13 FAMILY-ORIENTED AND SKIN-CRAWLING HALLOWEEN HOT SPOTS IN THE TWIN CITIES
From treat-focused events for families to bone-chilling trickery for adults, everyone can celebrate All Hallows' Eve in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Image by Pamela Graham/flickr
You might think a place like Transylvania might stake—excuse the pun—a claim to being the Halloween Capital of the World. Most Twin Citizens know, however, that the real capital of All Hallows’ Eve lies just north of the Twin Cities metro in the quaint town of Anoka, population just over 17,000…until October, anyway.
It seems some 96 years ago, the townfolk had grown frustrated with the usual “trickery” that would range from soaping windows to releasing cattle, putting wagons on rooftops and over-turning certain small wooden bathroom structures. Their solution to stop the antics was to host a giant celebration with an evening parade of thousands of children marching down Main Street followed by popcorn, candy, peanuts and a community bonfire for all.
These massive celebrations have been held every year since 1920, pausing only in 1942 and 1943 during World War II, and run throughout the month of October with different events, contests, auctions and dances. Find this year's complete program here; festivities begin Oct. 10.
If traveling to Anoka isn’t up your dark alley, try out any of these noteworthy attractions in and around the Twin Cities.
Gertens Annual Pumpkin Fest
Just south of St. Paul in the town of Inver Grove Heights is Gertens Annual Pumpkin Fest. Kids can take home their own scarecrow and painted pumpkins after meandering through a petting zoo, playing games and enjoying hayrides. The costume contest this year is on Oct. 22 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., but the activities run every Saturday until then. No cost to enjoy.
Zoo Boo, which doubles as an annual fundraiser for Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, transforms the St. Paul zoo into a world of fairytales, magic and fun. More than 200 costumed characters interact and mingle with the kids along the Zoo Boo trail that is anything but scary. Recommended for kids between the ages of 3 and 8, the Boo runs Oct. 17 & 18 and Oct. 24 & 25 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 online and $7 at the door.
FlyOver America Halloween Ride
One of Mall of America‘s latest attractions is suiting up for Halloween and taking visitors on a sky-high adventure. FlyOver America is an immersive flight over the country's most breathtaking sights like the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty—this time guided by Broomelda, the Witches Academy Headmistress. Dress up or simply drop in during your mall adventures for this exclusive seasonal event between Oct. 13-31, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
HowlZooWeen is held every year at the Minnesota Zoo, allowing for close encounters with creepy crawlers (as well as the cute and cuddly) to treats and activities. Oct. 22-23, 29-30, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
If you only go to one outdoor event—other than the door-knocking type on the 31st—check out the BareBones Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza at Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul. This community-created spectacle includes larger-than-life puppetry, drama, stilt walkers, fire performers, aerialists, live music and much more. Runs 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 and 31.
BareBones Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza
The Not So Scary Halloween Party
Over in Edina, The Not So Scary Halloween Party is a little known gem hosted at Edinborough Park. Kids can trick or treat throughout the indoor park, including in and around Adventure Peak, with games, special entertainment, mask-making and more. Costumes are highly encouraged, of course, and admission is $9 per child; adults are free. One night only: Oct. 23 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Trail of Terror
Billed as the largest (and some say scariest) Halloween event in the Midwest, the Trail of Terror in Shakopee has more bone-chilling, spine-stiffening experiences than the Bates Motel in the original Psycho. Take a not-so-leisurely walk through the dark woods of Howling Pines, stop in at Hotel 666 and meander through 25 rooms to meet some long-time guests. Test your luck getting out of the Escape Room, kill some zombies in paintball, or join in the hogtied pub crawl. Fridays and Saturdays Oct. 7-30 from 7 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Image by Possum1500/Flickr
Not to be outdone by its neighbor Shakopee, Chaska has equal billing rights with Scream Town. With eight crazy attractions that will keep even the most seasoned spook-seeking vet on his toes, this is a must-visit. Choose among Circus Asylum, one of the largest wooden mazes in the region; Phobia House, dedicated to immersing you in five rooms of humankind’s greatest fears; Sector 666, a nuclear power plant in the throes of a massive meltdown; Redneck Resort, a hotel run by—you guessed it—gun-toting, axe-wielding, overall-wearing scare artists; Oak Blood Forest, home to the Blood family with the following bone-chilling reminders upon pre-entry: “There are NO tour guides, NO protective wagons, NO flashlights allowed… And absolutely NO mercy. You, the Blood family and our actors await your brave step into this one-of-a-kind attraction”; Abandoned, a serial killer-themed forest in which you are completely alone—yes, alone, with the dim light of a lantern and your inner (and outer) demons; and a handful more nightmare-inducing attractions. None of these are for the weak of heart, and many require waivers and parental signatures for anyone under 18. Discount nights are Oct. 1, 7, 8, 14, 16, 20 and 23; regular nights (arrive early) are Oct. 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29. Times vary but are typically 7-11 p.m., with ticket booths opening at 6:30 p.m.
The Haunting Experience
For the past 28 years, The Haunting Experience has turned idyllic Cottage Grove into macabre mayhem with the Manor House, Tinkles Playground (a funhouse not for the young, or weak, at heart), and the Hayride, which some say is the most terrifying trek in the state. For some payback, get in on the Big Zombie Hunter Paintball for an extra fee. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7-11 p.m. through Oct.31.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens at Valleyfair when the lights go out, come during the month of October when the massive amusement transforms into ValleySCARE. With seven different mazes, five distinct scare zones, various shows and more than 15 rides, there’s something for everyone…lurking around every corner. Be sure to check the stalls next to you in the restrooms! Oct. 7-30, Thursdays 7-midnight; Saturdays 11 a.m.-midnight; Sundays 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Image courtesy of The Soap Factory
The Soap Factory's Haunted Basement X
No Halloween favorite list would be complete without The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement X, a true Twin Cities tradition and perennial local fave. The idea is simple: Send visitors downstairs into the warehouse basement with little light to guide the way, and see what happens from there. This year marks the demented institution's 10th anniversary, and the themes focus on a twisted view of real-life horrors with a mangled interpretation of a day in the life of a tortured soul. An added bonus this year is a special exhibition by artist Brandon Kuehn and his Paranormal Art Project. Kuehn has been traveling across Minnesota researching eye-witness accounts, folk tales, paranormal happenings and mysterious encounters. Sept. 30-Oct. 31 on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays from 6-10 p.m. and Fridays & Saturdays from 6-11 p.m. Halloween hours are 6 p.m.-midnight.
Zombie Pub Crawl
Join the Zombie Pub Crawl, with more than 20 performers at eight venues, your dead blood will get pumping again at the certified Guiness Book of World Record’s largest zombie gathering, 5 p.m.-midnight Oct. 15. Locations vary but the fun begins at First Avenue and Fifth Street in Minneapolis.