As the ultimate witching hour nears, everyone is looking for a few final places to lose their nerve . . . their wits . . . their lives. If you're not sure which way to turn, close your eyes and point a bony, fleshless finger toward any one of these activities for goosebump-inducing fun.
Do they think we've learned nothing from a lifetime of watching scary movies? You never get out of your car. You never walk down a wooded path. If you are, indeed, up for a creepy nighttime stroll, head to Albertson, where Clark Botanic Garden has been transformed into a candlelit playground for ghosts, goblins, scary clowns and zombies. The walk is open 6 to 9 Friday and Saturday nights. Admission is $5. "There are some props, but there also are live people who jump out at you," says staffer Debra Fiorentino (516-869-7634, clarkbotanic.org). For the younger set, the garden's "Not-So-Spooky Walk and Scary Tales" program ($3) happens noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Families can wander the grounds without worrying whether something's going to spook them.
ALSO TRY: For a different kind of thrill, Sag Harbor Whaling Museum's "Ghost Walk" is a roughly two-hour walking tour that includes tales of various ghosts said to have ties to the village. "There are a lot of scary tales in Sag Harbor," says administrative assistant Lynnette Pintauro. "I'm stuck in this building that is from 1845, and doors open and close by themselves all the time, but I know it is just the wind."
Walk starts at 6 p.m. Saturday - reservations are required ($25, 631-725-0770, sagharborwhalingmuseum.org). Afterward, peek inside the "Haunted Wailing Museum" ($10).
2. GO TO A PARTY
Halloween weekend kicks off Friday night in West Sayville with the Long Island Maritime Museum's Halloween Boat Burning, 5:30-9:30 p.m. The 20-year tradition invites patrons to gather by the shoreline to watch the sunset over the bay before an old vessel is launched and ignited into a huge bonfire. The evening includes live entertainment and food/beverages for sale. More than 2,500 people attended last year, says Kathleen Prokesch, the museum's special-events director ($5, 631-447-8679, limaritime.org).
ALSO TRY: Kids of all ages are welcome to don costumes a day early and roam the free Halloween Festival at Suffolk County Community College's Ammerman Campus in Selden. The outdoor carnival runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday with crafts, game booths, live entertainment and trick-or-treating. There's also a haunted house suitable for ages 12 and older. All activities are free, says campus activities director Sharon Silverstein, although attendees are encouraged to bring a canned food item for Long Island Cares or contribute to UNICEF (631-451-4376, sunysuffolk.edu).
3. SEE A PARADE
Several Long Island communities host annual Halloween parades, with kids and families invited to march in costume. Among them:
GLEN COVE Pint-size ghosts, goblins and other monsters are invited to march at 1 p.m. Saturday. Assemble at the Staples parking lot on School Street. Trick-or-treating through downtown businesses until 3 p.m. (516-759-6970).
SAG HARBOR Village's annual Ragamuffin Parade starts at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bookhampton on Main Street and ends at the Custom House, where the community food pantry will serve refreshments. Afterward, trick-or-treat on the "Pumpkin Trail" through the village (look for the pumpkin face in the window at participating businesses, 631-725-0011).