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2023 Halloween Guide: 10 Destinations for Spooky Celebrations

Via Steven Pisano on Flickr

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What sends shivers down your spine? Jump scares and screams at a haunted house, a lively parade of costumed characters, an eerie ghost tour, or perhaps a glam masquerade ball?

With annual Halloween events right around the corner, it’s time to plan the ultimate spooky escape. After all, what’s scarier than a Halloween without any plans? Transform your October into Spooktober, filled with thrills and chills across the country — and maybe even a stay at a haunted hotel

Discover the ideal last-minute getaway to celebrate this spine-tingling holiday with Wanderu’s ultimate guide to Halloween travel. Grab your witches’ broom, don your favorite mask, and get ready to awaken the spirits at one of these 10 handpicked Halloween destinations!

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

The Big Easy should be top of mind when it comes to places to travel for Halloween. Famed for its enchanting voodoo magic, haunted history, and throwing the country’s liveliest parties, New Orleans is an unforgettable Halloween destination. In 2022, Travel + Leisure even named it one of the 13 best places to visit for Halloween!

A French Quarter ghost or cemetery tour is a must. These spooky tours offer a unique opportunity to explore haunted landmarks and burial grounds while hearing spine-tingling—and entirely true—tales from the city’s past. 

On Halloween itself, see and be seen at the famed Balcony Party, overlooking the revelry on Bourbon Street. Halloween New Orleans (HNO) is another highly anticipated event, an over-the-top multi-day affair centered around the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour


Walk through the streets of New Orleans, discovering the rich culture and history of this popular southern city. Visit spooky sites in the French Quarter, such as the St. Germaine House and the infamous LaLaurie Mansion – the most haunted building in all of New Orleans.

2. Salem, Massachusetts

No guide to Halloween destinations is complete without Salem, a town that fully embraces the dark holiday spirit. 

Throughout October, the town hosts a slew of exciting things to do this Halloween with “Haunted Happenings,” one of the year’s most anticipated fall events. There are ghost tours, haunted houses, and elaborate costume balls. Hawthorne Hotel hosts the “Official Salem Witches’ Ball” on October 27th, and “Come Out and Play: Toys That Terrify” on the 28th.

Another must is taking a step back in time to 1692, to not only watch but participate in the famous witch trials. During live performances of Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop, audience members serve as members of the Puritan jury, questioning the accused. 

Just 30 minutes from Salem in Cambridge, you can also walk through the country’s first-ever rural cemetery, Mount Auburn. Book a ticket to Boston from New York or Philadelphia, then hop on the commuter train or bus to visit both Salem and Cambridge.

3. Orlando, Florida

Universal Studios in Orlando, FL at night

Steven Miller / Flickr

Thanks to its world-renowned theme parks, Orlando ranks among the best Halloween destinations in the world. Disney World and Universal Studios, in particular, have a penchant for going all-out to transform their magical realms into bone-chilling, haunted experiences.

At Universal Studios, Halloween Horror Nights is one of the most celebrated Halloween festivals in the country. With 10 scary-realistic haunted houses inspired by iconic horror films and TV shows like Stranger Things and The Exorcist, “scare zones,” and much more, Halloween Horror Nights delivers in a big way. 

Disney World embraces spooky szn with Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This alone makes Orlando appealing for Halloween travel for families, where guests of all ages dress up in costumes, collect candy, and enjoy fireworks and parades. Beyond the theme parks, Orlando hosts Halloween-related events catering to all tastes and ages. One highlight is Spooky Empire, an event best described as a spooky convention. Expect multiple vendors, speakers, live music, and even a tattoo festival.

4. Los Angeles, California

HarshLight / Flickr

The City of Angels comes alive with devils and demons each October, offering no shortage of thrilling things to do this Halloween. In 2023, one of the West Coast’s most anticipated Halloween events is back after a hiatus: West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval. The free, adults-only event takes place on iconic Santa Monica Boulevard, with a massive stage, live DJs, and wild costumes appropriate for Carnaval in Rio. 

If you’re looking for something family-friendly, head to Knott’s Berry Farm—err, we mean Knott’s Scary Farm. The theme park undergoes a terrifying transformation, becoming a monster’s lair. Here, haunted houses, eerie mazes, spooky rides, and “scare actors” await. 

Want a haunting experience with something for everyone? Check out Shaqtoberfest, held on the historic (and allegedly haunted) Queen Mary in Long Beach. A new, unexpected Halloween event, Shaqtoberfest replaces the long-running Dark Harbor. Come early with kiddos, or wait until after sunset for the real “haunts.”

Hollywood Haunted Walking Tour


Discover the sinister secrets of Hollywood during a two-hour guided tour led by an expert. Embark on a journey to haunted sites across Los Angeles, like the Pantages Theatre where Howard Hughes still walks, and hear ghostly tales of Hollywood’s elite who just won’t leave.

5. Anoka, Minnesota

Kline Sanatarium / McGhiever / WikimediaCommons

We know — a small town in Minnesota isn’t exactly what you picture when you think of places to travel for Halloween. But not so fast. Anoka is officially called the “Halloween Capital of the World.” This is largely because it hosted the first-ever Halloween parade in the United States, back in 1920. Since then, however, the town has pulled out all the spooky stops to ensure it lives up to its nickname. 

Come October, the usually quiet antiques shops on Main Street transform into haunted houses and voodoo shops, and a giant pumpkin adorns the top of the City Hall building. Today, the town even has an official committee dedicated solely to planning Halloween events. 

There are dozens of Halloween events all month long, but standouts include the Grande Day parade, community tent party, and house decorating contest, all the weekend before Halloween itself. Don’t miss the Pumpkin Smash on November 4th, a clever way to reduce waste in the town.

If you still need convincing, Anoka is a suburb of Minneapolis, one of the best US cities for fall outdoor activities. The area is noted specifically for its abundant hiking and biking opportunities, lake recreation, and vibrant fall foliage. Wanna stay longer and keep the spooky vibes going? One of the town’s historic landmarks, the Kline Sanatorium, now offers apartments for lease – though rooms may be furnished with a ghost or two.

6. Las Vegas, Nevada

Why should kids have all the Halloween fun? Head to Sin City for an adult twist on the holiday! Of course, you can go out literally anywhere in Vegas and have a great time, but pay special attention to these unique Halloween events. 

Your sexiest costume will fit right in at the 27th annual Sin City Halloween Ball, hailed as the world’s wildest Halloween party. It’s been named a top event in the world, as well as one of MAXIM’s “Events to Attend Before You Die.” Shed your inhibitions and prepare for a night of fetish and fantasy, alongside over 5,000 other partygoers. 

If you’re into the undead, don’t miss Zombie Burlesque. The interactive dark comedy show features zombies who tease, tantalize, and even make you laugh. Remember, this is a burlesque show, so the zombies may shed some clothing…or flesh!

7. Sleepy Hollow, New York

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

If you like the Salem vibe but don’t exactly love crowds, consider Sleepy Hollow. Less than an hour from NYC, the small town is the real-life setting for Washington Irving’s famous headless horseman story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Your first stop should be Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where you can take a variety of fascinating walking tours. All tours dive into local history and introduce the cemetery’s famous interments, but “Murder & Mayhem” or “The Good, the Bad, and the Unusual” are the best choices for Halloween. Check out the town’s several headless horseman-themed haunted houses, too.

October 28 marks the 21st annual Tarrytown Halloween Parade, running through town down Main Street. Stick around for the block party afterward, with live DJs and street performers. While you’re in the area, head up to Croton-on-Hudson for the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, one of the biggest Halloween events in the Hudson Valley.

8. Washington, D.C.

Consider the nation’s capital for a devilishly fun Halloween travel destination. DC’s Halloween festivities are as diverse as the city itself, with events for children, dogs, singles, and drag queens. Take the kids trick-or-treating at some of the city’s most famous historic landmarks: Tudor Place and Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate outside of town, both host daytime events on October 28.

To really immerse in both the spooky and historic aspects of DC, join a Capitol Hill Hauntings walking tour. You’ll uncover chilling secrets and discover spirits that famously linger around the Supreme Court. These tours take place every Saturday from April through October, but they’re especially hair-raising during spooky season.

Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl


Uncover the secrets in the nation’s capital on this 2-hour tipsy tour. Share a brandy with the spirit of Ulysses S. Grant, hear tales of bootlegging congressmen, and get the details on the grisly murder at the National Theatre. 

9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia

Eastern State Penitentiary

Already celebrated for its rich history and vibrant culture, Philadelphia is one of the top places to travel for Halloween enthusiasts.

The undisputed annual highlight is “Terror Behind the Walls” at Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the nation’s most haunted prisons. This immersive experience turns the long-abandoned 19th century Gothic prison into a nightmarish labyrinth, with 15 individual attractions, tours, themed bars, and more. 

Another Halloween event guaranteed to leave you shaking in your boots is Scream Mountain. About an hour outside Philly, the Spring Mountain ski resort turns into Scream Mountain for October. This unforgettable attraction combines a suspenseful ride on a working ski lift (in the dark!) with a haunted hayride. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you’ll have to walk down to the waiting hayride with only dim light. 

Take a day trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for the Sea Witch Festival. Of all the things to do this Halloween, this festival’s maritime twist is especially unique. Expect trick-or-treating and bonfires on the beach, nautical-themed scavenger hunts, and a parade.

10. New York City, New York

Village Halloween Parade / Steven Pisano / Flickr

Just like any other holiday, NYC’s Halloween festivals are elite. The crown jewel is the Village Halloween Parade, celebrating its 50th year in 2023. This massive parade is one of the largest in the US, drawing over 50,000 people. Anyone in costume can march, and there are also several viewing locations throughout Greenwich Village. 

Spend a night screaming your way through Blood Manor, celebrating 20 years in NYC. The haunted house hires professional actors, makeup artists, and set designers, making it as authentic as it gets. Or, venture underground into the catacombs beneath Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This revered space was once off-limits to the public, but today, brave souls can tour it by candlelight.

For a family-friendly event, check out the Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla. Watch as hundreds of illuminated pumpkins float on Harlem Meer, plus enjoy live music, a magic show, and kids’ crafts. To enter your pumpkin in the flotilla, be sure to arrive before 4:00 pm on October 26.

Don’t be “spooked” by all the options for Halloween events! From scary-cheap Halloween destinations and vampire-themed getaways to something more low-key, like train rides with the best fall foliage, Wanderu has everything you need to book your frightfully delightful trip.

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About the author
Taryn Shorr

Taryn Shorr

A classic Type A personality, Taryn's favorite aspects of travel are the planning and meeting new people. She's most drawn to the mountains and has a knack for quickly finding the best happy hour in new destinations. When she isn't writing for Wanderu or traveling, Taryn runs her own blog, Chasing Trail.

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