By Amanda Orr
Though you may not think of it as a travel holiday, Halloween's a fantastic time to throw the kids on a plane, or in the car, and explore an eerie historic site, or a spooky Halloween festival. We've pulled together a geographically diverse list of perfect family Halloween destinations. Book a last-minute flight and surprise the little ones with a creep-tacular trip! Or save money by choosing one of these spots close-to-home and simply staying at a hotel nearby once the whole family's been frightened to their hearts' content. So here they are, our favorite Halloween destinations!
Salem, MA – What better place to visit on Halloween than the home of the original witches. Salem no longer has witch hunts (and the people they were hunting weren't really witches after all, but they do have one fantastic Halloween Celebration. The Salem Haunted Happenings celebration, is a month long festival that includes parades, costumes balls, haunted house tours and psychic fairs. For more information visit, www.salemweb.com.
Germantown, Maryland -- Right outside of Washington, DC, visit Maryland’s Butler’s Orchard for their annual Pumpkin Festival through October. Butler’s has apple and pumpkin picking, hay rides, and a corn maze. This is just the right amount of Halloween for very little kids, but if you also have big kids in your bunch, be sure to swing through Georgetown in nearby Washington, DC to visit the famous Exorcist Steps. (3607 M Street NW, Washington, DC) or www.butlersorchard.com.
Orlando, Florida -- Who puts on a better horror show than Hollywood? No one. So rest assured that you’ll be spooked and have plenty of other opportunities for fun in the sun when you visit Universal Studio’s Horror Nights featuring haunted houses, "scare zones" and a collection of Halloween-themed shows and movies. For more information, visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com.
Sleepy Hollow, NY – About a half hour outside of New York City, Sleepy Hollow, home to the headless horseman (Washington Irving’s "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), takes advantage of their historic tale for Halloween. Families can ride on a haunted hayride, take part in a Halloween Parade, and still make it make to Greenwich Village for their famous Halloween Parade. Visit www.halloween-nyc.com.
Los Angeles, CA – Knott's Berry Farm turns into Knott's Scary Farm for their 36th Annual Halloween Haunt. The theme park gets converted into one big fright fest for the month, which might make this traditional family park rather exciting for the month. Featuring 13 mazes, scare zones and shows, you can read more about the haunt at www.halloweenhaunt.com.
Sandusky, OH -- If you can’t make it to Los Angeles or Orlando for the Universal Shows, Cedar Point Amusement Park (the roller coaster capital of the world) is your chance to see the professional fright shows in the heartland. www.cedarpoint.com.
Dallas, Texas – If this were a movie, it would have two thumbs up from Siskell and Ebert, but its not, so you’ll have to settle for the Web page full of reporter blurbs exclaiming things like, "Thou Shalt Shudder" and "The Best Haunted House I've Ever Seen." If those don’t convince you, The Cutting Edge Haunted House was also voted the 13th scariest haunted house in America. 13th!www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com.
Savannah, Georgia – Do we really need to recommend a specific site, or should we just say, go find a cemetery for an original kind of fright? Savannah likes to say they are haunted every night of the year, so there’s got to be some kind of bonus points for actually going there with the family on Halloween. In 2002, Savannah was ranked the most haunted city in America and is believed to be a perfect place for supernatural activity. For more information visit www.officialsavannahguide.com.
High Point, North Carolina – No, we’re not recommending that you take the family furniture shopping for Halloween (although perhaps you could try to squeeze this in on November 1st). But we are recommending that you visit Spookywoods! Hailed for having movie quality sets and creative scare tactics, Spookywoods is also one of America’s top 13 haunted houses. Visit www.spookywoods.com.
Denver, Colorado – This is a city that is INTO Halloween. There’s "terror in the corn", haunted field of screams and Spider Mansion to name just a few of the haunts the city has set up for the holiday. The city has a website devoted just to Halloween with a full listing of sites and events around the city. Visit www.haunteddenver.com.
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