It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote, "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." While we in the Hill Country wait on the crisp weather, immerse yourself in the season by enjoying cool(er) autumn evenings and afternoons in the great outdoors. From pumpkin patches to corn mazes, this family-friendly guide is sure to get you into the spirit of Austin's Halloween season.
Barton Hill Farms Festival and Great Pumpkin Maze
Picturesque is the word for this Bastrop gem, with backdrops so scenic you'll feel like you're in an ad for pumpkin spice lattes. Put on your best cozy sweater (or tie it around your waist) and head Southeast for the area's best pumpkin patch. With kettle corn, live music, a petting zoo, train, tricycle track, and more, this festival is a one-stop fall paradise. Don't miss The Great Pumpkin Maze, a sprawling corn maze which takes about 45 minutes to complete. After sunset on Saturday, try to navigate through with a flashlight for extra entertainment! The Barton Hills Farm Festival runs Saturdays and Sundays through November 8.
Hairy Man Spookyfest
Can you braid your back hair? Do people think you've got a shirt on when you don't? Hairy men, rejoice! Your day has come. A $500 prize will be awarded to the hairiest man on Saturday, October 24 at noon at Round Rock's Hairy Man Spookyfest in Cat Hollow Park. Learn the legend of the Hairy Man at this free event. With live music, food, a costume contest, and crafts for kids, this autumn afternoon promises to be filled with fun. There is a suggested (and appreciated) donation of two non-perishable food items that will benefit the Round Rock Serving Center Food Bank.
Austin Parks Foundation: Movies in the Park
Stretch out your blankets, set out your picnic, and enjoy a movie with a couple hundred of your closest friends. All are welcome at this free event, from kiddos to pups, but leave the booze at home. On Thursday, October 29, squeeze in a little Halloween fear with Beetlejuice at Republic Square Park at 7:30 pm. Just don't say his name three times!
Umlauf Last Straw Fest
Julius, the hipster scarecrow from South Austin, is the mascot for the festival you've probably never heard of taking place in the Umlauf Sculpture Garden next to Zilker Park. Get in with the in crowd with a pumpkin carving on October 25. (Pro tip: skip the admission fee by bringing non-perishable food items to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank.) Adults will enjoy the Haunted Garden featuring lights, spooky sounds, and alcoholic alchemy on October 30. Julius will be joined by other straw men as local artists, businesses, and neighborhood groups submit their best effort for the "Scarecrows + Straw Men" competition on November 1.
The Pumpkin Hunt at Evergreen Farms
Running Saturdays and Sundays through November 1, the Pumpkin Hunt is a ton of family-friendly fun where children of all ages can enjoy fall cheer. Combining the best of Christmas, Easter, and Halloween into one event, Evergreen Farms takes guests on a wagon ride through its expansive Christmas tree fields where mini pumpkins are hidden in the trees. Following the hunt, families can decorate pumpkins while also enjoying other activities and games.
Boo at the Zoo
Put on a costume and head to the annual Boo at the Zoo. The Austin Zoo will be illuminated and decorated for the season and features a haunted house where you can see animals by the light of your flashlight. Take a ride on the haunted train and pack a picnic to be enjoyed under the zoo's grove. Boo at the Zoo is $12.50 and takes place from 6:30 to 9 pm on October 23, 24, and 30.