The Best Places in the USA to Celebrate Halloween

The 15 Best Places to Celebrate Halloween in the USA

Trick or treat! Well, we’re hoping we can take the trick out of the equation and make your Halloween filled with just treats! 

Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s time to don your costumes, pick up some candy, and spend your evenings screaming along with your favorite scary movies. But for some of us Halloween lovers, staying home during the spooky season just won’t do. That’s where these incredible Halloween towns come in.

Planning a spooktacular spooky season trip? We’ve compiled a list of the best cities to spend Halloween in, from historic haunted spots to locations from your favorite Halloween movies and shows. Pick a terrifying trip off this list, and you’re bound to have a very happy Halloween!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Places to Celebrate Halloween in the USA

The 15 Best US Cities to Visit for Halloween

1. Experience the Haunted Happenings in Salem, Massachusetts

Spooky Halloween Towns to Visit: Salem

Salem’s history as a haunted town may have grim roots, as it gained its title due to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, an infamous time in US history that is still often debated and misunderstood. Today, you can learn about the real story of the Witch Trials and the legacy of real witches in Salem in places like the Salem Witch Museum.

Throughout the year, Salem embraces its status as “Witch City,” but the real party starts come October. Throughout October, Salem throws a month-long Halloween festival known as the Haunted Happenings, all culminating in the largest Halloween celebration in the world. 

Best Towns to Visit for Halloween: Salem

From ghost tours to tons of haunted houses, a visit here during Halloween is bound to scare even the biggest thrill-seeker, making Salem one of the best Halloween cities. Throughout the month, you’ll also find special events, like jack-o’-lantern showcases and spooky magic shows. The party often even starts earlier than October, with select events happening as soon as early September.

Discover the Most Haunted Salem Sites


2. Journey to Halloweentown in St. Helens, Oregon

Towns to Visit for Halloween Season: St. Helens, Oregon

Looking for the best Halloween towns in the US? How about the actual Halloweentown? If you’ve always wanted to pretend to be a Cromwell, you’ll light up with joy when you see that iconic jack-o’-lantern in front of City Hall, just like you remember from the beloved Disney classic “Halloweentown.”

St. Helens is so proud of being the home of Halloweentown that it throws an annual festival called the Spirit of Halloweentown, running from mid-September all the way to Halloween. But if you want to see the giant pumpkin illuminated, you’ll have to arrive on October 1, when the jack-o’-lantern is lit right after the Big Halloween Parade.

The celebration mainly takes place over the weekends throughout September and October, with special events happening every Saturday and Sunday. Check out haunted attractions, meet creepy and magical characters, and take specialty tours with a Halloween theme. 

But “Halloweentown” isn’t the only movie that has filming locations in town. “Twilight” shot several scenes in St. Helens. Throughout the Spirit of Halloweentown events, you’ll be able to meet actors from both franchises. Be sure to secure your tickets early to be able to get a photo with these casts of characters.


3. Go to Orlando, Florida, for Frightful Fun

Best Halloween Towns to Visit: Universal Orlando

As the Theme Park Capital of the World, Orlando is one of the best places to spend Halloween in the US because there’s something for everyone. Two of Orlando’s biggest parties couldn’t be more opposite.

Step inside Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights and enter a world of nightmares around every corner. This Halloween festival is not for the faint of heart, and please leave young kids with a babysitter because no one is safe here. 

Even if you decide not to enter one of the 10 exquisitely decorated haunted houses featuring franchises like “Chucky,” “The Last of Us,” and “Stranger Things,” you’ll still be subjected to multiple scare zones, where creatures will come out of the mist to scare you out of your wits. 

Be on the lookout for the roaming hordes of characters, including the Death Eaters from “Harry Potter” and the terrifying M3GAN robots from 2023’s breakout horror hit of the same name (who have some pretty impressive dance moves). You never know where they’ll pop up.

Traveling with little ones or just not so into getting scared repeatedly throughout the night? Check out Walt Disney World’s aptly named Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Running from mid-August to November 1, this party’s most frightening feature is the Headless Horseman, who always starts the Boo-to-You Parade, taking place twice per night. But you can always close your eyes when he arrives.

The rest of the evening in Magic Kingdom will be spent going on Halloween-themed rides, watching fireworks with projections on Cinderella Castle, seeing a musical extravaganza starring the Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus,” and dining on ghoulishly good specialty treats. And everyone is invited to go trick-or-treating throughout the park.


4. Look Out for the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow, New York

Best Cities for Halloween in the US: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is appropriately named as it’s a sleepy little village in New York’s Hudson Valley. It’s particularly beautiful in the fall when the leaves change color and make it look like something out of a painting – or perhaps out of a story. 

This scenic spot is one of the best Halloween towns, as it’s the setting for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. And many events in and around Sleepy Hollow embrace their spooky status. 

Best Towns for Halloween in the US: Sleepy Hollow

Over in Croton-on-Hudson, you can see over 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins against the backdrop of Van Cortlandt’s 18th-century estate at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Or explore Rockefeller State Park Preserve with Hulda’s Night, where you’ll listen to local legends in the real woods of Sleepy Hollow, including the story of Hulda herself, the famous witch of the village.

You can also go on several tours of haunted establishments in and around Sleepy Hollow, like the Tarrytown Music Hall, the Lyndhurst Mansion, or Sleepy Hollow’s cemeteries. Or experience the story of Sleepy Hollow in a new way with the Legend Cirque.


5. Take a Ghost Tour in New Orleans, Louisiana

Spooky Halloween Towns to Visit: Ghost Tour in New Orleans

If you’re wondering where to celebrate Halloween in the US, New Orleans is the perfect pick if you’re looking for a truly spooky experience. Long considered one of the most haunted places in the US, New Orleans is filled with ghostly attractions all year round, but there’s no better time for frightening fun than Halloween.

After Mardi Gras, Halloween is one of the busiest seasons for this unique city. Take a haunted tour through the French Quarter or check out the many voodoo shops’ Halloween events. 

Best Towns to Visit for Halloween: Ghost Tour in New Orleans

Or spend the spooky season celebrating at massive parties, like Halloween New Orleans, a weekend-long party that benefits Project Lazarus, a home for people living with AIDS in New Orleans. Or check out the Krewe of BOO!, New Orleans’ official Halloween parade.

If you don’t have your own ghost encounter in New Orleans, you can always guarantee a terrifying time at one of the city’s haunted houses, like The Mortuary, frequently voted as one of the most frightening haunted houses in the US.

Take the New Orleans Ghost Tour


6. Celebrate Neewollah in Independence, Kansas

Independence takes Halloween very seriously. After all, their Halloween celebration, Neewollah, is Kansas’s biggest annual festival. Neewollah, Halloween spelled backward, began back in 1919 and was inspired by a desire to take the trick out of trick-or-treating. The festival was designed to give kids something more positive to do than run amuck on Halloween.

Taking place the last week of October, Neewollah is the perfect place for some family fun this Halloween. So, what is there to do? Quite a bit, though you won’t find a ghost or ghoul in the place unless they’re of the friendly variety. 

Instead, you’ll find family-friendly musicals, fun runs, the Queen Neelah Pageant, a carnival, local food vendors, parades, craft shows, live music, a marching band competition, and the annual Medallion Hunt, where the whole town comes out to search for the famous Medallion. Neewollah is much more of a state fair than many other Halloween festivals, but this fair takes on a fall theming, with some Halloween magic mixed in.


7. Take Part in Family-Friendly Frights in Anoka, Minnesota

For more fun for the whole family, Anoka is one of the best Halloween towns. In fact, since 1937, this charming destination has been called the Halloween Capital of the World. And this small town does indeed hold one massive Halloween celebration, lasting throughout the month of October.

If you want a fright, you can check out the Anoka Haunted House, which has been a staple of the festivities for 35 years. But many of the events here are perfect for those of us who would prefer a tamer Halloween experience.

Kids will love the Kids Fall Festival in early October, and later in the month, they can take part in the Children’s Costume Contest and Children’s Pumpkin Carving Contest. But there’s plenty more fun to be had for the whole family, including multiple parades, the Anoka Halloween Ambassador Coronation, the Pumpkin Weigh-Off, and the annual Pumpkin Bowl, which sees the Anoka Tornadoes take on the Centennial Cougars.


8. Party Hop the Night Away in Los Angeles, California

Best Towns for Halloween in the US: Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is one of the best cities for Halloween if you want to party all night long. From nightclubs rocking out to Halloween hits to epic immersive experiences, there’s something for every type of partygoer.

The West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval is a party that you can’t miss. Though there are parties on Santa Monica Boulevard all year long, this Halloween event is truly wild in the best way! People come out decked in incredible costumes, so you may just end up spending the whole night people-watching. 

Best Cities for Halloween in the US: Los Angeles, California

But you can also listen to live music and boogie down to DJs spinning the evening away. Or check out the bars along the street to indulge in some Halloween-themed drink specials.

Halloween isn’t the only holiday happening this time of year. Although Dίa del Los Muertos can sometimes get misconstrued as another version of Halloween, it is its own unique and very culturally significant celebration. Over at the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery, you’ll find a huge event dedicated to Dίa del Los Muertos

By day, you can take part in Dίa de Los Muertos, featuring a children’s plaza, stunning altars, art showcases, traditional dance performances, and unique cultural performances. But if you grab a ticket to Noche de los Muertos, you’ll see such incredible attractions and entertainment illuminated by candlelight and taking on a more adult-themed atmosphere.


9. Get Scared on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California

Best Halloween Towns to Visit: Queen Mary

Visiting the Queen Mary is not for those who frighten easily. Dating back to 1934, the Queen Mary was a luxury cruise liner that also ferried soldiers between the fronts in World War II. In 1967, it was retired and found a permanent home as a hotel in Long Beach. 

It’s now known as one of the most haunted destinations in the US, with only the bravest being willing to stay in its famous Stateroom B340. If you want a ghostly encounter, you just might find it aboard this floating hotel.

Though Queen Mary’s beloved Dark Harbor, a truly incredible haunted house experience, has sadly not returned since the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still get scared at the Queen Mary during the Halloween season. The Queen Mary hosts its Haunted Encounters ghost tours, featuring many of the most infamously haunted locations in the hotel. 

While we miss Dark Harbor, apparently Shaq (yes, that Shaq) heard the call of horror fans everywhere and brought a new horror festival to the Queen Mary, Shaqtoberfest. Not nearly as scary as its predecessor, Shaqtoberfest still offers tons of spooky fun, from haunted houses to pumpkin patches to a Halloween carnival.


10. Live Out Your ‘Twilight’ Dreams in Forks, Washington

Best Towns to Visit for Halloween: Forks, Washington

Team Edward? Or Team Jacob? No matter what side you choose, you’ll feel right at home in Forks, the town immortalized in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga. So, if you prefer your vampires to be of the more sparkly variety, Forks is a great Halloween town to visit. 

You can take your own “Twilight” tour, with stops at Bella Italia, where Edward and Bella had their first date; the Treaty Line, where no vampire or werewolf is allowed to cross into each other’s territory; and the Forks Community Hospital, where you’ll even see a spot reserved for Dr. Carlisle Cullen. And be sure to visit the Forever Twilight in Forks Collection at the Rainforest Arts Center, where you’ll see authentic “Twilight” props like screen-worn costumes.

But if you want to get the full “Twilight” experience, you may want to actually go a bit earlier in the fall. Running every September near Bella’s birthday, September 13, the Forever Twilight in Forks Festival offers four days of fun, from panels with actors from the saga to costumed cosplayers acting out your favorite scenes to tons of themed parties and events.


11. Get Spooked in Savannah, Georgia

Best Towns for Halloween in the US: Savannah, Georgia

Think Salem is the most haunted town in the US? Or maybe New Orleans? You’re not wrong that there are tons of paranormal reports in these cities, but the title of the most haunted city in the US actually goes to Savannah. From the spooky yet gorgeous Bonaventure Cemetery to the Civil War-era Fort Pulaski, sightings of the unexplainable happen everywhere.

Though ghost tours are one of the coolest things to do in Savannah all year round, this spooky city really comes alive for the Halloween season. Deal with spirits of all kinds on the A Nightmare on Congress Street Bar Crawl, or get scared at the Savannah Moose Lodge’s Haunted Forest or the Alee Terror Plantation Haunted House.

But not everything is truly terrifying here. Savannah also hosts Wag-O-Ween, a pet-friendly event that raises money for local animal rescues and other critical animal-related causes. You’ll get treats for both you and your furry pal!


12. Take a Stephen King Tour in Bangor, Maine

Best Towns to Visit for Halloween: Bangor, Maine

What better way to celebrate Halloween in the US than by visiting one of the country’s best horror writers? Bangor has become a Halloween town thanks to being not only the home of Stephen King but also where he was greatly inspired to write some of his more famous stories. Bangor is the inspiration for Derry, the town in “It,” but there are many more places in the town that have jumped onto King’s pages.

Mount Hope Cemetery is the infamous burial ground in “Pet Sematary,” while the Paul Bunyan Statue features in both “It” and “Insomnia.” And from the water tower to the sewer drain, there are “It” locations all throughout the town. You can even see King’s own house on West Broadway.

You can tour Derry, we mean Bangor, on your own, or you can take a tour with SK Tours of Maine. This 2.5-hour tour is a narrated adventure through the town, where you’ll see not only what inspired King’s works but also historic landmarks from his own life, like where he worked and the charities he supported in town.


13. Attend the World’s Largest Halloween Parade in New York, New York

Best Halloween Towns to Visit: Village Halloween Parade

Like Los Angeles, there are Halloween parties galore in New York City. But there’s none more famous or massive than the Village Halloween Parade. This parade, which takes place in NYC’s Greenwich Village, holds the title of the world’s largest Halloween parade. 

This iconic celebration was first held in 1973 and got its start thanks to Greenwich Village puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee. Puppets still have a special place in this parade. You can even volunteer to animate one for the festivities.

There are over 50,000 costumed participants, and you can be part of them. Happening on Halloween, this parade invites anyone to join in, provided you’re in costume or operating one of the parade’s puppets. 

Join up with the crowd and dance the night away as you make your way north on Sixth Avenue. You just might win the annual costume contest, which takes place at the afterparty being held at Webster Hall. 


14. Enjoy Scenic Hikes and Classic Horror in Telluride, Colorado

Over Labor Day weekend, Telluride is home to the Telluride Film Festival, where you can watch movie premieres and engage in talks with both famous and up-and-coming directors, writers, and actors. But come spooky season, another film festival takes over this scenic mountain town.

The Telluride Horror Show put Telluride on the map as one of the best Halloween cities in the US. As the first and largest horror film festival in Colorado, the Telluride Horror Show is the place to be for scary movie lovers. 

Taking place over the course of three days in October, this festival offers something for every horror fan, from dark comedies to terrifying science fiction to classic horror. You’ll see movies you can’t see anywhere else, plus engage in talks with your favorite horror stars.

While Telluride’s ski season doesn’t typically start until late November, the film festival lines up perfectly with the best time to see the city’s fall foliage. Spend your evenings in the theaters and your mornings enjoying the beautiful golds, reds, and yellows to be found throughout the San Juan Mountains.


15. Pop into the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Spooky Halloween Towns to Visit: Pumpkin Festival

The picturesque town of Laconia may not be what you first think of when you imagine a Halloween city in the US. It’s not bursting with events or haunted houses, and if Laconia is haunted, it’s not really known for it. But if you’re looking for family-friendly fun, Laconia is a great place to spend Halloween.

The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, typically held over the course of one weekend in October, has a strange history. Since 1991, it has been held in Keene, where the town managed to hold on to the title of the largest number of jack-o’-lanterns in one place for many years. But in 2014, riots by Keene State College students resulted in the event being unable to continue in Keene. Since 2015, it’s been held in Laconia instead. 

Though the organizers of Keene’s pumpkin festival now hold a much smaller festival called the Keene Pumpkin Festival, Laconia is where you’ll find a festival that’s much more similar to the original one in Keene. In addition to thousands of pumpkins on display, you’ll also discover handmade goods from more than 100 local artisans, kids’ attractions and entertainment, contests, parades, live music, light shows, and other special events.

There you have it! The 15 best places to celebrate Halloween in the US. What are your favorite Halloween cities? Let us know in the comments!


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Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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