When it comes to getting your spook on, there’s no shortage of places across the U.S. to scare up some fun. From real haunted houses to ghosts and goblins on parade to witches’ balls and vampire dances, here are 10 U.S. cities that will blow your gourd this Halloween.
It’s Salem, witches. Long known for the infamous Witch Trials, Salem doesn’t just take a day for Halloween, but the whole month of October to celebrate all things magical and mysterious. From the Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo, to ghost walks, to kiddie crafts, to interactive dramas that let you decide how you’d respond during the Salem Witch Trials, to movies with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, to the Witches Ball on Halloween night, there’s sure to be an event that would cast a spell on anyone.
New Orleans, LA
Known as America’s Most Haunted City, Halloween is New Orleans favorite time of year, right after Mardi Gras. New Orleans is full of thrills and chills, from its Voodoo parlors in the French Quarter to its “Cities of the Dead” cemeteries where ghostly apparitions have appeared — some have even been documented!
Not to be outdone by that other time of year, the Krew of Boo holds its Halloween Parade the Saturday before Halloween and revelers in full costume fill the streets to watch and participate. If you go, make sure to pay homage and gain the protection of Marie Laveau, the city’s high priestess of voodoo, before heading to Royal Street to visit the mansion of the infamous Madame Delphine LaLaurie, whose tortured slaves still haunt the house to this day.
To learn more about New Orelans, check out in Emperors And Absinthe: 8 Little-Known New Orleans Attractions.
New York City
There’s never any shortage of things to do in New York City, but in the city that never sleeps, it’s go big or go home for Halloween. Try heading to the East Village to participate in the Village Halloween Parade, stay in the haunted Chelsea Hotel, and later grab a bite to eat at White Horse Tavern, said to be protected by the spirit of a customer who literally drank himself to death there. For more family-oriented fare, head to Queens for a day in a pumpkin patch, or to the Bronx for Boo at the Zoo
Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA
Ever wonder what the people who make horror movies for a living do to celebrate a day devoted to horror? Head to Los Angeles to find out.
From wonderfully decorated houses to a bevy of parties and attractions — like studio tours for horror flicks and more — Los Angeles and SoCal have it all. And, of course, because it’s HollyWeird, check out Lucha VaVoom, a combination burlesque show, Mexican luchador wrestling ring, comedy show, and Halloween extravaganza, this year centering on the theme of vampires and featuring David Arquette.
For a few more thrills, head down the coast to Long Beach to tour the Queen Mary where more than 200 monsters and spirits will meet you within the halls of 6 mazes at Dark Harbor, the haunted attraction on the dock of the infamous ship.
So, you know about Austin’s bats, right? Millions of them… flying out from under the Anne Richards Congress Avenue Bridge… and they’re just… everywhere! GAHHHH!!! But, you know, that just adds to the creep factor, right? From haunted spaces — like the Texas State House, the Alamo, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Driskoll Hotel — to hopping places — like Austin’s 6th Street area — you’ll find spirits of one kind or another. Explore the city’s Oakwood Cemetery for ghosts, and then hit the bar scene area later dressed as your favorite goblin!
Interested in Texas’ capital of weirdness? Read 5 Cool (And Unusual) Things To Do In Austin.
Sleepy Hollow, NY
Long known for its part in one of the spookiest short stories of our history, Sleepy Hollow is home to the famed Headless Horseman… “the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, … the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast,… in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak…”
YIKES! Along with rides of the Headless Horseman and live visits from Edgar Allen Poe, you can tour the Lyndhurst Mansion and Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities for a fun-for-all-ages scare. And be sure to check out the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze featuring over 7,000 jack o’lanterns lighting up the night … uh… floor? Yeah, well, you get the picture.
From haunted houses, real and otherwise, to old-fashioned hayrides and pumpkin patches, Memphis makes you feel downright at home in the best Southern way possible. Late in the month, the Dia De Los Muertos Parade and Festival celebrates the Day of the Dead, but on Halloween eve, make sure to get your glam on to compete for prizes in costume competitions along Beale Street. Party goers at each bar on Beale Street pick a winner from their establishment, and then winners head to Handy Park at midnight to see who will be the best dressed of them all!
Who wouldn’t want to spend their Halloween midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?
If the only shivers you want to experience are the spine-chilling kind, head to Savannah where the weather is warm, and the ghosts are active. Aside from putting on tons of family-friendly events like nature walks and midnight bike rides, Savannah is also known as one of the most haunted cities in America. Ghost tours, the Nightmare on Congress Street Halloween Bar Crawl, and haunted house attractions are all lined up the weekend before Halloween. And if you need a break from all things pumpkin spice and gothic, be sure to check out the Savannah Speed Classic road race and the annual Autumn GardenFest at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens.
Let’s face it, where else but Las Vegas are you going to wear that skimpy nurse uniform and possibly get paid for it? Wait, did that come out right? Any who, Las Vegas is perfect for those of us who’ve decided to trade fun-sized chocolate bars for chocolate martini shots and candy corn for eye candy. Hit the strip in Vegas where clubs and casinos have costume parties with cash money prizes. That’d be something nice to stuff in your plastic jack o’lantern. And of course, there are the shows — from Absinthe, to Tape Mouth, to a Zombie Burlesque (yeah, that’s what we thought), there’s something there for every eerie taste and temptation.
Yep, because no one keeps it weird like Portland. Join more than 2,000 revelers for the 19th Annual Portland Erotic Ball in the Crystal Ballroom for live bands, burlesque artists, aerial performances, and fetish demonstration stages. If that’s not your “thang,” check out the Fright Night: Halloween Circus, one of the area’s eight haunted houses, or hop on the BarFly Bus Halloween Tour for proper adult trick or treating with stops at bars around the city. That’s right: 60 bars, 60 drinks, 60 costume contests, and more than 600 fellow adult trick or treaters all vying for more than $2,000 in prizes. What could possibly go wrong?
We hope we inspired you to make some Halloween travel plans — just don’t forget to bring your costume!