Halloween isn't a day: It's a season. And we're at the height of it now, with a host of local attractions offering a bloody good scare ... or not.

Whether you want to ignite your fright or prefer to take a fear-free hayride, there are plenty of pre-trick-or-treat events for you. To fit your fear factor, we've complied a list of activities that range from fun to fright to nerves of steel.

No matter which boo venue you choose, here are some insider if-you-go tips:

• If you go for a super-scary event, know that you can chicken out. Most haunts have "safe words" you can use to get an early exit and low-scare areas, such as the concession area or bonfire, where you can chill. Some also have low-scare days.

• Don't wear your designer duds, favorite outfit or snazzy shoes. Haunted houses, hayrides and marshmallow roasts are messy affairs.

• Leave your cellphone behind. Although it's tempting to use the flashlight function or take a selfie with a zombie, it's more likely that you'll drop it, lose it or damage it.

• Lastly, do not touch the creepy characters you encounter. While the ghouls and goblins might seem all too real, they're actors doing their job — entertaining you.

Have nerves of steel

Haunted Basement: This is like being in an episode of "American Horror Story," only you can't turn it off. Before you enter this immersive theater experience, you have to present your ID and sign a waiver. You will be taunted, frightened and, unless you take a no-touch or Fraidy Cat tour, you will get handled. 6:30-11:45 p.m. Thu.-Fri.; 2-4 p.m. & 6-11:45 p.m. Sat.; 6-8 p.m. & 9-10:30 p.m. Sun. Ends Nov. 2. $15-$30. Rosedale Center Mall, 10 Rosedale Center, Roseville. hauntedbasement.org.

Like a little fright

Dead End Hayride: The terrifying scenes nestled into the depths of Pinehaven Farm won't be easily forgotten. This interactive experience uses visitors as part of the show, so you may get tapped on the shoulder by an unsavory spirit. 7 p.m.-midnight Wed.-Sat.; 7-9:30 p.m. Sun. Ends Nov. 2. $16-$67. Pinehaven Farm, 28186 Kettle River Blvd., Wyoming, Minn. thedeadendhayride.com.

The Haunting Experience: Open for its 33rd season, this field of fright is the longest-running hayride in Minnesota. Oh, they recommend you don't come alone. 7-11 p.m. Thu.-Sat. Ends Nov. 2. $24-$34. Zywiec's Landscape and Garden Center, 10900 E. Point Douglas Road, Cottage Grove. 651-459-3001. hauntingexperience.com.

Scream Town: Want to heighten your haunted experience? The season ends with a "lights out" version on the final weekend. That will undoubtedly increase the fear factor of the seven separate attractions. 6:30-11 p.m. Fri., 6-11 p.m. Sat.; 7-10 p.m. Sun. Ends Nov. 2. $30-$124. 7410 Hwy. 212, Chaska. screamtown.com.

The Abandoned Hayride: This ain't a beautiful fall day where the family gleefully rides along in the back of Farmer Bob's wagon. If you embark on this journey, be prepared for hair-raising scares. There's also a haunted house. 6:30-11 p.m. Fri.; 6-11 p.m. Sat.; 6:30-10 p.m. Sun. $20-$149. Ends Nov. 2. 7525 Hwy. 212, Chaska. theabandonedhayride.com.

Fright Farm: Don't let the fact that this theatrical haunted house is a fundraiser for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Foundation lure you into a sense of security: There are nefarious folks waiting to stalk you. 7-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Ends Oct. 31. $12. Ramsey County Extension Building, 2020 N. White Bear Av., Maplewood. frightfarm.org.

Haunted Acres: Run by the Hamel Lions, this haunted area claims to be voted No. 1 in Minnesota. Enough said. 7-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Ends Oct. 26. $10. Lions Park, 7205 County Road 101, Corcoran. hamellionshauntedacres.com.

Valleyscare: After the sun sets on Minnesota's largest amusement park, fiends of all kinds lurk in the dark waiting for their unsuspecting prey — you. 7 p.m.-midnight. Fri.-Sat. Ends Oct. 26. Hwy. 101 and Valleyfair Drive, Shakopee. valleyfair.com/valleyscare/haunt.

Just want seasonal fun

Nickelodeon Booniverse: The Mall of America indoor theme park hosts a variety of family-friendly activities on weekends now through Halloween. See website for details. Mall of America, Bloomington. nickelodeonuniverse.com.

The Great Pumpkin Fest: During the day at Valleyfair, take the kids to meet the "Peanuts" gang and go on rides and enjoy Halloween-themed fun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Ends Oct. 27. $30 and up. Hwy. 101 and Valleyfair Drive, Shakopee. valleyfair.com.

Transylvania Trolley: Count Karl is a friendly vampire who invites kids to wear their costumes. The jolly motorman takes kids on a special and very silly Halloween streetcar ride. 12:30-4 p.m. Sat. $2.50. Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, 2330 W. 42nd St., Mpls. trolleyride.org.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular: An enchanted forest with trails illuminated by more than 5,000 carved pumpkins. 7-11 p.m. Sat.-Oct. 26; 7-10 p.m. Sun. $16-$20. Minnesota Zoo, 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley. mnzoo.org.

Big Woods Halloween: Go on a pumpkin scavenger hunt around Elm Creek Nature Center and collect treats from costumed animals, visit the Skull Lab and Gross Out Grotto. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 26. $7. Elm Creek Park Reserve, 13351 Elm Creek Road, Dayton.

Halloween Festival: Activities, treats and tours of the historic farm. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 26. $5-$8. Gibbs Farm, 2097 W. Larpenteur Av., Falcon Heights. rchs.com.

Boo-ology: "It's not scary, it's science," proclaims the Science of Museum of Minnesota's event with hands-on activities. Noon-4 p.m. Oct. 26. $14.95-$19.95, ages 12 and under in costume admitted free. 120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. smm.org.

Monster Mash Halloween Party: Little superheroes and princesses can enter a costume contest and participate in games, crafts and activities. 1-3 p.m. Oct. 26. Free. Lynnhurst Recreation Center, 1345 W. Minnehaha Pkwy., Mpls. minneapolisparks.org.

Halloween at Minnehaha Falls: Outdoor activities including hayride, inflatables and costumed characters. Roast marshmallows and groove with KidsDance. 1-4 p.m. Oct. 26. $5. Minnehaha Regional Park, 4801 S. Minnehaha Drive, Mpls. minneapolisparks.org.

Halloween Spook-tacular: An evening of horse-drawn wagon rides, refreshments, entertainment and ghastly games. 4-7 p.m. Oct. 26. $7-$8, advance registration required. Harriet Alexander Nature Center, 2520 N. Dale St., Roseville. cityofroseville.com.

Old Fashioned Trick Or Treat: Halloween in pioneer times was a little different. Hear the music and play games of the 1800s and trick-or-treat along the candlelit paths. 4-8 p.m. Oct. 26. $5-$9. The Landing, 2187 E. Hwy. 101, Shakopee.

Enchanted Forest Halloween: Wear your costume to Lowry Nature Center for an evening of trick-or-treating, storytelling, music, games and crafts. 5-9 p.m. Oct. 26. $7. Carver Park Reserve, 7025 Victoria Drive, Victoria.

Haunted Forest: Don't let a little darkness scare you. Enjoy a not-so-scary walk on a trail, take a hayride and watch puppet shows by a bonfire, while eating creepy concessions. 5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 26. $3 per person, $10 per carload. Steve Michaud Park, 17100 Ipava Av., Lakeville. ci.lakeville.mn.us.

Great Pumpkin Halloween Festival: Themed activities and entertainment fill downtown St. Paul with live entertainment, crafts and a costume parade. 1-3 p.m. Oct. 27. Free. Landmark Center, 75 W. 5th St., St. Paul. landmarkcenter.org.

Melissa Walker • 612-673-4461