By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
Family vacations aren’t limited to summers and the Christmas and winter holidays. With special events that you can easily find out about online, just about any holiday or occasion can make for a good reason for a little getaway. We recently told you about Halloween thrills at 10 Mid-Atlantic theme parks, with spooky fun that ranges from mild to wild. At these parks, you can find roller coasters and thrill rides, fun shows, scare zones, and tame or non-scary activities for young kids. Where else in or near the mid-Atlantic can you find Halloween fun that’s worth the drive? See three more ideas below.
1. A not-so-spooky indoor water park
With a giant indoor waterpark, restaurants, and special games for kids, a stay at Great Wolf Lodge is always fun. In the fall, you can enjoy this and more with the Howl-o-Ween event. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, guests at several Great Wolf Lodge locations nationwide (including the one in Williamsburg, Virginia) are in for “spooktacular” fun that includes a Trick-or-Treat trail, not-so-scary story times, “monster bash” dance parties, and more. This event is good for all ages, since the intent is for families to have a good time, not be scared (for those options, see the last two items on this post).
2. Halloween at the beach
Who needs a dungeon when you have the beach? Each year, the Rehoboth and Dewey Beach areas go all-out for Halloween with the Sea Witch Festival. Its many events include a costume parade, dog parade, games, 5K races, trick-or-treating, horse shows, and live music. The family-friendly festival takes place over three days around Halloween.
3. A night in a haunted prison
You wouldn’t think anyone would willingly go to jail, but each year, thousands of visitors flock to the Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP), one of the oldest and most historic –and, some say, haunted — prisons in the United States. This Gothic-style prison (once home to Al Capone) in the Philadelphia area attracts more than 200,00 visitors throughout the year for tours of the grounds and even some of the solitary-confinement cells. The busy season for ESP is Halloween, when the historic preservation group that runs the prison hosts “Terror Behind the Walls,” one of the nation’s scariest haunted houses. The six attractions behind the prison walls have themed areas such as an “infirmary.”
4. Zombies and more at an old state hospital
The largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America (and reportedly the second largest in the world), this enormous structure in West Virginia was once a hospital for the mentally ill. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Weston State Hospital) was in operation from the mid-1800s until 1994, later falling into disarray. In 2007, a group purchased it in the hopes of restoring it. As part of the plan, the asylum hosts big events each year, including its popular Halloween celebrations, which include a scary haunted house and zombie paintball.