Some people take Halloween much more seriously than others, like Californians, who spend more on the spooky holiday than any other state in America. If you are one to jump on pumpkins and mums at the first sign of fall, traveling to an all-out celebratory small town for Halloween might be for you. Whether you want to wander witch trial museums, see the hotel that inspired The Shining or walk among more jack-o-lanterns than in any other place, these are the towns in which to celebrate Oct. 31.
Everyone has heard of the legendary Salem Witch Trials that took place in 1692, and this terrifying period of history still draws tons of visitors to Massachusetts even hundreds of years later. When October rolls around each year, the Salem community’s calendar fills up quickly with hair-raising events like festivals, balls and tours of the town. Plan ahead if you plan to follow the witchy calling to Salem to avoid missing anything.
Naturally, a visit to Transylvania is another Halloween bucket list destination. While other cities provide tours related to Vlad the Impaler, the devilish Romanian ruler, for the complete Dracula experience, Transylvania is still the place to be. Visit Bran Castle, which is widely known as Dracula’s Castle and the country’s national monument. It is also possible to arrange a sleepover in Corvin Castle on Halloween night which, of course, includes a ticket to the huge party that’s thrown there too. This castle is in fact where Vlad the Impaler was held, so sleep with one eye open, perhaps.
While Estes Park might not be widely known as Halloween central, the city is home to The Stanley Hotel, which inspired Steven King’s The Shining. Throughout the month of October, the hotel hosts a busy calendar. Events range from murder mystery dinners and its own “Shining Ball.” For candy, however, you’ll need to head to Main Street to trick-or-treat.
Each year, Dearborn, Mich. holds its “Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village” event where more than 1,000 jack-o-lanterns light up the night. The event is also a true small-town tribute to Halloween with a Headless Horseman who parades around the festival. Apple cider and doughnuts are served, and there’s plenty of kid-friendly fun.
While Hocus Pocus gets a lot of attention from its millennial cult following, Halloweentown with Debbie Reynolds is another beloved movie with a somewhat smaller following. The classic Disney movie was largely filmed in St. Helens, and the city lives up to many of the expectations the movie-lovers want. For example, the town has an annual giant pumpkin lighting as well as a number of “Spirit of Halloweentown” events. Pack your bottomless carpet bags and catch the magic bus to live out a celebration that will be remembered.
Finally, Sleepy Hollow is another hallmark of Halloween. Immortalized by Washington Irving, who authored Ichabod Crane’s confrontation with the Headless Horseman, this classic haunt is among the ultimate spooky bucket list destinations. Plan to go to Horseman’s Hollow, which organizes haunted tours of the novel’s sites. Other lantern-led tours of the town are also available, and you’ll even pass the cemetery where Irving himself is buried.
Sleepy Hollow photo used via Creative Commons license through Wikimedia Commons
Salem, Mass. photo is Mass(79481).jpg">in the public domain.
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist. You can often find her on the highway somewhere between Florida and North Carolina or taking life slow in Europe.