Fall Themed Events and Activities in Central Wisconsin
For those of us in the kid biz, it's an exciting and busy month. With fall color, fall festivals, pumpkin patches and Halloween, there are endless things to do. And, it all seems so urgent and special because soon, it will be cold. So, get out there and enjoy October 2014 with your kids. Here are just a few of my favorite events and activities. Harvest Moon Festival Friday, Oct. 3, 6-9 p.m. Lussier Family Heritage Center 3101 Lake Farm Road, Madison (608) 224-3604 $4, 5 and under free
Night events are the best. Your kids will love walking the torch-lit trail through Capital Springs prairies and exploring hands-on nature activities and presentations. There's also a kids tree climb sponsored by the Urban Tree Alliance and stargazing telescopes by UW Universe in the Park. Still not tired? Enjoy a bonfire, s’mores, food and music by Brandon Beebe’s Beatle Band. Parents can bid on silent auction items too. Food is available for sale. All proceeds benefit the Friends of Capitol Springs Trail.
Moon Over Monona Terrace Friday, Oct. 3, 7-9:30 p.m. Monona Terrace Rooftop 1 John Nolen Dr., Madison (608) 261-4000 Free
Spark your child's imagination and enjoy a great night under the stars (weather permitting). View the night sky through giant and not-so-giant telescopes, courtesy of the Madison Astronomical Society. The evening will begin with moon viewing only, and will progress to different objects as the sky darkens. Activities include short, kid-friendly presentations on the moon and other celestial phenomena, and a kid's fun zone with educational games and prizes. In the case of bad weather, call 608-261-4000 after 6 p.m. the day of the event for cancellation information.
Wisconsin State Parks Wisconsin State Parks are great places to explore during the fall. In addition to fall color, many host Halloween hikes. I've listed a few of my favorites below. Check you local park to find out what's happening in your area.
Haunted Hayride Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. McKenzie Environmental Education Center W7303 Co Road CS & Q, Poynette (608) 635-8112 $5, 3 and under free
Get your scream on at this outstanding haunted event. I have been on this hayride several times with kids and they loved it. Last year they had a headless horseman, so who knows what will show up this year. The ride lasts about 20 minutes and takes you past ghosts, zombies, graveyards and lots more. The event is sponsored by the Friends of MacKenzie with all proceeds benefiting the environmental education programs at the facility. Dress for the weather as everything is outdoors.
Fright Hike Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25, 6-8:45 p.m. Lapham Peak State Park (262) 646-3025 $5, plus park sticker
This is a 1 mile, family-friendly hike that takes you through a variety of ghoulish stations performed by local volunteers. It takes about 20-40 minutes to complete. Music, food, beverages and a bonfire are available at the start and end of the hike. I have done this hike and I would not bring really small kids unless they love this sort of thing. Older kids will love it.
Halloween Candle-Light Hike Friday, Oct. 24, 6-9 p.m. Governor Nelson State Park 5140 County Road M, Waunakee (608) 831-3005 Park sticker
Hiking is so much fun in the dark along a candlelit trail. This is a low key event that's perfect if you want a more relaxed outing. After the hike, enjoy drinking hot cocoa and marshmallow roasting over a fire. Bring a flashlight and come early if you want to roast a marshmallow. They go pretty darn fast.
A Halloween Torch-Lit Hike with Bat Information and Craft Saturday, Oct. 25, 6-8:30 p.m. Devil's Lake State Park, Rock Elm Shelter, North Shore S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo (608) 356-8301 ext. 140. Park sticker
This batacular event offers many choices. Hike a 1-mile torch lit trail, roast marshmallows over a fire, listen to songs by Campfire Kevin, learn about bats and make a bat craft. Other tasty treats will be sold by the Devil's Lake Friends group.
Halloween at the Farm Saturday, Oct. 25, 6-8:30 p.m. Schumacher Farm Park 5682 Hwy 19, Waunakee (608) 849-4559 $5, 4 and under free
Walk the lantern lit path to this annual Halloween extravaganza. This event caters to smaller kids and features games, face painting, crafts, not-so-spooky story telling, a haunted prairie hayride and more. At 6 p.m. the Waunakee High School fiddle group will perform and at 7 p.m., David Landau will entertain the little ones until 8:30 p.m.
Treinen Farm Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch Check the web site for hours and fees W12420 State Road 60, Lodi (608) 622-7407
There are lots of Wisconsin Pumpkin patches and corn mazes out there, but this one is one of my favorites. This year's maze is an owl. Older kids will love the corn maze and the little ones will love the pumpkins and the play equipment. There is so much to do here. You can come for an afternoon, or plan to spend the day. Groups can make reservations for hayrides too.