Halloween is no longer a one day holiday. October has become a month-long celebration with an impressive variety of creepy, crawly and creative activities. Of course, trick-or-treating and a haunted house are included in the mix, but local museums now offer so much more…a lecture about the anatomy of the skull (check), lantern lit tours about how early Sacramento residents perished (check) or even a spotlight on spiders that we normally try so hard to avoid (check). If you’re not completely creeped out yet, read on…
In addition to its fascinating Gold Rush past, the Sacramento area is rich with an amazing array of state-of-the-art museums and historic sites that offer visitors the chance to explore California’s fine art, history, science, and wildlife treasures all year long. In October, many of the 30 members of Sacramento Association of Museums (SAM) are offering fun Halloween and harvest-related events and activities sure to get guests in a festive spirit, including:
October 3 & 4, Discovery Museum Science & Space Center. It’s the season for Jack-o-lanterns! Visit the Discovery Museum Science & Space Center to enjoy family-friendly pumpkin stations to learn a bit about this squash. Plus, kids 12 and younger craft a paper pumpkin to take home as fall décor. For more, visit thediscovery.org.
Souls of the City Events & Activities
October 3 thru November 1, Sacramento History Museum. In honor of “Day of the Dead” activities celebrated each year in Mexico and in major cities around the world, Sol Collective and the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation have teamed up to present a series of community workshops and special activities that showcase the traditions and/or demonstrate how to create some of the special items used in “Day of the Dead” celebrations. The effort culminates with a Dia De Los Muertos celebration on November 1. For more, visit sachistorymuseum.org.
Ghost Tours at the Sacramento History Museum
October 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24, Sacramento History Museum. Visitors to Old Sacramento can journey back in time to hear ghostly tales and spooky stories as they walk through the history-rich streets and re-live 19th century lore. Entertaining yet knowledgeable tour guides will take daring and inquisitive guests through Old Sacramento’s infamous locales to experience a bit of the dark side of California’s history. For more, go to sachistorymuseum.org.
Lantern Tours at the Cemetery
October 16, 17, 23 & 24, Sacramento City Cemetery. Embark on a lantern led walking tour through Sacramento’s past at the Sacramento City Cemetery! Guests experience stories of murder, death by spirits, death by duel or morphine, and even men impersonating women — all this while encountering other unexpected visitors from beyond. Stories will be told by our eternal residents. Hurry, tickets sell out fast…for more information please visit oldcitycemetery.com.
Spookomotive Train Rides
October 17, 18, 24, 25 & 31, California State Railroad Museum. All aboard for some Halloween fun Old Sacramento style! California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum are proud to offer diesel-powered “Spookomotive” train rides aboard a whimsically decorated train crawling with spiders, cobwebs and cornstalks while staffed with an entertaining “skeleton crew.” Also, discounted “combo” Halloween-themed train rides and river cruises are offered twice per day. For more, visit csrmf.org.
4th Annual Monster Bash
October 17, Sacramento Children’s Museum. Visit the Sacramento Children’s Museum for a night of ghoulish fun at the 4th Annual Monster Bash! Gear up for Halloween by wearing your best costume and come play the night away at the Museum! They’ll have a DJ, dancing, refreshments, photo opportunities, a “haunted hallway,” and of course – Museum play. For more information, visit sackids.org.
Lecture/Presentation: Art & Science of Anatomy – The Skull – Inside and Out
October 21, Museum of Medical History. The Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society and Museum of Medical History are offering a free evening lecture & presentation about the fascinating art and science of anatomy starting with a focus on the skull. Betty Nelsen, an Art Instructor at American River College, will demonstrate how the study and knowledge of the anatomy of our facial muscles relates to understanding the expression of our emotions. Plus, a replica skull will be available for examination. For more, visit ssvms.org.
29th Annual Safe & Super Halloween: Pirates
October 23, 24 & 25, Fairytale Town. Avast ye! Join yer favorite pirates for three nights of trick-or-treating and family fun at Fairytale Town! Davy Jones, Jack Sparrow and the cursed treasure take center stage. Duels, games, 17 candy stations, hands-on activities, a costume parade and more pirate shenanigans await. For more information, visit fairytaletown.org.
The Haunted Fort
October 23 & 24, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. For those interested in a ghoulishly unique experience, check out the sixth annual “The Haunted Fort” at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP). Once again, the historic site will offer a special Halloween program based in fact but with a decidedly creepy twist. Daring visitors will go on guided lantern-lit tours through the darkened rooms and hear unusual and intriguing tales of how some of California’s early pioneers perished throughout history. For more, visit suttersfort.org.
Count Watts’ SPOOKtacular
October 24, Roseville Utility Exploration Center. Visitors to the Roseville Utility Exploration Center can meet Count Watts and discover ways to save energy. Guests can take a thrilling walk through the Phantom House, carve a pumpkin then round out the day with crafts, face painting and prizes. For more, visit roseville.ca.us.
October 25, California Automobile Museum. Bring your best dressed ghosts and ghouls to the California Automobile Museum for a special Halloween Haunted House and Trunk or Treat activities. Each paying adult may bring two children decked out in their best costumes at no charge to experience one of the best haunted houses around and get their fill of candy from museum volunteers who will also be in their finest Halloween outfits camped out at different cars throughout the Museum. For more information
Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the Crocker
October 25, Crocker Art Museum. Honor Día de los Muertos at the Crocker Art Museum! Join the talented instructor Estella Sanchez and learn how to make sugar skulls from scratch, assemble altars, gather ofrendas (offerings) to honor the dead, decorate paper masks, and make calavera (skull) puppets. For more, visit crockerartmuseum.org.
October 28, Crocker Art Museum. Celebrate the “wee” in Halloween with this fright-free alternative to trick-or-treating! Families with children ages 5 and under will start by decorating treat bags before being guided in small groups through the galleries. Along the way, they will encounter gentle surprises in the form of music, poetry, and dance, and receive a non-candy treat at the end of each performance. The delightful Halloween stroll will end with a delicious celebration. Space is limited and advance registration is required. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to crockerartmuseum.org.
Trick-or-Treating in Old Sacramento
October 31, Old Sacramento. Trick-or-treating will be held through the streets of Old Sacramento once again this season from noon to 4 p.m. Each year nearly 50 Old Sacramento merchants and museums participate in the fun! The Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum is a great place to start as maps and bags are available for interested participants. For more, go to scoe.net.
Boo at the Zoo
October 30 & 31, Sacramento Zoo. Two nights of ghoulish family fun, rain or shine! Kids can safely trick-or-treat around the lake at 25 different candy stations. Other activities include magic shows, costume dance party, ghoulish games, and lots of family fun. Guests can also ride the Spooky Train or Creepy Carousel for an additional fee. Please note: Only the front half of the Zoo will be open during this event. The spookiness is appropriate for children under 10 years of age. For more, visit saczoo.org.
October 31 & November 1, Discovery Museum Science & Space Center. Pay homage to one of nature’s wonders – the spider – all weekend at the Discovery Museum Science & Space Center! Lots of crawly creatures will be on display — a live tarantula in the Nature Discovery Room and fixed specimens to view in the classroom. Plus, children can add dazzling décor to a foam spider and create their own species of arachnid to take home. For more, visit thediscovery.org.
With so many choices, there’s sure to be a frightening, fun or fascinating option that captures the spirit of the season for one and all.