Fall fun at the Indianapolis Zoo and Indiana State Museum

ZooBoo marking four decades at the Zoo / The Indianapolis Zoo will present 20 days of “spooktacular fun, active animals, new, larger-than-life décor and more” when ZooBoo launches for its 40th year on Wednesday, Oct. 6.  ZooBoo will continue for 20 days – Wednesdays through Sundays – through Sunday, Oct. 31.

The Zoo opens daily at 9 a.m. ZooBoo activities run from 2 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and 2 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Zoo members can preview the event from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Oct.  4-5.

Extended hours on the most popular evenings will give guests a chance to enjoy the haunting ambiance of the Zoo after dark, while by day, the colorful autumn foliage provides a perfect backdrop for all the wild festivities. Cooler October temperatures also mean more active animals, and many even join in the Halloween fun with extra chats and themed enrichment activities, like the squash-splattering fun of the Elephant Pumpkin Smash.

Under the Bicentennial Pavilion, the magic of Halloween comes to life in Pumpkin Town, where “Mayor Jack” will host family-friendly activities and even a little hocus pocus. Little witches and wizards can meet Terra, the friendly witch, and watch wickedly cool science demonstrations with Professor Pumpkin at Pumpkin School. Rats, snakes and other spooky creatures scurry in Jack’s Barn, where Caretaker Kris also shows off a collection of spooky skulls. Also in Jack’s Barn, guests can meet black kittens that are available for adoption through Indiana Animal Care Services.

New, beautifully detailed fall decorations provide perfect family photo ops throughout the Zoo. Additionally, Broomstick Alley is back to challenge children to maneuver a jack o’ lantern through the obstacle course using a broom. Plus, the Zoo’s rides feature a wild twist, like the Round-Go-Merry — the carousel that moves in reverse.

Kids are encouraged to wear costumes and bring a reusable bag to collect goodies along the Trick-or-Treat Trail presented by PNC, now in a new location near the front of the Zoo. Five stations will provide conservation-conscious treats that contain only certified sustainable palm oil. Allergy-friendly treat options will be available upon request.

Spirits will also be hiding throughout ZooBoo. The Adult Trick-or-Treat Trail presented by PNC will offer free beer sampling for guests age 21 and older from 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Plus, craft beers and themed cocktails like the toxic tonic and poisoned pumpkin mule, presented by Hotel Tango, will be available for purchase in Pumpkin Town.

A seasonal selection of ghoulish goodies will also be available for purchase at the Zoo’s eateries — from frightful feasts like zombie mac and skelly wings to spooktacular sweets like boo-reo’s and monster rice crispy treats.

ZooBoo is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. Visit IndianapolisZoo.com for advance tickets and more information.

Indiana State Museum ready for Halloween / Temperatures are dropping, leaves are beginning to show off fall colors and it’s time for all things spooky, haunted and Halloween. The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites has spooktacular events all over the state of Indiana for every taste and scare level – all socially distanced, of course. Following are the events set for the State Museum:

FAMILY FRIGHT NIGHT will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8. Visitors are invited to dress in their Halloween best for a night of spooky fun! Conduct eerie experiments and visit a mad scientist’s lab for a frightful scientific show. Discover the creepy monsters of Indiana’s past as you wind your way through our chilling galleries by flashlight. Hear spine-tingling tales during story time, and don’t forget to show off your cool costume on the haunted dance floor.

TWILIGHT TALES will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. and again from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on two Wednesday-Thursdays – Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28. Visitors will be able to venture through the museum in the dark on this flashlight tour to visit some of the creepiest artifacts in the collection as staff share how these items are connected to supernatural rumors and Indiana folklore. The museum will provide flashlights. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and shoes for this walking tour. The museum can be chilly at night when all the lights are out. Registration required by noon the day of the program.

TODDLER TIME: A NOT-SO-SPOOKY EXPLORATION is set for 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 28. Children will be able to explore all things Halloween through spooky sensory play, pumpkin art and a not-so-spooky story time. Through play, children will learn skills like problem-solving and social-emotional communication and develop their fine and gross motor skills. This program is for children ages 18 to 36 months.

For tickets to any of the State Museum events, go here.

photo above: ZooBoo, sponsored by Central Indiana Honda Dealers, will give visitors a chance to see animals during extended hours, as well as larger-than-life décor, engaging characters, a menu of ghoulish goodies and the return of Broomstick Alley