Chicago is chock-full of haunted houses and festivals, but if you’re a true Halloween buff, you have to check out how these Midwest small towns (that are totally worth the trek) mark the occasion.
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Known as the “Halloween Capital of the World,” this suburban Minneapolis town has been putting on family-friendly celebrations since 1920 to discourage Halloween mischief. Each year, the city hosts more than 30 Halloween events that include house decorating contests, bonfires, giant pumpkin weigh-offs, escape rooms, haunted houses, scarecrow showcases and more. For 2020, Halloween looks a little different but this town is still bringing a few spooktacular events for their 100th celebration.
6-hour, 45-minute drive from Chicago
Instead of a traditional door-to-door trick or treating, Harbor Springs usually hosts a community-wide Trunk ‘R Treat and prizes are awarded to the best looking cars. There are no plans yet for 2020. While this tradition is the culmination of Halloween fun, the festivities begin a few weeks earlier in Harbor Springs with the annual Great Lakes Glass Pumpkin Patch outside Boyer Glass Works. There, passersby can wander through a dazzling array of hand-blown glass pumpkins created by local artists and they can even watch the process of making one.
6-hour drive from Chicago
Halloween officially kicks off in this town on Saturday, Oct. 10, when guests from around the region gather for DIY Scarecrow Day. A relatively new annual tradition which started in 2014, participants are given a wood base, bale of hay and some guidance from scarecrow engineers who teach them how to stuff and dress their own scarecrow. Following the event, these personalized scarecrows are displayed all over town, lining the streets throughout the month where visitors can vote for their favorites. The Halloween celebrations don’t end there – Long Grove also hosts a popular pumpkin carving contest and dog costume parade.
50-minute drive from Chicago
During the month of October, a small stretch of homes on Tilson Street just outside of Detroit are decked out with frightening displays. Known as “Terror on Tilson Street,” people from all over the world flock to this two-and-a-half block radius to see the different themes and scenes that are portrayed on the exterior of about 25 homes. In past years, homeowners have depicted football graveyards, corpse bridal shops, pet cemeteries and a zombie hockey match. It is estimated that the displays draw about 80,000 guests, compared to the 5,000 who visit Romeo for its annual Peach Festival (which the city is famous for).
5-hour drive from Chicago
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This article was published on Oct. 2, 2018. It has been updated with the more recent information.