15 Places That Take Halloween Seriously

Danyale Reed | Sep 18, 2019 Home & Garden
15 Places That Take Halloween Seriously
Image: Twenty20

15 Places That Take Halloween Seriously

Mid-autumn is the time of year when most cities start to wind down. Finally, people accept summer's farewell, quit traveling and vacations, embrace cooler weather ... and just chill the heck out and sip some warm drinks. Not the towns on this list, though. These cities see October as a month-long Halloween celebration, changing once-quiet sidewalks into ghoulish displays of fantastically decorated homes. Some of these towns are known for big parties and super-wild Halloween nightlife, while others are more known for family-friendly activities like big pumpkin patches, and special Halloween celebrations at the local zoo, while still others take a big swing at both of them. Keep reading and see which places in the United States take Halloween the most seriously and really get their spook on. 

For anyone whose house is basically a temple to our spookiest of holidays, check out  some spooky home decor ideas. We know some moms who go all out for every holiday, and others for whom Halloween is The Special Holiday for a house full of decorations ... and these work great for either kind of person. For those who take a DIY approach (and still don't want to get orange and black glitter all over the house), check out some mess-free Halloween crafts for kids. Crafting is a great way to celebrate the spookiest season of all -- but no one wants to worry about getting glue all over the dining table. For a more grown-up approach, check out inspiration for Halloween tattoos. And while the rules were different when we were kids (we definitely remember dressing up as an "Indian princess") that doesn't mean it's not a good idea to change with the times. Keep the kids out of cringey costumes they're only going to regret later with this extremely useful guide: A Practical Guide For Not Dressing Your Kids In Horrifically Offensive Halloween Costumes

  • Salem, Massachusetts

    Salem, Massachusetts

    The infamous witch trials of the early 1690s might explain why Salem, Massachusetts, is still obsessed with this bewitching time of year. Nowadays, vampires, ghouls, and all other seasonally spooky beings are welcomed in a literal celebration of the afterlife at Festival of the Dead (FOD). Throughout October, the FOD hosts events aimed at connecting with "spirits," such as the daily Salem Psychic Fair and Witches Market. There's even a hosted "dinner with the dead," proving Salem has gone from hunting to haunted.

  • Sleepy Hollow, New York

    Sleepy Hollow, New York

    Sleepy Hollow, New York, has a major reputation to live up to, as the host to the creepy tale of the headless horseman. October hopes are fulfilled with the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, one of the largest Halloween happenings in town. For 46 nights (from September 28 through November 2), 7,000 jack-o'-lanterns, carved in an array of odd expressions, are illuminated in an impressive show that's as fun as it is family-friendly, even with discounted prices for kids (free if they're under 3 years old!).

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Don't think that just because Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love that it goes easy on the chills and thrills. There are big scares for scream-seekers, including the haunted Bates Motel and Pennhurst Asylum. That said, there's still plenty for those looking for a lighter Halloween experience. Visitors can drop in on Pumpkinland, the giant pumpkin patch, or attend a special holiday movie screening.

  • St. Louis, Missouri

    St. Louis, Missouri

    Pulling many of its major attractions into the frightening fall festivities, St. Louis, Missouri, transforms itself for the haunted holiday season. Six Flags St. Louis provides a wholesome, Halloween-themed good time for all ages during the day, but parents are warned to get the kiddos out before night falls, when the more mature monsters show face. The St. Louis Zoo follows a family-friendly path with Boo at the Zoo every night, which allows tiny trick-or-treaters to celebrate without the scare.

  • Chicago, Illinois

    Chicago, Illinois

    The Windy City brings a different sort of chill this month. Dyeing the water orange in the Daley Plaza fountain is representative of just how serious Chicago is about Halloween. Constantly listed as one of the best cities to go trick-or-treating in the US, Chicago offers kids opportunities to rack up candy while adults enjoy a long list of activities, too. Ghost tours every night, fall festivals every weekend and standout events like a play about Edgar Allen Poe or a "Boo-lesque" show cover a broad menu of possible events.

  • Romeo, Michigan

    Romeo, Michigan

    It's a small town and an otherwise quiet neighborhood, but Tillson Street in Romeo, Michigan, doesn't attract thousands of visitors each year because of its size. The close-knit community of homeowners on Tillson Street have, for generations, helped one another decorate their homes in eerie and elaborate ways. Every year, crowds get bigger and thousands of pieces of candy are handed out by the welcoming residents who are happy Halloween hosts.

  • New Orleans, Louisiana

    New Orleans, Louisiana

    No matter what time of year it is, New Orleans knows how to throw a party. Considered by many as the most haunted city in the country, New Orleans has a beauty in the way the dead are celebrated during Halloween. Cemetery tours, especially the well-known St. Louis Cemetery, highlight the stunning above-ground mausoleums and crypts. Add the exceptional haunted houses and the Voodoo Festival into the mix, and NOLA is a top contender for out-of-this-world Halloween experiences.

  • Savannah, Georgia

    Savannah, Georgia

    Old Victorian homes are a perfect backdrop for creepy Halloween tours in Savannah, Georgia. On the Ghost and Gravestones tour, a gravedigger leads groups through the most haunted parts of town, including exclusive nighttime entry to some locations. Haunted houses, crowded with supposed spirits, line the city's streets, and the Bonaventure Cemetery waits for darkness to fall before it comes alive. The faint of heart might want to carry a flashlight through town!

  • Los Angeles, California

    Los Angeles, California

    Like many other cities that turn up the dial for Halloween, Los Angeles is flooded with all-too-real haunted houses and even better parties (it is LA, after all). But it has two things that make it a standout Halloween town -- some of the most diverse Day of the Dead celebrations in the US and Universal Studios Hollywood. One of the best Día de los Muertos celebrations happens downtown on Olvera Street (October 25-November 2). As for those who venture into Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, the originators of the horror genre, they should be ready for screams from rides and other scary things that go bump in the night.

  • Las Vegas, Nevada

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    For grown-ups, Las Vegas always feels like Halloween, with costume-clad pedestrians all over and plenty of cocktails (some call it adult candy) being passed out like miniature chocolate bars. Hotels like the Bellagio are known to set up elaborate decorations, such as the display shown here, to signal the season. What sometimes flies under the radar are the kid-friendly, G-rated parties like Operation Halloween in Tivoli Village, an escape room-type adventure, or the Ghost Walk on Halloween Day. Las Vegas includes everyone in its spook-tivities.

  • Seattle, Washington

    Seattle, Washington

    We all know and love Seattle for being quirky, and its reputation makes local Halloween celebrations even more interesting. One of the best trick-or-treat venues for adults is after hours at the Seattle Chocolate Factory, where patrons solve a mystery and look for treasure, all while enjoying rich delectables (sorry, kids). Another Halloween event held in town is KawaiiWeen, an art and fashion show emphasizing Kawaii, the Japanese culture of cuteness. (This year, there will be adorable witches everywhere.)

  • Portland, Oregon

    Portland, Oregon

    Many in Portland, Oregon, enjoy wearing costumes all year long. Thanks to them, the costume shops in town reign supreme in the nation, with no shortage of creative ideas from locals. Nearby pumpkin patches and corn mazes show the lovely autumn colors of the region. For those looking for something strange, check out the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta, where the dressed-up participants paddle in huge carved-out pumpkins in a lake.

  • New York, New York

    New York, New York

    The city of New York does Halloween, and it does it big. There's an enormous, costumed Halloween parade, another one for dogs in their costumes -- the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade -- and about a million parties and events for both kids and adults. Special Halloween burlesque shows, classical music concerts, and haunted houses dotting the city are just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Orlando, Florida

    Orlando, Florida

    Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, Florida, is one of the spookiest, scariest annual events in the world -- and it has extremely high production value, to boot. Attractions based on shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story are extraordinarily lifelike -- basically, for the month of October, the whole park goes from being cute and fun to absolutely terrifying. 

  • Louisville, Kentucky

    Louisville, Kentucky

    So this one definitely falls under "cute, not scary" celebrations, but Louisville's zoo hosts an annual party that bills itself the “World’s Largest Halloween Party." We're not sure about the numbers on that, but we are positive that spending Halloween with zoo animals has to be the coolest way to celebrate ... ever. 

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