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Halloween is a time for spookiness and curiosities. You probably spend it taking your children trick-or-treating but it can also be a really fun holiday. There are tons of creepy towns and fantastical festivals in the US where you can really get into the Halloween spirit!
In this blog post, I’ll cover what to expect from each town so you can plan your family Halloween holiday and get your creepy costumes out ready!
- Anoka, Minnesota
- Sleepy Hollow, New York
- Celebrate Halloween at The Village Halloween Parade, NYC
- Celebrate Halloween with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, NYC
- The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, Hudson Valley, New York
- Neewollah Festival, Independence, Kansas
- Louisville Zoo – The World’s Largest Halloween Party
- Horror Nights, Universal City, California
- Celebrate Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts
- St. Helens, Oregon
- C-K Autumn Fest, West Virginia
- Celebrate Halloween in New Orleans, Louisiana
If you often wondered ‘What U.S. town goes all out for Halloween?’, look no further.
Anoka touts itself as ‘Halloween Capital of the World’. In fact, they’ve hosted Halloween events since 1914. What began back then as an effort to stop kids ‘tricking’ has turned into a month-long spook-tacle.
The program includes competitions, parades, scavenger hunts, spooky movie nights, pumpkin carving contests, night parades, costume contests, bonfires and more.
See the online program of events and book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Washington Irving’s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” is the basis for the show “Sleepy Hollow” on FOX. It has been featured in several books and movies.
The village itself is 25 miles north of New York City, with a population of over 10,000 people.
This popular Halloween destination still boasts its iconic unofficial mascot, the Headless Horseman.
The village gets a makeover for Halloween and turns into Great Jack-O-Lantern Blaze. It’s an outdoor/indoor “period correct” haunt includes costumed actors from the 1700s and performances of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
There’s a live reenactment of the Sleepy Hollow tale at Washington Irving’s home Sunnyside, complete with thousands of carved gourds and a Pumpkin Windmill.
On Halloween night, it is common to see lighted jack-o’-lanterns decorating porches across the town.
Don’t miss the historic cemetery by lantern light and the tour of Philipsburg Manor -a terrifying haunt known as Horseman’s Hollow.
You can even enjoy some shopping at the street fairs and farmers markets.
Celebrate Halloween at The Village Halloween Parade, NYC
Another New York event, the Village Halloween Parade was created in 1973.
It’s more than just a celebration of Halloween though.
It’s one of the most famous Halloween events in the US and the largest Halloween parade in the world. Over two million spectators and 60,000 participants come to watch as giant puppets make their way through the neighborhood.
The event itself is free to spectators but you can also buy tickets to watch the parade from special VIP areas. Even better, you can participate in the parade itself as long as you wear a costume and a mask.
This 1-mile chain of people dressed up in various costumes runs straight up 6th Ave. from Spring to 16th Street on Halloween night – October 31st.
Celebrate Halloween with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, NYC
If you’re going to visit New York for Halloween, don’t miss the opportunity to go to a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. There’s a live, interactive screening every Friday and Saturday night at the Cinepolis Chelsea Cinemas.
Tickets go on sale at least 3 days before each performance but the Halloween tickets are available from October 1st and sell out quickly.
There’s no age restriction – all ages are welcome at this fun family show, but all visitors under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
Running from September through to November, the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in the Hudson Valley, New York, is a must-see for anyone who loves to celebrate Halloween. The event features more than 7000 carved pumpkins, all of which were designed and hand-carved by a special team.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is a very special event, including synchronised lighting with music.
It takes from an hour to 90 minutes to walk through the display.
This is a really popular event, so early booking is essential. Tickets are not available at the event, only online in advance.
The “Neewollah” (Halloween spelled backward) festival is located in Kansas. The event attracts visitors from all over the country for a month of revelry.
Discover haunted houses, watch spooky shows and beware the characters and creatures lurking around the parks! Let your kids dress up in their favorite Halloween outfit and join the kiddy parade.
This is all good, spooky fun designed for families. The program includes parades, live music, a carnival, theatre performances and a medallion hunt.
Louisville Zoo – The World’s Largest Halloween Party
A zoo might not be the first place you’d imagine for a Halloween party, but ‘Boo At The Zoo’ has been delighting families for over 40 years.
This exciting program runs Thursdays – Sundays throughout October. The zoo becomes a living storybook, with larger-than-life characters, music, and trick or treating for kids 11 or under. – there are treat booths provided in various places in the zoo.
The entry ticket gives you full access to the zoo, as well as The Spooktacular Carousel, the “not-so-itsy-bitsy” Spider House experience and the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow experience.
Costumes are welcome but not required – note though that although adults can also dress in costume, they should not have their faces completely covered.
This event is not suitable for young kids, but families with older kids who enjoy spine-chilling movies will love Horror Nights. Universal Studios transforms into a park full of terror for Halloween. Horror Nights run on various nights in September and October.
With scary mazes, thrilling rides, horrifying creatures and outrageous live performances, this is a truly harrowing Halloween experience!
Celebrate Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts
What would Halloween be like without a witch or two? The Salem Witch trials back in 1692 have made Salem the most popular destination for Halloween.
As you might expect, there are lots of witch-inspired events in the Halloween program. Check out the Witches Market and Psychic Fair. Take part in the Witches Costume Parade.
If you like history, don’t miss a visit to the Peabody Essex Museum and learn more about the witch trials and Salem’s history.
Visit haunted houses and marvel at the Grand Parade. There are ‘Scary Stories’ nights, Family Film Nights and Haunted Magic shows to entertain people of all ages.
Check out the full program of ‘frightfully fun events’ on their calendar Haunted Happenings.
Fans of the Disney movie Halloweentown or Twilight will probably recognise St. Helens -both movies were partially filmed there.
From mid-September to the end of October, St. Helens goes all-in for ‘Spirit of Halloweentown‘, their Halloween festival. The Riverfront District morphs into a giant Halloween celebration.
Get involved in a costume contest, enjoy visiting the attractions, or chill out at one of the ‘Stories By The Scarecrow’ sessions. There’s a full program of live performances, theatre and music.
Two towns in West Virginia – Ceredo and Kenova – come together to create a fun-packed program of events for families at Halloween.
It takes place during the last weekend of October in both towns. The centerpiece is the Pumpkin House, decorated with over 3000 carved pumpkins.
If you’re a baking fan, head for the Bake-Off contest. In fact, you’re spoiled for choice food-wise with all the street vendors around the Pumpkin House.
Other attractions include a tractor show, a Parade, a ‘Cruise-in’ of classic and custom cars, as well as a Great Scarecrow Hunt and homes beautifully decorated for Halloween in the ‘Home Decorating’ contest.
Celebrate Halloween in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana is a spooky place to visit at any time of year, so when better than during the Halloween season? The best way to experience it is by walking through the French Quarter and stumbling upon all of its haunted attractions. Visit the cemeteries, full of beautiful tombs
Don’t be surprised to see zombies, vampires, witches or ghosts wandering around town at all times of day (who said vampires could only come out at night…?).
Why not rent costumes for the whole family and get in on the ghoulish fun. The official Halloween Parade – Krewe of Boo – features incredibly constructed floats.
Every October, the Vodoo Music + Arts brings live music, a mini theme park and Halloween decorations to the city.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum has lots of fantastic events for kids at Halloween. Their ‘Halloweekend’ is a 3 day Halloween festival with Spooky campsite stories, magic potion brewing sessions, and pumpkin painting. Kids are welcome to go in costume to make it even more fun. Get entry tickets online.
To get in the spirit of Halloween, take the trick-or-treating up a notch and visit one of these spooky US Halloween destinations. There are goulish games and frightully fun activities for the whole family! What a perfect way to celebrate Halloween!
Traveling with kids and looking for tips, then make sure to click the links below and read more:
- Best Travel Gear For Kids
- How To Travel With Kids Internationally Alone
- Best Countries To Visit In The World With Kids
- Top Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids
- How To Keep Your Kids Entertained & Happy On Flights
- Everything You Need To Know About Traveling With A Car Seat