Given its history, it’s no surprise some of the area’s most sought-after spots are also the scariest…
From the ghosts of former presidents to restaurants haunted by legendary soldiers, sailors and founding fathers, to even spirits said to roam the White House, you can’t live in this area without getting into the spirit…especially at this time of the year.
Lucky for you, the DC suburbs are jam-packed with spooky and not-so-scary fun all season long. As you’re out and about exploring the ‘burbs, get in the spirit — and maybe even spot a spirit — at these suburban Halloween hotspots.
#1. Air & Scare (Chantilly, VA)
Held at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, on October 26, this annual indoor event is a must, especially if you’ve got little ghouls and goblins in tow. Rock out in your Halloween best and be prepared for some serious trick-or-treating — amateur candy-seekers need not apply.
The fun doesn’t stop with tricks and treats, though. At Air & Scare there’s tons to do including crazy science experiments and creepy crafts for all ages. Consider it your precursor to neighborhood trick-or-treating, and a great way to kick off Halloween week right.
#2. Hang with George & Martha (Mount Vernon, VA)
At Halloween, George Washington’s Mount Vernon home becomes a spooky (but not too spooky) family hotspot. All month long dive into seasonal fun. Then, on October 26 starting at 3:30pm the festivities really peak.
For three hours that afternoon, Mount Vernon becomes a Halloween playground complete with a scavenger hunt, wagon rides, craft- and chocolate-making and, of course, tons of treats and more than a few tricks…
Once you’ve had your fill of trick-or-treating, get ready to get down — Martha Washington herself welcomes guests to dance, dance, dance in the upper garden. She’s also front-and-center at the kids’ costume parade — special kudos (and special prizes) go to the best George and Martha costumes, for both kids and adults. Tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for kids.
#3. Old Town Haunts (Old Town Alexandria, VA)
All Hallows Eve is not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re heading to Old Town Alexandria. The area has a centuries-long history of hauntings and, today, much of this storied — and spooky — history is still on display.
Start at 221 King Street in Alexandria on Halloween night for the best access to the best frights and sights. Hit up a haunted house or two and get a tour from a very mysterious guide, or gather around for ghost stories before trick-or-treating at old-style Colonials set on brick-layered sidewalks. Even the shops along King Street will be handing out candy.
And, after, if your crew isn’t too candied-out, there’s a candlelight tour through Old Town that, on this extra spooky night, is not to be missed. Also fun? The 23rd Annual Del Rey Halloween Parade on October 27. The fun steps off from Mount Vernon and Commonwealth Avenue at 2:00pm.
#4. Dance with the Undead (Silver Spring, MD)
Who doesn’t love a good parade and dance party…with the undead? Silver Spring’s annual zombie dance party is in full swing again this year, happening October 26 — the pre-party kicks off at 6:00pm and the heavy-duty festivities at 9:00pm.
To be part of the fun, head to Denizens Brewing Co. that evening, where the parade steps off. Be sure you’re decked out and ready to dance…alongside some positively ghoulish party-goers, that is. But don’t worry, when the music stops, these not-so-dead crashers are going back to where they came from…until next October…
While this event may seem downright deadly, locals tell us it’s fine for kids — provided they don’t scare too easily. One area mom said she brought her six- and seven-year-old daughters a few years ago and they were completely into it. Just walking from the parking area to the starting point was a rush, she reports, with the kids spotting zombies everywhere. Later, it was all about snapping pics of and taking selfies with the decidedly undead.
This mom’s advice is simple: come in costume (people go all out) for it when it comes to the fake blood, fake mud and overall zombie look. Even kids come decked out and many revelers get very creative with their zombie garb.
If zombies aren’t your thing, Silver Spring has you covered. For the rest of the month, downtown Silver Spring will be decked out for the occasion — so if you miss the zombie night or simply don’t dig dancing with creepy characters, take a stroll around town, snag some artist-inspired pumpkins and a seasonal brew and take in the local decorations.
#5. Markoff’s Haunted Forest (Dickerson, MD)
Also in Maryland, Markoff’s Haunted Forest draws a massive crowd every Halloween season. Depending on your fright tolerance, there’s lots to choose from on these haunted grounds. One trail offers a terrifying walk all the way to Markoff’s “spirited” Abbey. For those with the courage, trek along a path through the haunted village and harbor, and expect more than a few unwelcome trail-goers along the way.
Alternatively, hop on the second trail, a walk down the hill crossing Hell’s Bridge and straight into the “Caverns of the Lost.” Be prepared to be totally spooked by the Vintage Freak Show and plenty of ghostly passers-by. Even in The Town there’s a high fright quotient. Start by the Field of Corn, but be sure to keep an eye on your guide so you don’t wind up wandering into mysterious stalks.
The Haunted Forest is open from October 4 through November 2 beginning at dusk nightly. For those who truly crave a spooky experience, check out the Deadly Dinners at Minkoff’s…but leave the kids at home for those.
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