No matter how old one gets, something about Halloween still captures the imagination. Familiar haunts of yesteryear have given way to new and exciting ways to celebrate this ghostly season. With something for everyone, gather the boys and ghouls and explore Florida's many pumpkin patches, haunted houses and Halloween activities for kids.
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Every autumn Sweet Season Farm, located in Milton, hosts a seven-acre corn maze and fall festival. This not-so-scary Halloween haunt is perfect for little ones complete with a playground, carousel, hay bale and corn mazes, corn crib (a sandbox filled with corn) and hayrides. Concession stands provide snacks while the farm's other attractions keep kids busy. If you have older kids, you may want to check out the 22nd Annual Haunted House Walking and Tram tours in Pensacola. Take one of several 30-minute walking or trolley tours, led by costumed docents, through some of Pensacola Village's most historic haunts.
North and Northeast
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' Spooktacular provides a fun, safe environment for kids of all ages. A pumpkin patch, candy stations, bounce houses, haunted trails and special animal exhibits get kids in the spooky spirit. For a more rustic experience, trick-or-treat the kids to the Amazing Grace crop maze and fall festival in Green Cove Springs. Select the perfect jack-o-lantern from the pumpkin patch, ride the cow train, take a tractor-pulled hay ride and navigate the crop mazes before stopping at Lou Lou's Country Store on your way out.
West and Southwest
For three weekends in October, Hunsander Farms, located in Bradenton, puts on its annual Pumpkin Festival. Live country music, corn maze, scarecrows, games, food, craft vendors and petting zoo are some of the festivities that await visitors to the farm. Those seeking a slightly scarier adventure should check out Cemeterror in Sarasota, Florida. Cemeterror is a large residential haunt that is free to the public, although donations are accepted and go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. What started in 2009 as a front yard display has blossomed into a full-scale haunted yard fright fest with a new location for 2013.
Not for the faint of heart, House of Horror is South Florida's largest professionally produced haunted house attraction, located in the east lot of Miami International Mall. Frightened guests tour the two-acre haunted house and amusement park, play carnival games and ride rides at this popular Halloween haunt that is more suitable for older kids. For some Halloween fun with younger kids head over to Zoo Miami's Zoo Boo. Children 12 and under are welcome to trick-or-treat in costumes, make Halloween crafts and watch the zoo animals get special Halloween feedings.
Central and Central East
In the Central Florida town of Astatula is the Stanley Pond Adventure Farm. Open year-round, this working farm hosts a fall festival and pumpkin patch each October chock-full of tractor-pulled rides, games, face painting, arts and crafts, as well as gift shop and concession stands. Uncle Donald's Farm in Lady Lake, Florida, hosts a fall pumpkin patch and hay maze during the month of October. Select your pumpkin from their patch, wander the hay maze, take a pony or tractor-pulled ride, and get up close and personal with farm animals at the petting zoo.