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In most cities, Halloween consists of little kids dressed up as pink princesses or caped superheros knocking on strangers doors and asking for free candy. It’s the same thing every year, and it can get a little monotonous. In a few select cities, however, Halloween is so much more than typical child’s play.
Instead of giving candy, why not get scared at a horrifying haunted house? Instead of carving pumpkins, why not see where a notorious murderer carved up his victims? And if trick-or-treating is truly your favorite part of Halloween, why not trick-or-treat in the city that does it best?
Of course your town many not offer these attractions, so this year, go somewhere that does! We’ve scoured the country — and even beyond — to bring you the best Halloween destinations. Whether you’re looking for ghost tours, haunted cemeteries, or raging street parties, we’ve found them. Here is our list of the Top 10 places to celebrate Halloween.
10. Tombstone, Arizona
Tombstone’s name screams Halloween. Head over to this ghost town and take one of the country’s best ghost tours. On the tour, see where the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral took place. Afterwards, visit the graves of the three men killed in the shootout at the Boothill Graveyard, if you’re not too scared of course.
9. San Francisco, California
If you’re looking for the best trick-or-treating in the U.S., look no further than San Francisco, California. For the past two years, Zillow has named San Francisco the best trick-or-treating town. Cities across the country were assessed for home value, population density, walkability, and crime rates, and The Golden Gate City has repeatedly come out on top.
8. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah prides itself on being the most haunted city in America, and the city lives up to its name on Halloween. The historic town offers ghost tours in the back of a hearse. Learn about the spirits that still linger in the historic town as you sit in a real hearse that saw over 15 years of funeral parlor service. You may have trouble sleeping that night.
7. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the home of the respected University of Wisconsin–Madison, but around Oct. 31, it is also the home of one of the craziest Halloween parties in the country. Held along State Street, Freakfest hosts tens of thousands of costumed people every year. If you’re planning on attending Freakfest, you’ll need “a killer costume and a hefty tolerance for the booze.”
6. London, England
London may be famed for its prim and proper royalty, but around Halloween the town welcomes several attractions that would even terrify the queen. Go back to 1888 when terror ruled the streets of London on a Jack the Ripper Ghost Walk. Take an audio guided tour that follows the murderous barber Sweeney Todd. Listen to spine-chilling stories on a ghost bus tour. Visit the London Dungeon to see the city’s bloody past brought to life, or head over to the Tower of London to see where some of the city’s bloody past actually took place.
5. Salem, Massachusetts
The city of Salem is synonymous with witch hunts. Halloween in the historic town consists of haunted harbor cruises, cemetery walks, Halloween balls, and, of course, Salem Witch Trials attractions. Visitors can see Salem’s official witch cast spells and celebrate the haunted holiday.
4. New York, New York
The City That Never Sleeps offers many attractions on Halloween, but the Village Halloween Parade is one of the more infamous ones. The three-hour parade weaves through the West Village with more than 50,000 participants, including 50 bands, dancers, giant puppets, drag queens, artists, and regular New Yorkers. In fact, anyone can join the parade as long as they are in costume.
3. Oaxaca, Mexico
If you want a truly unique Halloween experience, visit Mexico to see how they celebrate the Day of the Dead. Oaxaca has some of the most renowned Day of the Dead traditions. By day, visitors can attend colorful markets and see beautiful sand tapestry. By night, see cemetery vigils and processions, called a comparsa, of people in costume singing and dancing.
2. Orlando, Florida
Every night throughout October, Universal Studios transforms into a horror arena, a.k.a. the award winning Halloween Horror Nights. The theme park hosts eight haunted houses, including a Cabin in the Woods and The Walking Dead-inspired house. Outside of the houses, guests are terrified by street performers in designated scare zones. If zombies and chainsaws aren’t your thing, hop over to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for a fun scream-free night.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
Second only to Mardi Gras, the city of New Orleans throws down for Halloween. Check out one of the Big Easy’s many Voodoo shops or above ground cemeteries to get in a spooky mood. Then, head over to Frenchmen Street for an outrageous street party. Locals and tourists alike crowd onto Frenchmen in elaborate costumes ready to listen to live music and celebrate. Click below to see a crowd of Where’s Waldos strut down Frenchmen Street as “When the Saints Go Marching In” plays. Then immediately plan your Halloween trip to the Crescent City.
image: Wikimedia Commons