Lake Country in October is one of my favorite times of year. The fall colors and crisp air seem to turn our little corner of the world into an even more magical place to live. While I love to throw back a Pumpkin Spice Latte, take a stroll through a bucolic storybook apple orchard or light up my autumn leaves scented candles and fully embrace sweater weather with the best of them, there’s also something to be said for getting into the spooky side of October as well. In my opinion, no one does Halloween quite like Lake Country. And because, for many people, Halloween just isn’t Halloween without some serious scare factor, here is a roundup of some of the area’s best haunted houses!
Last weekend, our extended family got together and enjoyed a Sunday Fun Day down at The Fear District, in downtown Milwaukee. Thursdays through Sundays until November 3rd, The Deer District at Fiserv Forum gets transformed into The Fear District (see what they did there?). So. Much. Fun. Activities include a beer garden, Halloween themed games, ghoulish food, treats, and drink choices, (including a full bar for the grownups), face painting, plenty of photo ops with the spooky characters strolling about, and three different haunted houses. Prior to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays, the haunted houses are family friendly. After 6:00 all bets are off and they are only recommended for adults and kids over 12 years old. We took our kids and a whole gaggle of our nieces and nephews as young as four years old on Sunday afternoon and they did just fine! You can even take a bag along and go trick-or-treating with the spooky characters. Tickets for the haunted houses are $20/adult and $15/kids under 12 and seniors 65 and over. Your wristband comes with three pull tabs that allow you to go to all three houses or pick your favorite and go multiple times. On Packer Sundays the game is on the gigantic outdoor screen in the beer garden which was extra fun! Click here for more information on the Fear District and to purchase tickets online.
Another of my favorite Halloween traditions is the annual Lapham Peak Fright Hike. During this event, the Lapham Peak State Park hiking trails in Delafield are lit with candles after dark. This would make for a gorgeous ambience if it weren’t for the creepy people hanging out in the woods ready to scare the tar out of you! This year’s event, which includes live music, a bonfire, and concessions, takes place on Friday and Saturday October 18th and 19th from 6-8:30pm. Tickets are $10 online and $15 at the box office. All proceeds benefit Friends of Lapham Peak. As far as family friendliness, this is definitely spooky but we saw plenty of kids around 9 or 10 that handled it just fine. Use your judgement around your own child’s temperament, but I would not recommend taking kids younger than 9. Especially, since once you’re out on the hike, if your kids get spooked, there’s no real option other than to keep going.
Of course, you could always do what my friend Jenn famously did one year when one of the kids in our group was too scared to go on. She boldly took the lead position and shouted loudly, “Attention all scary people in the woods! We have a frightened little girl with us so you’re going to stay right where you are and suspend all scary activities and let us pass. You, there! Young woman in the creepy white nightgown, I see you there. Stay right where you are!” The characters were seemingly more scared of her than she was of them and so they actually respected her demands and let us through without incident. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard. Click here for tickets and information on the Fright Hike.
Yet another option is the Dark Carnival located in Oconomowoc at 212 E. Wisconsin Ave. I have not been brave enough to take this one on myself but I hear it’s super fun/terrifying. The Dark Carnival is open Friday and Saturday nights in October as well as October 31st through November 2nd from 6:30-10:30pm. Tickets are $20/person. You can also purchase tickets for large groups at a discount on the website. While the Dark Carnival is not recommended for kids under 12, they do offer a Lights On event during the afternoon before Oconomowoc’s trick-or-treating on Saturday October 26th from 1-4pm. It is considered appropriate for kids four and over. Tickets for Lights On are $7 at the door. Here’s the Dark Carnival website for tickets and more information.
Next, those serious thrill seekers among us (or your fearless teenagers) may want to check out Terror on Rural Street located at 147 N. Rural Street in Hartford. This haunted house is definitely not for kids under 12. They even go so far as to say it is not recommended for pregnant woman. Umm…what? I’m not pregnant but if the scare factor may be enough to send a pregnant lady into premature labor than I’m thinking this one is going to get a hard pass from me. This haunted house runs Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30-10:30 through November 1st. Tickets are $15 for general admission or $25 for a VIP pass that allows you to skip the lines. Here’s a link to the website for Terror on Rural Street.
Finally, judging from the website, The Dark Side Haunted Adventure may be one of the scariest of all. (There’s a horrifying photo of a clown that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet). The Dark Side is located in Ixonia, WI at N1255 Hoard Rd. My 13 year old son went to this one last year with a big group of guys and said it was pretty intense but also “super cool.” The Dark Side offers six different themed haunts, all with terrifying names such as, Twilight Nightmare, and Backwoods Revenge. $10 gets you admission to all six haunts with an additional $10 ticket required for the Zombie Expedition (not entirely sure what that entails and I’m not sure I want to find out). There are ticket packages offered that include a Fast Pass into Terror Treatment (all six haunts). Deep discounts are also offered when purchasing tickets for large groups. Just a heads up that Dark Side not only does not recommend their adventure for pregnant women, they have a full page warning/disclaimer on their website that adds people with asthma, heart conditions, crutches, claustrophobia and a whole slew of other ailments to their discouraged from attending list. Check out the link above for all the details and to purchase tickets.
So there you have it, a roundup of Lake Country haunted houses so you can celebrate in the full spirit of Halloween. Do you know of any other spooky local experiences that I’ve left out? Let us know your favorites in the comments below. Happy Haunting, everyone!