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The Best Place to Visit in Every State for Halloween
Delight in festive seasonal events in all corners of the country.
Costumes, candy and delightful celebrations guaranteed.
Love trick-or-treating, brightly lit jack-o'-lanterns, late-night dance parties and spirited soirees? This year, forgo upping the fright factor with spine-tingling chills and thrills and delight in fun seasonal events, from kid-friendly festivals to pet costume competitions to craft beer tastings at top haunts across the country. Whether you're looking for a pumpkin carving competition, a monster mash or time-honored traditions, from spirited parades to apple bobbing to candy collecting, there are fun, fright-free Halloween festivities to celebrate in every state. So, if you're ready to get into the spirit, read on to plot out your October getaway to embrace bewitching Halloween happenings, everywhere from Alabama to Wyoming.
Every year, Tuscaloosa gets into the holiday spirit with a Halloween Spooktacular and Monster Mash Ball at the Children's Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa. Carnival games, music by DJ Chuckie and ornate costumes are just a few draws of this fete. Best of all, entry to the party is free with a costume and a food bank donation. Aside from the elaborate party, the museum also hosts The Great Pumpkin Party, complete with pumpkin painting, a screening of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and carving the museum's official jack-o'-lantern. What's more, the museum hosts a monster walk scavenger hunt, where kids can play detective to trace clues and win prizes.
Young party animals (and the young at heart) pining for holiday treats and themed entertainment can climb aboard the Kid's Halloween Train on the Alaska Railroad. Along the 2.5-hour journey from Anchorage, there are magic shows, balloon animals, coloring contests, a raffle and even Halloween-inspired bingo games. If you want to mark the occasion with more family-friendly fun, venture to downtown Anchorage on Oct. 28 for Trick or Treat Street, where there will be costume contests, free hot chocolate, cookie decorating and trick-or-treating at participating storefronts along Fourth to Sixth avenues between C and L streets.
If gleaming jack-o'-lanterns, warm cider and performances around a campfire is your idea of a good time, then you'll want to lock in tickets to the annual Pumpkin Walk and Fall Fest on Oct. 28 at the Arboretum in Flagstaff. Kids can enjoy plenty of seasonal delights – think pony rides, crafts and shows around a bonfire. But the greatest treat might be the costume contests hosted with famous judges, including Mayor Coral Evans, where elaborately dressed participants of all ages are judged in festive categories, including most sustainable and funniest. What's more, on Oct. 27, you can visit the nearby Lumberyard Brewery to enjoy a beer, carve a pumpkin and score free activity tickets for the pumpkin walk the following day.
Arkansas: Van Buren
For the annual Halloween on Main Street event on Oct. 27, kids can delight in trick-or-treating along Main Street at dusk. Aside from gathering Skittles, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and other crowd-pleasing candies, youngsters can compete in costume contests in Blanche Moore Memorial Park. Plus, little ones can tag along a mini train ride or enjoy a pony ride (for a small fee). Van Buren is also an ideal home base for other fun kid-friendly seasonal activities, such as checking out farmers markets and exploring the great outdoors. Consider hitting the trails in the Ozark National Forest to embrace the area's striking orange, crimson and gold leaves and dramatic views of the Arkansas River Valley.
California: San Diego
Each year, Balboa Park throws a laid-back, kid-friendly Halloween Family Day, with pet costume contests, crafts, a parade and quirky activities (think: a rooftop pumpkin drop). Attendees can compete for prizes in the Spanish Village, grab a bite at food trucks and enjoy interactive activities. More than two dozen museums and cultural institutions participate in the annual event. Aside from mini-carnival games and free activities (participating museums offer complimentary entry to children 12 and under with a full-paying adult) at Balboa, across San Diego, visitors can enjoy fun kid-friendly events, including trick-or-treating and craft times at Belmont Park, which turns into "Boomont Park" on weekends in October.
The Mile High City is chock-full of holiday activities, from a trick-or-treat train at the Colorado Railroad Museum to Trick or Treat Street at the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, where youngsters can participate in games and crafts and grab candy. But a main draw of this best place to visit in Colorado is the festive Boo at the Zoo event at the Denver Zoo. After dark, visitors can enjoy trick-or-treating at more than 20 stations, and during the day, visitors can catch magic shows, juggling performances and fun animal demonstrations. And on Fridays and Saturdays throughout October, grown-ups can get into the spirit at the zoo with Dinos! After Dark – complete with dinosaur-inspired sculptures created out of pumpkins, themed parties and fall brews at the Beer Garden.
Connecticut: Pumpkintown USA
In autumn, head along Route 66 to East Hampton to reach the delightfully whimsical Pumpkintown USA. The area's 70-plus "pumpkinheads" live and work in the village, with a farm, a fast-food restaurant, a saloon and a post office. On weekends (through the end of October), visitors can enjoy face painting, hay wagon rides, a giant moon bounce, fresh apple cider and more kid-friendly delights. Don't forget to swing by the harvest shop, where you can pick up pumpkin-inspired treats (think: pumpkin butter, pumpkin spice pie) along with candy corn, plants and other goods. Best of all, the admission proceeds support the Sandy Peszynski Breast Cancer Foundation.
Delaware: Rehoboth Beach
The annual Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers' Festival across Dewey and Rehoboth beaches from Oct. 27-29 boasts a movie screening, a bike race along the boardwalk, a campfire, a lively parade and even a witch hunt. Pet owners can get in on the fun and bring a costumed furry friend to participate in a parade for pets. Meanwhile, fitness junkies can join a 5K race to burn off any lingering energy from the seasonal sugar rush. What's more, little monsters, goblins and superheroes can enjoy trick-or-treating, ghost tales around a bonfire at Dewey Beach, beach games, hayrides, magic performances and broom tossing contests, among other fun activities.
For an Allhallows Eve with a little Disney pixie dust, book a spot at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party. At this over-the-top fete, there's a holiday-themed fireworks display, festive decor, music and special effects and a Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade with decked-out Disney characters. Plus, fans of the Sanderson sisters can enjoy a bewitching Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular in a captivating magic show. What's more, budding princes and princesses can collect sweet treats across the park, or enjoy special spooky surprises in their hotel room (think: keepsake candy baskets and illuminated Mickey sashes).
Nothing says Halloween like lions, tigers and bears – oh my! During Zoo Atlanta's Boo at the Zoo event on the last two weekends of October, guests can navigate a corn maze, participate in costume competitions, attend a dance party and join meet-and-greets with beloved storybook characters (think: Clifford the Big Red Dog and Corduroy Bear). Little ones can also sample sweet treats, ride a Boo train and attend pumpkin carving demonstrations, among other activities. After taking in the sights, sounds and fascinating animals at this not-so-scary family-friendly event, check out other seasonal delights, like annual Halloween Hikes at Chattahoochee Nature Center.
Over Halloween, this charming 19th-century village in west Maui beckons to partygoers with an elaborate fete – complete with dressed-up parade marchers, costume competitions, music and a pedestrian-only Front Street, the main thoroughfare that's off-limits to cars during the spectacular. Dubbed the Mardi Gras of the Pacific, the celebration caters to kids and adults alike, with the annual Keiki Costume Parade in the afternoon, followed by music in Campbell Park, face painting and other games. Grown-up diversions include adult costume contests, dancing and drink deals at local bars and restaurants.
Check out the Farmstead Corn Maze and Pumpkin Festival in Meridien on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 29 for a variety of seasonal pleasures, from hayrides to pumpkin picking to pig races. There are plenty of other silly events to partake in to celebrate the season. On Oct. 23, there's a Patch's Pumpkin Party, with relay races, pumpkin seed-spitting and pumpkin pie-eating competitions. And on Oct. 28, youngsters can enjoy trick-or-treating from 3-6 p.m. The annual event wraps up with The Great Pumpkin Smash Finale on Oct. 28 with an all-out bash. What's more, little ones can navigate a mini corn labyrinth and enjoy other pastimes at the Linder Farms' corn maze.
The Windy City knows how to get into the spooky spirit with a wide range of ghoulish events, from movie screenings to masquerade balls to costume parties. And one of the best ways to experience the excitement is at the Lincoln Park Zoo for the annual Spooky Zoo Spectacular, says Karen Cicero, senior contributing nutrition and travel editor at Parents magazine. The setting is beautiful, and you can enjoy admiring the animals up close without paying a dime, she explains. Kids can enjoy trick-or-treating from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 28 on the zoo's grounds. Plus the zoo hosts a Fall Fest Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 29, complete with a Ferris wheel, a pumpkin patch and an obstacle course.
Corn mazes, ghost tours, costume contests and haunted hayrides entice locals and visitors alike to embrace holiday activities in Indy. Youngsters looking to collect candy, admire wild things and adorn their favorite costumes should check out the annual Halloween ZooBoo. Throughout October (from Thursdays through Sundays), visitors can enjoy merry-go-rounds, pumpkin bowling and admiring creepy crawlers at the Indianapolis Zoo. There's also much to delight in at the Historic Irvington Halloween Festival from Oct. 21-28 – think: costume parties, a vampire run, pumpkin carving and a street fair. But the biggest fright might be the Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie, where kids can enjoy wagon rides, a corn maze, a scarecrow trail and fortune telling, among other activities.
Iowa: Des Moines
A whimsical tradition known as Beggars' Night beckons to candy-seekers in Des Moines. As legend has it, teenage troublemakers in the 1930s pulled mischievous pranks on local residents, causing fires and vandalizing private properties. That prompted Kathryn Krieg, the Des Moines Playground Commission's director at the time, to campaign for a Beggars' Night event, where youngsters would put on a show for locals after stating "tricks-for-eats." If a child put on an entertaining spectacle or recited a joke, poem or riddle, he would receive a treat. Fast forward to today and little ones still delight in the ritual by begging for candy after putting on a comedic show for neighbors at participating locations on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31.
For a little small-town kitsch and lot of holiday happenings, check out the annual Neewollah Festival in Independence, Kansas, where you can enjoy carnival rides, ornate floats, live music and plenty of revelry. The event takes place from Oct. 20-28 and offers an all-ages appeal, with a Mary Poppins musical, a pageant, three parades and even arts and crafts shows in downtown Independence. Foodies can also delight in fun activities such as a chili cook off and dessert contest, and grown-ups will appreciate the free country concert and other Saturday night entertainment offerings.
If you love strolling past glowing jack-o'-lanterns, you won't want to miss the annual Jack O'Lantern Spectacular in Louisville's Iroquois Park. Along the illuminated trail at dusk, you can take in 5,000 ornately carved gourds. The display is open to the public from dusk until 11 p.m. from Oct. 12 to Nov. 5. Aside from checking out the displays, you can get into the spirit at the Louisville Zoo. Throughout October, guests can mix and mingle with costumed characters, enjoy story times, face painting, carousel rides, sweet treats (s'mores, caramel corn and cotton candy included) and brightly lit pumpkins, among other kid-friendly activities, from Oct. 5-29.
Louisiana: New Orleans
History lovers, foodies and partygoers flock to New Orleans year-round, but on Allhallows Eve, you get partake in all kinds of frights and delights on a bar crawl, at the Krewe of Boo parade or even a vampire bash. Intrepid youngsters can enjoy trick-or-treating (and learning about creepy, crawly critters) at the Audubon Butterfly Garden for the annual Crawloween event, complete with holiday-inspired treats in the Bug Appetit cafe from Oct. 28-31. Another must-do for budding nature lovers ages 12 and under is Boo at the Zoo on the last two weekends of October, which includes games, treats, trick-or-treating stations, decked-out Star Wars characters, animal encounters and a carousel ride, among other draws.
Little ones can get their sugar fix and partake in bewitching activities at Portland's annual Halloween Parade of Treats on Oct. 31 at the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine. For those craving more delights before Allhallows Eve, there's cookies, cider and pumpkin painting aboard the Pumpkin Train at Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum on Oct. 22. For a silly spin on the holiday, there's also A Comedy of Haunted History Wicked Walking Tours featuring storytelling, impersonations and witch trials at Bell Buoy Park in October. And on Oct. 28, adults can get in on the fun at the EqualityMaine Great Pumpkin Ball at the Portland Masonic Temple, with dancing, music and tarot readings.
With a roster of mysterious attractions and legends across town, Charm City knows how to cast a spell on its visitors each October. Families should make their way to the Maryland Zoo to enjoy animal encounters, kid-friendly games, costume contests, sweet treats and goodie bags for the annual ZooBoo event from Oct. 27-29. And revelers of all ages will enjoy the 2017 Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival the Saturday before Allhallows Eve, which includes music, entertainment and enchanting light displays and decorations in Patterson Park. For more spooks, tag along a historic ghost tour to learn about the city's haunts or visit the grave of literary legend Edgar Alan Poe.
Séances, masquerade balls and psychic readings are part of Salem's quirky allure. The setting of the infamous witch trials embraces its world-renowned history with a grand parade, costume parties, ghost tours and plenty of bewitching activities. Little witches can catch family movie nights on the common on Saturdays, featuring classics like "Casper" and "Hocus Pocus," along with a kids' carnival and magic show at Professor Wunders School of Magic. And for grown-ups, the Gulu-Gulu Café Costume Party with DJ Panda on Halloween and Tarot Experiment immersive performance to get everyone into the spooky spirit and – dare we say it – cast a spell on them.
The quaint town of Romeo marks Halloween with elaborate decorations and other ghoulish traditions. Terror on Tillson, the town's main drag, is filled with scarecrows, bright jack-o'-lanterns, crisp maple trees and storied homes fashioned with extravagant displays. Little ones can delight trick-or-treating amid the displays on Oct. 31. Romeo expects more than 20,000 attendees and approximately 75,000 pieces of candy to be doled out for the occasion. Aside from collecting sweet treats, revelers can also pick up T-shirts, cookbooks and even hot cocoa that benefit students and community initiatives like the Wounded Warrior Project.
The so-called Halloween Capital of the World has no shortage of fetes and thrills for visitors. Throughout October, there's scarecrow building, scavenger hunts, pumpkin bowls, movie nights, house decorating contests and other seasonal pleasures. And on Oct. 28, elaborately costumed revelers and intricate floats make their way down Main Street during the lively annual parade. Following the main event, there's a coronation for Anoka Royal Ambassadors and a variety of parties. For more frights, check out the Knights of Columbus Haunted House – and for more sweets, enjoy the festive pancake breakfast and bake sale on Oct. 29 that benefits the community.
Jackson attracts visitors with its versatile festivals, events and shows each October. For the 21-plus crowd, there's prizes, costume contests and a musical bash featuring Backup Planet for Martin's Halloween Show on Oct. 28. And for youngsters there's the Park After Dark event at the Mississippi Children's Museum featuring kid-friendly activities, sweet treats and games. But the wildest even of all is the safari-themed annual Zoo Party in downtown Jackson. Geared toward grown-ups, the 21-plus event will feature a silent auction, rum and bourbon tastings, dancing, animal encounters and more. For little ones, there's the Boo at the Zoo event from Oct. 27-28, which includes a parade, kid-friendly entertainment and plenty of candy.
Missouri: Kansas City
Youngsters dressed as their favorite characters can enjoy kid-friendly activities and trick-or-treating at the zoo for the annual Boo at the Zoo event from Oct. 28-29. Orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas will even be smashing pumpkins for the event. And earlier in the season, for the first three weekends in October, the zoo will put on its Hoots and Howls event, where little ones can take hayrides, enjoy crafts and admire the zoo's residents, from langurs to elephants to hippos. Another not-so-scary activity in Kansas City is the Halloween Boo-Bash! at the Kansas City Public Library on Oct. 27, which will include face painting, games and a haunted house.
When it comes to Halloween activities, Bozeman goes all out with "A Nightmare on Main Street" themed pub crawl, complete with giveaways, swag bags and drink specials at participating venues on Oct. 20. And for families, there's kid-friendly trick-or-treating along Main Street on Oct. 31 in downtown Bozeman, with 150-plus participating retailers with tricked-out decorations and sweet treats. Budding theater buffs will also appreciate the "the Magic of Theater" opera on Oct. 28 by the Bozeman Symphony. Outdoorsy types may also want to make Bozeman their home base for a fall trip to nearby Yellowstone to take in the autumn colors, captivating backdrops, impressive wildlife and otherworldly natural splendors.
Theater lovers, health nuts and candy enthusiasts will all have a ghoulishly good time on Halloween in Lincoln. There's the Li'L Monsters Halloween event at Gateway Mall, where little ghouls, goblins and other spooky or silly characters 10 and under can participate in games, trick-or-treating and Halloween-themed photo ops on Oct. 31. Meanwhile, those looking for a themed workout can race in the Monster Dash 2017 5K on Oct. 21 in nearby Roca, Nebraska. But maybe the most exciting Allhallows Eve event for theater buffs takes place on Oct. 28. At the Haunted: A ShakesFeare Experience event at The Rogers House Bed & Breakfast Inn, spooky Shakespearean characters come to life and spectators can bid for prizes, including "Hamilton" tickets.
Nevada: Carson City
Carson City brims with events in October. Trick-or-treaters can stock up on sweat treats and enjoy costume competitions, silly décor and a film screening at the Carson City Library on Oct. 25 for the Boo-Nanza 2017. And earlier in the month, youngsters can check out a pumpkin patch and board a steam train ride for the annual Harvest Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. What's more, aside from celebrating the holiday, outdoor enthusiasts can burn off any pent up energy by hitting the trails in Kings Canyon, and theater lovers can catch a performance at one of the area's versatile art venues. For more outdoor activity, embrace the dramatic autumn scenery in nearby Lake Tahoe.
New Hampshire: Laconia
For an amazing jack-o'-lantern display and plenty of pumpkin-oriented activities, visit Laconia for the Keene Pumpkin Festival. On Oct. 29, there's the Children's Costume Parade with kids games and entertainment, along with music, pumpkin bowling, dancing and more entertainment. Kids can also enjoy trick-or-treating at downtown establishments. Another nearby festival worth checking out is the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival in Swanzey, New Hampshire, on Oct. 21, which will include a kids costume parade, crafts, games, face painting, rides and fireworks around a bonfire.
New Jersey: Cape May
Each year, New Jersey kicks of a variety of festive autumn activities in September and October, from pumpkin and apple picking to spooky hayrides. But perhaps the best place to celebrate is along the coast on Cape May. On Oct. 22, there's the Halloween Parade with ornate floats and costumed youngsters. Prior to the parade, little ones can enjoy trick-or-treating. For more fun, visit Beach Plum Farm, where there's crafts, face painting, specialty cocktails, pumpkin picking and hayrides each Saturday throughout October. For more scares, tag along a Victorian haunted house tour at the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, which offers tours throughout the month.
New Mexico: Albuquerque
With a long-standing reputation for art-driven events and architecture, Albuquerque may not come to mind as a top pick for Allhallows Eve. But with a lively nightlife scene and plenty of fun seasonal events (including the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta from Oct. 7-15), the city is a prime place to visit in fall. On Oct. 29, there's the annual Day of the Tread, a charitable bike ride with contests and costumes at Civic Plaza. And for grown-ups looking to be spooked, the It Halloween Party for the 21-plus crowd at The Stage offers themed cocktails, light displays and intricate costumes. For youngsters, there's also Boo!-lloon Mania at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, which features pumpkin decorating, crafts and more delights on Oct. 27.
New York: New York City
Autumn in New York City overflows with seasonal festivities, from pumpkin picking to dog costume contests to spooky film screenings. A can't-miss for any city dweller (or Big Apple visitor) is the Village Halloween Parade – the 44th annual fete will include puppets, artists, dancers, creative costumes and more than 50,000 participants. But the best treat of all for those with four-legged friends might be the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade on Oct. 21, when pets show off elaborate costumes on a runway and compete for prizes and a Best in Show title. Another free canine costume contest – the Great PUPkin Dog Costume Contest – takes place in Brooklyn at Fort Greene Park on Oct. 28.
North Carolina: The Outer Banks
This coastal town celebrates the season in style with a film festival, an over-the-top costume parade and plenty of themed entertainment. The main affair is on Oct. 29 in Nag's Head, with family-friendly costume contests, a parade, prizes and trick-or-treating. But on Oct. 28, there are plenty of other thrills to delight in at the Halloween Film Festival as part of the HalloWeek 2017 extravaganza. During the screening, 40 independent films will be displayed at RC Theatres Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills. For less spooks and more sweets and seasonal delights, check out Outer Banks Brewtag on Oct. 28, where a beer garden, live music and a kids zone with age-appropriate programming tempts beer lovers.
North Dakota: Grand Forks
In Grand Forks, it's easy to find festive happenings around town. There's the Rocky Horror Picture Show Live! event on Oct. 28, with live actors performing in front of a screening of the cult classic at the Empire Arts Center downtown. And then there's the themed End-Tombed 12-Hour Mountain Bike Race on Oct. 28, where extreme bikers will test their limits on a challenging course. For little revelers, there's even a Black Cat Bash on Oct. 24, where youngsters ages 8 and under can enjoy crafts, games, dressing up and stories for free. And on Oct. 28, there's a Half Pint Haunt 2017 event, where little goblins, ghouls and other characters can partake in trick-or-treating at the Myra Museum and Campbell House.
Cincinnati entices thrill-seekers of all ages with ghost tours, holiday-themed soirees, festivals and dazzling jack-o'-lantern displays. Kids can enjoy indoor festive activities like crafts, animated displays, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and trick-or-treating at Jack-O-Lantern Junction in nearby West Chester. Meanwhile, little wild things can venture to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for a Hallzooween spectacle, with an illusion show, themed entertainment, sweet treats and rides on a miniature Hogwarts Express Train on weekends through Oct. 29. And for teens looking to up the fright factor, the Heritage Village Museum transforms into a Haunted Village on Fridays and Saturdays from Oct. 13-28, and includes a witches house, rides, games and more.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
From Oct. 28-29, costumed characters are welcome to board a Halloween Steam Train from the Museum Depot to enjoy holiday goodies, miniature golf, a moon bounce and a decked-out train. Youngsters – and the young at heart – can also make their way to the SOKC Library to enjoy a sprawling, real-life Candy Land creation on Oct. 26. For more free thrills, there's a Magic Lantern Celebration on Oct. 29 – complete with a colorful parade and maze – and a Pumpkin and Pajama party at the Northwest Library with story times, activities and songs. On Allhallows Eve, you'll also want to check out the Halloween Arts Spectacular at the Station at Central Park, to partake in trick-or-treating, crafts and drawing.
As far as Halloween thrills are concerned, Portland lures partygoers with arts events, over-the-top parties, haunted houses, corn mazes and wacky traditions. You can check out pumpkin patches and attend the quirky West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta, when participants race on enormous pumpkins on a challenging water course to reach the end of the lake at Tualatin Commons, southwest of Portland. But perhaps the most delightful (and spirited) event takes place in nearby St. Helens, the backdrop of the family classic "Halloweentown," where you and little ghosts, goblins and witches can join a children's fair, attend a costume dinner party, catch free shows and attend a Lil' Spooks Parade, among other activities on Oct. 28.
Pennsylvania: Hersheypark in The Dark
Cicero points to Hersheypark as a must-visit Halloween location for candy lovers. Ask yourself: "Who does candy better than Hershey?" she says. At the park, visitors ages 12 and under can stroll along a trick-or-treat trail with 12 stops. Plus, fearless visitors looking to kick up the fright factor a notch can enjoy 13 coasters including lights-out rides such as Lightning Racer and Laff Trakk. The park is especially well suited for families with kids of different ages, with a variety of activities and age-appropriate programming. And as an added bonus, visitors can check out a flashlight tour at Creatures of the Night at ZooAmerica – included in the cost of their ticket to Hersheypark, she adds.
Rhode Island: Providence
Cicero highlights the festive and bright Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence as a prime holiday event for Halloween lovers or all ages. At the event, "there are 5,000 intricately carved pumpkins," she says, citing the creative, detailed and intricate carvings as mind-blowing. While taking in the illuminated pumpkins in all their splendor comes attached to a fee, it's well worth the price, she says. At the zoo, kids can also enjoy an exhilarating Soaring Eagle Zip Ride and whizz around a carousel at the nearby Carousel Village. Best of all, the event runs through early Nov. 5, allowing for ample opportunity to make the trip.
South Carolina: Charleston
Whether you're itching to solve a "Who's Who Murder Mystery" in a festive interactive play at the Black Fodora Theatre near City Market, attend the 21-plus Halloween-themed Charleston Arts Festival at the Royal American on Oct. 28 or enjoy more family-friendly pursuits, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the season in Charleston. For less frights and more seasonal delights, venture to Magnolia Plantation & Gardens on Family Fright Nights throughout October to enjoy pony rides, crafts, costume competitions and more events. For more Southern spooks, join a ghost and pirate harbor tour to brush up on Charleston's pirates, wars and storms, along with local lore at the Charleston Maritime Center.
South Dakota: Rapid City
In October, Rapid City comes alive with festive events for revelers of all ages. For youngsters, there's the Old MacDonald's Farm Festival – a lively park open every Saturday in October with painting, apple cider, hayrides, wagon rides and sweet treats. Other affordable seasonal happenings include a free "Night at the Museum" event filled with trick-or-treating and hands-on interactive activities, games at the Museum of Geology and a candy booth-lined Safe N' Sweet Trick N' Treat event at Storybook Island. And grown-ups can get in on the fun, too, with a Halloween Night Hike in the Black Hills Oct. 27-28. "Deadwood" fans can also attend "Deadweird" – a monster masquerade with costume contests and prizes Oct. 27-28.
Music City – one of Tennessee's best places to visit – offers a mix of bone-chilling attractions and hokey happenings to celebrate the season. Pumpkin patches, hayrides, corn mazes and fall festivals abound. For Halloween, there's a Boo at the Zoo event from Oct. 13-29, where little princesses, wild things, ghosts and goblins can sport their favorite costumes, tag along hayrides and carousel rides and even whizz down a zip line (for an added fee). And for adults, there's a decked-out Day of the Dead celebration with intricate displays, music and dancing. What's more, there's a "Hocus Pocus" screening paired with craft beer at TailGate Beer on Oct. 27.
Texas: Morgan's Wonderland, San Antonio
Morgan's Wonderland's holiday extravaganza in San Antonio bills itself as "More Delightful Than Frightful" – and for good reason. On Oct. 31, the park offers trick-or-treating for kids ages 12 and younger, plus plenty of festive rides and attractions. Visitors of all ages can enjoy everything from face painting to carousel and train rides, Cicero says, noting that Morgan's Wonderland is "a fantastic park build especially for special-needs children." The 25-acre park is wheelchair accessible and caters to those with visual and hearing impairments – so everyone can take part in the activity, she adds. Best of all, entry is free with three or more nonperishable items and part of the proceeds for the event will benefit the San Antonio Food Bank.
Utah: Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City boasts plenty of seasonal happenings throughout October, from a corn maze and pumpkin festival to trick-or-treating at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. Youngsters can enjoy "Little Haunts" with costumes, crafts, pony rides and candy at Heritage Park through Oct. 28 and the "Boo at the Zoo" event at Utah's Hogle Zoo. Perhaps one of the most unique holiday festivities is the Garden After Dark Halloween Celebration at the Red Butte Garden from Oct. 21-28, which will take on an "Alice in Wonderland" theme and include treats, light displays, costumes, crafts and kid-friendly activities. Another must is the Howl-O-Ween Parade on Oct. 31, when costumed pets (and their owners) present their creative outfits along Main Street.
Stowe beckons to leaf peepers and adventure seekers with its archetypal New England setting, bright colors and crisp air each autumn. Beyond the captivating natural scenery, there are plenty of not-so-spooky local legends, charming inns and bewitching family-friendly festivities to take part in each October. Tag along a Stowe Lantern Tour, where an expert recounts historic tales and local lore by candlelight through Oct. 31. Youngsters can also attend a party at the Stowe Elementary School Gym, where costumed kids can earn prizes, food, treats and play games. What's more, in nearby Shelburne (about an hour drive west of Stowe), there's a halloween parade with ornate floats, carnival games, a costume contest and trick-or-treating on Oct. 29.
Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg
With ornate trick-or-treaters, hayrides and pumpkin patches, Virginia celebrates the season in style. And in Colonial Williamsburg there are plenty of festive happenings to pick from throughout October, including museum talks and carriage rides. Youngsters ages 3 to 12 can enjoy a trick-or-treating adventure on Oct. 28 for the annual Haunting on DoG Street from Oct. 15-31, which includes a concert, rides past illuminated jack-o'-lanterns and even museum lecture series that focus on King George. For more thrills, join an hourlong ghost tour of historical sites and hear local lore on an Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Walk, available Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 31.
Washington, District of Columbia: The National Zoo
Our nation's capital knows how to put on a festive holiday spectacle, with everything from free-flowing butterbeer at a "Harry Potter"-inspired pop-up bar to a David Bowie-themed dance floor at Pub Dread to trick-or-treating and scavenger hunts at Mount Vernon. But if you're traveling with young party animals, you'll want to plan a family outing to the National Zoo for the annual Boo at the Zoo extravaganza. During the three-day event from Oct. 20-22, visitors can enjoy after-hours access to the Great Ape House, Great Cats Circle and other areas, along with carousel rides, decked-out trails, pumpkin carving competitions and more than 40 trick-or-treat stations.
Aspiring princesses, superheroes, wizards and witches can get into the Halloween spirit with trick-or-treating, an indoor carnival and a lively parade at the annual Hilloween event in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. On Oct. 28, the free event from 3-6 p.m. will include live magic shows, a bounce house, ghost stories and a parade. Venture to Broadway, Pike and Pine streets to collect candy, and if you're traveling with intrepid teens, check out the Haunted Laboratory at 1st Street Bank for spooky surprises. Best of all, there are plenty of other events across the city. Enjoy games, demonstrations and story times at the Seattle Aquarium from Oct. 28-29 or the Woodland Park Zoo's festive Pumpkin Bash.
West Virginia: Ceredo and Kenova
Stroll by the glowing Pumpkin House, adorned with 3,000 illuminated gourds, test your baking skills in a friendly competition and pick up early holiday gifts at an arts and crafts show at the annual C-K AutumnFest. For the autumn festival – Ceredo and Kenova – two charming towns in West Virginia, team up to delight locals and visitors from Oct. 27-28. Other fun kid-friendly happenings include a scavenger hunt, a tractor show, crafts and plenty of tasty treats and food vendors on Beech Street in Kenova. If you happen to arrive early, there's also scarecrow and home decorating contests on Oct. 19.
Every autumn, Madison lures visitors with its crisp air, beautiful foliage, football games and versatile produce (including crowd-pleasing cheese curds). And in October, you and the kids can enjoy strolling through the sprawling stalls before embracing holiday-themed delights. On Oct. 25, the city boasts plenty of kid-friendly activities along the Capitol Square, from trick-or-treating to craft stations to spooky science shows. Youngsters can also join hayrides, make creative costumes at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, construct mummies near the Madison Children's Museum and decorate DIY pom-pom pumpkins at Revel with paint and glitter as grown-ups sip cocktails and enjoy sweet treats.
With costume parties, performances, make-up workshops and museum events, you can bet that Casper knows how to go all out for Halloween. On Oct. 28, kids can delight in downtown trick-or-treating, attend a Halloween Costume Party with live music by the Grease Monkeys and prizes and attend a production of "Mary Poppins" at Casper College. What's more, grown-ups looking for more thrills can enjoy spine-tingling readings of Edgar Allen Poe classics at "An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe" at the Stage III Theater. Film buffs can also catch screenings of Halloween classics at Washington Park throughout October (think "Hocus Pocus"), along with age-appropriate films like a holiday-themed episode of "Scooby-Doo."
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