For many Chicagoans, Halloween is merely a time to eat candy, dress up in clever costumes and admire the fall foliage. But for others—the true Halloween scream queens—it’s all about getting freaked the hell out. And for this camp, no Halloween season is complete without a visit to one (or all) of Chicago’s best haunted houses. Though they’re not all within city limits, the impeccable production value of these top venues make them well worth the trek.
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The best haunted attractions in Chicago
Regularly dubbed one of the top haunted houses in Illinois by Halloween connoisseurs, Basement of the Dead is well worth the 35-mile drive to Aurora. The house goes all out with creepy actors, a mind-boggling maze of themed rooms and disorienting light effects. This one's not for the faint of heart.
As if its Vertical Velocity coaster wasn't enough of a scream, Six Flags transforms into its Halloween alter ego with hair-raising shows, haunted houses and a trick-or-treat trail for kids. Two-hundred monsters, ghouls and freaky faces will roam the park and guests are encouraged to dress up for the occasion.
Located between Chicago and Milwaukee, the Dungeon of Doom is best known for its Buried Dead or Alive experience, which simulates the sensation of going to an early grave. Other attractions at the spooky complex include a haunted hospital, a gruesome sewer and the Cabin of Carnage. The 50- to 60-minute experience is not recommended for children under the age of 12.
Zombie Army Productions' flagship haunted house sits 50 minutes southwest of Chicago, but serious thrill seekers will want to make the trip. Visitors enter the fictitious Statesville Prison where they traverse 23 different cells filled with rioting prisoners before dodging zombies in the City of the Dead. It's a visceral experience that's not for anyone younger than 10.
This South Side haunted house combines old-school startle tactics with animatronic and CGI effects. Creepy characters—from demonic workers to ghost cult leaders to cannibalistic butchers—hide around nearly every corner, waiting to terrify entrants. Midnight Terror is a 35-minute walkthrough with 60 rooms and over 100 actors, making it one of the most expansive haunted houses in the Chicagoland area.
Realm of Terror is a trek from the city, but it's worth the ride if you're looking for a real scare. The haunted house touts itself as the "Craziest, Most Intense, Extreme Halloween Experience." And while that's tough to objectively discern, Realm of Terror does feature immersive set pieces, with an ace team of makeup artists and set designers. Tickets start at $25, but you can skip the line for $35.