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Fun Halloween Day Trips for the Whole Family

Celebrate Halloween with these entertaining, spooky and all-around fun excursions.

Credit: Merrymead Farm
Credit: Merrymead Farm
Written by Sarah Cocchimiglio
Before you indulge in a night of trick-or-treating with a bevy of ghost, goblins and ghouls, make time for your family to enjoy these great Halloween-themed day trips:

Fun for the Young at Zoo

Elmwood Park Zoo

1661 Harding Blvd.

Norristown, PA 19403

(610) 277-3825

Why Go

Elmwood Park Zoo’s Little Boo at the Zoo has fun Halloween activities for the littlest zoo-goers, with costume parades, crafts, mazes, contests, games and more. Little Boo at the Zoo will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For a more ghoulish experience, try Nightmare at Elmwood, also Saturday and Sunday, from 6 to 9 p.m. It promises to be a “spooktacular Halloween celebration” featuring trick-or-treating, costume contests, crafts, games, mazes and themed attractions for all ages. Buy tickets at the event or online.

Insider Tip 

Plan ahead for your visit. Check the schedule for current Shows and Activities so you know where the action is when you get to the zoo. You may also want to study the zoo map in advance. 

Must Do

Don’t miss the unveiling of Elmwood’s new face during Nightmare at Elmwood and Little Boo at the Zoo! “We plan to debut the zoo’s new mascot, Bubby the Bison,” said marketing director Shaun Rogers. Rogers also said you should “brave the spider-infested cornstalk maze, and take aim at our ‘Monster Mash’ target challenge.

The Fine Print 

Little Boo at the Zoo is free with regular zoo admission, $14 for adults, $10 for kids 3 to 12. Kids 2 and under are free. Admission prices are different for Nightmare at Elmwood (there is a discount for zoo members). Regular zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission gates close at 4:30 p.m. Parking is free.

Something for All

Dorney Park 

4000 Dorney Park Road, Allentown, PA 18104

(610) 395-3724

Why Go 

Dorney Park has something for everyone this Halloween, from family-friendly Boo! Blast to Halloween Haunt with mazes, thrill rides, shows, experiences and scare zone for ages 13 and up. 

Insider Tip 

“If you are looking to do both Boo! Blast and Halloween Haunt, Sunday is the best day to visit,” said Dorney Park communications manager Carrie Basta. “Both events are available on Sundays in October and they tend to be less crowded than Saturdays.” Basta also recommends Fright Feast, a package that includes admission plus an all-you-can eat buffet dinner and a one-time-use front-of-the-line pass for the haunted attraction of your choice. “You will save the wait time of one of the attractions, which can be up to two hours on our busiest nights,” Basta says. 

Must Do

Boo! Blast on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 27, free with park admission. This all-fun, no-fear collection of scare-free Halloween activities includes a bale maze and petting zoo, trick-or-treating with dinosaurs at Dinosaurs Alive!, a “haunted” hotel, pumpkin painting and more. When the sun goes down, Dorney’s darker side appears. Halloween Haunt features scare zones like Cut Throat Island and Age of Darkness, the show “Witches Brew,” seven terrifying mazes and nighttime thrill rides. Basta says the most popular haunted attractions, year after year, are Mansion House Hotel and The Asylum. Because of their popularity they tend to get long lines as the night goes on, so Basta recommends starting there first.

The Fine Print 

October hours are as follows: 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., on Sundays. The park is closed Monday to Thursday. General admission Haunt Tickets are $33.99 online ($49.99 at the gate). Show a student ID at the gate and get a ticket for $25. Add a Fright Lane ticket to bypass lines, or Fright Feast or Mansion House meal plan.

Boo at the Zoo 

Lehigh Valley Zoo

5150 Game Preserve Road

Schnecksville, PA

610-799-4171

Why Go

Bring your costumes. You can trick or treat at the zoo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, and Sunday, Oct. 27. You can decorate a pumpkin and take it home.  And all day, you can dance to your Halloween favorites on the Outdoor Dining Terrace.  Dice Productionz will be at the Zoo on Saturday and DJ Jimbo Entertainment will be at the Zoo on Sunday.  

Take a Hayride

Merrymead Farm

2222 Valley Forge Road

Lansdale, PA 19446

(610) 584-4410

Why Go

Thirtieth Annual Harvest Days were scheduled to be held every weekend in October, wrapping up with this one. Features include scenic evening hayrides around the farm, the five-acre Moonlight Maze, Cornstalk Tunnel, petting zoo, Pumpkin Corral, Apple Shed and more.

Insider Tip 

The Moonlight Maze and Cornstalk Tunnel are not the same thing: One is 700 feet long and costs $2.25, the other covers five acres and costs $12. The best time to visit, according to Donna Quigley, whose family owns the farm, is around 11 a.m., on Saturday, when they open for the day. “It’s not as busy then, but it tends to get busier as the day goes on,” Quigley notes. Crowds peak around 2 or 2:30 p.m., she says.

Quigley also recommends bringing a wagon to pull small children around in. There’s a lot to see and do, and a lot of walking is required. If you have the wagon, you won’t have to carry your little one.

Must Do

The Moonlight Cornfield Maze consists of paths cut out of a five-acre cornfield. Admission is $12 per person, and children under 3 are free. Children must be accompanied by an adult. BYO flashlight! The maze is open from 6 to 8 p.m. “Definitely don’t miss the hayride,” Quigley says. “It’s a scenic hayride around the back part of the farm. There’s also the Wagon Train for smaller children, and Harvest Slinger for older children.” Harvest Slinger is a big slingshot. Also, don’t leave Merrymead without trying the famous Apple Caramel Delight or Cider Donuts, made fresh all day.

The Fine Print 

Weekend hours vary by activity; check the website for details. All Harvest Day food and activities are cash only so leave your credit cards at home. Activities are all outdoors and are therefore weather-permitting. If there has been significant rainfall, call ahead. Activities are priced based on 75-cent tickets. For example, pumpkin painting requires five tickets and the Cornstalk Tunnel, 3 tickets. The five-acre Moonlight Maze is $12.

SHOCKING!

Shocktoberfest 

94 Park Ave.

Sinking Spring, PA 19608

(610) 375-SCREAM

Why Go

In its 22nd year, Shocktoberfest is a world-renowned haunted attraction, named one of the scariest places in America by Travel Channel, and ranked No. 1 among the Top 25 Halloween attraction choices by Fright Times Magazine. While most haunted houses are only about 2,500 to 5,000 square feet, Shocktoberfest is one of the biggest around, at 50,000 square feet.

Insider Tip 

“To avoid crowds and long lines, come early – like 6:30 p.m. – or come on Thursdays or Sundays when we are not as busy,” Shocktoberfest’s Patrick Konopelski says.

Must Do

Shocktoberfest features Zombie Revenge Haunted Hayride, Prison of the Dead Escape, and The Unknown. New this year: The Naked and Scared Challenge in which participants experience The Unknown with no textile protection (although after a bit of municipal backlash, the organizers now offer a more “prude” than “nude” challenge whereby participants wear undies). “Wear clean underwear if you are going to do the Naked and Scared Challenge,” advises Konopelski. For the faint of heart, visit the Monster Midway, free with purchase of attraction tickets. Play games, enjoy fries, funnel cake, burgers, pizza and steak sandwiches, shoot Zombies with paint balls and more.

The Fine Print 

Note: The Naked and Scared Challenge is not open on Sundays. Shocktoberfest is not recommended for anyone under the age of 6. Arrive by 10 p.m. to experience all the attractions. Check the website for exact dates and times of operation. Buy tickets online to avoid the ticket booth lines and for special promotions (but there are service fees of $3.50 per ticket, and $2.50 per group ticket). Buy a single pass for one attraction for $15 (plus service fee) or an all-access pass for $34. Group rates are available for 15 or more.

Dressed to Kill

Pierre’s Costumes 

211 N. Third St.

Philadelphia, PA 19106

(215) 925-7121

Why Go

Since 1943, Pierre’s Costumes has been making, renting, selling and tailoring costumes for Halloween, mascots, parades, theme parks, advertising, theater and more. With over a million different costumes in the city-block-long shop, it is the largest costume shop in the area, and one of the largest in the country. Pierre’s carries a full line of Halloween costumes and outfits to rent or buy, professional makeup, wigs and accessories.

Insider Tip 

With so many costumes to choose from, you may want to check out their selection online before you go to narrow down your choices and save time when you visit. If you have something really special and unique in mind, call Pierre’s. Their motto is, “If we can’t costume you, nobody can!” They’ll help you create your perfect costume, whether it’s basic or complex.

Must Do

Visit the store. Pierre’s is “the original” Halloween costume shop, and you’ll get personal service from a professional costumer, and an experience you won’t find at any temporary Halloween superstore.

The Fine Print 

Pierre’s retail shop is open until 8 p.m. most nights at the end of October. Click here for a calendar.

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