Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Energy Day Festival, Freight Train Food Truck Festival, Oct. 19-20

With Halloween right around the corner, we've been busy compiling everything you could possibly need to have a fun, safe holiday. We've got you covered with the best places for trick or treating, Halloween movies that will offer chills and thrills alike, area trunk-or-treats, the spookiest haunted houses, pumpkin carving ideas, and more.

And that's not all! You can find even more Halloween-inspired fun on our event calendar and in our Halloween Fun Guide; they have all the resources you need and events happening throughout the city over the weeks leading up to our favorite candy-coated day. For monthly fun, head to our October GoList, which highlights the biggest and best events occurring around town throughout the month.

Hosting an event? We would love to share it with our readers! All you have to do is submit your event to our calendar for our review, and we'll handle the rest.

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But that's enough of that; it's time to see what this weekend has in store. 

Top 10 Things To Do at the EcoTarium, the Interactive Science Museum for Kids Near Boston

Spoiled as we are by world-class museums in Boston, it can be easy to overlook smaller, suburban spots like the EcoTarium Museum of Science and Nature in Worcester, MA. But a recent visit to the EcoTarium proved that this unique science museum belongs on every Massachusetts parent's must-visit list. Just a short drive from Boston, the museum offers both indoor and outdoor activities, including interactive exhibits, live animal habitats, nature trails, and more. It's ideal for a day trip, but if you have limited time, we'd recommend hitting these 10 exhibits—plus one bonus seasonal activity (think: bubbles!)

Got super curious kids? Check out our guides to the Museum of ScienceBoston Children's MuseumDiscovery Museums of Acton, and more in our Boston Museums Guide.

Haunted Houses and Not-Too-Spooky Halloween Walks for NYC Kids

Looking for a not-too-scary Halloween fright for the kids? A tricked-out haunted house or slightly spooky Halloween trail just might be the right kind of boo for you.

Haunted houses long have been a popular suburban Halloween stapleLong Island and Westchester have dozens. And while NYC has several spooky haunted houses of its own, including Blood Manor, most are definitely grown-ups only. There are, however, a handful of haunted houses in New York City that offer gentler Halloween chills for families.

You're sure to find spooky, family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and fall fair. But we're skipping those to tell you about the best of the city's more elaborate and kid-friendly haunted houses and other Halloween attractions for kids this year. Read on for the scoop—and heed the age warnings. While grade-school kids can attend most of these, not all are suitable for preschoolers.

Things To Do in NJ this Weekend: Halloween Events, Cranberry Festival

It's a boo-tiful pre-Halloween weekend in New Jersey, with a full roster of celebratory festivities. It's never to early to start collecting goodies at trick-or-treat events like Boo at the Boardwalk and Boo at Cohanzick Zoo. Get in the Halloween spirit at a local bash, including Westfield's Addamsfest and the Cape May Halloween Parade. Or celebrate in a unique way on the Halloween Express or at Allaire's haunted village.

Halloween is not the only cause for celebration this weekend. Revel in the season at harvest events like the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival, Hoboken Harvest Festival, and Thompson Park Day.

Check out our Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids and our Halloween Events and Guide for NJ Kids for more options, including the Ultimate Halloween Guide for NJ Kids. And look to our October GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Looking for a Preschool in Chelsea? Start Here.

Are you just a parent, standing in front of a preschool, asking it to let your child in? We know that sometimes conjuring the right preschool fit is almost as daunting as getting your kid into the right college, but the odds are excellent that you'll find a great spot for your little one, and if you're in the Chelsea neighborhood, you're in luck. This famously family-friendly downtown NYC neighborhood offers plenty of wonderful options for preschool-searching parents.

Before you launch your hunt for a preschool in the Chelsea neighborhood, it helps to know what kinds of questions to ask on a preschool tour, and how other NYC parents decided on a preschool. There are also a few terms to know: Our list below sorts preschool options by type, including Traditional Preschools (which follow the NYC school calendar), Year-Round Preschools (which are in session during the summer and holiday breaks), Cooperative (which requre a time investment from parents), Dual-Language (Mandarin and Spanish preschools are popular), Religious, and Montessori or Reggio-Emelia (which both focus on child-led learning). ​

And even though it is strongly recommended that your start your search early (at least a year in advance), remember that spots do open up. Ask about wait lists if you're late to the process or new in town. Good luck!

Kids' Consignment Shops and Sales on Long Island

Whether you're stocking up for school clothes or dressing up a wee one that changes in size every couple of months, kid clothes can really add up. Luckily, there are kid-centric consignment shops and special sales across Long Island, where you can buy barely (or never) worn kids’ items at a discount. You can also sell your own gently used items to get some extra cash.

For more ways to your family can fun together without breaking the bank check out the affordable activities listed on the Long Island Events Calendar.

Dine-In Movie Theaters Around Houston Perfect For Family Outings

Looking for a fun way to enjoy dinner and a movie as a family? Knock both items out in one fell swoop when you visit a dine-in movie theater around Houston with your kids. While watching a movie at home might offer you and your kids the chance to enjoy a meal with your show, dinner just tastes better when you don't have to cook it. At these local theaters, you can enjoy more than just the standard popcorn, candy, and soda from the movie theater snack bar. From bite-sized appetizers and tapas-style small bite plates to full-blown dinner menus (with kid's menus, too!), you and your kids can enjoy an elevated food experience served right to your seat all while catching the latest flick. 

If you've never been to a dine-in movie before, here's a run down of what you can expect. With only a couple of slight exceptions noted below, most dine-in theaters work the same way. You'll want to make a reservation online or by phone ahead of time to secure your seat as most dine-in theaters offer quite a bit fewer seats than traditional theaters. When you arrive, a server will take your order right from your seat and deliver it to you. They'll generally come back around another time during the movie to take dessert orders or refill drinks. You'll receive a check to pay for your meal when your movie is finished, just like you would at a traditional restaurant. It's a pretty fun way to see a movie and enjoy a great meal. 

Drop-Off Child Care Options in NYC for Date Night

If date night is a distant memory, it's probably time to book a couple's night out. But in a city as pricey as New York, babysitting costs can really blow up your date night budget. 

While you might luck into an occasional care swap with another family, you shouldn't have to wait until your kid is old enough for sleepovers or sleepaway camp to enjoy a night on the town. Luckily several play spots in the city offer safe, supervised drop-off care for kids, often for less than your average sitter. Better still: Not only do you get some adult time, your kids will have enough fun that they'll be begging for your next night out soon enough.

Read on for 10 cool date-night drop-off spots, plus some tips for dealing with child care emergencies day or night.

Easy Halloween Treats for Kids and Classroom Parties

Candy bars aren't the only Halloween treats to hand out this October 31. School kids across the country are getting ready to celebrate with Halloween parades and classroom parties, meaning you might be on the hook for homemade Halloween treats.

But there's no need to fear the sign-up email headed your way. I've planned more than a few Halloween parties and have put together a list of easy Halloween treats to help parents skip the last-minute scramble. These tried-and-true spooky snacks transform pretzel sticks into ghouls, mandarins into pumpkins, and make enough Monster Mash Brownies that will turn the entire class into sugar monsters.

Best Trick-or-Treating Spots around Boston

Ask a family what their favorite trick-or-treating spot is, and it's likely to be their own neighborhood. It's always fun to see familiar houses lit up with spooky decorations or the sweet old lady from down the street answer the door with a witch's hat and cackle. But sometimes, kids—and adventurous parents—are looking for an exciting alternative to their usual route. In that case, you might consider bringing your loot bags and Unicef boxes to one of the following Boston-area neighborhoods, where residents really take Halloween festivities to the next level. (If you're looking for more spooky fun before the big day, check out these haunted attractions—if you dare!)

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