We love discovering the most charmingly decorated holiday towns, but before we rush to Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have October to enjoy. Halloween brings out some of the spookiest decorations, the most perfectly carved pumpkins, terrifying haunted attractions, and more. Here are five towns across the country that go all-out for Halloween. Definitely worth the trip if ‘spooky’ is your favorite season!
New Orleans, Louisiana
While most people associate New Orleans with Mardi Gras, the Cresent City is also known as one of the world’s greatest Halloween destinations. Between its voodoo culture and haunted Garden District mansions, this 300-year-old city is crawling with spooky stories and haunted encounters. Businesses and residents alike go all out. Take a haunted tour (there are so many themes to choose from here) to see the area’s historic sites and centuries-old buildings, like the LaLaurie Mansion.
Visit three of the most lauded “haunted hotels” in New Orleans — Hotel Monteleone, Le Pavillon Hotel, and Dauphine Orleans Hotel — for cocktails, ghost tales, and a luxurious overnight stay. If you visit on Krewe of Boo weekend (October 22, 2022), the French Quarter becomes the “Fright Quarter” as extravagantly decorated floats and costumed riders hit the streets with tricks and treats. There’s also a plethora of yard decor to ogle throughout the city, including the famous Kraken House and Skeleton House.
Often dubbed the “Halloween Capital of the World,” Anoka, Minnesota, should be on every Holloween lover’s list. Legend has it that Anoka was the first city in the country to organize an official Halloween celebration in hopes of diverting youngsters from Halloween pranks that were tormenting the rural town. Dozens of residents go all-in on the annual house decorating contest, and the public can take a driving tour of all the creepiest addresses.
Colorfully illuminated floats fill the streets at the Light Up The Night Parade (October 22, 2022), and everyone walks over to City Hall after for a giant bonfire party with food trucks. The following weekend welcomes the Grande Day Parade with more stunning floats from pirate ships to Oz. Top off your Halloween explorations with a seasonal cocktail at the Hardware Store, a secret speakeasy.
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Halloween in Hudson Valley, NY, has something for everyone. Haunted hayrides, Gothic mansion tours, an immersive pumpkin experience, street fairs, and of course, the Headless Horseman. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow resurfaces around Halloween as people flock to the site of Washington Irving’s 1820 tale of a headless horseman who terrorizes the real-life village of Sleepy Hollow. It’s considered one of our nation’s first ghost stories — and one of its scariest.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor is an October must! An 18th-century landscape is covered in a breathtaking display of more than 7,000 hand-carved illuminated jack o’ lanterns. There’s also synchronized lighting, an original spooky soundtrack, and concessions along the way.
Take the historic Octagon House’s Myths & Mysteries Tour, enjoy Tarrytown’s spectacular Halloween Parade, and learn about the legend of Sleepy Hollow through an aerial circus performance. About 60 miles north of Sleepy Hollow in Ulster Park, NY, you’ll find Headless Horseman — a multi-attraction haunted park consistently voted one of the most frightening in the country.
St. Helens, Oregon
In 1998, Disney Channel set its Halloween classic Halloweentown in the small town of St. Helens, Oregon. Ever since, the city’s Riverfront District has completely transformed into the Spirit of Halloweentown for an extended six weeks of spooky celebration. Weave through a sea of giant pumpkins and scarecrows as you visit merchants, fairies, witches, ghosts, and ghouls. Snap a photo with the cast of famous actors who have contributed to Hollywood classics. Join the costume contest every weekday.
Hop on a carnival ride, visit a haunted house, and play various games and carnival rides at the Pumpkin Puzzle Plaza. The new water shuttle to Sand Island takes you to a nature path of incredible carved pumpkins by carving artist extraordinary Wade Lapp. And a ride on the Spirit of Halloweentown Train leads you through an enchanted forest with many characters hiding in the trees.
And, of course, we’d be remiss to overlook Salem on a list like this one. Fans of witchcraft history should visit Salem, Massachusetts, especially in October. Their official Halloween festival, Haunted Happenings, was created in 1982 as a month-long fall celebration in this quaint New England town. Beyond the museums and memorials related to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, Salem has a packed calendar of street fairs, costume balls, and special Halloween-related events.
Those brave enough can visit the Haunted Witch Village, Salem’s largest and longest-running haunted attraction. You can’t miss a visit to Witch House, the home of one of the witch trial judges, Jonathan Corwin, and the only surviving structure from the historic 1692 event. Look into the future with a psychic, take a haunted boat cruise, or book the Mysteries and Murders of Salem guided night-time walking tour for eerie stories beyond the witch trials.
We hope these spooky locales have begun to brew your Halloween spirit and readied you for some extraordinary haunted adventures this fall.
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