13 Spooky Places to Visit for Thrills and Chills

Get into the spooky spirit with holiday-inspired festivities across the country.

U.S. News & World Report

13 Spooky Places to Visit for Thrills and Chills

A hand rises out from a grave in a cemetery.
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Getty Images

Where to travel this Halloween

Whether you want to take part in traditional festivities like costume competitions and Halloween hayrides or up the scare factor with more bone-chilling pursuits like haunted house tours and creepy cemetery strolls, there are plenty of places to get into the spirit this holiday. From voodoo rituals in New Orleans to ghost tours in Savannah, Georgia, these 13 spooky spots promise plenty of spine-tingling frights and delights. So grab your costume and prepare for some ghastly experiences this All Hallows' Eve.
New Orleans Saint Louis Cemetery – an old and rusty wrought iron corner post and fence showing considerable rust and texture with selective focus on post. There’s copy space in the upper right if needed. New Orleans above-ground cemeteries are a travel destination within one of America’s most popular tourist cities.
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(Getty Images)

New Orleans

With a voodoo festival, a vampire ball and riotous street parade, the Big Easy specializes in frightful festivities. First, summon the spirits with a terrifying stroll through Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District. Then, join the bacchanalia at the Krewe of Boo parade on Oct. 24, when elaborate papier-mache props (skeletons, monsters and other eerie creatures) weave through the Warehouse District and the French Quarter.
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Where to travel this Halloween

Whether you want to take part in traditional festivities like costume competitions and Halloween hayrides or up the scare factor with more bone-chilling pursuits like haunted house tours and creepy cemetery strolls, there are plenty of places to get into the spirit this holiday. From voodoo rituals in New Orleans to ghost tours in Savannah, Georgia, these 13 spooky spots promise plenty of spine-tingling frights and delights. So grab your costume and prepare for some ghastly experiences this All Hallows' Eve.

New Orleans

With a voodoo festival, a vampire ball and riotous street parade, the Big Easy specializes in frightful festivities. First, summon the spirits with a terrifying stroll through Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District. Then, join the bacchanalia at the Krewe of Boo parade on Oct. 24, when elaborate papier-mache props (skeletons, monsters and other eerie creatures) weave through the Warehouse District and the French Quarter.

Baltimore

Charm City overflows with scary settings, from the Westminster Hall catacombs (the burial grounds of Edgar Allan Poe) to the Fell family crypt to the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. But Bennett's Curse, a haunted mansion chock-full of gruesome monsters, mummies, werewolves, spiders and more, is the show-stopper here. Cap off your stay with spine-tingling ghost stories paired with cocktails on a haunted pub crawl through taverns across Fell's Point.

Chicago

You're likely to have more than a few goose bumps after making your way through the Windy City's House of Torment, a haunted mansion with elaborate sets and terrifying characters. Not into being chased by zombies? For fewer shriek-inducing activities, join the festive Halloween Gathering hosted by the Art Institute of Chicago. The daylong festival takes places on Oct. 24 and features dancing, mask-making lessons, a parade and more.

Louisville, Kentucky

Younger holiday enthusiasts ages 11 and under can enjoy a festive, not-so-terrifying trick-or-treat outing at the Louisville Zoo, which hosts an annual holiday party throughout October. Kids are greeted by beloved characters from major films like "The Wizard of Oz" and "Frozen" as they pick up some candy and admire the zoo's residents, including giraffes, jaguars and rhinos. And if you're looking for a little more spookiness, you can catch sight of ornate ghouls and goblins at the city's annual parade on Oct. 16. 

Savannah, Georgia

With moss-covered cemeteries and a cache of eerie buildings (rumored to be haunted by ghosts), Savannah can lend a spooky vibe at any time of year. For an especially hair-tingling experience, join outfitter 6th Sense World for a ghost tour through Bonaventure Cemetery, the iconic setting of John Berendt’s "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." If it's ghost chasing you're after, make your way to the Sorrel Weed House at midnight for a three-hour candle-lit walking tour followed by paranormal inspections inside the house.

Salem, Massachusetts

It's tough to beat the bewitching atmosphere of Salem, the iconic location of Massachusetts' witch trials. To truly get into the holiday spirit, plan on attending the Salem Witches' Halloween Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel on Oct. 31, the grand finale of October's Festival of the Dead, which includes The Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo. Let's just say Salem knows how to get into the holiday spirit.

Austin, Texas

Whether you're in search of face painting or a zombie bash this Halloween, you can find it in Austin, Texas. Get warmed up by exploring spooky spots, like The Driskill Hotel and Buffalo Billiards on Sixth Street before joining costumed revelers at one of the many bacchanalias and holiday-inspired events taking place across the city. Highlights include the annual Halloween Ball and Camp Halloweekend, a spooky adults-only camp from Oct. 30-31 (complete with horror film screenings at night, a live concert and bunking down in a cabin for the night).

Philadelphia

For a seriously blood-curdling experience, join a Terror Behind the Walls night tour inside Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary. The 11-acre former prison offers plenty of terrifying encounters as you snake through corridors trying to escape creepy costumed inmates populating dimly lit cells. For a less frightening, but still spooky experience, check out the Bates Motel, a haunted Victorian home filled with elaborate Hollywood sets, props and actors (including a headless horseman) as well as a haunted hayride.

Portland, Oregon

Across Portland, visitors can find plenty of bewitching annual events, from haunted tours to corn mazes to spooky soirees. For family-friendly pursuits, consider taking a 45-minute drive to St. Helens, Oregon, which boasts haunted rides, scarecrow contests, pumpkin patches and more throughout October. And on Oct. 17, Portland elevates the pumpkin smashing concept with the Killer Pumpkin Festival, complete with pumpkin carving and decorating and pumpkin-inspired libations. For a more spine-chilling adventure, summon the spirits on a ghost tour underground through Portland's Shanghai Tunnels.

Tennessee

When it comes to Halloween-themed festivities, Tennessee packs in plenty of enticing options. Get your heart pounding with a tour at the Walking Horse Hotel in Wartrace, Tennessee, where there have been accounts of paranormal activity over the years. Keep the spooky vibes going by embarking on an eerie ghost tour across Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, where the "Widow of the South" is rumored to linger at the house or strolling through the Death Yard haunted house in Nashville. If you're looking for more kid-friendly thrills, take the little ones for The Children's Hospital at Centennial Boo at the Zoo event on select nights in October, and enjoy hayrides, carousel rides and more.

San Antonio

If you're in search of out-of-the-box holiday fanfare, head to San Antonio, where you can take your pick from a variety of frightful experiences. There's the Nightmare on Fright Street, a maze from Oct. 17-31. And then there's the scarecrow trail exhibit at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (open until Nov. 15). Or, if you really want to be spooked, check out the 13th Floor Haunted House, which features new offerings, including its "Burial Ground" basement for victims that's flooded with phantoms and other gruesome creatures. For those looking for more kid-friendly activities, check out the Halloween Spook-tacular on Oct. 25, filled with costume contests and rides.

Los Angeles

For a mix of Hollywood and Halloween magic, head to Los Angeles' Universal Studios. During Halloween Horror Nights throughout October, you can get your heart racing with hair-raising maze tours (complete with decked-out zombies) and high-adrenaline amusement park rides. For more frights, head to Griffith Park for a boogeyman-themed haunted hayride. 

Cleveland

Cleveland elevates the definition of holiday-filled horrors with the Fear Experience, a haunted house brimming with monsters, spirits and its latest installation, Zombie Warfare – Death Row, an eerie area filled with decked-out zombies. For more scares, tag along a Haunted Cleveland ghost tour. And for more family-oriented holiday events, you'll find plenty of hayrides, pumpkin patches and corn mazes scattered throughout the area.
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Liz Weiss, Staff Writer

Liz Weiss is a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report. With more than six years of ...  Read more

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