Haunted Happenings: The Best Spooky Outings in Chicago

Getting spooked isn’t just for Halloween.

There are plenty of scary attractions in the Chicago area throughout October. Whether you’re looking for a tame family outing, or are ready to scream, here are five of the best festivals, haunted houses and ghost tours.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
Downtown Highwood
Thursday, Oct. 17 to Saturday, Oct. 19 (Rain Date: Sunday, Oct. 20)
St. Baldrick’s Pumpkin Run: Sunday, Oct. 20

If you love jack-o’-lanterns, Highwood’s Pumpkin Festival is the place to be. The fest’s main event, on October 19 at 7:30 p.m., is the lighting of 32,000 jack-o’-lanterns, which will be placed on 30-foot-high walls lining downtown Highwood. New this year, the lanterns will also be lit October 18. That’s two chances to break the Guinness World Record for most jack-o’-lanterns lit at once. You can also watch (or enter!) the Most Pumpkins Carved Simultaneously Contest on October 17, enjoy the “Light Up the Night” parade on October 18, or get messy with the Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest on October 19.

Photo by Robert Bosch

Sonny Acres Farm
29W310 North Ave., West Chicago
Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It’s worth the trip out to West Chicago in order to experience Sonny Acres Farm and their large array of fall activities. For those looking to be spooked, Sonny Acres offers haunted wagon rides, an 18-minute trip through the woods, where 28 characters are hidden and ready to jump out. There is no gore involved, and kids can come along. After the wagon ride, kids can enjoy the spook shed, or you can head over to the haunted barn for a more grown-up experience. This 130-year-old barn is only for those ages 12 and up.


Ursula Bielski’s Chicago Hauntings
600 N. Clark St., Chicago
Weeknights, 7 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays, 7 & 10 p.m.
Sundays, 7 p.m.

There are plenty of haunted spots in Chicago, and you can get a personal tour of them all. Visit murder sites, a serial killer’s body dump, haunted houses, abandoned graveyards, and other eerie locations while traveling by bus. A paranormal experience is not guaranteed, but you will see Chicago in a new light after learning about the city’s haunted history. If you can’t make it before Halloween, these tours occur year round, and private sessions are available.


The Fear Haunted House
600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Opens October 10
Fridays and Saturdays, 7-11 p.m.
Thursdays, Sundays and October 30, 7-10 p.m.

The most feared creatures in the world have been captured and brought to Navy Pier by The Captain, who wants you to join his crew. Although these creatures have been caged, you’ll still have to make your way through this haunted house as they claw for their freedom. This is adults-only at night, but kids can enjoy a lights-on guided tour from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.


Fear City Chicago
8240 Austin Ave., Morton Grove
Sunday–Thursday, 7-11 p.m.
Friday–Saturday, 7 p.m. to midnight
October 30 & 31, 7 p.m. to midnight

There will be plenty of terror at this 40,000-square-foot haunted house, which features more than 100 scary characters. In it’s third year, this is a haunted house for the biggest fear enthusiast. While you should leave the kids at home, Fear City will have a kid-friendly “Trick or Treat Fest” Saturday, Oct. 26. Attendees will receive a tour of the haunted house while enjoying games, ghost stories, face painting and more.


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