Happy October! Can you believe it’s time to start planning for Halloween again? If you’re planning to get out of town for the haunted holiday, here are 7 destinations where you can experience everything from typical Halloween parades to downright creepy ghost hunting.
1. Salem, Massachusetts
Of course there’s no Halloween destination round up without a mention of Salem, the location of the famed Salem Witch Trials. There are plenty of museums and historical places you can visit and listen to tales told by costumed characters, along with haunted harbor cruises and even a “Festival of the Dead.” For a full list of events, click here.
To get to Salem, you can drive or take the MBTA commuter rail easily from Boston. Stay at the historic Hawthorne Hotel, which has an annual Halloween costume party if you prefer a short trip from the bar to your bed. There are also plenty of B&Bs and larger hotel chains located in the area.
2. Sleepy Hollow, New York
About 30 miles and a short MetroNorth train ride from Midtown Manhattan, the village of Sleepy Hollow is the burial place of Washington Irving and the home of his most famous character, the Headless Horseman.
Sleepy Hollow has numerous Halloween-inspired events taking place throughout the month of October, including an annual haunted hayride Oct. 25-26, cemetery tours, and the terrifying “Horseman’s Hollow,” which warns visitors, “This event is NOT suitable for adults who are claustrophic, have heart or respiratory conditions, are prone to seizures, or have other chronic health conditions. Enter at your own risk.”
3. Savannah, Georgia
Celebrate Halloween on the River for free on October 31st at Rousakis Riverfront Plaza. You’ll find costume contests and plenty of family-friendly haunted mansions, restaurants and hotels in this historic area.
If you’re ready for something scarier/boozier, stop by The Pirate’s House, a historic restaurant that opened in 1753 to provide lodging for pirates and sailors. For an entertaining evening, sign up for the Savannah Creepy Crawl Haunted Pub Tour ($20, reservations recommended).
Rest up at the rumored-to-be-haunted Eliza Thompson House, a cozy, charming and historic bed and breakfast located right near all the action.
4. Transylvania, Romania
That’s right, I just jumped from Savannah to Romania. Can you think of a spookier place to spend Halloween than Dracula’s Transylvania? Skip the pumpkins and witch hats you traditionally associate with the holiday and celebrate in this magical realm filled with haunting legends and medieval streets. Choose which of the 118 eery local castles, you’d like to explore, all filled with Gothic architecture. Entertain yourself with tours aplenty that will do everything from scare you to death to throw a killer Halloween bash.
Two well-recommended hotels near Bran Castle (rumored to be where Dracula lived) are Casa Wagner and Natural Guesthouse. For more cool photos, follower my Transylvania-inspired Pinterest board here.
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
And we’re back in the South. Every day is an excuse to party in the home of Mardi Gras, and Halloween is no exception. Opt for a haunted tour of the French Quarter and visit some Voodoo shops, or head to one of New Orleans’ many haunted houses. The best part of Halloween here? You can party hop with a drink in hand to calm the nerves. For a full list of local events, click here.
If you’re heading to NOLA, my favorite local spot is the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. It’s steps away from the madness of Bourbon Street, but a nice place to relax when you need a break.
6. Ostend, Belgium
Halloween is an American holiday, but I couldn’t leave you with only one European destination to check out. A less terrifying alternative to hunting for ghosts in the castles of rural Romania, Ostend has a famous annual Halloween festival at the end of October. The whole city is decorated for the holiday, and hosts everything from themed club nights to kid-friendly activities.
Stay in the perfect location at the Hotel de Hofkamers, which receives rave reviews but won’t break the bank.
What are your plans for Halloween? Have you ever celebrated in any of these cities? I’m planning to head to Sleepy Hollow this time around – hit subscribe to follow along!