The calendar says October, which means that it’s time to get into the spirit of Halloween and scare up some fun for your little, and not so little, ghosts and goblins. This article will give you an overview of places to go for Halloween fun, from gently scary attractions for young children, to truly frightening spots that teens and adults may want to visit—if they dare.
Fun without fright
For young children, Halloween should be fun, not scary. Luckily, we have a number of places right here in western New York that fit the bill. Here are some places that won’t leave anyone with nightmares.
Amherst Museum (716-689-1440, www.amherstmuseum.org) 3755 Tonawanda Creek Rd., Amherst. The museum has a fun Halloween Trick or Treat event on October 26-27 that is suitable for children ages 3-10. Trick or treaters visit the historic buildings on the museum grounds, which are decorated for the season, where they receive small toys and treats. Cider and donuts are served when you finish your rounds. $7/children, $3/adults. Pre-registration required, as admission is by timed ticket.
Arcade & Attica Railroad (585-492-3100; www.anarr.com ) 278 Main St., Arcade. Kids can enjoy a train ride dressed in their Halloween costume and visit the Halloween Haunted House at the Curries station. October 27-28; departures at 12 and 2pm. Reservations required $12/ adults, $7/children 3-11.Fall foliage train rides are also offered weekends in October.
Aquarium of Niagara (716-285-3575, www.aquariumofniagara.org) 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls. The Halloween Happening takes place on October 27, from 4-7pm. Kids who dress up like a sea creature get free admission, otherwise admission is $4/person. Kids can make a scarecrow, enter a costume contest, get a treat bag and enjoy a spooktacular sea lion show.
Badding Brothers Farm Market (716-636-7824) 10820 Transit Rd., East Amherst. While parents shop for pumpkins, apples and other fall items, kids can enjoy the Scarecrow Village the Badding brothers have set up.
Beaver Meadow Nature Center (585-457-3228, www.buffaloaudubon.org) 1610 Welch Rd., North Java. Beaver Meadow’s Enchanted Forest, one of their biggest events of the year, is a family-oriented, nature-based Halloween event, which takes place October 5-7, from 6:30-10pm each evening. You must pre-register and pay in advance for tickets. Walk through the forest along a nature trail lined with about 300 lit jack o’ lanterns led by a “firefly.” At each station along the trail, you will meet people dressed in animal costumes, who describe the creature they are dressed as. The event also includes other fun activities at the nature center visitors’ center. Tickets are $7/person, $6 for Audubon Society members.
Becker Farms (716-772-2211, www.beckerfarms.com) 3760 Quaker Rd., Gasport. The annual Pumpkin Fiesta takes place on Saturday and Sunday mid-September to the end of October. There are kid’s activities, farm animals, a playground, straw bale maze and even a pig race. Purchase pumpkins, apples, gifts and homemade pies at the farm market. Admission is charged for the Pumpkin Fiesta; the farm market is open daily. They also have a haunted hayride and Area 51 alien encounter, suitable for older children. Adults may enjoy tasting wine from Becker Farms winery, Vizcarra Vineyards.
Buffalo Zoo (716-837-3900, www.buffalozoo.org) 300 Parkside Ave., Buffalo. The 10th annual Howl-o-ween Hayrides will take place on October 19, 20, 26 and 27 from 5:30-8:30pm. Enjoy a hayride through the zoo, treats, cider and donuts, crafts and games at this 10th annual event. Admission is $5 for Zoo members and $8 non-members.
Corning Museum of Glass (607-937-5371, www.cmog.org) exit 46 off I-86, Corning. On October 27 from 5:30-7:30pm, little goblins can enjoy Ghosts in the Galleries, which features live music, craft activities, a costume contest, refreshments and more. Admission to the event is free. Call 607-974-4084 for more information. Also taking place at Corning Museum of Glass is Pumpkin Patch at the Glass Market on October 6-7 and 13-14, from 9-5 each day. Visitors can choose from a variety of glass pumpkins displayed in an outdoor pumpkin patch.
Genesee Country Village (585-538-6822; www.gcv.org ) 1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford. Celebrate An American Halloween on October 13-14 from 10-5. The event is a 19th century party with singing, dancing and storytelling. Kids can trick or treat in the historic village, see the magic lantern theater show, and more.
Great Pumpkin Farm (716-759-2260, www.greatpumpkinfarm.com ) 11199 Main St., Clarence. Open September 30-Halloween, 10 am-dusk. Get all you fall decorating needs here, including pumpkins of every shape and size. Kids can enjoy tractor-drawn hayrides, hay maze, face painting, musical entertainment and more. A $5 admission fee is charged for the first two weekends: Oinktoberfest, a BBQ cook-off, held on Sept. 28-30 and the World Pumpkin Weigh-off, Oct. 6-8.
Great Pumpkin Walk (585-398-2424, www.ontariopathways.org) October 20, 6:30-9:30. Parking at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, CR 10, Canandaigua. Over 600 carved jack o’lanterns will line a ½ mile section of the Ontario Pathway trail, a 23 mile hiking trail located in Ontario County in Canandaigua. The event, which attracted over 2,000 visitors in 2005, is a fundraiser for the Ontario Pathways Hiking Trails.
Halloween Fun at Olcott Beach Carousel (716-778-7066) Carousel Park, Olcott Beach. October 6-7, 12-6. Free event. Come in costume and enjoy a ride on Olcott’s vintage carousel. There will be prizes, candy and more.
Hershell Carrousel Museum (716-693-1885, www.carouselmuseum.org) 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda. The museum holds its annual Halloween Spooktacular, a family-friendly event geared towards children ages 3-8 on October 27 from 2-4pm. Activities include games, refreshments and a carousel ride.
Holiday Hollow (585-762-8160, www.holidayhollow.com) 1410 Main Rd., Pembroke. Open October weekends and Columbus Day 11-5. $8/ Adults, $7/ Children 3-10. This is the only village in western New York specifically built for Halloween family entertainment. Family-owned and operated since 1993, this old-English style village, set on 7.3 acres features a variety of attractions, along with an outdoor comedy stage show. Older children may find it a bit corny, but the little ones love it. The show will move indoors into a newly built theater building during inclement weather.
The Maze (716-433-5505) 3901 Niagara Falls Blvd., Wheatfield. Open Sunday-Thursday 10-9, Friday-Saturday 10-11. $7 adults, $5 children 3-11. Two miles of paths can be found in this eight acre cornfield. Beginning on October 6, wagon rides will be offered on Saturday and Sundays from 1-4. Costumed characters will throw candy and prizes into the wagon along the way.
New York Power Authority (716-286-6661 or 1-866-NYPA FUN www.nypa.gov) 5777 Lewiston Rd., Lewiston. The annual Halloween Spooktacular, which features a haunted house, face painting and a costume contest will be held on Oct. 27 from 10am-4pm. Admission is free.
Pumpkinville (716-699-2205, www.pumpkinville.com) 4844 Sugartown Rd., Great Valley. Open daily 9am-7pm, 3rd Saturday of September-Oct. 31. Free admission; nominal charges for some activities. This attraction started out as a roadside stand in the 1960’s and grew into a popular western New York fall destination. There are pumpkins by the thousands, along with children’s activities, refreshments, crafts, baked goods and more.
River Region Scarecrow Expo (716-754-7030 or 716-754-9500, www.northofthefalls.com) Oct. 7-21 Residents and businesses in Lewiston, Porter, Youngstown, Ransomville and Sanborn will be building and displaying scarecrows, made out of every media imaginable, during this annual event. You might find a scarecrow made out of old car parts in front of a gas station or maybe one made out of pots and pans in front of a restaurant. Take an autumn drive in this area dubbed, “north of the falls” and see how creative people can get.
Seneca Park Zoo (www.senecaparkzoo.org) 2222 St. Paul St., Rochester. October 20-21, 27-28 from 10-5. The annual Zoo Boo offers a "merry, not scary” Halloween environment. Children can visit ten trick or treat stations, enjoy crafts and activities and see animal presentations. $4/members, $8/non-members.
Spoth's Farm Market (716-688-1110) 5757 Transit Rd., East Amherst. I’ve known David Spoth for over 40 years and he still likes to dress up for Halloween. Actually, I’m not sure who has more fun this time of year, David or the kids who visit the market! Kids can enjoy playing among the fall wooden cutouts and picking out their pumpkin.
Stories from the Pumpkin Patch (716-679-0891; www.fredopera.org), 1891 Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church Street, Fredonia. October 13 at 2 pm. Free admission. This free event features stories about local folk lore and legends, including an Iroquois legend, an African-American Halloween story, a Jewish folktale and a story about Johnny Appleseed. The stories are told by the Wondermakers, a group of improvisational actors.
Places that give you a fright
Perhaps your children are a bit older and they actually liked to get scared or maybe mom and dad are looking for something to do without the kids. The places described below, which use special effects or in some cases rely on the supernatural, are suitable for older kids and adults.
Dark Raven Manor (716-432-2803, www.darkravenmanor.com) 11103 Main St., Clarence. (In the WNY Events Center next to Antique World). This Haunted House uses special effects and costumed actors to give you a scare.
Genesee Country Village (585-538-6822; www.gcv.org ) 1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford. The Spirits of the Past Tour will take place on October 26-27 from 6 to 9 pm. It’s a guided tour of scenes of murders and superstitions throughout the historic recreated village. Reservations are required. It is not suitable for children under 10.
Haunted Fortress at Old Fort Niagara (716-745-7611, www.oldfortniagara.org), Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown. October 26-27, tickets sold by advance reservations. $10 per person. This annual fund raiser for the fort features a tour of the fort by night, which can be a pretty scary place in the dark. Expect to see costumed actors portraying people from the fort’s past.
Haunted Gardens on the EEEErie Canal (716-213-0554, www.nthistorymuseum.org) North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens, 1825 Sweeney St. Oct. 13, 20, 27, 7-10pm. This event features a haunted hayride, guided spooky strolls through the haunted gardens and refreshments served in the haunted greenhouse. Advance sale tickets can be purchased at the museum (314 Oliver St.) to be used on your choice of the three nights. Advance sale tickets $9/adults, $4/children 6-16. (Includes both the hayride and stroll). Tickets at gate are $5/adults for the hayride, $5 for stroll, Children are $2.50 for hayride and $2.50 for stroll.
Marble Orchard Ghost Walks (716-754-0166). Saturday’s through October 27. These walks, sponsored by the Lewiston Council on the Arts, meet at the Lewiston Visitor’s Center, 476 Center Street. Cost is $10 adults, $5 Children under 12. On this 90 minute walk, you’ll learn about ghost stories, crimes, murder and more. You’ll “meet” some of the spirits of the past on this historical and educational tour through Lewiston. It takes you through the village’s historic district and cemetery. It might not be suitable for young children, but older kids, teens and adults will find it eerie, yet fun.
Mason Winfield’s Haunted History Ghostwalks (716-655-6663, www.masonwinfield.com). $10 per person. Mention the paranormal in western New York and usually the first name that comes to mind is Mason Winfield, the area’s expert on ghosts and the paranormal and the author of four locally published books on the subject. Mason offers 90 minute ghost walks in several area communities, including Lewiston and East Aurora. The walks include folklore, architecture, mysteries and more. Walks take place year round, not only at Halloween. For a complete schedule of walks, see his website. While his walks are not particularly scary, they are really not suitable for young children.
Nightmare Hayride on Sommerville St. (716-699-4839, www.nightmarehayride.com) 6319 Sommerville Valley Rd., Ellicottville. October weekends, Friday-Sunday, 7:30-9:30 pm, starting October 6. $10/person. Take a tractor-drawn hayride down a haunted path. If you survive, exit through the haunted corn maze, which will lead you to the haunted barn, complete with vortex tunnel.
Rolling Hills Country Mall Ghost Hunts (585-344-2888, www.rollinghillsghosthunt.com ) 11001 Bethany Rd., East Bethany. Ghost hunts take place year-round on select Friday and Saturday night from 8:30pm-5am. $40/person. These overnight hunts, geared towards guest 18 and older, involve looking for evidence of paranormal activity within this massive 170 year old building, which once was the county insane asylum. Some people believe that the souls of some who have died on the property still roam the grounds. See website for more details and hunt dates available. (October usually books up well in advance)
Scare-Assic Park/Revenge of the Ghostly Pirates Penn Dixie (627-4560, www.penndixie.org ) 4050 North St., Blasdell. October 6, 5-9pm. $5/member, $6/non-member, under 3 free. Enjoy a pirate themed evening of Halloween fun. Go on the Jolly Roger Hayride, visit a haunted pirate lair and dig for fossils by lantern light. A demonstration of medieval weaponry will take place from 5-6pm.
Hallowine History & Mystery (716-778-7001, www.niagarawinetrail.org), Niagara County. Sat. Oct. 27 10-6, Sun. Oct. 28, 12-6. $10/person. Adults may enjoy visiting the six wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail and participating in a scavenger hunt. Find the answer to the questions and you can be eligible for prizes.