With pumpkins galore, an abundance of trick or treat candy and creepy costumes at the ready, the USA is a must-visit destination for Halloween celebrations. From the traditional “most haunted” cities like New Orleans, Louisiana to legendary tales in the streets of Sleepy Hollow, New York State, there are countless spooky events on offer across the country – but beware, they may leave you rattled to the bone.
Written by: Joanna Kamenou / 31 October 2016
If you’re feeling bold, we’ve put together our list of 10 scarily good US Halloween events that you must try. The USA has everything from spooktacular festivals in California to Disney-themed celebrations in Orlando, Florida that are perfect for the kids. So, if you dare, read on to discover our pick of the very best Halloween activities. Happy Haunting!
Horseman's Hollow (Sleepy Hollow, New York State)
If you’re a fan of Tim Burton’s Hollywood classic Sleepy Hollow, a night at the Horseman’s Hollow is the perfect tribute to the fictional legend behind the film. Taking place throughout October, the haunted trail will take visitors through a town haunted by the Headless Horseman. So get ready to be scared out of your mind as Philipsburg Manor, situated in New York State’s Sleepy Hollow village, is transformed into a terrifying landscape with creatures and ghoulish surprises around every corner.
Festival of the Dead (Salem, Massachusetts)
Double, double toil and trouble… Salem, Massachusetts, is one of the most traditionally eerie destinations to visit for Halloween because of the town’s historical links with witchcraft. You can even visit the Salem Witch Museum and learn more about the famous 1692 witch trials. This cultural history is celebrated in October’s Festival of the Dead which culminates in the official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball.
Escape: Psycho Circus (San Bernardino, California)
Bringing together electronic dance music and all that is scary about Halloween, Escape: Psycho Circus is one of the top Halloween festivals in the USA. With acts like Armin van Buuren headlining this year, there aren’t many better places to kick off your Halloween celebrations. The festival wouldn’t be the same without its extravagantly dressed ghouls and goblins - so keep an eye out for the most frightening festival-goers about.
Haunted Hayride (Los Angeles, California)
Taking a haunted hayride in the US is often a relaxed, child-friendly affair with a wagon ride through a delightful pumpkin patch. However, be warned, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride will test your wits on a journey through a nightmarish setting. At one of the country’s most popular attractions, there are a number of scare zones plus a pitch black maze, and if you see it through these obstacles there is an on-foot section midway through the ride where you can wander alone (except for some surprise guests).
Terror Behind the Walls (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Eastern State Penitentiary, a former jailhouse, transforms itself into a haunted house every year with six of the spookiest attractions around. From a long-forgotten machine shop to a mind-altering 4D experience, they have it covered. The prison was abandoned in 1971, but there have been ghostly sightings since the 1940s, so the ancient landmark is a popular location for ghost hunters. If you take a visit, you will even make an eerie journey via the ghost bus.
Shocktoberfest (Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania)
Celebrating its 25th year, Shocktoberfest has been described as one of the “scariest places on Earth”– a must-visit scream park for anyone looking for thrills during the Halloween season. With zombies around every corner, you better watch your step at Pennsylvania’s leading Haunted Scream Park. With haunted hayrides, a grim Prison of the Dead and zombie night run, there is plenty to shock and entertain in equal measure at this popular attraction.
Molly’s at the Market Halloween Parade (New Orleans, Louisiana)
New Orleans, known by many as America’s most haunted city, is the perfect destination for Halloween celebrations. Molly’s at the Market Halloween Parade is all about dressing up and enjoying the city. The walking parade sets out at nightfall and is a great opportunity to discover the quirks of the French Quarter. If you’re dressed in costume, there is even an “annual killer costume contest” along the way. Then head over to Bourbon Street or Frenchmen Street after the parade to revel in the lively atmosphere long into the night.
Haunted Hayride at Yahoo Farm (Jasper, Georgia)
This less frightening affair is ideal for young families. The haunted hayride is a Halloween staple and Yahoo Farm in Georgia is one of many rural venues across the country which host this family-orientated Halloween event. The farm's annual haunted hayride has a popular cast of characters for the kids to enjoy and also has breathtaking views across the landscape. There are also plenty of other activities, including pumpkin carving, for visitors to enjoy.
Disney Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween party (Orlando, Florida)
Captain Hook, Cruella De Vil, Scar, we all love to hate Disney’s most notorious villains. At Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween party, the whole family can do just that and enjoy the Halloween parades and events throughout September and October. The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is one of the highlights, and a visit to the Magic Kingdom wouldn’t be complete without a spectacular firework display with spine-tingling pyrotechnic effects and haunting melodies.
Nashville Nightmare (Nashville, Tennessee)
Not for the faint hearted, the Nashville Nightmare haunted house experience is a self-guided tour which involves a terrifying mix of dark passages, wandering monsters and nightmarish surprises along the way. It is one of the scariest attractions in the country and perfect for teens and adults seeking thrills. Visitors not only travel from Tennessee but from all over the USA to be spooked. So, if you’re looking to be rattled to the bone, this haunted house may be the perfect one for you.