When the leaves start to turn, and a cool breeze fills the air, you know it’s time for Halloween in the United States.
Americans embrace the spooky spirit from coast to coast with parades, parties and good old-fashioned family fun.
America’s streets come alive with pint-sized pirates, majestic unicorns, and eerie zombies, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that’s as heartwarming as it is haunting.
And from the iconic pumpkin patches of New England to the pumpkin-carving competitions of the Midwest, Halloween in the United States wouldn’t be complete without the grand pumpkin spectacle.
For those seeking a more hair-raising experience, haunted houses, mazes, and ghostly tours are plentiful during the bewitching season.
In this Halloween guide, I highlight nine spooky places in America to celebrate witches, ghouls and everything that goes bump in the night. Are you brave enough to read on?
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Salem, Massachusetts #1
Nestled on the northeastern coast of Massachusetts, Salem transforms into an enchanting cauldron of history, mystery, and magic as Halloween approaches.
It is one of the best places in the world to celebrate Halloween, so if you’re a fellow lover of all things spooky and whimsical, Salem at Halloween promises an unforgettable escape into the eerie and otherworldly.
Step into Salem’s past as you stroll down cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old architecture. The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a poignant reminder of the tragic events that unfolded in the 17th century.
Immerse yourself in the stories of accused witches and explore the Salem Witch Museum, where interactive exhibits recount the gripping tales of the trials.
Halloween is the perfect time to embark on a guided ghost tour that leads you through Salem’s most haunted sites, including the infamous House of Seven Gables and the Old Burying Point Cemetery.
Afterwards, satisfy your appetite with an array of Halloween-inspired treats. Salem’s restaurants and cafes serve up spooky delights, from cauldron-inspired cocktails to pumpkin-spiced everything.
As the witching hour draws near, join the lively Haunted Happenings Festival, where the town comes alive with street performances, parades, and costume contests.
Dance among fellow revellers in the Grand Parade and witness the Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, a fascinating spectacle that transports you to a world where magic reigns supreme.
So, grab your broomstick, put on your finest witchy costume, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure in this charming coastal town.
Salem at Halloween is a spellbinding experience that will leave you under its enchantment long after the witching season has passed.
New Orleans, Louisiana #2
If you are looking for a destination to celebrate the most spooky Halloween in the United States, New Orleans might be the best place.
New Orleans, The Big Easy, N’awlens, The Crescent City. New Orleans has been called many things, but never dull, and visiting New Orleans at Halloween is proof of that.
It seems as if every house has tattered human effigies hanging from the neck from every iron-wrought balcony.
Little tombstones and skeletons emerge from manicured lawns in the Garden District, and the residents are dressed to kill – think vampires and zombies!
Every store has some Halloween-related window display; a gasping, rotting corpse or a forlorn ghost greeting you as you enter the store.
First up, check out the Krewe of Boo parade. Here the parade participants dress up in every manner of evil monster. The parade winds around the city, followed by parade watchers in equally bizarre costumes.
Join the fun activities in New Orleans at Halloween
Don’t miss the many local haunted houses, ghosts and ghoulies walking tours or spooky tours of New Orleans cemeteries.
Uncover the legend of the upper-class landowners who tortured people in their basements. Many of the haunted houses have resident ghosts who frequently emerge to welcome guests.
If you want to take a Halloween cemetery tour, book a long way in advance, as the only way to get into a cemetery during Halloween in New Orleans is to die!
If you do make it there alive, visit the Saint Louis Cemetery. Here is where you find the tomb of Marie LaVeau, the beautiful voodoo practitioner who maintained a vibrant practice in the city.
As if all these Halloween fixtures were not enough, visit New Orleans Escape Room attraction. You and up to six friends are locked in a room with a zombie chained to the wall.
You have 60 minutes to escape the room by following clues strategically placed around the room.
As you frantically search the room for clues and the clock ticks away, the zombie’s chain gets looser and looser, and he gets closer as he reaches out with clawing fingers to the locked-in and desperate participants. Many participants escape the room. Others, sadly, do not.
But if you survive and have time to extend your stay in New Orleans by a week, you’ll find it’s one of the best places to visit in November in the US. The first weekend will be the Caribbean celebrations of Bayou Bacchanal.
Key West, Florida #3
If you’re looking for one of the best places to celebrate Halloween in the United States, you can’t beat Key West, Florida.
After all, this vibrant beach town at the southernmost tip of the United States comes alive with fun decor, and exciting celebrations that will make you wish Halloween would never end.
So, start off your trip by visiting “Robert Doll” at the Fort East Martello Museum. After all, many people have claimed that the doll can move, alter his face, and laugh before moving things around the room. Therefore, stop by for yourself and see what Robert can do.
Next, if you’re looking for a more family-friendly activity, you can walk through the “Scarecrows in the Forest” at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden.
Be sure to look at these expertly designed scarecrows made of all-natural materials and vote for the best scarecrow of them all.
But, if you’re looking for a good scare, you’ll love that Key West is considered one of the most haunted places in the United States.
Join a ghost tour, a haunted pub crawl, or do the Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour, and your expert guide will tell you all about some of the gruesome things that happened in Key West hundreds of years ago.
Remember your costume since Fantasy Fest is a fantastic, 10-day, Halloween-inspired festival from October 21st through October 30th.
It features a wide variety of themed parties, like toga parties that allow you to dress up and get into the Halloween spirit as you enjoy Florida in October.
Words by FloridaTrippers.com
Savannah, Georgia #4
Being one of the most haunted cities in the country, Savannah, Georgia, goes all out to celebrate the spooky season.
The city has quite a dark history, so it’s easy to see why it’s considered haunted.
It has been ravaged by fires and military battles, plagued by multiple Yellow Fever epidemics, and it was once known as a hub for the transatlantic slave trade.
The Sorrel-Weed House is one of the most haunted houses in the city, where guests can experience a paranormal tour.
At the same time, the Davenport House Museum provides insight into the devastating Great Yellow Fever Epidemic that Savannah’s citizens endured in the 1820s.
Savannah ghost tours are available, from haunted pub crawls to family-friendly trolley tours to spooky nighttime walking tours. While these are all available year-round, they become even more popular during October.
If you can handle the spine-tingling stories, join the Ghosts and Graveyards Tour.
Fall Festivities in Savannah
There are plenty of other things to do in Savannah during October, too. Try visiting the Plant Riverside District to enjoy live music, beer, and German food to celebrate Oktoberfest.
The Savannah Film Festival also takes place in October and is great for celebrity spotting. Did you know”Halloween Ends”, with Jamie Lee Curtis, was filmed in Savannah?
A handful of pumpkin patches are located just outside the city limits, where you can go pumpkin-picking or experience corn mazes and wagon rides.
The seasonal displays in Savannah’s Historic District are also fantastic during October, especially along River Street. The shops go all out when it comes to decorating for Halloween.
Be sure to stroll along the riverfront and pick up some seasonal treats like pralines and caramel apples at River Street Sweets.
Try staying at a haunted hotel to amplify a visit to Savannah during the spooky season.
Some of the most haunted options include:
- The Marshall House, part of the Historic Inns of Savannah Collection – especially rooms 414 and 420!
- East Bay Inn famed for its naughty resident spirit, Charlie.
- The historic 17Hundred90 Inn, with its resident ghost named Anna.
New York City #5
New York City is one of the best places in the United States to experience everything Halloween festivities.
The city doesn’t hold back at this time of year. There is a huge Halloween parade, haunted tours and haunted houses to visit, and tons of NYC fall activities during this time.
The most popular Halloween event is the Halloween parade on the West side of Manhattan.
During this famous parade, locals will dress up in Halloween costumes and march through the city with a live band. The parade starts at 7 pm and ends at around 11 pm. The Halloween Parade is also completely free.
New York also offers a range of haunted houses. Blood Manor is one of the popular houses where you come face-to-face with terrifying characters.
These houses only open on certain dates of the year, so check the website and book tickets in advance.
And that’s not all, as simply walking around the streets of New York at Halloween will get you excited for the spooky season. Local shops and cafes decorate their properties and serve themed treats during Halloween.
If you want something more child-friendly at Halloween in the United States, visit the great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.
Here, you’ll walk through Hudson’s Valley and discover a stunning light show comprising 7,000 illuminated Jack O’Lanterns and a Ferris wheel and a circus sideshow.
Remember that temperatures tend to fall during this season, so pack some layers for visiting some of New York’s most iconic Halloween events.
Western Catskills, New York State #6
One of the best Halloween destinations in the United States is the Catskills in Upstate New York.
From the colourful foliage to the different Halloween events, there are plenty of great things to do in the Catskill Mountains during autumn and spooky season.
Peace, Love & Pumpkins is a fabulous event in October at the Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts in Bethel, New York. This is also where the famous 1969 Woodstock festival took place!
Attending Peace, Love & Pumpkins is one of the best ways to get into the Halloween spirit and one of the most memorable things to do during a fall getaway to the Western Catskills. There are fabulous hand-carved and lit-up Jack O Lanterns, creative pumpkin art, and fun Halloween displays.
On Friday evenings, Peace, Love & Pumpkins offer an even spookier experience for adults only.
It’s best to book tickets for all Peace, Love & Pumpkins events in advance. It costs $23 for adults 18 years and older, $13 for kids and teens ages 3-17, and free for children under two.
Other great things to do in the Western Catskill Mountains is to enjoy a fun autumn day at Upward Brewing Company or Seminary Hill Orchard and Cidery.
Visit the Callicoon Farmer’s Market to pick pumpkins, purchase Halloween décor, get fresh produce, fall goods like cider doughnuts and pies, and do one of the many hikes in the area.
Antrim Streamside in Livingston Manor is the best place to stay in Western Catskills, New York.
They are modern boutique cabins in a gated estate resembling a luxury campsite. At this spot, you could enjoy beautiful ponds, fire pits, an apple orchard, walking and hiking trails, and a stunning suspension bridge that lights up at night.
Hudson Valley, New York State #7
The Halloween parade in New York City is one of the most famous in the world. But many people don’t know that you can find an even better Halloween celebration in New York State, just a little to the north in the town of Sleepy Hollow, located in the Hudson River Valley.
Sleepy Hollow is where the famous story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving is set.
During Halloween, guests can take tours of Irving’s charming former home, Sunnyside. It is covered with Halloween decorations, including grizzly images of the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane from the famous story.
Families with children can participate in Halloween games and arts and crafts projects. There are even outdoor performances of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at Sunnyside later in the evening.
After visiting Sunnyside, head to the neighbouring village of Tarrytown, which also goes all out for Halloween.
If you look carefully, you can even see a little image of the Headless Horseman on the local street signs.
Tarrytown hosts the most popular Halloween parade in the area every year, with the village decorated with witches, skeletons, and other things that go bump in the night.
Finally, head a 15-minute train trip away to Croton-on-Hudson for the Great Jack-O’-Lantern Blaze!
Every fall, more than 7,000 carved jack-o’-lanterns are on display here. You can see everything from a pumpkin sea monster to a Ferris wheel and a pumpkin Headless Horseman. You can even walk over a bridge made of pumpkins.
Make sure to buy tickets in advance because they do not sell any on the premises.
Finish the evening with local cider and doughnuts, and it’s the perfect end to a Hudson Valley Halloween adventure.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania #8
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is a mecca for those seeking a spooky experience at Halloween.
If you’re wondering why, consider that the farming community was the scene of a 3-day battle in 1863 that resulted in 50,000 casualties! Every church, house, barn and building was used as a Civil War hospital, and many wounded did not survive. Needless to say, there are many ghostly sightings around Gettysburg!
This haunted town now hosts everything from walking tours that feature ghost stories to full-blown paranormal investigations using rented equipment.
You don’t need to go on a tour to get spooked because Gettysburg has so many haunted places.
Check out the Museum of Haunted Objects for those seeking the extra creepy and strange.
Halloween is the perfect time to visit Gettysburg, as October brings cooler weather, fall foliage, and things that go bump in the night!
Gettysburg ghost tours are available all year, weather permitting. However, July 1st, 2nd and 3rd are extremely popular as the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, when the town becomes a hotspot for spooky goings-on and ghost-hunting excursions.
A popular tourist spot is the haunted Daniel Lady Farm in Gettysburg is set up as it would have looked in 1863 when it was used as a hospital. A forensic team confirmed the stains on the floor are human blood!
Disneyland, California #9
Nowhere celebrates Halloween in the United States in such a fun way than Disneyland in California.
Disney magic combined with the Halloween spirit makes it one of the best family-friendly places in the United States to celebrate Halloween.
Halloween at Disneyland typically lasts for two months, September and October, and features themed decorations, costume-clad characters, spooky attractions, and unique entertainment.
Several Disneyland rides and attractions get Halloween makeovers, and parades and shows reflect the spooky spirit.
The most popular Disneyland Halloween attraction is ‘The Haunted Mansion Holiday,’ a holiday makeover inspired by Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
It combines Halloween and Christmas elements for a spooky yet festive ride experience.
At Disney California Adventure Park, the “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!” ride transforms into a thrilling after-dark version called Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark.
The park is decorated for Halloween with pumpkins, bats, and eerie lighting.
Main Street USA at Disneyland looks fantastic. It’s adorned with hand-carved pumpkins and a giant Mickey-shaped pumpkin that is hard to miss.
You can wear your Halloween costumes to the park, enjoy themed treats, and encounter Disney villains.
Enjoy Halloween-themed treats like spooky cupcakes and themed popcorn buckets.
Halloween Screams is a spectacular nighttime show that takes over Sleeping Beauty’s castle and is accompanied by Halloween themed fireworks display.
Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland hosts a special Oogie Boogie Bash event which is sold out every year.
This special event features an exclusive Halloween parade, trick-or-treat trails, character meet-and-greets, and a dance party led by Oogie Boogie from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Halloween at Disney is most definitely a fun place to be for all the family!
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