Top Places to Go for Halloween Spooks & Frights

Places to go for Halloween.
by: Welk Resorts | October 4, 2018

Do you remember your favorite holiday when you were little? Anything involving presents may have been at the top of your list, but Halloween probably ran a close second. The excitement of dressing up, the thrill of a good scare and the promise of handfuls of candy at the end of it all made All Hallow’s Eve one of the highlights of the kid calendar. When you travel for an unforgettable Halloween experience, it’s even more fun as an adult! Read on for a list of places to go for Halloween for shows and attractions that get more popular every year.

Salem, Massachusetts

Places to go for Halloween include Salem, MA.

Photo by SalemPuritan

Witches are to Halloween what Santa Claus is to Christmas, and no city is more closely associated with witches than Salem, Massachusetts. During the Salem witch trials, many women were accused of being witches and were treated with fear. Today, Salem proudly wears its witchy heritage for Halloween with walking tours and trick-or-treating as well as commemorating those who lost their lives in more somber remembrances.

Another reason to put Salem high on your list of places to go for Halloween is the weather and colors of nature. During late October, you’ll enjoy the full blaze of autumn foliage. The older portions of the town feel like they’re lifted straight from a Ray Bradbury tale. If you’re looking for a picturesque Halloween experience with a sense of true history behind it, Salem could be your go-to haunt this October. Just make sure to set aside a day to wander the Salem Common Historic District and get in touch with the past.

Richmond, Virginia

Dog on top of prize-winning pumpkin at the Richmond, VA state fair.

Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe with family dog and prize-winning pumpkin the state fair. Photo by Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia may be for lovers, but it also hosts great family-friendly Halloween events in Richmond, the state’s fourth-largest city. The spooky gatherings include hay mazes, haunted houses, and spectacular scares at the region’s major amusement parks. Literature lovers will appreciate a trip to Richmond to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, which houses the largest collection of Poe’s writings anywhere in the world.

Autumn in Richmond is enough to lure you outside the city to take in some of the natural beauty. Make plans to enjoy a healthier Halloween with an apple-picking expedition at a local orchard or watch how maple syrup is made by traditional artisans. When you’re in Richmond, you’re also less than an hour from colonial Williamsburg, where you can enjoy a Halloween celebration with a sense of history with ghost tours and tales of hauntings.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles has great places to go for Halloween.

Pumpkin dinosaur sculpture from Rise of the Jack o’ Lanterns. Photo by Denise Sanders

The home of spectacular special effects and movie magic is bound to be an exciting Halloween destination too. One of the best places to go for Halloween on the west coast, Los Angeles scores high for creative costumes and over-the-top parties. It’s the place to be if you’re looking for Halloween celebrations that have an edgier, more cosmopolitan vibe rather than historical accuracy. The eclectic music scene is also in full swing for Halloween, so LA is a great choice for catching some outstanding concerts.

The celebrations don’t stop on Halloween. The city has embraced the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, as a local holiday too. This festive day commemorates departed loved ones with decorative candy skulls, marigolds, and offerings of food. As a celebration of life, the Day of the Dead got its start in southern Mexico and has become well-known throughout the world. Make plans to stay a day or two after Halloween to see it for yourself.

Orlando, Florida

Nowhere puts as much effort into a family-friendly extravaganza as Orlando’s many theme parks. From wicked witches and cartoon villains to Halloween-themed parades, the festivities aim to give younger visitors an exciting time that isn’t too spooky while appealing to adults’ sense of fun. The cast members at the parks are only part of the Halloween attraction as guests are encouraged to dress for the occasion too. Consider Orlando one of your best places to go for Halloween if you’re taking kids along for a memorable experience.

Although it’s most famous for its amusement parks, Orlando also has plenty to recommend it outside these well-known attractions, especially if you’re looking for a night out without the kids. Join revelers along International Drive for costume contests, improv comedy, and more for a thoroughly grown-up taste of Halloween. Plus, the weather here is mild well into October and November, so if you’re coming from a colder climate, you’ll enjoy the temperate Florida weather.

San Diego, California

Exterior of the Whaley House at night in San Diego.

Exterior of the Whaley House at night. Photo by the Whaley House Museum

Southern California offers a unique assortment of festivities for the entire family, making it one of the top places to go for Halloween. If you want a historical adventure, the Whaley House offers a personal look into the 19th-century building that is known as one of the most haunted houses in America. Originally built on top of a graveyard, this building also served as a courtroom and execution site for criminals, leading to a long history of rumored hauntings. Today, you can learn all about the spooks and frights people have experienced here and maybe have a ghostly encounter yourself during late-night ghost hunting tours.

For those looking for more light-hearted fun, there’s plenty to find! At nearby theme parks like LEGOLAND and SeaWorld, you can experience tons of kid-friendly events such as character meet and greets, live shows, and in-park trick or treating. You can also take the little ones to hunt down their own pumpkin at one of several local pumpkin patches. Not only can they find the perfect gourd, but your family can enjoy a range of activities like games for the kids, corn mazes, and hay rides. To experience all the spooky fun San Diego has to offer, stay at Welk Resorts San Diego for your Halloween home away from home.

Portland, Oregon

Monkey looking at the Halloween pumpkin in its habitat.

A local zoo resident inspects his Halloween treat. Photo by Michael Duram

With its reputation for welcoming weirdness, Portland can feel a little like Halloween all the time. In late October, the city truly embraces its stranger side with nightlife that takes a spookier turn. Vampire-themed clubs, costume parties, and haunted tours of the tunnels below Portland give the city’s celebrations a decidedly adult twist, so consider leaving the kids at home while you enjoy an exquisitely scary experience.

Another highlight of Portland’s Halloween festivities is the city’s burgeoning music scene. Portland is among the country’s best places to go for Halloween music festivals and live shows. Not all music festivals are open to the public, so check on ticket prices before you go to make sure you don’t get any tricks when you’re hoping for a treat.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Often called the most haunted city in America, New Orleans has a deep, rich history that makes it an ideal vacation spot when looking for places to go for Halloween fun. Walking tours of the French Quarter focus on famous ghosts and the stories behind them, including some shocking tales of terror. Not every ghost story is a tragic one, though—according to locals, almost every bar has a few resident spirits, and not just the kind in bottles.

As the setting for Anne Rice’s vampire books, New Orleans has more than ghosts going for it too. Vampire fans will appreciate the city’s friendliness to creatures of the night, and a Bloody Mary is the perfect accompaniment to a tour of rumored vampire haunts from films and fiction.

If vampires and ghosts aren’t your style, explore the city’s Voodoo heritage. A religious practice in its own right, Voodoo is more thought-provoking than frightening, but its connection to zombies make it a fascinating theme for Halloween travelers too. Some of the older cemeteries in New Orleans still have tombs that practitioners grace with offerings of coins, rum, and candles. Seeing these mementos is a reminder of the city’s deep roots in African and Caribbean soil.

To get more tips and tricks on where to travel, subscribe to our blog! Don’t wait to plan your trip to San Diego for Halloween by booking your stay at Welk Resorts San Diego. And Owners, don’t forget to use your Experiences by Welk account when booking trips to visit other Halloween hot spots and avoid the frightening retail price tag. Scares should be for Halloween fun, not your vacation expenses.

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