It has come to my attention that Connecticut sort of owns Halloween. You'd be hard-pressed to find yourself very far from an amazing haunted house, a fun-filled parade or celebration, or a quaint New England farm decked out for All Hallow's Eve. Halloween has been jostling Christmas for the top holiday spot for some time now, and while it isn't quite a foregone conclusion yet, it's safe to say that it's come a long way from the days of pillowcase trick or treating and glow sticks. Not that these steadfast traditions are going anywhere, don't you worry. Read on for your ultimate guide to the good, the even better, and the totally terrifying across the entire state this Halloween season.
Ghoulish Train Rides & the Pumpkin Patch Express
Haunted Isle—East Haven
Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven also serves up the screams with their Haunted Isle attraction. A trolley delivers victims...erm...I mean guests to the gate of the unknown. This attraction includes a 45-minute walk in the dark. Closed shoes required. Not recommended for children under 10.
Rails to the Darkside—East Windsor
We'll start off with a scream. Rails to the Darkside at East Windsor's Trolley Museum is one of Connecticut's premier haunted events. Not recommended for the younger set (in fact, recommended for ages 16 and up) this ride pulls out all the stops. Zombies, haunted graveyards, ad pitch black dark are just a few of the ways Rails to the Darkside will raise the hair on the back of your neck and leave you shaking in your boots.
Pumpkin Patch Trolley Ride—East Windsor
If all of the above is just too much for your crew, Connecticut Trolley Museum also offers the extremely family friendly Pumpkin Patch Trolley Ride. Take a ride out to the pumpkin patch, pick your perfect pumpkin, then roll on back to the museum to decorate. Zombie free guarantee.
Pumpkin Patch Trains—Thomaston
Enjoy a scenic fall ride through Naugatuck Valley and along the way stop to pick out the perfect pumpkin from Railroad Museum of New England's private patch. Reservations strongly recommended.
Shoreline Trolley Pumpkin Patch Rides—East Haven
Ride a charming vintage trolley through the forest to the Shoreline Trolley Pumpkin Patch. Select a pumpkin to call your own and decorate it before heading back to the depot. No reservations required.
Farms and Hayrides
Photo courtesy of Flamig Farm
Recommended for kids 8 and up, take a ride along haunted trails in the haywagon at Flamig Farm. Purchase of advanced timed tickets is strongly recommended. Ride lasts 35 minutes.
Benedicts Home and Garden—Monroe
Believe it or not, one of my kids' favorite places during the Halloween season is Benedicts in Monroe. They pull out all the stops with a huge climbing structure made out of hay, a corn pit, corn maze, hay rides, and a pumpkin slingshot. You read that correctly.
Foster Family Farm
Head over to Foster Family Farm for a dose of Halloween fun. Get lost in the corn maze, pick your perfect pumpkin, and snack on a tasty treat. Or hop on the hay wagon for a fun fall ride.
Halloween Hayride Spooktacular at Stew Leonard's—Norwalk
This is a 10-minute family-friendly hayride that weaves through a course of more than twenty vignettes, including scenes of popular movie and television characters, traditional holiday settings, and a musical light show.
The Only Scream In Town—North Haven
For those familiar with this Halloween attraction, be prepared for big changes. The Only Scream in Town has changed everything except their name (which they are keeping in honor of a lost founder) their website declares that they are "a completely new haunt run by new management with completely new scares!" This year those scares come in the form of classic cinema monsters and ghouls. They are unleashing decades of celluloid horror onto their brave ticket holders. Same name, same location, new terror. This attraction is not recommended for younger children. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online. There are discounts for groups of 20 or more.
The Dark Manor —Baltic
This popular haunted attraction has been voted Connecticut's #1 scariest haunted house. There are three attractions to wander through, The Graveyard, The Catacombs, and The Dark Manor. The Manor is staged inside an abandoned schoolhouse, which makes for a very creepy location, and the scares are staged throughout the building on two floors. For the full experience, management recommends groups of six or fewer entering at a time. The hours and days vary through the end of October, so it's best to check their calendar. Ticket prices vary depending on time of day (there are less scary matinee options) and peak season. Group discounts are available. The Dark Manor is not recommended for children under age 13.
Nightmare on Wolcott Street—Waterbury
With over 55 rooms of terror, you'll find live characters, animatronics, chainsaws, creepy sounds, loud bangs, and everything else that makes a haunted house so scary. Recommended for teens, but younger children may attend if accompanied by a parent. Tickets sold at the door.
Harrybrooke Park Haunted Trail—New Milford
The creators of this annual event, now in its fourth year, warn that there are serious scares to be had. Children under the age of twelve are strongly discouraged. Tickets can be pre-purchased to avoid long lines, and proceeds benefit local nonprofits.
Photo courtesy of Flamig Farm
Halloween Hysterics at Henry's—Guilford
The lights will be off in Connecticut’s oldest house, so bring a flashlight to explore — even the basement, which may have surprises for visitors brave enough to venture there.
The Hallow at Fairview—Shelton
Legends of the Melonheads have long haunted the forests and hills of Shelton. Enter the Hallow at Fairview--deep in the heart of Melonhead country--and see for yourself that the legends are all true! This event is four attractions in one. Tickets available online. Not recommended for kids under 12.
Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce—Bristol
Lake Compounce transforms into a haunted graveyard for the Halloween season. Gates open at 5:00 pm and guests will be treated to thrills and chills throughout the park. This event is not intended for small children and all Kiddieland rides as well as the water park will be closed during the haunted graveyard.
Haunted Hayride at Fairview—Shelton
The fields and forests around Fairview Tree Farm in Shelton are well-known for their mysterious tales. Take a tractor ride through the dark and see what...or who you encounter! Not recommended for kids under age 9.
Graveyard Shift Tours—Hartford
Mark Twain himself had a strong interest in the supernatural. Now you can visit his home in Hartford for some scary tales and dark history. Reservations required, and don't hesitate they sell out fast! Not recommended for children under age 10.
photo credit: wikicommons
A Haunting at Mill Hill—Norwalk
Weave through the crooked stones of Mill Hill and listen to terrifying tales of its departed residents. Enter the haunted maze at the end of your hour-long tour for more screams. Tickets available online only. Proceeds benefit Norwalk Historical Society.
Haunted Happenings—West Hartford
Join a dearly departed guide for a 45-minute tour through West Hartford's north cemetery. Hear tales of the city's past and keep a lookout for unexpected guests. Reservations strongly recommended.
During her lifetime, Harriet Beecher Stowe attended seances to try communicating with the other side. This is your chance to tour her home in the dark to see what, or who you might encounter. This event is not recommended for kids under age 12. Reservations are recommended.
Not-So-Scary Halloween Fun
Hoot and Howl—Darien
This non-scary event includes a magic show, hayrides, refreshments, a fall hike, story telling, live animals, s'mores, and face painting.
An evil sea witch has taken over the Mystic Aquarium. Do you have what it takes to put an end to her wicked adventures? Saturday and Sunday.
Kids in costume get in free with a paid adult for a ghoulish adventure that includes trick or treating, a pumpkin decorating station, face painting, and more. Saturday-Sunday. Additional fees apply for some activities.
This tribute to classic horror films has been in operation for over half a century! Check out to scale figures from E.T., Mars Attacks, Planet of the Apes, and more. Take a six-minute voice-guided tour, check out original movie props, and screen classic silent horror features. Not recommended for children under age 7.
Build a Scarecrow Workshop —Bristol
Bring your family to this beautiful, sprawling back-country nursery on Saturdays throughout October for scarecrow making and pumpkin painting. They supply the frame (4ft or 6ft), head, stuffing and a place to make a mess. You supply the pants, long-sleeve shirt, and whatever accessories you want to create a one-of-a-kind scarecrow. Each workshop will be judged and the winner gets a prize. Reservations are a must. Pumpkin Painting is available on the same schedule as the scarecrow workshop. They also offer FREE hayrides to their Pumpkin Patch.
Wee Faerie Village—Old Lyme
This is the final weekend to catch this magical experience at the Florence Griswold Museum. During the day on Saturday, visitors can join in a Costume Parade.
Haunted Mini Golf—Farmington
Play 19 holes of Halloween themed golf in Farmington Valley. From 4:00 - 9:00 pm the mini golf course transforms into a haunted wonderland complete with a haunted graveyard and pirate's tavern.
Legends and Hauntings—Fairfield
Join the Fairfield History Museum for a ghostly walk through stories of the past. Hear about witch trials, hauntings, and local legend. Preregistration is strongly recommended.
Enjoy crafts, games, pumpkin carving, and a haunted hayride at Winding Trails in Farmington. Sessions 1-5 will be less scary for those who aren't up for the full haunted experience. Registration for this event is required no later than three days prior.
Ghosts of Ridgefield—Ridgefield
Reservations are required for this annual ghost hike sponsored by Discovery Center and Ridgefield Parks and Rec. For those with smaller kiddos, ask for the earliest time slot. Groups of up to 15 head out every 15 minutes, you will receive a time slot via email a few days prior to the hike.
Photo courtesy of Wells Hollow Creamery
Wells Hollow Creamery—Shelton
Wells Hollow Creamery dares you to take a stroll through their Haunted Corn Maze. Don't forget to bring a flashlight, it gets dreadfully dark in the corn maze at night!
Halloween Breakfast at Stew Leonards—Danbury
Families are invited to attend a Halloween Breakfast with Stew's most loved characters, including WOW the Cow, Daphne, Stewie the Duck, Iron Man and Super Heroes. Families will enjoy a buffet style breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, hash browns, mini muffins, assorted bagels, and fruit salad.
Spooky Nature Trail—Mystic
Join the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center for their annual Halloween event! Investigate the Nature Center trails on a self-guided tour past wild animals, Jack-o-lanterns and other frightful and delightful creatures.
Parades and Celebrations
Halloween on the Green —Fairfield
This family event will feature trick-or-treating, giveaways, displays in the historic buildings, a Food Truck Alley, a bounce house and other kid-friendly games.
Darien Halloween Parade and Magic Show—Darien
Dress up your little ones and bring a bag for trick or treating at the doors of local merchants along the way from the Darien Fire Station to Tilley Pond. Then stick around for snacks and a special show in Tilley Pond Park with magician “The Amazing Andy.”
Boo at the Zoo—Bridgeport
Join Beardsley Zoo for their annual Halloween event. For the younger and timider set, harvest hayrides and more. For those looking for a bit more adventure can brave Farmer Beardsley's Farmstead, the haunted hayride, and the Ghastly Greenhouse.
Trick or Treat Street—Bethel
Trick or Treat Street, the family event that Bethel kids look forward to every year will be held at the Municipal Center and Greenwood Avenue in Bethel. The annual event kicks off with a major show followed by Halloween activities on the lawn and trick-or-treating along Greenwood Avenue.
Rowayton Community Center Halloween Celebration—Rowayton
Ride a pony, wander the hay maze, and parade in costume at this annual daytime event. If you're feeling extra brave, enter the haunted house.
Photo courtesy of Ally Noel
Halloween Spooktacular—New Canaan
New Canaan Nature Center celebrates Halloween with creepy, crawly critters, slime making, and some unique jack-o-lanterns. The event tends to sell out so pre-registration is strongly recommended.
Ridgefield Halloween Street Festival—Ridgefield
Visit local merchants including the Ridgefield Library for trick or treating fun! This event is free.
Spend the evening celebrating the ghosts and goblins of the season. Enjoy treats, watch a cannon shoot flying ghosts into the air, and witness the annual screaming procession. This is a free event.
Halloween Stroll—West Hartford
Come one and all to this daytime event in West Hartford's Blue Black Square. Trick or treat at participating merchants, enjoy live music, games, giveaways, and other treats. Free parking is first come, first served.
Stepping Stones invites Halloween in with their annual Monster Mash. Fun for the whole family. Details TBA closer to the event.
Nightmare on Broad Street—Windsor
Enjoy a nightmarish evening on Halloween Night from 5:30 PM—7:30 PM near the Town Green where businesses that will hand out some ghoulish treats and some scary surprises.
Join Roaring Brook Nature Center for this annual daytime Halloween celebration. Activities include a "track or treat" walk, cupcake decorating, face painting, and a wholesome lunch of homemade soup and bread. What a warm, cozy way to celebrate the season. Pre-registration with payment is required.
Halloween at Stamford Museum and Nature Center—Stamford
Halloween comes to Stamford Museum and Nature Center and with it brings all manner of fun. Trick or treat around Heckscher Farm, visit your favorite farm friends, and more.
15th Annual Pumpkin Festival—Prospect
Join in the Halloween spirit and carve or decorate a pumpkin for prizes! Plans for this year are still in the works, but in the past, the festival has featured a haunted hayride, dancing, a haunted house, and craft and food vendors. And don't forget to join in the vehicle pumpkin parade.
New London Halloween Town—New London
Dare to be scared? Have the courage to face things that go bump in the night? If so, you are invited to come to Southeastern Connecticut’s spooky Halloween destination. There will be spooky fun with many FREE events including a dance party and trick or treating.
Last but certainly not least, for some, it just wouldn't be Halloween without a visit to Pumpkintown U.S.A. in East Hampton. Wander the grounds and meet the whimsical residents of this pumpkin head town. Take a tractor ride past a whole mile of pumpkin people doing pumpkin people things. Enjoy refreshments and pick out a special souvenir.
Cover photo credit: Nicolette Aynat-Nolan
Originally published 10/1/17.