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Tree of Life and Death
Skeleton + mermaid = spooky.

As much as we respect a clever costume, we’d like to avoid the garish Miley Cyrus getups at all costs this year. One way to guarantee a more sophisticated--but still totally spooky--Halloween is by celebrating it at one of these high(er)-brow gatherings:

Den of Ghoulish Delights at the Exploratorium Mourn the “death” of disproved science ideas, decorate molten sugar skulls and witness the dissection of a cow’s heart while sipping a Corpse Reviver (made with brandy, vermouth and a float of sparkling red wine) at the museum’s adults-only Halloween fete. October 31, 6 to 10 p.m.; admission is $25; Pier 15

The Tree of Life and Death at Oakland Museum of California Muralist Eduardo Pineda has curated a collection of nine artists’ invocations of nature’s spirit, including a set of life-sized skeleton mermaids made out of recycled materials--quite the sight. Go on November 1, when the museum is open till 9 p.m., and enjoy some food-truck treats. Through December 8; admission is $15; 1000 Oak St., Oakland

Creatures of the NightLife at California Academy of Sciences Like to get grossed out? Participate in a squid dissection and get your hands on actual human brains. Prefer to stick with brain stimulation? Sit in on a talk with scientists about how to survive a zombie attack (seriously). October 31 at 6 p.m.; tickets are $12; 55 Music Concourse Dr.

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