Clarke House history
Discover the sights, sounds and scents of Chicago in the 1850s at Clarke House Museum. Converse with costumed interpreters at the city of Chicago's landmark house museum and try hands-on activities including candle dipping, butter making and constructing your own period political rosette. There will be presentations about mid-19th-century life and free mini-tours of Clarke House offered throughout the day.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Chicago Women's Park and Gardens, 1827 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago. Free admission. clarkehousemuseum.org.
The next three weekends will be full of fun and fright during Brookfield Zoo's Creatures of the Night when all ages can enjoy haunted evenings. The bravest souls can take their chances on the Trail of Terror, a PG-13 experience that features "scientists" at GeneLab who are struggling to lay waste to mutated bugs that have taken over the city. Anyone looking for more spooky times can board the Haunted Tram for a ghastly journey through Zombieville. For families with younger children, the event features not-so-scary activities such as smashing pumpkins, a 7,000-square-foot Crazed Maize and the Monster Mash Dance Party led by a DJ.
6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 12-14, 19-21 and 26-28, at First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield. Parking is free after 6 p.m. and activities are free (except pumpkin carving and the carousel) with admission of $12 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. CZS.org/Events or (708) 688-8000.
Allure of couture
The eighth annual Fashion Focus Chicago 2012 is a weeklong celebration of Chicago's thriving fashion industry and it showcases some of the city's top designers. It features runway shows in Millennium Park, fashion installations, shopping events, student designer events and industry seminars. There also will be a variety of free and affordable events and shopping, too.
Times and venues vary Monday through Sunday, Oct. 15-21. Runway shows in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph, Chicago, cost $35 (general admission) and $95 (VIP). fashionfocuschicago.org.
The celebration of all things German takes over the Athenaeum in Indianapolis during Germanfest. Get in on a yodeling contest, cornhole tournament and a deadlift competition. Watch wiener dog races and live musical performances and try some German beer and food. Earn five free food/drink tickets by coming dressed in your finest lederhosen or other Bavarian gear.
Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Athenaeum, 401 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis. Admission is $5 in advance, $10 at the door, $5 after 6 p.m. Kids 12 and younger admitted free. athenaeumfoundation.org
Crisp air, cold beer, fall colors
The go-carts and mini golf attractions may be wrapping it up in the Wisconsin Dells, but the tourist town's annual Autumn Harvest Festival beckons for another 2012 visit. Along with hayrides, pony rides, and arts and crafts, count on pumpkin decorating, a scarecrow-stuffing contest, a straw dig and pie contest. Chat with brewmasters and sample beer from Wisconsin breweries at Wisconsin Dells on Tap and relax with live entertainment. Bring the kids for a craft corner, petting zoo, juggling, unicyclists and magic tricks
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at La Crosse and Superior Street in the Wisconsin Dells. Fest admission free, but Dells on Tap has a general admission of $30 in advance or $35 at the door. www.wisdells.com.
Six of the original 19 covered bridges of Madison County remain and five are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now in its 43rd year, Madison County's Covered Bridge Festival pays homage to the structures on the historic Courthouse Square in Winterset, Iowa. Watch old-time craft demonstrations, take a free horse-drawn wagon ride to John Wayne's house, sip cider and enjoy plenty of fall food, plus classic American music, storytelling and more. Take a guided tour of the bridges and climb the 25-foot Clark Tower in Winterset City Park for a grand view of the Middle River Valley.
6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, and 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at Winterset City Park, Winterset, Iowa. Free admission. madisoncounty.com or (800) 298-6119.
Worth the trip
Scary movies and haunting music don't hold a candle to real-life ghost stories when you stay at one of the Historic Hotels of America along with some previous guests who refuse to check out. Book a spooky package or tour one of the 110 historic hotels such as a Room With a Boo Package at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee and the Spirit of the Crescent package at the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Ark.
Rates and package dates vary. Visit historichotels.org/hoteldeals/featured-packages.php or call (800) 678 8946.