Finding this year’s best Halloween hot spots
October has finally come! If you’re like me, you wait all year for this great month, the herald of fall. Whether it is the blush of the trees, pumpkin-spice lattes, apple cider, or just the crisp autumnal air and all her promises, there is so much to love about the fall season. Not the least of which is Halloween. If you are looking for a Halloween hot spot this year, then look no further. Here are our top recommendations for places to do Halloween right.
Sleepy Hollow, NY (for the spooky seeker)
Forever immortalized in Washington Irving’s tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” this tiny town just north of Manhattan lives up to its hype. While it only has a population of about 10,000 people, this small town packs a tremendous bang. Activities include lantern-lit ghost tours of the cemeteries—and the spot that Irving himself was put to rest.
You can wander through the quaint and dreamy little town and sign up for the myriad of dramatic readings of the Sleepy Hollow legend, or go for the other fall festival activities including pumpkin patches and midnight tours. The highlight is probably Horseman’s Hollow, where the local Philipsburg Manor is decked out in the most incredible displays for Halloween. Imagine a haunted house and then triple it. For people who want to feel extreme fear this holiday season, this is the destination for you.
New Orleans, LA (for the culture craver)
If you are looking for something a little larger with a bit more of a party scene, then why not hop a cheap flight down to NOLA? Vampires, voodoo, and vodka are themes in this spooky urban center. You would be hard-pressed to find a better selection of ghost tours and vampire walking tours than those that fill the French Quarter. And once night descends on the city of New Orleans, you just have to choose your creepy factor.
Viewfinder Tip: If you want to make the most of your Halloween in a new city, make sure you book a hotel near the action so that you can stay out later.
In addition to voodoo shops and lantern tours of the cemeteries and crypts, this city has a huge Halloween celebration ever year complete with themes. You can fly down, rent a costume, and join the lavish costume parade on Frenchmen Street. There’s all of this plus a healthy dose of music festivals and street fairs. So whether you want haunted houses or rocking house parties, New Orleans has an option for you.
Minneapolis, MN (for family fun)
I couldn’t believe it either when I heard it, but yes, Minneapolis is a huge Halloween hub these days. First Avenue hosts an annual Halloween party and costume contest with live music and plenty of local watering holes. Leading up to the big event, the city is transformed with a variety of haunted tours and ghost walks that give you not only a closer look at the city, but a chance to get scared out of your mind.
One of the nicest parts of Minneapolis’s Halloween scene is that it is also very family friendly. If you aren’t ready to scare your children into insomnia, try taking them on any of the trolley rides, to one of the various Halloween magic shows, or even to Como Zoo’s “ZooBoo” event. The G-rated Halloween party takes place in the zoo itself and involves costumes, magic, and a variety of animals as well as a safe place to take your kiddos trick-or-treating.
Salem, MA (for the historian)
The city of Salem takes their dark history and spins the tales of witches and dark magic into a delightful Halloween hot spot. Drop in for a cozy stay at any of the charming little hotels in the area, and catch the changing of the leaves while brushing up on your witch trials history. Aside from the slew of Halloween festivities and autumn festivals, there is also a memorial erected to the victims of the Salem witch trials. It is a sober and haunting place to spend your Samhain holiday.
Las Vegas, NV (for the party person)
If you want to live up Halloween night with extravagant costumes, themed drinks, and wild parties, then the obvious choice is Las Vegas. This party city does Halloween with all the bells and whistles. You need only don a costume and hit the streets. The rotating wheel of parties, clubs, and casinos all adopt a very lavish Halloween theme and promise not to leave you wanting. Nevada actually achieved its statehood on October 31, so locals all have the day off. In my personal opinion, Halloween in Las Vegas is the greatest party the city has to offer.
Wherever you choose to spend your Halloween holiday, remember to stay safe out there and have fun!
Think we missed one? Let us know!
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Chris and Tawny have had articles and videos published on USA TODAY TRAVEL, BBC Travel, Matador Network, as well as appeared as guest stars on TLC Asia's Fun Taiwan television series. When not on the road, you can find Chris and Tawny nestled in their home in Tacoma, Washington fueling up on coffee and cat cuddles while planning their future adventures. You can follow their travels on their blog, Instagram, and YouTube