Midwest travel: Hotels offering spooky stays, events
Halloween used to be a kids' holiday, but apparently adults have deep-seated desires to be flesh-eating zombies or soul-sucking politicians -- if only for one night. Why not do it up right at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, which will offer guests a special "Night of Horror" package, inspired by the storyline of this season's "American Horror Story: Hotel." The Chicago property will be transformed into a haunted hotel and you can unlock the door to a scary evening full of surprises when you book a stay on the 17th floor. The package includes: overnight accommodations in an American Horror Story-inspired room; exclusive access to the decorated business lounge for complimentary breakfast, evening beverage service and more; two bloody cocktails; and entry to the hotel's All Hallow's Eve Party at Filini Bar & Restaurant on Oct. 31. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 30-Nov. 1, at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, 221 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago. Packages start at $399. radissonblu.com/en/aquahotel-Chicago.
The Godfrey Hotel Chicago is throwing a Halloween party, and guests are encouraged to show up in creative costumes. I|O at The Godfrey, on the hotel's fifth floor, is the city's largest year-round indoor/outdoor lounge. There, you'll encounter "haunted" guest rooms with zombies roaming the hallways. Stay for the exclusive afterparty by purchasing wristbands or choose to reserve an overnight room. If you saunter into the lounge's "Walk of No Shame" brunch the next day in full costume and makeup, you'll snag $10 off your food tab plus one mimosa or Bloody Mary. Haunted Hotel runs from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, and brunch is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, 27 W. Huron St., Chicago. Admission is $49 per person, or $60 per person for VIP expedited entry and $100 per person for VIP + After Party Access. Tickets, tables and private parties available. eventbrite.com. To reserve a room, visit godfreyhotel chicago.com.
Empire state of mind
For an old-school classy night, consider heading to The Palmer House Hilton as the historic property hosts its inaugural Big Night America's Halloween Masquerade in the storied Empire Room. Events will take place throughout the Palmer House and include a full dinner buffet, dancing into the night with a New Orleans brass band, a hosted bar between 8 and 11 p.m., reserved seating and a best masked contest. The dress code is upscale/semi-formal or formal and a mask is mandatory. This event is for guests 21 years old or older. 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago. Tickets are $129.99 per person with reserved seating for parties of two, four and 10 people. For tickets, go to http://bit.ly/Empire RoomMasqueradeTickets. The Palmer House Hilton offers a special room rate starting at $189 a night. To book a room, visit hiballevents.com.
Sweeter, sweeter pumpkin eater
When it comes to squash, nothing compares to the Pumpkin Festival in Sycamore. The fun includes a pie-eating contest, a carnival, ghost-story telling in the park, a teen carnival, a historic homes walk, a giant cake cutting ceremony, craft shows, decorated pumpkins, lots of food booths and a parade Sunday. The 2015 theme is "Pumpkins in Disguise." The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25. The fest runs Wednesday through Sunday, Oct. 21-25, in downtown Sycamore. sycamorepumpkin festival.com.
The Great Pumpkin Festival, aka the Pumpkin Chuckin Fest in Union Grove, Wisconsin, is a festive way to release aggression and get out into the crisp autumn air. Now in it's 20th year, the fest offers pumpkin chuckin contests, a Midwest BBQ cook-off, costume and pie-eating contests, games for kids, a pie auction, a baking contest, a chili cook-off, hay rides, vendors and lots of nibbles. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24-25, at the Racine County Fairgrounds, 19805 Durand Ave., Union Grove, Wisconsin. pumpkinchuckin.com/.
I am Iron Man
Perhaps you want to get out of town for Halloween? Milwaukee's Iron Horse Hotel, a motorcycle-centric hotel, beckons with a haunted "The Shining Bash." The hotel is decorating the lobby to mimic the movie's Overlook Hotel, and employees are outfitted as some of the film characters including: gory twins, Danny riding a tricycle, Jack's transitions from normal to possessed, butlers, bellhops and maids. View a screening of the movie throughout the evening, visit an eerie haunt with holograms and fog; DJ Kiings tries to put a "spell on you" to dance the night away; and guests wearing the most creative ghoulish costume can win a $100 bar tab for first prize and a $50 bar tab for second place. 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Horse Hotel, 500 W. Florida St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Reservations are not required, and there is no cover charge. theironhorsehotel.com.