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What gives you goosebumps? A super spooky haunted house? A parade of costumed characters? A ghoulish ghost tour? Maybe a masquerade ball?
Whether you’re loading up on candy or having a night full of frights, Halloween is sure to get your blood pumping. But the scariest thought of all is a Halloween with no plans! Celebrate the chill in the air with fall events across North America, or turn your Hallow’s Eve into a full Spooktober affair with chills and thrills across the country.
With Wanderu’s ultimate Halloween destination guide, you can find the perfect last-minute place to celebrate this haunted holiday your way. Grab your witches’ broom, don your mask, and wake the dead at one of these 6 destinations!
New York City, New York
Every year, the Big Apple becomes the Big Pumpkin as NYC sets the bar for amazing Halloween celebrations. Just like with every other holiday, New York City knows how to party.
The biggest spectacle each year is the Village Halloween Parade, which is celebrating its 49th year of festive fun on the 31st. The parade starts at Canal St. and 6th Avenue, continues up 6th, and ends at 15th street and 6th Avenue. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join the parade- as long as you’re in costume!
Break out your creativity and sewing machine (or wallet) and go all out to join the dancers, bands, and hundreds of giant puppets filling the street from 7 pm to 11 pm. If you’d prefer to watch the spectacle unfold, there are several areas in Greenwich Village designated for watching the parade pass. Show up early to claim your spot!
If your idea of fun is screaming bloody murder, New York has plenty of haunted houses to test your lung capacity, including Blood Manor in Manhattan. In this huge expanse of haunted rooms and harrowing labyrinths, you will come face to face with your fears in the form of monsters, beasts, demons, and creepy, crawly maggots. To truly amp up the terror, some nights are lights out, so you can’t even see what scares you. Hope you’re not afraid of the dark! Swing by on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays after 7 pm.
But if you really want to test your courage, brave the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral by candlelight. The church grounds, which are normally barred to the public, are the perfect opportunity to come face to face with the ghosts and ghouls of the city.
(vincent desjardins) / Flickr
Keep the creepy-crawlies going at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Auditorium – enjoy some odd spectacles on Halloween, where you can see all sorts of unique, creepy, frightening exhibits within the Time Square area! With two floors and over 20 artifacts, exhibits, and galleries, you are sure to be entertained (and spooked)!
Los Angeles, California
Every year, the City of Angels is filled with devils and demons on Halloween!
You’ll hear plenty of screams coming from Knott’s Scary Farm. For Halloween, Knott’s Berry Farm theme park transforms into a frightening monster lair with haunted houses, creepy mazes, and spooky rides. You can’t escape the terror, because monsters prowl through the whole park – and screaming only makes them want to scare you more!
If you’re not brave enough for the Scary Farm, you can celebrate a happy Halloween at Disneyland. The park makes holiday magic with a Pumpkin Festival on Main Street, U.S.A., and ghosts come out to play on Space Mountain, but the highlight is definitely the Haunted Mansion, which welcomes guests from Halloween Town as it transforms into a Tim Burton’s The Night Before Christmas theme. And there’s no better time to meet your favorite Disney villains at special meet-and-greets throughout the park.
For some actual haunting, visit The Queen Mary in Long Beach, which is rumored to have real ghosts onboard. All year long, you can take spooky tours of the ship, but for Halloween, the ghosts are joined by more scary specters for Dark Harbor. The haunted house experience has sinister mazes and monsters to make your skin crawl – even if you don’t usually get seasick!
Need a little liquid courage to handle the frights? Grab a ticket for a haunted pub crawl and Hollywood Walk of Fame tour to see seven haunted locations and four bars with plenty of boo-ze.
Stig Nygaard / Flickr
Las Vegas, Nevada
Why should kids get all the fun? Head to Vegas for an adult spin on the holiday.
Your sexiest costume will fit right in at the 26th annual Sin City Halloween Ball, which proudly sports the title of the world’s wildest Halloween party. This is the perfect opportunity to join 7,500 other risqué revelers and let go of your inhibitions late into the night. Festivities begin on Saturday, the 29th.
For more screaming fun, Circus Circus hosts the Fright Dome, a huge 250,000-square-foot attraction with six haunted houses. And you might have to run from the menacing machete of Friday the 13th’s Jason in a super scary 4D experience!
If you want to befriend the undead (so they don’t make your brains into a meal), join the audience of the Zombie Burlesque. Zombies take over the V Theater to tantalize and titillate you – or perhaps just get you to laugh out loud. Be warned, the performers may lose some clothing -or flesh- at any time. And the show is interactive, so you can’t hide!
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is known for voodoo magic, haunted mansions, and throwing the best parties in the south: the perfect recipe for a Halloween you won’t forget.
If you haven’t been to the city before, a Cemetery Bus Tour is a must-see. Not only will you get exclusive access and scary (true!) stories about the city’s past, but you’ll also get to see a side of the city you might not find on your own.
Over a week before Halloween on October 22, The Krewe of Boo parades through the French Quarter in a spectacle of intricate floats and elaborate costumes. Prior to the parade, the public is welcome at the Kings Party on Fulton Street to meet the King and see the rest of the Krewe put finishing touches on their costumes. The parade begins at 6:30 pm and ends at Mardi Gras World in the Central Business District, but that’s when the Monster Mash after-party is just getting started.
New Orleans is known for its music just as much as its parties, and Frenchmen Street is the headquarters for live jazz and the place to hang out on Halloween! On both All Hallows Eve and Halloween night, clubs including dba, The Maison, and Dragon’s Den have amazing artists lined up, and the costumed crowds spill out into the street to carouse all night long.
If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, break out your fangs and be a part of the Endless Night Vampire Ball at the House of Blues. This formal masquerade ball depends on the guests to provide the scenery with their incredible costumes, so it’s time to go all out with your outfit and abide by the dress code. Masks and fangs are strongly encouraged!
And if you enjoy celebrating without the chill in the air, Baton Rouge, Avery Island, and other destinations in Louisiana are perfect for folks looking to stay warm this fall.
You can have a devilish time in The District if you make the capital your Halloween headquarters.
The biggest bar crawl in the Northeast, Nightmare on M Street, is a massive costume party that meanders its way through Midtown/DuPont Circle, the U Street Corridor, and Gallery Place. So, put on a disguise, grab a ticket, and make new friends for an entire day of drinks and debauchery from 3 pm to midnight on the 29th.
Kick off your Halloween weekend from the 29th to 30th for Boo at the Zoo! This family-friendly event is all treats, no tricks, with extended hours for nighttime viewing. Of course, we also recommend swinging by in daylight, when zoo keepers give the animals pumpkins to play with. If you thought pandas were cute before, just wait until you watch one stick its head in a jack o’ lantern.
To get back in the spooky spirit, go on a Capitol Hill Hauntings walking tour to discover the spirits that haunt the Hill. Learn the secrets that haunt the Supreme Court, and find out where the demons are hiding. The tour takes place every Saturday afternoon, April through October, but the Halloween one is sure to be the best!
Our ultimate Halloween guide wouldn’t be complete without Salem, a town which truly embraces the spirit of the holiday.
All October long, Salem is full of Haunted Happenings from the Grand Parade to the Haunted Ball to ghost tours and haunted houses. You will never see a shortage of ghosts and ghouls, and, of course, witches, no matter how long you spend celebrating Halloween here.
To truly understand the history behind Salem, get transported back in time to the witch trials at a performance of “Cry Innocent.” The fate of accused witch Bridget Bishop is put in your hands as you become a member of the Puritan jury.
For even more witchcraft, visit one of Salem’s many museums. The Witch Dungeon puts on a live re-enactment of the trial of Sarah Good, and The Witch History Museum takes you on a tour through the forest and Old Salem Village to discover the secret stories of 1692. And at the New England Pirate Museum, you’ll board a pirate ship to imagine the adventures of Captains Kidd and Blackbeard.
For ghastly performances, go up to Gallows Hill! Watch the Witchcraft & Ghost Experience, take a ride on the Ghosts & Legends Trolley, or toast the departed with champagne on Rory Raven’s Magic Lantern Tour. But if beer is your favorite beverage, you’ll probably be happiest listening to the ghostly tales of Sir Arthur Hennessey while you sample three local ales.
To get to Salem, book a ticket to Boston from New York, Philadelphia, or Hanover, NH, and then hop on the commuter rail, bus, or even a ferry to get up there. Or, for a little more freedom, you can always rent a car to explore the town and beyond.
Don’t be scared! There are plenty of Halloween destinations to choose from, with events all through Spooktober. Book through Wanderu to visit the frights and festivities, and monster mash your way through ghoulish fun all month long.