Handing out candy to trick-or-treaters or going to a Halloween party can get a tad boring if you do it every single year. Want to go somewhere truly scary to celebrate the holiday? There are tons of places around the US that are certifiably terrifying. So, if you’re ready for some thrills, book a trip through Expedia to one of these haunted destinations - but keep the prices completely unscary with a discount code at checkout!
1. Salem, Massachusetts
One of the first places that comes to my mind when I think about Halloween is Salem. The city north of Boston is notorious for the Salem witch trials during the 17th century, where 26 people were accused and put to death for being witches. Salem celebrates Halloween the entire month of October with tours of the most famous spots linked to the trials (including the Witch House in the pic above), a parade, and even a reenactment of the trial and hangings!
The most famous event is the Official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, which includes live performances, costume contests, and free psychic readings. Witches even gather to cast spells for the following year and to honor the dead during ‘Samhain’ (the ancient name for the holiday). Don’t miss the Festival of the Dead with the annual Psychic Fair, the Witchcraft Expo, and the Vampires Masquerade Ball.
2. Estes Park, Colorado
A considerably spooky place is The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (I’ve been there and speak from experience!). With a backdrop of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the hotel was made famous for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel, “The Shining.” The 1980 film, a Stanley Kubrick classic, leads many people to come experience the scariness in person. The hotel is said to be haunted by at least 3 people (including the hotel founder, F.O. Stanley).
Visit The Stanley for their many events celebrating Halloween, including a Mystery Dinner, Masquerade Ball, and “The Shining” Ball. If you’re really feeling brave, you can even spend the night in the hotel! Just watch out for creepy twins and axe murderers.
3. Lake Placid, New York
If you’re on the East Coast, Lake Placid is a great place to spend Halloween. The town, centered in the Adirondacks, goes all out with a 5K Zombie Run (perfect for fans of “The Walking Dead”) and trick-or-treating on Main Street. Adults can take part in the Trek-n-Treat pub crawl with costume contests. For something a little less scary, people can attend a performance of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”; prop bags are handed out so the entire audience can participate!
Of course, there are also rumored ghost sightings in Lake Placid. Head to Fort Ticonderoga for a tour of the fort that was built in the 1700s. Plus, Lake Placid was named “Best Town for Halloween Fun” by “Travel and Leisure”!
4. Franklin, Tennessee
The South has no shortage of fun things to do for Halloween. One of the best options is Franklin, Tennessee, which is just south of Nashville. Kids can participate in the annual Pumpkinfest (with pumpkin painting, chili cook-offs, and vendor booths). If you’re looking for something spookier, check out some of the scary walking tours, including “Grave Matters: Stories Behind the Stones” that leads you through a cemetery or “Ghosts of the Battlefields.” You can also visit the Lotz House (built in 1858), a Civil War museum with a definite eerie feel.
5. St. Augustine, Florida
If you’re going to be in Florida for Halloween, head to St. Augustine, in the northeast part of the state, for some serious fun. As the oldest permanent European settlement, there are plenty of haunted sites. Check out the Lighthouse Haunted History Tours or the Creatures of the Night event at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park (I’m definitely more scared of alligators than ghosts!).
Feeling brave? Don’t miss the Ghosts and Gravestones tour, where you’ll visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse (the location of a tragedy in 1873) and the extremely haunted Old Jail (ghost sightings are common here).
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
Another truly spooky location in the US is New Orleans. The city celebrates Halloween like nowhere else since it’s known as “The Most Haunted City in America.” Year-round there are voodoo shops and paranormal tours, but Halloween is definitely the best time to visit. Tour the Manchac Swamp at night to learn how it got the nickname of “The Haunted Swamp,” or check out the Haunted History Tours that explore the French Quarter and several famous New Orleans’ cemeteries.
For some adult fun, have a drink at one of the city’s haunted bars or attend the official Halloween Parade. There are also activities for kids, like the Boo at the Zoo event or Crawloween at the Audubon Nature Institute.
7. Sleepy Hollow, New York
New York is also the site of another insanely spooky place. Visit Sleep Hollow to see where Washington Irving based his scary story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” - you know, the one with the headless horseman? One of the most fun places to visit is the Old Dutch Burying Ground, one of the oldest cemeteries in the entire United States. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery also does tours - including nighttime ones if you’re feeling brave!
So, head to one of these scary locations to truly get in the Halloween spirit!