It’s the most spectacularly spooky time of year, and Chicago has heaps of hauntingly playful activities to celebrate. Beware: sugar highs and adorable costumes ahead.
For the little pumpkins
Ghost stories of Chicagoland
Chicago Water Tower
As one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire, this tower is bound to be haunted by a few lost souls. According to legend, one of the tower workers manning the pipes at the time was trapped. Instead of facing death by fire, he hanged himself in the upper level of the tower. Locals and tourists have claimed over the years to see the shadow of the hanging man through the upstairs window.
Al Capones grave
The former crime boss of Chicagoland is buried in Hillside, where locals rumor that his troubled spirit still resides. In his final years of life, Capone believed he was haunted by a ghosts presence. Many Chicagoland residents still leave tokens on the gangsters grave to appease his restless soul.
Resurrection Catholic Cemetery
Resurrection Mary went dancing with her boyfriend in the 1930s, but when they got into an argument, she took off walking down Archer Road. She was hit by a car and left for dead. Ever since, passersby have claimed to see her ghost hitchhiking in her party dress and racing into Resurrection Catholic Cemetery.
This theater near Lincoln Park is where infamous bank robber John Dillinger took his final breath. After notably dodging police for years, Dillinger caught a Clark Gable movie in the Biograph and was shot by an FBI agent as he left. Patrons can still go watch performances at the landmark, now known as the Victory Gardens Theater, and walk into the renowned alley, where many have reported seeing Dillingers ghost lurking.
Holy spooks, Batman! The bat cave at Brookfield Zoo might not have an ultra-cool superhero dwelling inside, but it is the perfect seasonal spook for an adventurous tyke. Take on the epic mission of trekking through the bat house and spend the rest of the day looking at cuter, less icky animals. czs.org
Mummy and me
Mummy needs some adult time. At “Strolling through History: Magic& Mummies” at the Oriental Institute Museum on Oct. 13, you can take a light-hearted gallery tour with other parents and their babies, all 18 months and younger. After the tour, babies get special playtime while you get grown-up conversation. oi.uchicago.edu
For the ghosts in between
Survive the Zombie Apocalypse
Who in your family would survive a zombie apocalypse? Find out by visiting Wheeler Park on Oct. 24 to join in the Zombie Apocalypse, where families will have the chance to test their survival skills in the “land of the undead” through a zombie obstacle course. Go from 5-6 p.m. for kids 10 and under to join in the fun or from 6:30-9:30 p.m. for those ready for an even more deadly challenge. genevaparks.org
Hop onboard the eerie express
Calling all kids who love ghost stories, trains and s’mores. (Basically, every kid ever.) Fox River Trolley Museum takes families out on its Ghost Story Trolley Tour on Oct. 17 and 24. You’ll ride to the John Duerr Forest Preserve, gather around a roaring campfire, listen to creeeepy stories, sing songs and eat the greatest snack known to man. foxtrolley.org
For the teen wolves
Don’t act like you aren’t scared
Six Flags Great America’s Fright Fest is a teen Halloween tradish with more than a month’s worth of thrills and chills. Ride your favorite roller coasters by moonlight, run through an amusement park filled with the living dead and visit multiple haunted houses in just one trip. sixflags.com
This film fest kills
Music Box Theatre’s annual horror film fest, Music Box of Horrors, is a scream. The theater screens obscure and classic flicks of the scariest order each October, which makes for the perfect hipster teen date night or family fun experience. musicboxtheatre.com