Events

The Most Terrifying Haunted Houses in Chicago

statesville haunted prison
Courtesy of Statesville Haunted Prison

As a holiday that rivals St. Patrick’s Day for sheer debauchery, Halloween in Chicago is known as a time for raging EDM and overflowing house parties. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still pay tribute to the kid in you with a nostalgic trip to a local haunted house. While the pickings are slim in the city itself, you can also make the trip out to the suburbs to give yourself a good old-fashioned scare -- you know, the kind that doesn’t involve turning on the TV and flipping over to cable news. These are the scariest haunted houses in Chicago. (If things get a bit too spooky for you, we've also rounded up all the other fall events in Chicago you need to check out.)

The Catacombs

Portage Park
It’s the 40th anniversary of this long-running haunted house located in the basement of the historic St. Pascal Church, in operation since 1914. As the story goes, a variety of ghosts, ghouls, monsters, madmen, and other “undesirables” have been buried under the church since that time -- and every October they come to scare the crap out of unsuspecting patrons. Expect haunted house staples like fog, strobe lights, loud noises, uneven floors, and tight spaces as you take the 10-20 minute walkthrough of the monster-filled space.
Cost: $10-$36

The Attic

Uptown
Created in partnership with the Chase Park Advisory Council, this brand new 2019 haunted house experience takes over Chase Park on October weekends with a PG-13 haunt based on the story of a scientist whose experiments on children went horribly wrong. Today, the “macabre play house” is reportedly overrun by the orphaned children who were left trapped inside. No need to wait in line at a certain time for a set performance here. Just show up between 7 and 10:30pm Fridays & Saturdays (6-9:30pm Sundays) and present your scanned mobile ticket at the door (enter on the Ashland side of the park). Might we suggest walking over to Carol’s, one Chicago's best dive bars, for a drink after?
Cost: $10

Statesville Haunted Prison

Crest Hill
Long regarded as one of the top haunted houses in Illinois, you’ll first make your way through 23 terrifying cells in this maximum security prison to fend off attacks from 100+ evil inmates before heading outside the prison gates to the caves, mine shafts, and mass graves of the zombie-laden City of the Dead. This classic Chicago haunt has been going strong for more than 20 years, so they must be doing something right. 
Cost: $30-$45

Massacre Haunted House

Montgomery
Known for movie-quality sets and fear experiences designed for more mature audiences, this custom-built haunted house features 30,000 square feet of terror across 60 rooms that include tombs, caverns, mazes, and a 360-degree 3-D haunted house. While you’re here, check out their escape rooms and ax-throwing facility for a comprehensive assemblage of good old-fashioned fear.
Cost: $26-$40 (plus $30 for escape room or $25-$35 for ax throwing)

Basement of the Dead

Aurora
Three years since being named the “#1 Haunted House in the World” by the Buzzfeed community, this haunted house is known for taking advantage of its natural setting in the basement of a creepy 100-year-old building in downtown Aurora to scare the shit out of people who are afraid of the dark. As one of the darkest haunted houses in the area, the dim lighting enhances the horror movie aesthetic at this year-round haunt founded in 2000. Test your luck in exiting scary places alive during their 5-minute “Stabbin Cabin” escape room challenge or stop by November 1 and 2 for their extra scary “Lights Out” flashlight-only haunts.
Cost: $22-$100 (plus $6-$8 for escape room)

Dungeon of Doom

Zion
Located in the old Briquette factory in a dreary industrial park surrounded by woods, it takes a full 60 minutes to make your way through the variety of scare rooms in this 42,000-square-foot house of horrors that bills itself as the longest “single attraction walkthrough” in Chicago. But the main attraction of this adult-geared assemblage of savagery continues to be its unique “Buried Dead or Alive” feature, in which everyone in your group will experience the claustrophobic sensation of being buried alive. Fun, right?
Cost: $30-$67

13th Floor Haunted House

Melrose Park
This large, well established, and slightly more corporatized haunted house (which now operates in more than a dozen cities) is back in 2019 with two all new attractions designed to freak you out with top quality sets and high production value. “The Other Side” is 13th Floor’s new Stranger Things-themed haunt, while “Creative Feature” re-imagines classic horror movie creatures of past films and brings them back to life in an abandoned theater.
Cost: $20-$33 per day (add $10 for fast pass or $20 for skip the line)

Midnight Terror

Oak Lawn
The themed experience at this 26,000-square-foot haunted house (located across the street from Holy Sepulchre Cemetery) begins on the 5-minute interactive shuttle from the Metra parking lot, and doesn’t let up until you’re shivering in a ball of sweat in the corner of the room. The experiences at this actor-driven haunt (known for blending old-school tactics with new-school technology) include the theatrics and special effects of “Black Oak Grove” and the terrifyingly tight spaces of “Factory of Malum.” With its largest renovation to date for 2019, you can also stop by for their “Clown Take Over,” 100% clown haunt November 1-2 or look at Christmas in a whole new (horrifying) light during their “Santa’s Workshop of Fear” haunt December 13-15.
Cost: $25-$50

Realm of Terror

Lake Beach
Known as one of the scariest haunted houses in the area, this adult-themed haunted house even comes equipped with its own bar in the waiting area to help you calm your nerves before the show. Grab a beer or themed drink such as Thirst for Blood or Terror Punch from the on-site Haunt Bar (the only haunted house bar in Illinois) before making your way into this winding maze of extreme terror, which is highly regarded for its professional makeup effects (created by Face Off season 9 star Stevie Calabrese) and healthy servings of gore.
Cost: $25-$45

Evil Intentions

Elgin
The naturally decrepit setting of the 55,000-square-foot Old Elgin Casket Factory offers the perfect environment for this haunted house that is reportedly actually haunted by some of its former residents. Whether or not that’s true, there’s no denying this is one of the top haunted houses in the area with super professional crews and plenty of scares via coffin mazes and other unique flourishes that play off the building’s sordid history. They also offer ghost tours with “live investigation” for those looking to dig further into the building’s paranormal past.
Cost: $30-$40 ($50 for ghost tour)

HellsGate

Lockport
Probably the most theatrical haunted house in the area, this relatively new addition to the scene (opened in 2016) differentiates itself from the pack with a freaky multi-level mansion hidden in the woods. After you park in the nearby Metra lot, a shuttle bus drops you off in the zombie-infested woods and you must make your way past the cemetery before finding the house. Inside, you’ll find secret passages, giant slides, a mausoleum, and the chance to win a comped ticket if you find a hidden key. To really mess with your buddies, buy a $99 “Hell Pass,” which will mark them as the haunt’s personal target for the entire tour.
Cost: $30-$99

Fright Fest

Gurnee
If it’s been a while since you’ve visited Six Flags Great America, you might want to reconsider making the trip if you’re a fan of haunted houses. Or, shall we say, multiple haunted houses and “scare zones” including “Henchmen Alley” and “Lost Circus”, not to mention a variety of entertainment including carnival-style freakshows. You can also, of course, ride the rides (for example, the innocent teacup ride has been transformed into the “Terror Twister 2” with DJ Terror) and interact with the monsters who roam the park after dark at this granddaddy of haunted house experiences.
Cost: $55-$80

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Jay Gentile is a Thrillist contributor and freelance journalist. Follow @thejaygentile.