29 not-so-spooky Halloween events for Pittsburgh families
Photo above by Toni Cuenca.
There’s no reason for little ones to cringe and hide under their blankies when Halloween comes around. The not-so-spooky season offers a full menu of delights with family-friendly activities. We’ve got Halloween covered with these Halloween events for Pittsburgh families that will appeal to kids of all ages, from tots to teens.
1. Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Festival
The Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Festival returns to the Strip District on Oct. 15 and 16. Expect pumpkin carving, a pumpkin pie eating contest, the Monster Pumpkin Plunge, glass-blowing demonstrations and craft activities. Admission is free.
2. Punkin Chunkin
The annual Punkin Chunkin festival on Oct. 22 at Hartwood Acres is truly a blast! Watch as SHARP Robotics from Sarah Heinz House launches pumpkins across the field with a full-size trebuchet. The day includes loads of free activities like balloon art, hands-on crafts, face painting and Medieval sword fighting lessons. Save your appetite for the lineup of food trucks and vendors. Admission is free.
3. Things That Go Bump in the Night
This Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy annual Bump in the Night event is intended for kids ages 3 to 9 and their grownups at Frick Environmental Center. Registration opens at noon Oct. 3 for sessions on Oct. 21, 22, 28 and 29. Choose your time and date, and sign up for a guided hike with cool fall activities along the way.
4. Día de los Muertos
Celebrate the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden on Oct. 30. Learn about the traditions of the holiday and its botanical connections, create paper marigold decorations and make your own ofrenda. Free with garden admission.
5. Haunted Miniature Railroad
Watch for special, spooky and mysterious features added to the Miniature Railroad and Village at Carnegie Science Center. Eagle eyes will find a werewolf, Bigfoot, a witch, zombies and the Headless Horseman among other Halloween-themed figures. They join the newest permanent addition to the layout, Evans City Cemetery Chapel, which appeared in “Night of the Living Dead” (1968). The railroad display is included with Science Center admission.
Don’t miss this favorite among the annual Halloween events for Pittsburgh families: Idlewild Park serves up an exciting family-friendly, Halloween-themed celebration with its annual Hallowboo! Kids can trick-or-treat through the Story Book Forest, meet Princess Lily and Daniel Tiger, plus take part in a ghoulish (but not scary) dance party. Lots of seasonal-themed amusement rides will encourage laughs and screams, too. HallowBoo! runs weekends through Oct. 30. Admission is $34.99 for ages 3 and older.
7. Track and Treat
This annual Citiparks event on Oct. 22 combines family fun with a focus on a healthy lifestyle. Bring bicycles or borrow a bike on-site to pedal around the Bud Harris Cycling Track. Track and Treat includes bike safety lessons, a bike decorating station, games and a costume contest. Keep the energy up with refreshments and great eats from food trucks. Free.
8. “Casper” Halloween Movie
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy hosts a spirited movie screening of “Casper” (PG) at the Schenley Park Visitor Center. The PG-rated movie about the friendly ghost stars Bill Ullman and Christina Ricci. Seating is limited and snacks will be available on site. Click here to save your seat for this free screening.
9. Campfire Ghost Stories
Not-too-spooky stories and songs by Josh and Gab are part of the fun at this Allegheny County series. Campfire Ghost Stories invites kids and their grownups to gather around a crackling campfire on weekend evenings: Oct. 2 at White Oak Park Chestnut Shelter, Oct. 8 at Harrison Hills Yakaon Shelter, Oct. 9 at Boyce Park Four Seasons Activity Center, Oct. 15 at Deer Lakes Camp Shelter and Oct. 16 at Hartwood Acres Amphitheater, where a sign language interpreter will take part. For added fun, kids can wear costumes and compete for a prize. Free.
10. “Hocus Pocus” in Concert
When kids accidentally awaken a trio of 17th-century witches, they must outwit the weird sisters before it’s too late. The 1993 movie, “Hocus Pocus,” has grown into a cult favorite. Introduce your little goblins to the thrilling silliness of “Hocus Pocus” in Concert with this special screening on Oct. 19 that features the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra playing the score live. Tickets start at $25.
This is another favorite among the Halloween events for Pittsburgh families. Kids can dress in their best Halloween costumes to follow the Trick-or-Treat Trail at the annual ZooBoo, running Oct. 22, 23, 29 and 30 at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Themed features are geared to little ones with not-too-scary haunt spots and creepy craft activities. March in the spooktacular parade to compete in the costume contest. And be sure to check out the zoo animals who put on a special show with their Halloween treats. ZooBoo activities and candy are free with zoo admission.
Who-o-o’s looking for fun? This owl-themed Halloween party at the National Aviary offers a full day of activities on Oct. 15, 16, 22 and 23. Come in costume for trick-or-treat and receive a goody bag of cool stuff. Head to story time and an owl meet and greet. Visit the Bat Habitat for an educational talk. And don’t miss creating an owl craft to take home. Owl-O-Ween activities are included with Aviary admission.
13. VolunTOTS and VolunTYKES Trick or Treat with Seniors
VolunTOTS operates on the premise that even our littlest kids can do good deeds in the world. The group’s October plans include engaging with seniors in trick-or-treat parades. South Tots head to nursing homes in six area neighborhoods throughout October. Find details and RSVP on the VolunTOTS Facebook page. Free.
14. Spooky Drive-in Movie Nights
Allegheny County Parks host two family film favorites that add more silly than thrilly this month. Catch “Hotel Transylvania” (PG) on Oct. 7 at Harwood Acres Amphitheater and Oct. 8 at Settlers Cabin Park. Then check out “Nightmare Before Christmas” (PG) on Oct. 14 at Hartwood and Oct. 15 at Settlers Cabin Park. Admission is free.
15. Brains & Bones Day Camp
The Oct. 5 zombie-inspired Brains & Bones Day Camp at Assemble examines our most fascinating body parts. Kids in grades 3-5 will learn how brains work and interact with guest experts. Expect to see some cool and spooky specimens, too. A half-day Brains & Bones camp for grades 1-2 is also planned for Oct. 28. Registration is free for Garfield residents.
16. Trunk-or-Treat Car Cruise
Kids can dress up in costume and trick-or-treat between Halloween-decorated cars at Allegheny County Parks’ Trunk or Treat Car Cruise events. The family fun takes place on Oct. 22 at South Park Pool parking lot and Oct. 23 at Hartwood Acres Amphitheater. Don’t forget your pumpkin bucket or trick-or-treat bags. Admission is free.
17. Spooky Hike at North Park’s Haunted Blue Mist Road
Blue Mist Road Trail in North Park holds a haunted reputation with tales of paranormal mystery. Learn about one of the area’s spookiest stories along the way. On your hike back, look and listen for owls, bats and other critters that go bump in the night. Dress for the weather and bring along a flashlight. Recommended for ages 5 and older. Registration is free.
18. Children’s Harvest Festival
Kids can celebrate the season the way they did in the 18th century at Oliver Miller Homestead’s Children’s Harvest Festival on Oct. 16. Colonist kid crafts include butter churning, writing with a quill and making dolls. Compete in a sack race, apple bobbing and other games. Admission is $2.
19. Halloween Mayhem
The fun starts at noon on Oct. 29 for Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s annual Halloween Mayhem. A wild family time offers hands-on crafts, spooky activities, pumpkin carving and Halloween decorating. The afternoon schedule presents a series of inspiring family-friendly performances, too. Kids can dress up for a costume parade, play games and bop to groovy beats. Tickets are priced at pay-what-you-wish from free up to $25.
20. Kids Day at Hundred Acres Manor
The normally too-too-frightening Hundred Acres Manor hosts a lights-on, no-scare tour on Kids Day, planned for Oct. 23. The afternoon event includes hands-on crafts, touch-a-truck, face painting and wagon rides. Advance admission is $12, which includes the shuttle to the haunted house.
21. Fun Fore All Trick-or-Treat Trail
Combine trick-or-treat with a Halloween-themed round of mini-golf at Fun Fore All through Oct. 31. Kids can show off their costumes and golf skills on the creepy course from noon-9 p.m. daily. All golfers receive a trick-or-treat bag of goodies. Admission is $10 for kids ages 12 and younger, and $12 for adults. 10 percent of all admissions benefit Rowan Elementary School PTA. Special fun this year: Visit on Friday, Oct. 21, for a special “Howl-O-Ween” night where families bring their dogs to the park for Mini Golf and dress in their costumes. Local vendors will join in the fun and give out treats for the kids and the dogs. Get Pup Night details here.
22. Super Science Saturday: Booseum
Celebrate the season with the latest episode of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Super Science Saturday: Booseum. Kids can dress in costume and wander haunted halls to solve a scavenger hunt, earn trick-or-treat goodies and find spooky specimens. Booseum operates from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 29 and is included in general admission of $11.95 for ages 3-18, $19.95 for grownups. A special sensory-friendly session from 8:30-10 a.m. is priced at $5.95 for kids and $9.95 for grownups.
23. Pumpkin Patch Trolley
Why ride a wagon to the pumpkin patch when you can zip along on a trolley? The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pa., offers round-trip rides on its historic railroad to collect the pumpkins. After the Pumpkin Patch excursion, kids can decorate their pumpkins in the craft room, where refreshments will be served. The Pumpkin Patch Trolley is in operation on Oct. 21-23. Come in costume for Trick-or-Trolley on Oct. 29 and 30. Tickets are $14 for kids, $15 for their grownups.
24. Teen Night: Thursday the 13th
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History hosts teens-only fright night on Oct. 13. The evening will be filled with haunting activities like skull matching, owl pellet dissection, creating a vampire protection kit, specimen stations and bug tasting. Come in costume to fit in with the creepy crawlies. Registration is free for ages 13-18.
25. Haunted River Cruises and Halloween Fun Cruise
The Gateway Clipper Fleet plays host to Halloween revelry with kid appeal. Kids on the Halloween Fun Cruise on Oct. 30 will interact with celebrity characters, dance, play games and enjoy treats. The Haunted River Cruises, running weekends through Oct. 31, offer guided tours of Pittsburgh’s iconic sites and spooky legends like the Monongahela Monster and the ghost that inhabits the Allegheny County Jail. Cruise tickets are $20 for kids and $32 for grownups.
26. Glass Pumpkin Make-It-Now
Pittsburgh Glass Center artists will lead kids ages 5 and older in blowing a sculpted glass pumpkin ($45) in the hot shop. Or opt to create a fused glass pumpkin suncatcher ($30) or flameworked ghost pendant ($30). Each immersive activity is a wonderful way to experience and learn about glass art. Sessions take place on Oct. 14 and 28. Register ahead to guarantee your time slot.
27. Phantom Fall Fest
Kennywood Park’s Phantom Fall Fest offers all-day park access and up to 30 rides and attractions on select dates through Oct. 30. (A note to parents: Kennywood has increased security in response to the shootings that took place on Sept. 24.)
28. Family-friendly movie screenings at Tull Family Theater
Halloween-season showings at the Tull Family Theater include two fun options: On Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., catch “Beetlejuice,” the Oscar-winning film starring Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton. And on Oct. 22 at 10 a.m., enjoy “E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial.” Both are rated PG.
29. The Great Pumpkin Patch (with screenings from Fred Rogers Productions) at Town Square, Southside Works
On Oct. 22 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., you’ll find local pumpkins for sale (with proceeds benefitting Strong Women, Strong Girls) plus free activities including a Daniel Tiger Trivia Game. Pumpkins will be priced at $3-$5. Then beginning at 5:30 p.m., enjoy free outdoor screenings of favorites from Fred Rogers Productions, including Halloween episodes of “Donkey Hodie,” “Alma’s Way” and special moments from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” running until 6:30 p.m.