The scariest time of year is lurking just around the corner. So if you’re looking for spooky, scary, and affordable fun, look no further for these ghoulish travel destinations.
This isn’t your neighborhood trick-or-treat night. Packed with history, thrills, and chills, these off-the-beaten-path Halloween haunted houses, eerie ghost tours, spooky Celtic festivals, and scream-worthy extravaganzas are just the thing to spice up this Halloween holiday without breaking the bank.
From haunted extravaganzas at the Audubon Zoo to Voodoo tours and Mexico’s Day of the Dead, many spooky and affordable getaways can chill you to the bone.
1. Walk in Ghostly Footsteps in Salem, Massachusetts
Look no further than the Salem Witch Trials’ home for a blood-curdling witchcraft experience. Known as the “Witch Capital USA,” this New England town is a popular destination for Halloween travel.
From spooky shops to the real Witch House, a hulking black salt-box house with a steep-pitched roof built in 1675, Salem has a variety of activities for the Halloween buff and the whole family.
You can explore the Salem Witch Museum to learn about the historical witch trials and Puritan life in seventeenth-century New England. Bring your costume to join a spirit festival, show off your ghoulish finery during parades, spy on a witch’s circle, and explore a haunted house in 3D.
2. Linger on a Lantern-Lit Tour in Sleepy Hollow, New York
Every year, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the story of Ichabod Crane, a poor schoolteacher who runs away from a headless horseman in the middle of the night, come back to enchant and scare people.
Now you can visit the place where Washington Irving’s 1820 story took place. In Sleepy Hollow, New York, you can celebrate the haunted season among blazing autumn foliage, quiet lanes lined with split-rail fences along the Hudson River, and a scary lantern tour through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Stop by the 300-year-old Philipsburg Manor to experience decapitated horsemen, ancient, creaky floorboards, and vampire tales, or snap a family photo in front of the Great Jack-o’-Lantern Blaze that boasts over 7,000 pumpkins carved by hand.
Finish up with a cup of hot apple cider and tasty artisan treats that celebrate the season in the Hudson River Valley.
Read more about the tour here.
3. Enjoy an Eerie Carriage Ride in Williamsburg, Virginia
As the old capital of Virginia in the 1600s, Colonial Williamsburg is bursting at the seams with a spooky history. You can sign up for a guided walking tour through the old colonial village to enjoy a haunted history tour filled with chills and thrills. A one-hour tour takes you to haunted spots filled with creepy tales.
At Family Freights at Jamestown Settlement, you can wander through an unnerving, recreated fort from the seventeenth century. With ghost walks, scary stories, and eerie carriage rides, you can get some extra spine tingles at the Haunting on DoG Street event hosted every Halloween.
4. Wander through the Halloween Capital of the World in Anoka, Minnesota
With ghoulish gatherings and haunted festivals, Anoka has kept its place as the scream-worthy Halloween Capital of the World for over one hundred years.
Check out the town’s events calendar for events like the Spooktacular Carnival, filled with haunting music, seasonal treats, and creepy handmade crafts that the whole family can enjoy. The whole city gets in on the action as a massive, blinking pumpkin sits atop the city hall.
If you’re feeling adventurous, grab a costume, and step into the Grand Day Parade to bring in the holiday with other ghosts, spooks, ghouls, witches, and goblins. You can also drive through the town to sightsee the spectacular Halloween lights and decorative displays.
5. Enjoy Spooky Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida
For an affordable, family-friendly holiday that’s more fun than frightening, head to Orlando to celebrate the season at a local theme park. If you want to beat the holiday crowds, consider going when the theme parks open their Spooktacular decorations, parades, and kid-friendly dance parties before kids head back to school in August.
6. Tour Haunted History in New Orleans, Louisiana
From hoodoo to voodoo, this Southern city puts some black magic back into traditional Halloween celebrations.
Soak up the season’s spirits at Krewe of Boo, a Mardi-Gras-type spook parade with werewolves howling from decorative floats in the heart of the French Quarter. But, before the parade, stop by Kings Party on Fulton Street to see the costumes from behind the scenes.
Savor all the spooky chills by touring St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans’ oldest and most iconic cemetery. Here, the spirits of the dead are said to rise, leaving hints of voodoo vibes from an uneasy past.
You can also visit the grave of Voodoo queen, herbalist, and conjurer Marie Laveau, a free Creole woman of color, feared and worshipped by everyone she met. While there, spot the spooky X marks on her tomb, carved by people who believe that Marie Laveau can still grant your wishes.
Take a Voodoo or vampire tour through the French Quarter before hitting a restaurant or bar where Halloween parties are sure to be in full swing.
If you’re looking for a more child-friendly activity during the day, Audubon Zoo has a Halloween celebration called Boo at the Zoo. The whole family can ride the ghost train, look around haunted houses that are right for their ages, and trick-or-treat for treats all over the zoo.
Staying Afloat has more great spooky things to do in Nola on their blog.
Image by [Micael Widell]