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Trick or treat? Halloween is creeping around the corner, so bring on the midnight mischief, pillowcases stuffed with candy, and all that hocus pocus. It’s that time of year when we don elaborate costumes to masquerade the night away and muster up the courage to brave haunted Halloween ghost tours. With the excitement of the holiday brewing, we set out on the hunt for the most talked-about festivities across the nation. Based on user recommendations on Instagram, using #hauntedthrills, and data pulled from reviews, we’ve gathered 10 of the best cities for Halloween. This October, channel your fearlessness at these bone-rattling attractions, and sink your fangs into deals on these top Halloween destinations.
1. Orlando, FL – Halloween Horror Nights®
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As soon as night falls, Universal Studios Florida® transforms into your worst nightmare. Horrific mutants and ghastly zombies terrorize the park, as haunted houses such as The Purge and Asylum in Wonderland lure you into the dark. Halloween Horror Nights® has had 25 years to perfect its scares, so be prepared to scream bloody murder.
2. Las Vegas, NV – Vegas Nightclub Halloween Parties
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Unleash your sinful ways at the hottest Halloween haunts in Vegas. On October 31, Moon and The View is hosting a Heaven and Hell party, where you’re invited to tap into your angelic or devilish side. Don your halo or horns, and party to the DJ sets all night long. MGM Grand’s Hakkasan Nightclub is also raging it up on the Strip with its 3-night fest, Forbidden City. Join the scary and scandalous and check out the impressive line-up with performers such as Calvin Harris and Tiesto.
3. New York City, NY – Village Halloween Parade and Sleepy Hollow
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Get your spooks in Sleepy Hollow—if you dare. The dead and undead—led by the Headless Horsemen himself—linger around the haunted trail at the Horsemen’s Hollow, where the sinister story comes alive. You can also venture north to Red Hook, but don’t even think about joining the Village Halloween Parade if you’re not decked out in costume. This seriously spirited event is only open to those who are dressed up or handling the giant puppets. Enter the parade, compete for the best costume, and jam out to more than 50 bands playing along Sixth Avenue on Halloween night.
4. Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA – The Queen Mary, Universal Studios Hollywood®, Knott’s Scary Farm®, and West Hollywood Carnaval
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When it comes to knee-knocking Halloween events in SoCal, pick your poison. Board the haunted Queen Mary for devilish Dark Harbor, where you’ll face menacing mazes filled with psychotic situations. You can test your limits at the Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights®, or scare yourself silly at the Knott’s Scary Farm®, as evil clowns and monsters lurk around the park grounds. Prefer parties over panic attacks? Let loose and live it up at the West Hollywood Carnaval, which is a massive street bash on Santa Monica Boulevard with costumed crowds, live music, and food vendors.
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If those creepy twins from “The Shining” still give you the chills, ring in All Hallows’ Eve at Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King drafted the epic “redrum” horror story. The Stanley Hotel is considered one of the most paranormally active sites in the country, and each year it turns up the spooks. This October, the hotel is hosting a 3-night special: a Murder Mystery Dinner, “The Shining Ball,” and the Halloween Masquerade Party.
6. Salem, MA – Festival of the Dead
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Step into the dark side at the Festival of the Dead in Salem. Hosted by a local warlock, this festival explores the spiritual realm through workshops and presentations all through October. Ghost hunt with paranormal investigators, join a séance, and even learn to communicate with the dead. On October 31, round out the macabre celebrations with the Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, Dance of the Tarot, at the Hawthorne Hotel.
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Manitou Springs takes a particularly eerie spin on the Halloween festivities. On October 24, the town is hosting its annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade to honor the 19th-century woman, who still haunts the area, according to legend. During this festival, teams of five—one Emma impersonator and four mourners—build coffin-like boxes and race them across the finish line. Stick around to find out which teams take home the Best Emma, Best Coffin, and Best Entourage awards.
8. Chicago, IL – Halloween on Halsted
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On October 31, the freak show is coming to town at the Halloween on Halstead. From Halstead to Addison, the streets will become packed with clowns, ringmasters, and fire breathers as attendees compete for the best Twisted Circus-themed costume prizes. This year’s contest categories include drag, group, original, scariest, and pet, so dazzle in your best vaudeville-inspired attire and join the kooky and the spooky.
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Forget about thrills and shrills, and bring your costumed kiddos to the Zoo Halloween Party in Louisville. More on the sweet than scary side, this event invites the whole family to trick-or-treat through whimsical areas of the zoo, such as Wonderland and Pirate’s Cove. Dance at the Astro Disco, hop on the Warthog Express Train, and visit the zoo animals who like to stay up late.
10. Atlanta, GA – Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade
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Looking for some family-friendly Halloween ideas? Get into character and compete in the costume contest or enter a festive float at the 15th annual Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade. On October 17, Findley Plaza is transforming into the ultimate fall festival with a street parade, live entertainment, food vendors, and more.
Whether you’re looking to quiver and shriek or rock your creepy costume, get your spook on at one of the best Halloween destinations in the U.S.
**Header photo courtesy of @sparklinglala via Instagram