl and spend time assembling pre-packaged craft kits. Owl-o-Ween activities are included with regular admission. Register for timed tickets here.

5. Bump in the Night

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s annual Bump in the Night returns to Frick Park in a slightly new form. Kids ages 3 to 9 years and their grownups will enjoy fall festivities over two weekends, Oct. 16, 17, 23 and 24. Sign up for the half-mile hike and play along with activities at each stop on the trail. At the end, kids can pick a pumpkin to decorate at home. Timed tickets are $12. Register here.

6. Creatures of the Night

Families can stroll through darkened trails guided by fireflies at this annual Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania event. Larger-than-life nocturnal creatures will tell their stories at the all-outdoor experience. Creatures of the Night takes place at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve and Succop Nature Park Oct. 15-17 and Oct. 22-24. Registration for the timed tickets is $6, free for ages 2 and younger. Costumes are welcome!

7. Halloween Drive-in Movies

Following its popular summer movie season, Allegheny County Parks continues the fun with Halloween Drive-in Movies at Hartwood Acres and South Park. “Hocus Pocus” and “Nightmare Before Christmas” are on the bill for spooky PG-rated entertainment. Check the schedule for dates.

8. Halloween Candy Scavenger Hunt

Sewickley Public Library asks the burning question: How much candy can you grab in 10 minutes? We’re betting a whole lot! Kids in grades 6-12 can register in advance for a 10-minute time slot. The free Candy Scavenger Hunt is scheduled for Oct. 24.

9. Trick-or-Treat Trail Mini-Golf

Fun Fore All’s Trick-or-Treat Trail Mini-Golf returns for a competitive Halloween experience. Families can wear costumes to add to the atmosphere. Play operates on the decorated creepy course from noon to 9 p.m. daily, with Glow Golf starting at dusk, through Oct. 31. Admission includes 18 holes of mini-golf and a treat bag filled with candy and coupons. Tickets are $8 for ages 12 and younger, $10 for adults.

10. Horror Movie Trivia Night

Older kids who are fans of the horror genre can compete in the virtual Horror Movie Trivia Night on Oct. 9 at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Teams will need two devices – one for Zoom and another for the Kahoot app to submit answers. The winner will receive museum passes. Registration is $10.

11. Haunted River Cruises

Does the Monongahela Monster really exist? Who haunts the Allegheny County Jail? Those are a couple of the questions presented during Gateway Clipper Fleet’s Haunted Pittsburgh Cruise, running through October. The guides on this frightful tour tell the lore surrounding Pittsburgh’s iconic sites and history. Tickets are $12 for kids, $22 for adults. Is that shiver down your spine due to a ghostly presence? Or the cool river breeze blowing on your neck?

12. Row House Cinema Drive-in

Row House Cinema programmed a bunch of Halloween-inspired movies at The Terminal, Strip District, throughout October. Pack up the car with treats and kids for film faves like “Edward Scissorhands” on Oct. 10, “Young Frankenstein” on Oct. 17 and “Beetlejuice” on Oct. 24. Tickets are $30 per car. See the complete schedule here.

13. Black and Ghost Tours

Walk the Burgh’s creepy Black and Ghost Tour travels about a mile and a half through Downtown. The outdoor tour visits historic sites and spins tales about ghostly spirits that might lurk within. The 90-minute tour begins and ends at the Convention Center. Tickets are $10 for ages 6-13 and $20 for older ghost hunters. Book your spots here.

14. Sugar Plum Halloween

Kids with a love of pampering will adore Sugar Plum Parties’ take on Halloween revelry on Oct. 31. The bash begins with sparkly manicures and temporary tattoos, followed by a high-energy dance party. The event includes a craft, costume contest and take-home treat bags. Reservations are $20.

15. ‘Frankenstein’

Drive-in movies and concerts have become a big thing this year. And now, we have drive-in theater that combines both with City Theatre’s presentation of Manual Cinema’s “Frankenstein.” The all-ages show syncs a live musical score with a modern onscreen adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic novel. Performances run through Oct. 18 at Hazelwood Green. Reserve your parking spot here.

16. Track and Treat

Pittsburgh Citiparks planned a tentative date of Oct.24 for the annual Track and Treat. This free family event promotes a healthy lifestyle while kids learn bike safety and zip around the Bud Harris Cycling Track on Washington Boulevard. Kids without bikes can borrow one from Citiparks. Expect a costume contest, food trucks and games. Check back here for updates in accordance to group gathering restrictions.

17. Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Pop-up

The Monster Pumpkins Festival is renamed the Monster Pumpkins Pop-up this year, featuring those gigantic, overgrown pumpkins in a new way. From Oct. 30-Nov. 5, Heinz Field’s Gold Parking Lot 1A will be lined with a drive-by display of pumpkins that are hand-carved into extraordinary works of art. The massive collection will glow at night for a magical Halloween experience.