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10 family-friendly Halloween activities

From costumed dogs to zombies, hayrides, and bats.

Addison Williamson, 8, in Salem.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

It’s happening! So many fall things! Do you feel compelled to get out and do it all before the leaves turn to dust and the temperature plummets to 20 degrees? Will you gladly stand in line for five hours for a droplet of apple cider at a crowded orchard just to say you’ve done it? What about leaf peeping? Have you seen enough? I feel especially devoted because last year still seemed pretty COVID-y. This year, things are a tiny bit more normal, which is nice but also: The pressure’s on! What to do? To help you (and me) decide, here are 10 stress-free Halloween standouts to fill your weekends before it’s time to hibernate.

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For a little bit of everything: Fall-o-Ween Children’s Festival


Don a costume and mingle on the Boston Common Parade Ground starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21. There’s a haunted zombie maze (no, not the T), a spooky mansion slide, a jumpin’ pumpkin, bean-bag toss, and — when the lights go down — LED swings, seesaws, and cornhole. There’s even a stilt-walker! It’s free. Charles and Beacon streets, Boston,

For barking and beer: Owloween

Beer for adults, face-painting and balloon animals for kids, and dogs competing in a costume contest: It all starts at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, at Everett’s Night Shift Brewing. Zoeby’s Custom Creations will be there to paint a portrait of your dog (and child), too. Food comes from Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers. Admission to the contest is $10 and includes a drink; it’s free without a pet. 87 Santilli Highway, Everett,

For animal-lovers of all kinds: East Somerville Halloween Block Party and Pet Parade

Your costumed pet can strut an actual red carpet before a panel of esteemed judges, while your kids will enjoy balloon animals, face-painting, and an animal-themed story time while showing off their Halloween attire on Saturday, Oct. 29, beginning at 3 p.m. Also available: dog-training demos with Zen Dog, which might be handy for toddlers, too? Chuckie Harris Park, 17 Cross St., Somerville,


For live music: Verónica Robles All-Female Mariachi: Día de los Muertos

On Saturday, Oct. 29, Celebrity Series Neighborhood Arts presents an all-female mariachi band, performing selections that celebrate the living and the dead, led by Robles, a folk dancer, and choreographer. The costumes are colorful and fun, there’s storytelling woven in, and it’s great for uninhibited toddler dancing. Plus, it’s free! The show starts at 3 p.m. Arlington Street Church, 25 Arlington St., Boston,

For charity: Legacy Place Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday, Oct. 22, pick pumpkins at Legacy Place’s pop-up patch and paint them with Muse Paintbar. A $5 donation supports the Ellie Fund, which provides support service to breast cancer patients. The event kicks off at noon with a canine costume contest at Polkadog Bakery. On Friday, Oct. 21, The Street also hosts a free concert on the Green with Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys, starting at 6:30 p.m. Legacy Place, 680 Legacy Pl. Dedham,; The Street Chestnut Hill, 33 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill,

For a classic pilgrimage: Salem Haunted Happenings, Night Faire, and Bats

It’s the 40th anniversary of this monthlong spook-fest held in the Halloween capital of the world. There’s a lot going on here (wax museums, haunted houses, seances), but definitely stop by the Kids’ Fun Fest at Salem Common with rides and games. If your crew yearns for something spookier, visit the Salem Night Faire, kicking off on Friday, Oct. 21, with oddity vendors, ghost stories, and fortune-telling. If your kids love animals, bring them to Peabody Essex Museum on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m. for a family-friendly talk about bats. Various locations, Salem,;;


For a spooky stroll: Halloween on the Hill

Beverly’s Long Hill, a Trustees property, is an Instagrammers delight: Stroll in the twilight among thousands of jack-o’-lanterns and over-the-top decorations. It’s the perfect one-hour walk (and there’s hot cider and other sweets for sale on-site). Arrive at 5:30 p.m. for the most mellow experience. 576 Essex St., Beverly,

For the athlete: 2nd Annual Halloween Family Bike Ride

OK, this isn’t too intense: Don a costume and wheel your ride — kid bike, adult bike, anything that moves — to Sekler Playlot on Memorial Drive on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 9:30 a.m. for bike-to-bike trick-or-treating. (Bring a bag of candy to share.) There’s a fashion show at 10:15 a.m., followed by an easy ride starting at 10:25 a.m. along Memorial Drive, which is closed to traffic. After the jaunt, Knucklebones sets up an obstacle course. Memorial Drive, Cambridge,

For the fearless: Witch’s Woods Haunted Hayride and Halloween Screampark

This one is intense: Normally a harmless ski slope, Nashoba Valley turns into a dark, dreary maze of ghosts, vampires, smoke, haze, and terror. It’s great for slightly older kids; it’s not recommended for kids under 6. Note: costumes not allowed. There are plenty of other ways to be frightened along the route. 79 Powers Road, Westford,


For hands-on horror: Boston Children’s Museum 3rd Annual Spooktacular

Potion-making, a pumpkin putt-putt course, a spider-web maze, a sensory dirt pit, and, yes, trick-or-treating (with special bags for kids under 3): The Boston Children’s Museum is a one-stop shop for Halloween excitement on Saturday, Oct. 29. The party starts at 6 p.m. (arrive by 5:30 p.m.); buy $30 tickets in advance. There’s a special spooky toddler section, too. 308 Congress St., Boston,

Kara Baskin can be reached at Follow her @kcbaskin.