haunted ohio Hydro building Bill Mershon

Fun to Freaky: 10 Ohio Halloween Attractions

These 10 seasonal events and destinations offer everything from kid-friendly characters to serious scares.

Haunted Hydro, Fremont: Located in a 1910 former hydroelectric power plant, this attraction offers a variety of ways to freak you out: a haunted house, a pitch-black walk through the woods and four escape rooms. For 2019, the Haunted Hydro is embracing the theme Inside the Mind of Crazy Bob, a culmination of themes from the Hydro’s last 29 years of thrills from co-owner Bob Turner. The actors who deliver the scares go through intensive training and learn how to create authentic costuming that has made the attraction a northwest Ohio fall tradition. Fri. & Sat. Sept. 27–Oct. 12, Fri.–Sun. plus Halloween Oct. 19–Nov. 2; 1333 Tiffin St., Fremont 43420, 419/307-6985, hauntedhydro.com

Jail of Terror, Newark: 
Licking County’s historic jail in downtown Newark dates back to 1889 and was used for nearly a century. Each fall, the building serves as the setting for Jail of Terror, a Halloween attraction where visitors make their way through cellblocks and hidden corridors as they encounter more than 25 actors. Different music sets the mood for the various areas of the building, and the property has a ghostly pedigree. The television show “Ghost Adventures” deemed the place “extremely haunted.” If you want a less-alarming adventure, the jail also offers mini flashlight tours. Fri. & Sat. Oct. 4–26, kids night Oct. 31; 46 S. Third St., Newark 43055, 740/345-5245, lcjail.org

Cleveland Metroparks Boo at the Zoo (photo courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks)

Boo at the Zoo, Cleveland:
For nine nights this fall, families can experience the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo after dark, with opportunities to meet costumed characters, trick-or-treat at 10 stations and enjoy a Monster Mash Dance Party. Exploring the zoo at night is a special treat for children and their families alike. Superheroes are available for meet-and-greets, and little ones have opportunities to spot animals as they trick-or-treat. The animals are a little more active in the evening, especially in October, due to the cooler evening temperatures. Oct. 11–13, 18–20 and 25–27; 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland 44109, 216/661-6500, futureforwildlife.org/boo

Sleepy Hollow (photo courtesy of the Sleepy Hollow Experience)
The Sleepy Hollow Experience, Chillicothe: A headless horseman and a mysterious woman in white are just two of the characters haunting Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre during The Sleepy Hollow Experience. Guests are drawn into the action as they watch Washington Irving’s eerie tale about schoolmaster Ichabod Crane and his ghostly encounters come to life on a 100-foot-long covered bridge. The evening also includes a pre-show talk where the principal characters are introduced, a performance of folk tunes from 1819 (the year the story was written) and the chance to play laser tag along a haunted trail and solve puzzles in escape rooms. Thur.–Sat. Oct. 3–Nov. 2; 5968 Marietta Rd., Chillicothe 45601, 866/775-0700, hauntedmountain.org

Cedar Points Halloweekends, Sandusky (photo courtesy of Cedar Point)
Cedar Point HalloWeekends, Sandusky: The fun continues at Cedar Point long after we say goodbye to summer. Youngsters eagerly await the costume contest at the Peanuts-themed Great Pumpkin Fest, and enjoy arts and crafts, a parade, indoor mazes without monsters and other pint-sized fun. New this year for the 14-and-under set, Hexed Spellbound: In the Dark offers a look at secrets hidden in a witches’ lair. Teens and adults head for the six scare zones at the back of the park, including the new CornStalkers 2.0: Revenge of the Pumpkin Heads, a dark and foggy cornfield taken over by “living” cornstalks. Fri.–Sun. through Oct. 27; 1 Cedar Point Dr., Sandusky 44870, 419/627-2350, halloweekends.com

Carnival of Horrors, Cuyahoga Falls:
Since 1968, Blossom Music Center has provided the idyllic backdrop for summer performances by the Cleveland Orchestra as well as rock and country acts. But at this time of year, the woods take on an ambiance that makes even the most stalwart horror fan quake. Since 2002, Ryan Pluta has staged his Carnival of Horrors with the motto: “If you cannot handle being scared, then don’t even bother to show up.” His quartet of haunts includes a funhouse maze inhabited by chainsaw-wielding clowns; a Wicked Woods packed with zombies; an insane asylum with roaming inmates; and a Freakshow in 3D Terrorvision. Fri.–Sun. through Nov. 2; 1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls 44223, 330/576-6501, carnivalofhorrors.com

Boo at the Zoo, Powell:
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium believes Halloween should be fun, not frightening. It’s that family-friendly philosophy that draws more than 90,000 visitors to Boo at the Zoo every fall. Although the weekends are designed for the 6-to-10-year-old crew, there are attractions everyone will enjoy. This year, superheroes Iron Man, Spider-Man and The Hulk will be on hand for meet-and-greets, and visitors can see some of the zoo’s residents, including Mexican wolf pups, polar bears and elephants. Hayrides, pumpkin-carving demonstrations and candy stops add to the festivities. Costumes — without weapons — are strongly encouraged. Oct. 11–13, 18–20 and 25-–27; 4850 Powell Rd., Powell 43065, 614/645-3400, columbuszoo.org

Wicked Forest Haunt (photo courtesy of Wicked Forest Haunt)
Wicked Forest Haunted Attraction, Logan: The Hocking Hills region of southeast Ohio is a destination for outdoor adventurers year-round, but once summer turns to fall, the Wicked Forest Haunted Attraction puts an added chill in the autumn air. This U-shaped, half-mile trail is littered with creepy characters and scary sets visitors can walk through. You’re in the middle of the woods by yourself at night, which means plenty of sticks cracking and creature noises to amp up the ambiance, and the attraction features new themed sets each year. The path takes about 25 minutes to complete and is illuminated only by the lights on each set. 15111 St. Rte. 664 S., Logan 43138, 740/652-5444, wicked-forest.com

Escape from Blood Prison, Mansfield:
Although it offers a creepy vibe whenever you visit, the Ohio State Reformatory is especially terrifying during Escape from Blood Prison. The actors here play the part of deranged inmates from maximum-security prisons across the nation who’ve taken over the reformatory as their home away from home. The fake blood and gore flies as an evil assortment of monsters wielding chainsaws prepare to throw unsuspecting visitors into solitary confinement, and the basement is transformed into a traditional haunted house. New this year, the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue features live stunts including fire eating, sword swallowing and illusions. Thur.–Sun. through Nov. 3; 100 Reformatory Rd., Mansfield 44905, 419/522-2644, bloodprison.com

Lake Eerie Fearfest (photo courtesy of Lake Eerie Fearfest)
Lake Eerie Fearfest, Sandusky:
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center has earned a spirited reputation for spooky fun no matter the season. But the indoor amusement park lives up to its name each year as Halloween nears, when an additional quartet of themed haunted spaces offer frightful delights for everyone: Darkmare, filled with challenging maze-like corridors in which visitors have to navigate winding hallways to get out; Quarantine, an insane asylum populated by zombies and mad scientists; Eerie Chateau, a home that’s anything but sweet; and Dead in the Water, a ghost ship inhabited by an array of creatures from the deep. Fri.–Sun. through Oct. 27; 3319 Milan Rd., Sandusky 44870, 419/626-4467, lakeeeriefearfest.com