October is one of my favorite months in Chicago: the leaves change into their fallwardrobes, the air is cool and crisp, and we are often blessed (fingers crossed!) with some warm Indian summer weather. Halloween in Chicago has so much to offer: from the tradition – trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving – to the downright scary –  mummy one-on-ones and haunted aquariums. Here are three offbeat Halloween family adventures in Chicago.

Celebrate the Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead – at the National Museum of Mexican Art

Pilsen is a vibrant Mexican American neighborhood. The gem at its center is the National Museum of Mexican Art, which houses an outstanding collection of Mexican, Chicano, and Latino art. The museum’s annual Dia de los Muertos exhibit is the largest collection of altares – art inspired by and in memory of the deceased – in the U.S.. Colorful skeletons, some happy, some sad, replay life experiences and celebrate the good times and the bad in fascinating displays. Catch a free guided tour, every Saturday at noon in English and at 1 in Spanish, or drop in on a Family workshop: On October 16th, you’ll make your own mini altar ($2 per person, reservations required). As always, admission to this great Chicago cultural institution is free.

National Museum of Mexican Art

1852 West 19th Street
Chicago, IL 60608-2706
(312) 738-1503

Open Tue-Sun 10am-5pm

Nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

Enjoy a BOO-tiful Evening by the Spooky Sea at the Shedd Aquarium

In the mood for a memorably frightening evening in the company of creepy sea creatures? Grab  your overnight bag, don your costumes and head over to the Shedd Aquarium for their premier Halloween event, Spooky Seas. Meet the fish and other sea creatures in the dark of night, participate in Halloween-themed educational activities, and dance in the dark as the DJ plays. Then grab your sleeping bag and curl up next to the sharks for the night. You can also opt to sleep in the comfort of your own haunted home by reserving a spot at the evening-only portion of Spooky Seas. The overnight event includes both breakfast and dinner.

What: Spooky Seas at the Shedd Aquarium

When: Friday, Oct. 28                                 

Evening only: 6:30 – 10 p.m.; Overnight: 6:30 p.m. – 9 a.m.

Admission:  Evening-Only Event: $25 per person; $20 for Shedd members.

Overnight Event: $60 per person; $55 for Shedd members. Children must be at least 5 years of age to sleep over and must be accompanied by an adult.

Registration is required. To register, please call (312) 692-3206

sheddaquarium.org

Spend the Night with *Real* Mummies at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago

You’ll have a tomb-full of family fun at the Oriental Institute’s annual Mummies Night. See a mummy up close, learn more about painted coffins and the Book of the Dead, and watch “Mummies Made in Egypt,” an award-winning children’s movie from the Reading Rainbow series. See what the museum’s 3,000 year old mummified Egyptian priestess looked like when she was alive. Try on an outfit from the Mummy’s closet, enter the Egyptian gallery treasure hunt, and more.

What: Mummies Night at the Oriental Institute

When: Thursday, October 27, 2011 6 - 9 pm

Where: The Oriental Institute, 1155 East 58th Street (on the campus of the University of Chicago, in Hyde Park)

Admission: $3 per person; free for members

For more information, call 773-702-9507 or visit oi.chicago.edu