Minnesota is notorious for having some of the most frightening and gruesome haunted houses in the country. For parents, it can be tricky to navigate these local options and find Halloween events that allow our children to indulge in the spookiness of the season without traumatizing them. Here are some great choices for families along with age suggestions and event scare levels.
Harvest Haunting at LeDuc Historic Estate
1629 Vermillion St.
Hastings, MN 55033
Date: October 27, 2012 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The historic LeDuc mansion in Hastings provides the perfect eery backdrop for a haunted family-friendly event. On October 27, guests can take part in a candlelight cellar tour, spooky stories and nighttime walks in the woods. The ambiance of this nearly 150-year-old home is what elevates the creepiness here, not people jumping out at you in scary masks. This event is recommended for ages five and up due to the attention span needed during the tour. The promise of apple cider and smores served by the LeDuc staff afterwards may peak their interest however. Reservations are recommended by calling (651) 437-7055. The Harvest Haunting has a low level of scare for kids.
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Sheldon Theatre Haunted House
443 W. 3rd St.
Red Wing, MN 55066
Date: October 27, 2012 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The historic Sheldon Theatre hosts a haunted house during the Trunk or Treat event in downtown Red Wing. This haunted house leaves out the bloody décor but does have high school volunteers dressed up as witches and other haunted creatures to lightly scare the kids. Sheldon Theatre’s Haunted House and the Trunk or Treat event are held on October 27. The Sheldon Theatre Haunted House has a medium level of scare for kids.
Haunted Woods Trail
Rosemount Central Park
14375 S. Robert Trail
Rosemount, MN 55068
Date: October 27, 2012 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Geared toward kids pre-school to middle-school age, the Haunted Woods Trail in Rosemount’s Central Park is a great place for families to experience a fun and low-fright night. Come in costume and walk through the trail filled with fun surprises, blow-up decorations, lighting and sound. Kids will receive Halloween treats along the way. Rosemount Central Park is located right across from City Hall. The Haunted Woods Trail has a low level of scare for kids.
The Haunting Experience on Highway 61
Zywiec’s Garden Center
10900 E. Pt. Douglas Road
Cottage Grove, MN 55016
Dates: Now through October 31 on select days
The Haunting Experience’s low-scare matinee is a good gateway between the non-scary Halloween events for elementary school-aged kids and the full-on blood and gore of typical haunted houses for adults. This low-scare matinee still has the images of violence and death, but is much less scary in the daylight and without people jumping out at you. This would not be recommended for kids less than 12 years old. There are three haunted houses to take part in during the low-scare matinees that run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in October. The Haunting Experience has a high level of scare for kids.
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Gerten’s Pumpkin Festival
5500 Blaine Ave.
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
Dates: October 13, 20 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Gerten’s Gardening Center in Inver Grove Heights has a large annual festival with lots of fall activities, including some very tame haunted ones for small children. The whole family can enjoy a daytime haunted hayride through a forest filled with witches, ghosts and skeletons. There is also an inflatable haunted house that takes kids through a well-lit maze of vampires and ghosts. Gerten’s does a good job of making its decorations cute instead of gory so kids as young as pre-school age will enjoy this event. The Pumpkin Festival takes place on Saturdays during October. The Gerten’s Pumpkin Festival has a low level of scare for kids.
Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.