Tricks, treats, and costume fun — Halloween season brings tons of family-friendly events and activities to Chicago. You can pick your own pumpkins, go trick-or-treating, see a spooky parade, and more. Explore things to do with your little ghosts and goblins with these family-friendly Halloween activities in Chicago.

Check our Halloween guide for more things to do around the city.

Attend spectacular Halloween parades

The popular Arts in the Dark parade is back with a unique family-friendly event. The artistic parade features giant puppets, whimsical floats, creative performances, and more parading down the heart of the Loop. Catch the unforgettable show on State Street every October.

Back by popular demand, Arts in the Dark will also host a daytime Upside Down Parade in the Washington Park. The “reverse parade”, which will feature more than 20 groups of local performers and visual artists stationed along a tree-lined stretch of the park. Costumed families walk through the performances for an immersive and one-of-a-kind Halloween experience.

See the pumpkin lights at Navy Pier

Pier Pumpkin Lights at Navy Pier
Navy Pier’s Pumpkin Lights; photo by James Richards IV

Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most family-friendly attractions, with rides, games, and boat cruises that will delight visitors of all ages. This October, the lakefront destination will be transformed into an experiential fall spectacle during Pier Pumpkin Lights. The whole family can marvel at pumpkin pop-up installations, Pier-wide deals, and more Halloween festivities throughout the month.

Experience Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

Night of 1,000 Pumpkins at Chicago Botanic Garden
Photo courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden

This popular event lights up the night with hundreds of intricately hand-carved pumpkins. During Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns at the Chicago Botanic Garden, visitors can wander the gorgeous grounds at night and admire the impressive jack-o’-lanterns, each handcrafted for hours by expert artists. There will also be plenty of fall snacks and sips, like spiked cider and seasonal beer for parents to enjoy.

Enjoy fall fun at the zoo

Fall Fest is back at historic Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the country’s oldest free zoos. Enjoy autumnal activities, like strolling through a pumpkin patch, sipping seasonal drinks, and watching live pumpkin carvers. There’s also face painting, musical entertainment, a festive pop-up bar and grill, and so much more.

And don’t miss the festive fun during Brookfield Zoo’s Boo! At the Zoo. The suburban zoo will be decked out in pumpkins, hay bales, and corn husks to get visitors in the fall spirit. And there will be plenty of family-friendly fun, including a corn maze, creepy carousel, cute photo opps, and more. Don’t forget to wear your costume!

Get spooky at the science museum

Boo Fest at MSI
Boo Fest at MSI

The Museum of Science and Industry, a perennial family favorite, celebrates Halloween with costumes, trick or treating, decorated exhibits, and (of course) cool science experiments at their annual Boo Fest. There will be all sorts of hands-on activities for every age, including pumpkin drops, slime, and eyeball dissection.

Enjoy Halloweek events in Chicago parks

Movies in the Park at Northerly Island
Movies in the Park at Northerly Island; photo courtesy Chicago Park District

Chicago’s neighborhood parks are hosting an array of spook-tacular Halloweek events for kids of all ages. Halloweek will run from Oct. 24 – 28 with ten community “Halloweek On the Block” events, which will include complimentary costume kits and goodie bags from Blommer’s Chocolate. The city will also be hosting a variety of family-friendly events all month long, including arts and crafts, pumpkin painting, movie screenings, game nights, fall festivals, and more.

Visit a pumpkin patch

Jacks Pumpkin Pop-Up
Jacks Pumpkin Pop-Up; photo courtesy

Carving your own jack-o-lanterns is the perfect Halloween-at-home activity. Grab your own pumpkins at these pop-up pumpkin patches around Chicago and the suburbs: