Spooktacular Fun

Celebrate Halloween around Austin with these 5 unique, family-friendly events

Celebrate Halloween with these 5 unique, family-friendly events

Austin Photo Set: Roby_october activities for kids_sept 2012_halloween
Halloween activities for the whole family.  Photo courtesy of Parent Palace

The heart of Halloween has long been costumed children running door-to-door collecting ridiculous amounts of candy. While this is certainly fun for the kids, it's perhaps not so much for adults dealing with sugar-fueled youngsters badly in need of bedtime. If you're looking unique and interesting alternatives to trick-or-treating, here are some other ways for the whole family to celebrate this year.

Spooktacular at the Bullock Museum — October 24, 5 pm-8 pm 
This pirate-themed extravaganza for children ages 5 and up features reptile shows, magic and optical illusions, spooky interactive science, themed story time, treat bag decorating, photo booths and three floors of kid-pleasing museum exhibits on everything from shipwrecks to trail rides. It’s also the eve of the opening of a special exhibit, La Belle: The Ship That Changed History, and the museum is celebrating buccaneers and other feisty characters from Texas history. Costumes highly encouraged. (This event is free.)

Halloween Town — October 24, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm
Hosted at the Northwest Recreation Center, this annual event includes a Halloween Trick or Treat Path and a carnival for all ages. The latter includes a bounce house and traditional carnival games like bowling, bean bag toss and face painting. The first 10 tickets for these activities are free and additional tickets cost $0.25 each. The theme for this year’s Trick or Treat Path is Halloween Town. Characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas will be handing out candy along the trail and taking over a haunted house for older kids. (This event is free.)

Spooky Star Party — October 24, 7 pm-9 pm
Wear your Halloween costume to McKinney Falls State Park where rangers will use telescopes, binoculars and cool laser pointers to highlight constellations and tell Halloween-themed tales. All materials will be provided, but water, bug spray and a jacket are recommended. Come early to fish in Onion Creek (the park has a tackle-loaner program that provides everything you need except luck), hike the trails, or cook out on the grill. Make it extra spooky and camp overnight to tell your own ghost tales around the campfire. (Admission $6 for adults; children 12 and under free.)

Ding Bat and His Happy Flying Friends signing at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center — October 25, 1 pm – 4 pm
Evalen and John Cruzan will sign their children’s book Ding Bat and His Happy Flying Friends in the Wildflower Center store, which is also discounting all Halloween items by 25 percent. The book tells the tale of a make-believe bat family and is set around the Congress Avenue Bridge, which houses 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats from April to November each year. After picking up your copy, let the kids explore the Center’s family garden, meadows and five nature trails. The Little House, a room with views of the gardens, is a special place just for children to read, play with puzzles, draw, look at nature displays or dig in the dirt in the courtyard. The Wildflower Center's Café serves lunch and refreshments. (Admission: $9 adults; $7 students 13 and up; $3 ages 5-12; age 5 and under is free.)

Halloween at Enchanted Rock — October 31, 5 pm-8:30 pm
Celebrate Halloween in a truly unique way. Come early and climb the 425-foot granite dome for incredible views of the Hill Country, and bring binoculars for after-dark stargazing (it’s dark enough here to see the Milky Way). Enjoy a trunk or treat, Junior Ranger Training, spooky campfire stories and a Halloween night hike. Wear your costume and comfortable shoes and bring water, a flashlight and a bag for treats. Walk-in campsites only; make reservations online. (Event is free, but entrance to the park is $7 for ages 13 and up.)