It’s finally almost October! My family is comfortably settled into the school year routine, the weather’s getting colder, the leaves are changing….and my kids have officially become obsessed with Halloween. Halloween costumes. Halloween candy. Spooky Halloween creatures. Pumpkins. They’re both excited…and, to tell you the truth, so am I! Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Its spooky/magical quality brings me back to my own childhood and how much I loved this next month.
I have put together this 2014 Halloween in Pittsburgh Family Guide to help your family plan their Halloween activities this October. I have included special Halloween-themed events at museums, parks, concert venues, libraries and more. In case you have bigger kids, I have also included a section on haunted houses and other scarier events. Finally, I have included a list of alternative trick-or-treat options at the bottom. If you are looking for information on Fall activities (hayrides, pumpkin patches, fall festivals, etc) please check out my recent 2014 Fall in Pittsburgh Family Guide.
I begin this guide with Halloween events at some of the more well-known special venues in the city (organized by date). Costumes are encouraged at ALL of these events:
Eat N’Park Zoo Boo at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium-October 18-19, October 25-26
Each year, the Pittsburgh hosts their well-loved Zoo Boo Halloween event where children can trick-or-treat through the zoo, participate in a costume parade and contest, visit the mildly scary Docent Haunted House and Gymkhana’s Haunted Hideaway and many more activities. All festivities are included in the price of admission.
Owl-O-Ween at the National Aviary-October 18 and October 25th
The National Aviary celebrates Halloween at their annual Owl-O-Ween event, where kids can visit with nocturnal birds, learn about creepy-crawly insects, trick or treat, and more. All activities are included in the price of admission.
The Carnegie Science Center hosts a spooky overnight sleepover each October. Highlights include live spooky science demos, a family Halloween laser show, an Omnimax show, a late night snack and a continental breakfast. Advance registration required and the event costs $35/person.
Halloween Happenings at Phipps Conservatory-October 24
Phipps Conservatory celebrates Halloween at their annual “Halloween Happenings” event, where kids can trick-or-treat through the Conservatory and collect healthy snacks. Also, there will be a variety of kid-friendly activities throughout. Also, Halloween Happenings is a fantastic time to explore the very short Fall Flower Show at Phipps, which only goes until the beginning of November. All activities are included in the price of admission.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh celebrates Halloween at its annual Member’s Spooktacular, where museum members are invited to trick-or-treat through the museum while participating in a costume parade, Halloween-themed activities and art projects, etc. Admission is free for members. Guests of members are welcome to attend at $12/person. Please register by October 22.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History celebrates Halloween at its “All Things Creepy” event. Kids can go trick-or-treating through the exhibit with their complimentary treat bags. Also, if they come dressed in costume, you will get $1 off kids’ admissions. All activities included in the price of admission.
The Kelly Strayhorn Theater celebrates Halloween at its annual pay-what-you-can Halloween Mayhem event featuring zombies, a costume parade, a puppet show, crafts, games and more.
Monster Party on the Gateway Clipper Fleet-October 25
The Gateway Clipper Fleet celebrates Halloween at its annual Monster Cruise, featuring a costume party with their crew of monsters, prizes and sweet treats. Adults tickets are $25 and children’s tickets are $12.
The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts celebrates Halloween at its annual crafty party, offering a variety of hands-on Halloween-themed art-making activities, a scavenger hunt and music for the entire family! Admission is $5/member family and $10/nonmember family.
There are also some mildly spooky outdoor adventures that would be appropriate for littler kids:
The Outdoor Classroom celebrates Halloween at its annual Unspooky Night Hike for the general public. Families are invited to take a guided nighttime hike under the light of the moon! Adult tickets are $6 and child tickets are $8.
Bump in the Night at Frick Park-October 10-11, 17-18
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy celebrates Halloween at their annual Bump in the Night event in Lower Frick Park. Families will take a guided nighttime hike to see and learn about nighttime animals, carve a pumpkin, participate in a sing-along and enjoy refreshments. Event costs $11 for adults and $9 for children. Advance registration requested.
Haunted Guyasuta-October 18
Camp Guyasuta in O’Hara offers its annual Halloween event, featuring a hayride, nature hikes, climbing wall, pumpkin patch, bonfire and zip line (for those over 11). Trail will be non-scary from 3-6pm and scary from 6-9pm.
Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel celebrates Halloween at its annual “Creatures of the Night” event, where a costumed firefly leads families on a guided night-time hike through the nature reserve. Along the way, kids will find larger-then-life costumed creatures that read stories, do tricks, etc. Snacks and crafts are included. Tickets are $6 for Audubon Society members and 10$ for nonmembers. Register in advance.
Venture Outdoors Tyke Hike Halloween Party-October 30
Venture Outdoors celebrates Halloween at its final kid-friendly Tyke Hike for the season. Families will take a hike through Schenley Park and then participate in Halloween-themed crafts and trick-or-treats! Hike costs $10 and advance registration is encouraged.
There are also some family-friendly indoor Halloween concerts and other performances:
Hear renowned storyteller, Alison K Babusci, share her popular kid-friendly ghost stories program at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Education Center. Intended for children 5 and older.
Fall Festival Fiddlesticks Concert-October 18
The kid-friendly Fiddlesticks concert series by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is back with a Halloween and Fall-inspired concert featuring the music of Harry Potter, Fantasia and more. Preceded by kid-friendly, music and Fall-related educational activities that are just great! Tickets start at $12.
Also, if you have older kids (or you think your littler kids can handle it), the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is also putting on a Halloween Pops: Memorable Music from the Stage and Screen at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
Hillman Halloween Spooktacular-October 18
The Hillman Performing Arts Center at Shadyside Academy is hosting its Halloween Spooktacular, featuring “Clockwork Mysteries” by Canadian Ted and Marion Outerbridge. This magic show has been called the most “successful magic show in Canada” by critics. The event is preceded by Harvestfest, a family-friendly fall celebration with bounce houses, carnival games, kettle corn, etc.
And some Halloween events at cool venues a little further from the city:
Pumpkin Trolley at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum-Fridays through Sundays in October
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA hosts its annual Pumpkin Trolley this month, featuring trolley rides to their pumpkin patch and fall activities.
October Night at the Zoo at Living Treasures Animal Park-Thursdays through Saturdays in October
Moraine’s Living Treasures Animal Park celebrates Halloween at its “October Night at the Zoo” event–with only torches to light the walkways as you visit with many unusual nocturnal animals! Adult tickets are $10.99, kids are $7.99 and if you bring a carved pumpkin, kids get in for free!
Hallowboo at Idlewild Park-Saturdays and Sundays, October 4-26
Enjoy Halloween and Fall-themed fun at Idlewild Amusement Park. There’s trick-or-treating, costumed characters, Halloween entertainment PLUS many of the regular season rides are open too!
Depreciation Lands Museum Family Lantern Tours-October 18 and 25
Take a family friendly guided tour of the Museum and cemetery by lantern light with tales of superstitions and customs from the past, a visit from “The Deacon,” the Museum’s resident ghost, and enjoy cookies and hot cider! Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children.
Finally, there are free Halloween-themed events at most of the local libraries:
Walk Like a Zombie at Carnegie Library Main-October 11
Monster Bash at the Cooper-Siegel Library-October 12
Creepy Crawly Cafe at Baldwin Public Library-October 17
Costume Party at Carnegie Library Woods Run-October 28
Spooky Stories at the Cooper-Siegel Library-October 29
Costume Party at Carnegie Library Allegheny-October 30
Trick-or-Treat at the West End Library-October 31
Haunted Attractions Appropriate for Older Kids
There are also a variety of scarier, haunted attractions for the bigger kids. Note: many of these facilities recommend that children be at least 13 years of age or older to participate. Also, many of these facilities offer more expensive VIP passes to allow patrons to cut past the long general admission lines.
Terror Town-Strip District
Terror Town is an underground haunted attraction. Located in the Strip District.
One of Pittsburgh’s most popular haunted houses. Now with shuttle service from the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood Park-West Mifflin
Enjoy Kennywood Amusement Park with a variety of haunted features and scary rides.
Enjoy two haunted experiences–a haunted hayride and a walking trail. Benefits the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Spectrum Charter School.
Hundred Acres Manor-South Park
A very popular haunted house located in South Park with six attractions, including a plummeting elevator, maze, torture chamber, fall-out shelter and even a zombie paintball experience for the truly brave. Benefits the Animal Friends and Homeless Children’s Education Fund.
West Deer Nightmare Haunted House-West Deer
Tour the possessed home of Noah Hobbs, criminal mastermind.
Finally, if you are interested in taking a historical ghost tour of Pittsburgh, check out these ideas:
The Haunted Pittsburgh tour guides take visitors on many different ghost tours throughout the city, including some at local cemeteries.
Molly’s Trolley hosts “Terror Trolley” tours during the month of October, which takes visitors throughout the city on a ghost tour.
Offering pedal-powered trolley ghost tours.
The Bushy Run Battlefield historic site offers its annual haunted history tour, exploring the history of the Pontiac War through scary stories and a haunted hayride.
And, if you love Zombies, don’t miss Zombie Fest 2014, coming to Pittsburgh on October 11th.
Finally, a few ways to get even MORE candy at these additional trick-or treating options:
Mt Nebo Pointe Trunk or Treat-October 25
Mall-O-Ween at the Century III Mall-October 29
Trick or Treat at the Pittsburgh Mills-October 30
Kidgits Trick or Treat at the Ross Park Mall-October 30