It’s officially October, and spooky season is underway. Don’t let the season pass you by without checking out these can’t-miss family activities.
1. China Lights
China Lights at Boerner Botanical Gardens is featuring an ‘Adventure in Lantern Wonderland’ theme, with over 40 larger-than-life themed lanterns, including the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, an Illusion Tunnel, and the Queen of Hearts.
At the end of the adventure, visitors will be invited to a tea party for a photo opportunity with all the characters.
The lanterns, which are displayed around a three-quarter mile walking route through Boerner Botanical Gardens, also include eleven interactive light displays, including a light kaleidoscope, an illuminated ‘drumming tree’ and illuminated swings.
A 200 feet long Chinese Dragon will once again take up the lawn at the back of the botanical garden to greet the visitors – the very same dragon that’s been on display since 2016, the inaugural year of China Lights.
The interactive displays zone has been expanded this year to include a total of 12 light up installations that visitors can touch, sense, and play with.
The festival will also celebrate Asian folk-culture, with live performances from professional entertainers on the We-Energies stage each night, and a variety of food and beverage selections.
China Lights runs from Sept 16 – Oct 30, Tuesday through Sunday, from 5:30-10:00 p.m.
Tickets are available online at chinalights.org. This year tickets will be sold for specific dates and time-slots – visitors can choose between a 5:30pm entry and a 7:30pm entry. An early entry option is also available.
Say hello to the unique scarecrows along the Blue Trail at Retzer Nature Center. Scarecrow Lane is a self-guided hike on the west end of the Learning Center building. They’ll be there through October 31st, 2022.
While you’re there, explore Discovery Trail, walk through the Children’s Garden and loop to the Retzer pond.
Expect woodchipped and mowed grass trails with some sloped terrain. It’s open daily from sunrise to 10:00 p.m.
Scarecrow Lane is free!
New this year, the East Troy Railroad is offering Trick-Or-Treat Trains, running four Fridays in October.
Trains will run October 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th, departing from the historic depot at 5:30 p.m.
Kids are encouraged to come in costume and take a 20-minute train ride from the East Troy Depot down to Byrnes Park. At the park, there will be trick or treat station and fall activities. When you return to the depot in East Troy, each child can pick out the perfect pumpkin to take home.
The whole experience will last approximately one hour and 20 minutes.
Advance reservations required. You can purchase tickets on etix via their website.
Celebrate the spirit of the season at downtown’s new Halloween-themed event, the Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee presented by WaterStone Bank, on Saturday, October 29, from 10 AM – 2 PM at Red Arrow Park.
Ideal for kids ages 2 – 8 and their parents, this pumpkin palooza offers a safe environment to celebrate Halloween, complete with loads of free pumpkins, pumpkin decorating, Wes Tank Story Raps, story time with Wanda the Witch, face painting, bubbles, handfuls of free goodies, and oodles of activities for everyone!
The Milky Way Drive-in is showing a PG-rated Halloween movies every weekend in October at 5:00 p.m. (Think “Casper” and “Hotel Transylvania”.)
Beforehand, you can walk through a Not-So-Scary Halloween Party every Sunday from 2:30-4:45. It’s ideal for kids and families who want to experience The Hill Has Eyes haunted house attractions when it’s not so scary.
Their actors will take you on a guided tour through the attractions and kids will get to Trick or Treat along the way.
Kids are encouraged to dress up and be a part of the fun!
Find more family-friendly Halloween events on the Events Calendar >>
In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place.
In 2019, she published “Exploring Milwaukee WIth Kids”, a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids.
She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6’s ‘Real Milwaukee’, B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News.
Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.