ANOKA, Minn. — When the leaves begin to turn and there’s a bite in the air, it’s time to visit the Halloween Capital of the world: Anoka.
The town of roughly 20,000 people is 20 miles north of Minneapolis and absolutely owns the month of October. “We love Halloween,” says Liz McFarland, President of Anoka Halloween.
“My favorite part of Halloween truly still is the Grand Day Parade. I just remember being a little girl, living two blocks away from Main Street and sitting there and waiting for candy or a clown or a marching band to walk by.”
The town decided to be Halloween’s biggest supporter over 100 years ago. “So, in 1919, Nov. 1, the townsfolk woke up to pretty much a town in disaster of pranks,” says John Jost, compiler of the book “Anoka Halloween 100th Anniversary: 1920-2020.” “After that, civic leaders decided to keep kids so busy with activities they wouldn’t have time for mischief," he says.
These days store fronts are decorated, a giant blinking pumpkin sits atop City Hall and there’s the annual parade, which McFarland admits will be a little different this year. “The Grand Day Parade is going to be a reverse parade, so you have to drive by the floats.”
No matter what the world is dealing with, Jost knows Anoka will always pull out all the stops when it comes to celebrating the season. “It’s really ingrained into the Anoka experience. Halloween isn’t just a day in Anoka, it’s the entire month.”
The town know for Halloween sprung up where the Mississippi River and Rum River meet. A stroll along the Rum River Trail shows off the natural beauty of the entire area. The trail leads you through historic downtown where you can relax with a coffee and dessert at Truffles and Tortes, get a palm reading and antique at one of the many treasure troves in town.
Of course, this time of year when you’re in Anoka, you’re surrounded by Halloween, so it’s time for a treat. But we’re not thinking candy. There’s no better place to wet your whistle than 10K Brewing. “It’s bottled after a popular Halloween treat so it’s got chocolate, peanut butter and caramel in it.”
From natural beauty to quaint downtown shops to being the world’s strongest Halloween advocate, Anoka has something for everyone.
Here are our 11 things to see and do in Anoka: