If you're looking to scare up some fun this Halloween, you're in luck. There are lots of ghoulish activities to be found throughout the region. Here are some ideas to set a spooky mood:
Eastern State Penitentiary
What's scarier than an abandoned state prison? How about touring one after dark? In its 22nd year, Terror Behind the Walls features six attractions at the penitentiary, 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia: Night Watch (in total darkness); The Experiment (a 3D adventure); The Machine Shop; Detritus (a labyrinth of original 1800s cell blocks); The Infirmary; and the Prison Museum. Says Amy Hollaman, creative director for Terror Behind the Walls, "Our visitors are thrown into a world that not only feels like something from the past, but also creates a level of mystery and horror that increases anxiety and fear in the hearts of even the bravest souls."
Dates: Tuesday through Sunday through Nov. 2
Time: Hours vary, check the website for details
Cost: $19 to $39
For more information: visit easternstate.org
The Cloister offers two events for Halloween fun. “Gideon's Bones: A Family Trick or Treat” is suitable for families with children 13 and under. Children are encouraged to come in costume and look for bones on Brother Gideon's gravestone as well as other clues on the 282-year-old trail of history. Costumed guides will lead the tour, and kids should bring treat bags to fill with small make-and-take projects along the way.
Date: Oct. 25
Time: 1-3 p.m.
Cost: $6 for one adult and one child (ages 3 to 5 years); $3 for each additional child; free for Ephrata Cloister Associates at the Family Membership level
Ephrata Cloister also offers “Mysterious, Melancholy and Macabre: Strange Stories from the Past.” Visitors will hear chilling tales from classic literature, all set in the shadow of the site's historical buildings. Stories include Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Tell-Tale Heart" and W.W. Jacobs’ "The Monkey's Paw," among others. They are presented by student historians and teen volunteers. Advance reservations are suggested.
Dates: Friday and Saturday, and Oct. 24 and 25
Time: 7 and 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $12 adults; $7 youth ages 3 to 17; discount for members
For more information, visit ephratacloister.org or call 733-6600.
Hear long-forgotten tales of mystery on the streets of Lancaster and Strasburg on a ghost tour. Tours in Lancaster depart from Penn Square at the intersection of King and Queen streets, while the Strasburg tours depart from the corner of Main and Decatur streets. Strasburg also features a Ghost Hunting Tour, complete with EMF meters to enhance the experience.
"It's real ghost stories, real haunted houses and where they buried the bodies," says Tim Roberts, manager of Lancaster's Ghost Tours.
Dates and times: Lancaster tours: Every night at 8 through Nov. 1, then weekends only; Strasburg tours: Fridays at Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Ghost Hunting Tours: Saturday at 8 p.m.
Cost: Regular tours: $15 per person, $10 ages 4 to 12; Ghost Hunting Tours: $16 per person, $10 ages 4 to 12
Tickets must be purchased in advance at ghosttour.com or by calling 687-6687
Hole in the Wall Puppet Theatre
Don't let the name of the venue fool you: This show is for grown-ups. "Calling all Spirits" features Long Island medium Theresa Caputo as host. She'll summon a variety of show-business greats, including Big and Little Edie of "Grey Gardens" fame, Judy Garland and Billie Holiday. All performers will materialize in marionette or human form, courtesy of Robert Brock, artistic director of the theater. To complete the evening, Brock will also read tarot cards and hold a séance; audience members are encouraged to attend in costume.
Date: Oct. 31
Time: 7:30 p.m.
For more information, visit hiwpuppets.org or call 394-8398.
Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation
Join naturalist Andy Yoder for a tour of Haunted Chickies. With a long and colorful history, Chickies Rock has provided the setting for numerous ghost stories. Take a tour and hear the supernatural tales or share some of your own about Chickies Rock with the group. The tour meets at Furnace Road Day Use Area.
Date: Nov. 1
Time: 8-9:30 p.m.
Cost: $1 per person
For more information, visit co.lancaster.pa.us/parks or call 299-8215
Lancaster Public Library
Visit the Duke Street library for a variety of Halloween events, including Haunted Library. Little ones will be treated to storytelling, face painting, crafts and a movie. If they dare, adults can try to find their way out of the terrifying basement maze. The evening also features food and music, plus a costume contest at 7 p.m.
Date: Oct. 24
Time: 6-9 p.m.
Cost: $3 at the door
The library also welcomes paranormal investigator Lora Shirey. She's the paranormal director of Haldeman Mansion Preservation Society, and she'll present information on investigations as well as a history of the mansion.
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.
And, classic movie fans won't want to miss a creature double feature of 1922's "Nosferatu" and 1932's "The Mummy."
Date: Oct. 23
Time: 4:30-8 p.m.
If you need inspiration for Halloween costumes, bring the kids in for Monster Mash Face Painting and test out some techniques.
Date: Oct. 23
Time: 6-7 p.m.
For more information on these programs, visit lancaster.lib.pa.us/contact/lancaster-city-branch/
Mount Bethel Cemetery
The cemetery at 700 Locust St., Columbia, is the perfect setting for A Haunted Lantern Tour: Cemetery Classic. With gravestones dating back to pre-Revolutionary War time, the cemetery is no doubt filled with ghosts who will come alive as local residents and members of the Columbia High School Drama Club take you on a highly theatrical tour. "It's not a scare tour, but there are some creepy, spooky elements and some surprises and plenty of opportunities to be startled," says Janet Wood, tour director.
Date: Nov. 1
Time: Tours every half-hour beginning at 7 p.m.; last tour at 10 p.m.
Cost: $10 in advance, $12 the night of the tour; reservations strongly recommended
For more information and to purchase tickets, call Charlene Bair, 684-6196
Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire
Travel to Mount Hope for Halloween Daze and Spooky Knights. Mystery and mayhem abound as spooky creatures stalk the shire during this All Hallows Eve celebration. Activities include pumpkin decorating, trick-or-treating, "Terrible Touchy Boxes" filled with items collected by the shire gravedigger, costume contests for kids and adults, and a Halloween treasure hunt.
Dates: Saturday and Sunday and Oct. 25 and 26
Time: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $29.95 at the gate; $26.95 online; ages 5 to 11, $10.95; ages 4 and under, free
The Mansion at Mount Hope also presents the 29th season of "Poe Evermore." Guests will enjoy performances of some of Edgar Allan Poe's most well-known works. Both dinner-and-show and show-only packages are available.
Dates: Nov. 5 to 16; times vary
Cost: $14.95 to $42.95
For more information on both events, visit parenfaire.com
Strasburg Rail Road
Hop aboard the Murder Mystery Dinner Train, and you never know what will happen. Act 1 Productions presents shows filled with comedy, mystery and drama. Watch for clues as the action unfolds on the rails. On Oct. 25, catch "The Monster Mashed? A Musical?" a crazy whodunit inspired by the 1960s song. Guests are invited to come in Halloween costumes and enjoy a full dinner, featuring soup or salad, entrée, sides, dessert and beverages.
Date: Oct. 25, Nov. 8 and Nov. 22
Time: 5:30 p.m. boarding
Cost: $60 ages 12 and up; $40 ages 3 to 11; not recommended for children under 5
For more information, visit strasburgrailroad.com
Turkey Hill Experience
Sure, Turkey Hill makes great ice cream, but around Halloween time, the Turkey Hill Experience offers other sweet treats for kids. Children can come in costume and visit 13 trick-or-treat stops throughout the attraction. Six are located in a free area, while the rest are within the paid-admission area. Kids can also sample Turkey Hill products and participate in contests such as guessing the weight of the pumpkin. “Trick-or-treating at the Turkey Hill Experience is like a warm-up for the big day," says Bob Adams, general manager of the Turkey Hill Experience. "Plus we've got plenty of ice cream, and that's always a good thing!"
Dates: Saturday and Sunday, and Oct. 25 and 26
Time: 4-6 p.m.
Cost: Free for part, admission charged for part
For more information, visit turkeyhillexperience.com