I've rounded up six of our favourite places to interact with and see animals in the HRM, or within about an hour's drive, that are on our "must do" list.
Here are 5 year-round fantastic Halifax (Hali-tastic...is that a thing? If not it should be!) outings to keep in your pocket for an instant adventures - no advance planning required!
Truth time: personally, I never liked Halloween. I mean, the candy part is awesome; the dressing up part, not so much...but little kids in costumes? ADORBS.
I've embraced Halloween since becoming a parent and, despite having September babies, they have both had costumes every year since they were born. Last year they went as Mickey and Minnie Mouse (see photo evidence above for what happens when your one year old goes trick-or-treating) but I'm pretty sure that's the only year I'll get away with coordinating their costumes as now Mr M wants to be a dragon and Miss M wants to be a butterfly. When I moaned about them not "matching" Miss M, in her wise-beyond-her-years way, gently told me, "Well, they both have wings Mama..." Fair enough. I'll get over it.
Halloween with little people can be lots of fun but many of the activities (Creepy Haunted Houses, Horror Movie Nights, Haunted Corn Mazes) are geared toward older kids. Here are five Hali-ween (see what I did there Halifax?) activities for the itsy bitsy Haligonians in your life.
The Halifax Public Library has a series of Halloween themed events for the littles including Halloween puppet shows, family drop-ins, "spooky" sing-a-longs, and costume parties with crafts. I've been to many of these events and they're great for all-ages. They start a little over a week before Halloween so go to the library website, click Programs, and choose the appropriate age group and location to see what's happening in your community.
Halloween and cats go together like toddlers and sticky fingers. This event is at the forum from October 24-25 and there will be fun for the whole family, including Fluffy. They are having a Black Cat competition and a Cat Costume Class (for the cats? for the owners? I'm not clear on that), as well as the usual pedigreed cat competitions and an unpedigreed cats class competition, so even Scruffy that showed up on your back deck one day gets a chance to strut his stuff. More info, including times and admission prices, can be found here.
This fun indoor playground in Tantallon has an annual Halloween party perfect for petite trick or treaters (say that five times fast). Just pop an adorable costume on your tot and they'll provide the fun with colouring, activities, treats, and their awesome play space. When I lived in Timberlea I spent many hours there with Miss M - lots of fun and a yummy cafe on-site. Their party is on October 30 from 1:00-4:00 and admission is $5 and details are on their Facebook page. This was the only indoor playground party I heard about this year but it's worth checking with your neighbourhood spot to see if they're hosting a party as well.
4. FAMILY FRIENDLY HAUNTED HOUSES
*Note: I have not been to either of these haunted houses with kids so use your own discretion and/or call ahead to see if it's a good fit for your wee ones.
This is an outdoor/indoor haunted house in Fall River that is loosely suggested for ages 3-4 and up. Their site has a description of the haunted house to help you decide if it's right for your tots:
"There is a lot going on, music playing etc. but nobody will jump out at you and it is more spooky than anything else - the goal is for people to enjoy themselves and appreciate the "atmosphere". We suggest that if you are unsure for your child, come for a visit anyway - you and your child can at least enjoy the outdoor graveyard. And then you can go through the interior yourself first to see if you think your child would enjoy it and not be too frightened."
It starts October 16 and is held each Friday and Saturday evening from 6:30-8:30 leading up to, and including, Halloween weekend. Admission is a donation to the IWK. More information can be found on their website.
Mount Saint Vincent University's Student Union puts on a really spooky adult Haunted House that I've screamed my way through in past years but now they have a kiddie version too before the really scary stuff starts. The event is one night only on October 24. The first hour (from 6:00-7:00) is the G rated version of the Haunted House. Admission is $7 (or $5 if you bring a donation for Shelter NS), and the under 5 set is free. Check out their facebook page for more details and contact information to call to find out if it will be suitable for your kids.
This costume party is perfect for the little goblins in your life. They dim the lights throughout the museum, tell some not-too-scary stories, perform a puppet show, and have a mad scientist on hand. Admission is a donation to the Food Bank. No word on whether Gus will be dressing up as a tortoise or a turtle - that guy's always keeping us guessing. The festivities will be October 28 from 4:00-8:00 at the NS Museum of Natural History on Summer Street. The details are on their Facebook page.
BONUS ROAD TRIP: KENTVILLE PUMPKIN PEOPLE
This has become an annual tradition in our family! Residents and businesses all over town create these adorable pumpkin people and set up scenes based around a theme and this year's it's LEGO! The Pumpkin People are up now and will be there until October 30. Their website has a map to guide you around. Make sure you get out of the car and pose for some photos with the Pumpkin People - major cute kid and selfie photo opp! When you're done checking out the pumpkins pop by Hennigar's Farm Market in Wolfville to see the goats, bunnies, and chickens; drive the tractor trikes; and pick up some fresh Valley produce.
A COUPLE TIPS...
Many small communities within the HRM host their own Halloween party in a common area that is free to residents. Join community groups on social media and find the ones near you. Our community hosts a great party in a nearby green area with costumes, cookie decorating, games, and even a chili lunch. It's a great way to get your know your neighbours before you knock on their door demanding candy.
You could also throw your own family-friendly house party. Hit up the dollar store for decorations and invite your friends, family, neighbours, and that cool looking mom and her baby you've been chatting up at play group. Call it a pot luck and encourage your guests to bring a spooky treat - you'll likely be amazed at your friends' creativity. Hide some treats around the house for a Halloween trick or treat hunt, make a themed craft (need ideas? Pinterest is your pal!), and have a costume parade, complete with musical instruments.
Happy Hali-ween everyone!
Do you have some more to add to the list that are great for small children? I'd love to hear your favourites.