What Cities Are Best For Halloween Events

Halloween is a great opportunity to visit some of the country’s spookiest, mysterious and most frightening locations. Pick a local haunt, or take a trip with the family to one of these cities with attractions for all ages. Most locations will also have ongoing events around Halloween so you can celebrate all month long.

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Halloween Events – 2013

History buffs know that Salem, Mass. was the site of the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s, and many know of the creepy background that surrounds the city. Every year, the city puts on several events to highlight the witch trial history and to celebrate the scariest holiday of them all. Starting in late September and early October, events from haunted magic shows to costume parties spring up around Salem. Check out Salem Halloween City for an ongoing list of activities for all ages. Night tours through historic homes and buildings shouldn’t be missed, and be sure to visit the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum and the House of Seven Gables Historic Site.

Voodoo, eerie cemeteries and a flair for being showy, it’s no wonder why so many flock to New Orleans to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve each year. The French Quarter will promise plenty of jumps and shrieks during one of the many haunted tours offered. Stop in the plentiful voodoo and costume shops while in the Quarter to pick up some spine-chilling souvenirs. Plan your own tour through the many cemeteries in the city, or take a guided one to learn more about the history of each site. Adults can watch the Krewe of the Boo parade the Saturday before Halloween and then party Mardi Gras style in the streets afterwards. For the youngsters in the family, New Orleans has plenty for them, as well. Boo at the Zoo at Audubon Zoo offers food, trick-or-treating, milder scary stories and even a haunted house. The Louisiana Children’s Museum usually offers Halloween activities, too. Go to New Orleans Halloween for more information on  events.

Of course, a place as bustling as New York City will guarantee plenty of Halloween-themed attractions during October. While the nightclub scene offers plenty of concerts and costume parties for adults, there are options for family fun as well. If your kids love parades, you won’t find a shortage of costumed shows. In its 40th year, the Village Halloween Parade invites anyone in costume to join in the procession, and end up with a parade of tens of thousands. Costumed pets are the draw at the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. When you’re ready for some pumpkin-inspired activities, head over to the New York Botanical Garden. In a city where the most well-known landmarks are considered haunted, older kids and adults can find plenty of frights. Take a guided tour through a cemetery or check terrifying haunted houses, guaranteed not to be for the faint of heart.

After hitting up the bustling Big Apple, take a 45-minute drive north to the small town of Sleepy Hollow, home of the Headless Horseman legend. Take a walk across the Headless Horseman Bridge, if you dare. Older children, teens and adults can hop on the annual haunted hayride. Parents should use discretion about whether to bring children younger than 8. Horseman’s Hollow, also not for the faint of heart, leads participants through a 17th century manor of horror that promises shrieks and screams. Learn more about the town at VisitSleepyHollow.com.

Those on the West Coast have plenty to choose from, too, when it comes to Halloween action. San Francisco doesn’t have a shortage of haunted places, from ghoulish pirate ships on the bay to apparition hunting in Chinatown. For a low-key but still chill-inducing evening, head to one of the city’s old theatres for a scary movie on the big screen. Kids can participate in pumpkin carving in the park in the afternoon, and adults can join in a festive pub crawl at night.

Back in the Midwest, Chicago offers thrills and chills for Halloween fun. In fact, the city renamed the holiday “Chicagoween” to express how much they love the frightening day. Traveling the city, you’ll see streets and buildings decorated in orange and black. Head to Franken Plaza for movies, dances and all things entertaining. Pumpkin patches and haunted houses can be found in the Chicago Park District, and the always popular Navy Pier offers festive fun for the entire family. Teens and adults looking for a fright have a plethora of options. Haunted houses can be found in the city and surrounding suburbs to keep your blood curdling all season. Go to ChicagoHalloweenGuide.com for list of the area haunted attractions. Plus, many hotels and buildings in the city are considered haunted, so take a wander or find a guided ghost tour.

You don’t have to visit a major city, either, to find ghoulish and kid-friendly Halloween events. Keep an eye out for local corn mazes, haunted houses and pumpkin carving events.

~Rebekah Meyer

What are the scariest places you’ve visited, and what cities do you think have the Halloween attractions?

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