Brown wood siding on house with sign saying Witch House
The Witch House is one of the many spooky but sobering attractions you can visit while in Salem.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

9 Places to Go for Halloween That Are Filled with Thrills & Chills

A Cauldron-Full of Festivities

For Halloween lovers, this holiday’s celebrations have as much of a draw as Christmas or New Year’s does for others. No longer just for kids, Halloween has turned into a major commercial venture for towns and cities around the world.

Many places, especially within the United States, have really upped their Halloween game in the last few decades, putting on large multi-day festivals and hosting lavish all-night masquerades. Some destinations even have year-round horror attractions that contribute to their Halloween appeal.

There are plenty of fall vacation destinations to journey to this time of year where you can enjoy the changing leaves and harvest festivals, but if dressing up and getting spooked are two of your favorite things, why not take a Halloween-themed trip this year?

We’ve rounded up some of the best Halloween destinations where you can get a deadly dose of thrills and chills.

Salem, MA

In Salem, it’s pretty much Halloween year-round. Known for its association with the Salem Witch Trials and as the setting of Disney’s “Hocus Pocus,” the city identifies with and prides itself on its spooky history. There are plenty of witchy attractions like the Salem Witch Museum and The Witch House to keep you busy and entertained for hours.

In the Salem Witch Village you’ll find haunted houses, nighttime walking tours, and even spell casting ceremonies. Plus, every Halloween the city hosts a week long Festival of the Dead where you can mingle with modern-day witches at the psychic fair and witches ball.

Entrance to Universal Studios with people milling about and vines on entryway.Get your pants scared off in the scare mazes at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Orlando, FL

Known as the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is a top Halloween entertainment destination. Aside from the well-known scare mazes at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, the Walt Disney World Resort, Legoland and SeaWorld all host family-friendly Halloween activities as well.

Even if you can’t afford the high price of a theme park ticket, there are plenty of haunted houses and Halloween attractions all over Orlando. A must-see for its high scare factor is A Petrified Forest, where you’ll get flashbacks to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as you walk through different backwoods scenes and encounter murderous country folk along the way.

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Yellow and grey building with sign saying Magic CastleBook a private seance at Magic Castle for a truly spooky Halloween experience while in Hollywood.Photo Credit: Getty Images

West Hollywood, CA

One of the most famous adults-only Halloween parties around the world takes place in Tinseltown. West Hollywood hosts a yearly Halloween Carnaval with live music, an epic block party, and plenty of risque costumes. All of the bars and clubs in the area are also open, allowing party goers to bar hop with ease.

A ton of exclusive Halloween parties and masquerades happen all weekend long, where bumping into a celebrity or two isn’t unheard of. For a truly unique Halloween experience be sure to book a private seance at the The Academy of Magical Arts, or the Magic Castle as it’s typically known, where you may come in contact with the spirit of Harry Houdini himself.

Stone wall with cannon.Experience the Awakening of the Walls interactive theater experience along the city's 17th century walls.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Derry, Northern Ireland (Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival)

Halloween actually originated in the United Kingdom so they don’t skimp when it comes to planning spooktacular festivities. In Derry, North Ireland, they host an annual Halloween Festival all weekend long complete with street carnival, parade, live music and fireworks.

Multiple venues around the city host festive activities and performances celebrating Samhain, the Gaelic festival and harvest season that became what we know as Halloween. A one-of-a-kind experience with ancient origins, make sure to experience Awakening the Walls, a themed, interactive theater experience along the city’s 17th-century walls.

White mill house with bridge over millpond.Over Halloween, Philipsburg Manor transforms into a haunted location featuring none other than the Headless Horseman.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sleepy Hollow, NY

Literature buffs can’t miss taking a Halloween vacation in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Follow the path of the legendary Headless Horseman at Philipsburg Manor where you’ll encounter all kinds of ghosts and ghouls along a haunted trail. A block party during Halloween weekend features a haunted hayride, vendors, food and music.

However, the highlight of Halloween here is just a short drive away at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Definitely something you need to see to believe, The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is a breath-taking spectacle of festive lights that keeps the Halloween spirit alive and well.

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Two women with skull face paint.Painting your face with a decorative skull design is a popular way to celebrate La Calaca Festival.Photo Credit: Getty Images

San Miguel de Allende, México

Mexico celebrates the Dia de los Muertos holiday, which honors the lives of the dead and acknowledges the inevitable fate that awaits us all. In San Miguel de Allende, during the La Calaca Festival, revelers dress up in costumes or sometimes as a deceased loved one, wearing masks or painting their faces with a decorative skull design.

Traditionally, towns host a nighttime, candlelit parade that often ends at a public square, garden or cemetery. Elaborate public art and altar installations will also be on display during the festivities including the Pyramid of the Dead, a massive tribute to healing, which premiered at Burning Man in 2017.

Two decrepit looking houses.It's about partying when it comes to Halloween in Key West. Adults-only partying, that is.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Key West, FL

Fantasy Fest is an entire week of scandalous Halloween revelry in Key West, FL. Leave the kids with grandma because booze and nudity abounds during these legendary festivities. Participants are more likely to don body paint than costumes as most parties are clothing-optional affairs.

Each year over 70,000 people descend upon the island, partying day and night during street fairs, themed parties and concerts. The festival culminates on the Saturday before Halloween with a wild Mardi Gras street parade featuring glittering floats, costumed participants, and plenty of live music and dance along the way.

It’s a real Halloween for grown ups where you can truly let it all hang out!

Two rundown, abandoned houses.There are plenty of fear inducing Halloween attractions located in Detroit.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Detroit, MI

Believe it or not, the suburbs of Detroit and Ann Arbor are filled with haunted Halloween attractions. An entire website, Fear Finder, has been set up to locate the scariest places to visit during the holiday. One such experience in Pontiac, MI, called Erebus, has a four-story haunted house that will rival anything you see at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.

You can also get up-close and personal with creatures of the night at The Bat Zone, a bat sanctuary and education center. And, if you’re looking to party, Detroit hosts a Monster’s Ball where — aside from incredible costumes — you’ll enjoy performances from aerialists, illusionists, acrobats and fire dancers.

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Old castle with red rooftop.Visit Bran Castle, nicknamed Dracula's Castle, and partake in a Halloween party.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Transylvania, Romania

Of course we can’t leave out one of the most notoriously creepy places in the world on a list of places to go for Halloween: Transylvania. Forever immortalized in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” novel, Transylvania has capitalized on the region’s fame with a number of Halloween-worthy attractions.

You can take a visit to Bran Castle, nicknamed Dracula’s Castle, which hosts its own Halloween party complete with spooky tours of the castle. Many local travel companies also offer Dracula-themed tours, including one where you can spend the night in Hunyad Castle, which is known as one of the most haunted places in Romania (and possibly all of Europe).

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