9 Extraordinary Halloween Vacations | This West Coast Mommy

9 Extraordinary Halloween Vacations

If you’re looking to make the most of the fast approaching Halloween season, there are lots of fun crafts and activities out there. Sometimes you want more than the usual decorating, costumes, and trick-or-treating though. Up for some Halloween-themed travel? There are many spooky destinations around the world sure to make for one of the most unforgettable holidays that you will ever experience.

1. Salem, Massachusetts, USA

If you visit Salem, Massachusetts, at any point over the month of October, you will get the full-fledged Halloween experience. Visitors to Salem can expect trial re-enactments, guided tours of infamous witch trial locations, magic shows, seances, parades, fireworks, and even witch’s circles. You also won’t want to miss visiting the Salem Witch House Museum and Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, or dancing the night away at the Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball.

Sarah Good Memorial” by Josh McGinn is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

2. Transylvania, Romania

Romania itself has a spooktacular reputation with it’s brooding forests and stunning Gothic architecture. However, it’s the impressive Bran Castle in Transylvania that typically drives people to visit. The castle is thought to have inspired Bram Stoker’s depiction of Count Dracula’s castle, though there is no evidence that Vlad the Impaler, the historical basis for Count Dracula, ever lived there. You can join one of the specialty Halloween-themed tours that includes live Romanian and medieval folk music, Romanian cuisine, and live shows at Bran Castle or Corvin Castle (also known as Hunyad Castle), or book a local tour that will introduce you to Transylvania’s history and culture. Both options are perfect for Halloween.

Bran Castle, Romania

3. Derry, Ireland

The origins of Halloween lie in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, marking the end of the harvest and bringing on the dark half of the year. Halloween is still called Samhain in Ireland, and there’s no doubting its authenticity. The city of Derry is the centre of the best Halloween celebrations in the country. Celebrating all things spooky, the Return of the Ancients Festival runs for nine whole days. Get ready for parades, ghost tours, workshops, scary movies, haunted houses, and a fantastic fireworks display. With a surfeit of family-friendly programs spanning the entire festival, this is an unforgettable experience.

Image courtesy of Derry Halloween.

4. Oaxaca, Mexico

In Mexico and much of Latin America, the Day of the Dead is a three-day celebration beginning on October 31st and ending on November 2nd. While Halloween and the Day of the Dead share common roots, they aren’t the same thing. Instead of costumes, trick-or-treating, and scary ghouls and goblins, the Day of the Dead is a celebration and commemoration of the dearly departed. It’s believed that spirits return every year on these three days to spend time with their family and loved ones.

While each town and city offers a different perspective on how to celebrate, in Oaxaca, you will find the streets transformed into a large street festival. Visit the Museo del Palacio to see ritual altars and a giant sand tapestry commemorating the beloved dead. The town is decorated with skulls, flowers, and skeletons, and townspeople visit local cemeteries to clean the grave sites and welcome the souls of their ancestors with candles, marigolds, feasting, and mezcal. The main square houses an abundance of drinks, food, and dancing all night long!

5. Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA

Halloween is a month-long event in Sleepy Hollow. Home of the timeless legend of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, it’s the perfect place to get your creepy on! Visit the Horseman’s Hollow haunted attraction at the 300-year-old Phillipsburg Manor where you will discover a town driven mad by the Headless Horseman, wander the ruins of Ichabod’s schoolhouse, and finally come face-to-face with the terrifying Horseman himself.

If you’re looking for something a little more family-friendly, head to the Lyndhurst Mansion for a Halloween-themed tour or to solve a murder mystery at Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities. Visit Van Cortlandt Manor where thousands of illuminated jack o’lanterns will be on display throughout October and November. All around town, there’s live music, hayrides, street fairs, lantern tours, and parades. Sleepy Hollow also boasts one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States, the Old Dutch Burying Ground, as well as the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Washington Irving, the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is buried.

Sleepy Hollow, New York

6. London, England

Should you visit London on Halloween, your hardest decision will be to decide which of the many events to attend. If you are looking for a good scare, head to the popular London Dungeons, an elaborate experience that will bring you face-to-face with villains such as Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper. Actors take participants through 14 different shows and two terrifying rides. More spine-chilling attractions for the not-so-faint of heart include the London Bridge Experience and Tombs and a midnight ghost hunt in Olde London. Looking for something a little less intense? Check out the Ghost Bus Tour, embark on various ghost walks throughout the city, or explore Jack the Ripper’s old haunts.

London Bridge, London

7. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Boasting some of the best haunted and paranormal tours in the world, New Orleans is an amazing place to visit for Halloween. Known as the most haunted city in the United States, make sure to book a tour of one of New Orleans’ world famous above ground cemeteries or the French Quarter. Take a stroll to Frenchman Street where you will find the largest street parties to celebrate Halloween. From activities at the zoo to haunted houses and a fantastic annual Halloween parade, the options are endless. Numerous activities and the Voodoo Music and Art Experience are all part of this beautiful city’s celebrations.

New Orleans cemetery

8. Los Angeles, California, USA

Visit Universal Studios in Hollywood over Halloween as it transforms into a creepy wonderland of horrors. Scare zones, rides, shows, interactive mazes, and more will have you screaming in fear and delight. Fans of horror movies will love the over-the-top effects and scream-inducing attractions. If you’d prefer to avoid a theme park, check out one of the largest public Halloween parties in the world. Over 500,000 people will take to the streets of Santa Monica Boulevard for the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval featuring food vendors, live entertainment, photo stations, and more.

Want a really good scare? Docked just off Long Beach (about 30 minutes south of Hollywood), the decommissioned Queen Mary ocean liner is one of the most unique places to celebrate Halloween. For those who dare to visit the Dark Harbor event beginning October 1st each year, you will have an entire month to explore the rides, monsters, food, and six different mazes haunted by over 200 different ghosts and spirits. This attraction isn’t suitable for young children though, as it’s truly terrifying.

RMS Queen Mary

9. New York City, New York, USA

Established in 1974, New York City’s Village Halloween Parade literally shuts down the entire section of lower Manhattan, drawing visitors from all over the world. This amazing parade features a dizzying display of costumes, dancers, and giant puppets. If you’ve got your costume on, you’re welcome to march in the parade yourself! Looking for more? Join a ghost walk where you may just run into the spirit of Edgar Allen Poe, or head to an after dark crypt crawl under the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

A trip to any of these fabulous destinations would make a once in a lifetime experience. Where would you love to spend your next Halloween?

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  • I visited the castle in Transylvania, probably about 18 years ago, but they didn’t have anything like that going on at the time. You basically just paid a fee and looked around. It was quite a let down actually, I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was just an old, decaying, castle. LOL

  • These places for Halloween sound like a lot of fun. Something new I’m learning about. A great vacation for the family who loves Halloween.

  • I’ve read up on a few of these places. Halloween is big on my side of the family, our favorite holiday. We have been trying to go to New Orleans as we heard their Halloween is more celebrated than the Mardi Gras. Scheduling problems everytime.

  • I really like the idea that is celebrated in Oaxaca, Mexico. It would quite a different experience that I’m used to.

  • Halloween is big on my side of the family, our favorite holiday. We have been trying to go to New Orleans as we heard their Halloween is more celebrated than the Mardi Gras. Scheduling problems every time.

  • These are all great ideas. I would love to visit Romania. New Orleans is another place I would love to see!

  • Pretty sure I’ll never get to most of these locations but some of the North American ones would be interesting vacations.