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The 9 best things to do with kids in October

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

Fall is a great time to be a kid. Pumpkin patches spring to life, Halloween brings a slew of spooky activities and there are tons of seasonal fests for the whole family to enjoy. Get the most out of the season with our complete guide on what to do with the kids in October. From an interactive new exhibit at the Chicago Children’s Museum to a child-friendly Oktoberfest celebration—and all the pumpkin-themed festivities in between—here’s what to do this month. 

1. Lincoln Square Apple Fest

Usher in the season with a celebration of fall’s favorite fruit. Whether you like your apples dipped in caramel, pressed into cider or baked into pie, there’s something for every taste at this annual festival. The Leland Avenue Kids Zone provides programming throughout the day, including a magic show, puppets, story time and live music. (Lincoln Ave between Lawrence and Eastwood, Sept 30 & Oct 1, 9am–6pm. $5 suggested donation)

2. Spooky Zoo Spectacular

Celebrate the 31st anniversary of this beloved Halloween tradition, where kiddos can explore the zoo, trick-or-treat, work on spooky arts and crafts and even visit a haunted house. (Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark St, Oct 28, 10am–1pm. Free)

3. Chicago Camp Fire Festival

This cozy festival has it all: campfires, s’mores, a pumpkin patch, corn maze, ghost stories and live music—essentially everything you need to dive headfirst into autumn. The daylong event will offer family-friendly and adult-approved fun for everyone. (Chase Park, 4701 N Ashland Ave, Oct 14, 2–11pm. $9–$13)

4. Chicago International Children’s Film Festival

Who says film festivals are only for adults? This annual event exposes youngsters to new, thoughtful and culturally diverse films with more than 250 screenings from over 40 countries. Grab tickets to a flick or register the directors-in-training for an interactive workshop. (Various locations and times, Oct 27–Nov 5. Kids 2–18 $6, adults $10)

5. Visit a pumpkin patch

Get out of the city for the day with a fun-filled adventure to a nearby pumpkin patch. There are tons to choose from and some offer hayrides, corn mazes and petting zoos to keep the good times rolling.

6. Kinderfest at St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest

Taking the kiddos to a beer fest might seem counterintuitive, but go with us on this one. The annual three-day event provides kid-centric programming at Kinderfest, complete with polka lessons, face painting and an inflatable obstacle course. Oh, and there's plenty of beer for parents. (St. Alphonsus Church, 1429 W Wellington Ave, Sept 30 & Oct 1, 11am–5pm. $5–$10)

7. Very Eric Carle

At this new play-and-learn exhibit, little ones are invited to step inside the pages of Eric Carle's classic children's books and transform into the Very Hungry Caterpillar, weave a web with the Very Busy Spider, compose a night symphony with the Very Quiet Cricket and so much more. (Chicago Children's Museum, 700 E Grand Ave, Sept 30–Jan 7, 2018. $13–$14)

8. A Year with Frog & Toad 

There’s still time to see this endearing, Tony-nominated musical in the West Loop. Littles and their adults watch as the tale of two amphibian besties unfolds on stage. (Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S Racine Ave, through Oct 29. $35)

9. Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns

Hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins will illuminate pathways at the Chicago Botanic Garden, providing an epic evening of entertainment for the whole family. Along the way, you’ll encounter live carving demonstrations, entertaining characters and a ghostly train. (Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL; Oct 26–29, 6:30–10:30pm. $12–$16)

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