Let me admit up front, I’m not a fan of Halloween. I have no problem with costumes, trick-or-treating, or even the whole “devil’s holiday” concept. That’s all fine.
My hang-up? I don’t like being scared. I’m not the mom who lines up with her kids at haunted houses and horror movies (I prefer the old movie, “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein”).
For our family, Halloween fun in Chicago intertwines with not-scary fall activities that fall into a PG or PG-13 category, not an R.
One of our favorite things to do in Chicago is Goebberts Pumpkin Patch in northwest suburban South Barrington, Illinois. (There’s also a location in Hampshire, Illinois) which has a haunted house appropriately scary for my 11- and 9-year-olds, a giant dinosaur that bites down on old pumpkins – a favorite for little boys — a fun hayride through a “haunted” barn and much more. The hayride goes past some incredible residential mansions that border the property, giving parents an eye candy treat along the way.
Goebberts also has a huge petting zoo, camel rides, pig races, a corn maze, and lots of space and stuff for kids to climb on. The apple cider donuts they sell in their gift shop? I would wrestle you for them.
Admission to Goebberts is free, but you need to buy tickets for each activity. If you do a lot of stuff there, like we do, you’ll end up spending at least $50. Add in a few pumpkins and apple cider donuts (how can you not?), and it’s no longer an inexpensive outing. But it’s a really fun one.
For older kids, popular family places in Chicago are the Thursday night Ghost Tours at Lincoln Park Zoo, led by a paranormal investigator (ages 8 and up only), Six Flags Great America Fright Fest (popular with the teen crowd), or the night time Ghost Boat ride, “Journey to Haunted Canyon” in the Wisconsin Dells, a few hours northwest from Chicago.
Another favorite of ours is apple picking. While we bounce from orchard to orchard each year, you can’t go wrong with Kuipers Family Farm in Maple Park, Illinois. The kids are happy just to run around in big open fields, but they also like jumping on the inflatables, taking pony rides, and going on a hayride out to the apple orchards to pick a variety of apples. Price in 2014 is $11.75 per person on the weekends; rides (and apples) are extra.