From the Chicago Botanic Garden in north-suburban Glencoe to Brookfield Zoo in southwestern Brookfield and to downtown Navy Pier in between, friendly and spooky spirits have temporarily settled in at major Chicago destinations. Check them out the next two October weekends. There are Halloween happenings to suit all ages.
During Trains, Tricks & Treats, Oct. 20-21, ghosts, goblins and spider webs take over the Model Railroad Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Youngsters can visit Thomas-the Tank Engine and their parents can pay miniature United States landmarks a last visit before the popular outdoor train villages pack up for the winter. It is a non-scary, daylight Halloween celebration that includes treats. Botanic Garden admission is free but the Trains are $5 adults/ $3 children age 3 to 12/ $1 members’ discount.
For a more spirited visit, families should go to the Chicago Botanic Garden for Hallowfest: A Garden of Good and Evil, Oct. 26-28. As twilight descends, ghostly lights accompany ghost trains at the Model Railroad Garden, a Howlin’ Express takes courageous riders past spiders and spooks and visitors are entertained with by crawly amphibians in the Auditorium and Dracula’s magic in Nichols Hall. While there, pick up a pumpkin in Burnstein Hall and see jack-o-lanterns in the Joutras Gallery. Hours are Friday & Saturday: 6 – 9 p.m., Sunday: 4 – 7 p.m. Tickets are needed and best bought in advance because the event sells out. Advance members/nonmembers tickets: $14/$17, Day-of $17/$20. Parking is $20 per car; Garden members park free. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden and call 847-835-5440. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022.
Navy Pier’s Really Big Halloween Party may sound like a one-day event but it runs Friday to Sunday, Oct. 19 to Oct. 28 plus Oct. 31. Events here run the gamut from a hayride, petting zoo and alpaca, camel or pony rides to a costume contest, Trick or Treat candy giveaways and performances of Houdini escapes and evening Fire Dances by Pyrotechniq. Rides and fire dances are in Gateway Park on the Pier campus. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. each Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. each Sunday and Halloween. For more information visit Navy Pier and call 312-595-PIER (7437) and 800-595-PIER (7437). Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. Chicago, IL 60611.
Boo at the Zoo is Brookfield Zoo's fun-for-the-family daytime Halloween celebration. Youngsters can mount a favorite animal on the Haunted Carousel, carve pumpkins or take a hayride. Held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28, a costume parade takes place midday. It begins at 1 p.m. from the North Gate, goes around Roosevelt Fountain and ends East Mall. Night is a different story. The zoo can be a scarier place during Creatures of the Night. A path becomes a Trail of Terror, a tram ride is haunted and night creatures wake up. The night event runs Oct. 19-21 and Oct. 26-28. For more information visit Brookfield Zoo and call 708-688-8000. Brookfield Zoo is at 8400 31st Street (at 1st Avenue), Brookfield, IL 60513.