Halloween Guide: 6 Last-Minute Destinations for Spooky Celebrations

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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?

With Wanderu’s ultimate Halloween destination guide, you can find the perfect place to celebrate this haunted holiday your way!

New York City

NYC has everything you need to celebrate Halloween!

The biggest spectacle each year is the Village Halloween Parade! Anyone in costume can be a part of it, so go all out, dress up, and join the procession that runs along 6th Ave from Spring St to 16th Street in Greenwich Village. If you just want to watch, the parade runs from 7pm to 11pm, so get there early to stake out a spot.

Keep the creepy-crawlies going after the parade 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)!

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!

How to get there: Celebrate Halloween in New York your way with buses from Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and further afield that you can book right here on Wanderu!

Photo by Gilad Rom / Flickr

Los Angeles

In Hollywood, you can make your Halloween dreams come true!

Half a million people converge in West Hollywood for the Halloween Carnaval, a spectacle on Santa Monica Blvd. The street party is free, with six stages of entertainment to enjoy, along with all the other costumed party-goers. And stick around at the end of the night for the crowning of the Carnaval Queen – Rihanna once got the honor!

There are also other screams to be had in SoCal and you will definitely hear them 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.

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!

How to get there: Spend your Halloween in Los Angeles by booking a ticket from San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas or anywhere else!

Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas is true on Halloween too, so don’t be scared to join the party on the Strip!

Your sexiest costume will fit right in at the Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball at the Hard Rock Hotel. This is the perfect opportunity to join 7,500 other risqué revelers and let go of your inhibitions late into the night.

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 at Planet Hollywood to tantalize and titillate you – or perhaps just get you laugh out loud. The show is interactive, so you can’t hide!

How to get there: To have the haunted party of a lifetime in Vegas, you can book bus tickets from Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and lots of other locations.

New Orleans

New Orleans is known for throwing quite the party, and Halloween is no exception!

Over a week before Halloween on October 19, 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.

For even more music, hit up Voodoo Fest in City Park. The three-day experience spans Halloween weekend and invites you to “worship the music.” In past years, that music includes The Weeknd, The Chainsmokers, Arcade Fire, Tool, G-Eazy and many others! The 2019 lineup is still underway!

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!

How to get there: Have a ball on Halloween in New Orleans with a trip from Dallas, Atlanta, and many other cities, too!

Photo by Paul Arps / Flickr

Washington, D.C.

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 Halloween.

Kick off your Halloween weekend on Friday, October 25, with a visit to the Night of the Living Zoo! The kids clear out from the daytime festivities and The National Zoo hosts an adults-only party at night featuring food trucks, fire breathers, local brews and live music.

For something truly spooky, 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!

How to get there: D.C. is definitely the place to be for Halloween, and you can easily get there from Philadelphia, BostonNew York City, and all around the country.

Salem, Massachusetts

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 the 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.

How to get there: For a true Halloween experience, Salem is where you want to celebrate. 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!

With Halloween festivities happening all over the country, Wanderu is here to help you get your scream on! Pick your city and get going to celebrate all things spooky!

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About the author
Kate Sedrowski

Kate Sedrowski

Kate Sedrowski is on a mission to spread delight while inspiring and encouraging people to travel. Her favorite travel companion is her teddy bear, and her favorite souvenir is the scar from the broken nose she got in a snowball fight in Québec City.
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