Halloween is a holiday that everyone from toddlers to grandparents can enjoy, but the fear factor can be a little intense for some kids. While there are many gory and gruesome options for 'tweens and teens, it can be hard to find Halloween activities that can feel suitably exciting (but not terrifying) for the elementary-school set. Here are six local activities with varying levels of scariness that will entertain kids ages 6 to 12 without scaring the pants off of them. For more ideas for littler folk, check out our free Halloween picks.
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The haunted trail at Winslow Farm is especially little-kid-friendly. Photo courtesy of Winslow Farm
Octoberfest Kids' Trail - Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary, Norton
Located on the Winslow Nature Trail, this kid-friendly haunted trail is designed especially for children, complete with Halloween decor and perhaps a friendly ghost or two. Bring a flashlight! There's also pumpkin painting and storytelling in the evening.
There are eerie surprises at every turn through Maudslay. Photo courtesy of Theater in the Open
Haunted Trail - Maudslay State Park, Newburyport
Theater in the Open’s annual haunting of Maudslay is for one weekend only, so mark your calendar. Join a cast of all ages for a one-hour walk through eerie vignettes, spooky sketches, and haunting scenes, all in the autumn grandeur of Maudslay State Park. You'll discover parts of the park you never knew existed. This is a family-friendly event designed for all ages.
Haunted Castle - Hammond Castle, Gloucester
Visit this unique and surreal haunted attraction, just a few minutes north of the Haunted Happenings of Salem. The evening tour through this real castle features candlelit hallways and plenty of spooky scenes. This year's theme: Hall of Darkness.
Kids can tour the house or do a haunted trail walk at Alden House. Photo courtesy of Alden House
Haunted House at Alden House – Alden House, Duxbury
Families with kids of all ages will enjoy this night of spooky fun at Mayflower passenger John Alden’s former home. Children can take tours of the house or the haunted trail walk, get their faces painted, or get their groove on at the monster mash disco.
Frightful Friday Ghost Stories at Gore Place – Gore Place, Waltham
What could be spookier than ghost stories in a grand, 1806 mansion? Take your kids to Gore Place for an evening of scary tales set in the elegant and stately home. The hour-long events start at 7pm and 8:15pm three Fridays in October, and provide a unique and entertaining opportunity to see Gore Place at night.
Originally published September 2011; updated 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018