In the last decade, Halloween in the USA has become the second most widely celebrated festival after Christmas. With the celebrations becoming a mainstream part of American culture, the Halloween week turns into a period of spooky costume parties, storytelling sessions, fun events like pumpkin carving contests and other games that invoke community spirit. With Halloween approaching on 31st October, here is a round-up of places you can visit and other spooky things you can do in the USA to soak in the Halloween spirit.

Experience Halloween In The USA With Some Of The Best Halloween Festivals

The reason why people from all around the globe come to celebrate Halloween in the USA is to be a part of the grand celebrations, parades and some great Halloween festivals that are held here every year. This is the perfect time to experience these lively festivals. Here’s a range of the best festivals to look out for in the USA this Halloween.

1Festival Of The Dead, Massachusetts

Colored skulls for the Halloween Festival

Festival of the Dead is an annual event series that’s held during the whole month of October. It is believed that Halloween is the time when spirits walk among us. Witches of Salem honor this time with the Festival of the Dead that beckons guests to step through the veil into a realm where spirits await. The entire city of Massachusetts is packed with various spooky activities and parties. It starts with a Grand parade where people come dressed in Halloween costumes. It is considered to be one of the biggest Halloween parades around the country. 

2Sea Witch Festival, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Happening every year, in the late October on the Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is this unique Sea Witch festival and Fiddlers Festival. It’s a fun filled two days that includes a costume parade and a dog parade. Many competitions like, the best costume, broom tossing contest, guessing the pumpkin’s weight, seed spitting contests and much more happens around this place. Nights are spent sitting around a bonfire by the beach drinking and sharing scary stories.

3Haunted Fest, Ohio Expo Center, Columbus

Halloween festival shopping concept. Halloween pumpkins with shopping cart on wood background.

This Haunted Fest takes the theme of Halloween to a new level with its electrifying night of dancing and drinking. With some of the biggest names in EDM performing live, it is a treat for EDM fans. World famous DJs such as Hardwell and DJ Parker have performed here before. Many come dressed as witches, vampires, ghosts and even more creative and whimsical get ups to scare the hell out of you. With over 800 people attending this festival, Haunted Fest is one of the most happening Halloween parties in the USA.

4Halloween Harvest Festival, Arcadia, California

Held in Southern California, Halloween Harvest Festival is one of the great Halloween fun celebrations in the US. This is the perfect place to celebrate with your family and friends as it is packed with fun for all ages. Giant corn maze, costume contests for pets, pint rides, ferry wheels, haunted trails and lots of good food and shopping stalls are available here. Raffle tickets with prize giveaways include a chance to win a bike, gift cards to local eateries and raffles for gift baskets and much more. 

5Emma Crawford Festival, Manitou Springs, Colorado

Lighted Halloween Pumpkin Jack o Lantern Wearing Covid PPE Mask On Steps

This bizarre festival is held in a small town in Colorado in honor of the most notable person in the town’s history, Emma Crawford. People from all around the country come here to participate in the bizarre coffin race. Four people dressed as mourners are to push a wheeled coffin. Whoever finishes the 195-yard track along Manitou Avenue wins the trophies. Other awards like, Best Entourage, Best Coffin, Best Emma, and Miss Emma are up for grabs. Sounds exciting, right!

Places To Visit This Halloween In The USA

6Salem, Massachusetts

Witch House in Salem, MA, USA
Witch House in Salem, MA, USA

Also known as the City of Witches because of the infamous witch trials in 1692-93, Salem is a hotspot for cultural Halloween events and activities in October. One can sign up for a complete Salem Heritage Walking Trail, use the Salem Trolley shuttle to visit major attractions or even explore famous monuments like the Satanic Temple, the Witch House and the House of the Seven Gables at their own pace on foot. Apart from these mainstream attractions, the lighthouses dotted along Salem are very picturesque spots as well.

7New Orleans, Louisiana

Famously known for the Mardi Gras parade, New Orleans has a peculiar vibrant culture that sets it apart from the neighboring cities. Party enthusiasts can attend the endless night vampire ball which is an all-night costume party for all things Halloween! For those who would want to experience staying in a historic haunted place, the famous Andrew Jackson Hotel should not be missed. A major event on Halloween night is the spooky and colorful parade called the Krewe of Boo, almost comparable to the Mardi Gras. One can even visit some of the famous haunted locations in New Orleans that were featured on the show ‘Ghosthunters’.

8The Stanley Hotel, Colorado

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

This is the famous haunted hotel featured in the movie The Shining, based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King. The hotel opened in 1909 and has since then been hosting guests that come to visit the beautiful alpine areas of Colorado. Past guests, employees and even the owners have reported paranormal experiences in this hotel. There is a special night tour organized by the hotel that takes its guests through the various haunted houses within the property premises.

9The Mission District, San Francisco

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican festival celebrated to honor those who have passed away. This festival is usually celebrated on 2nd November in conjunction with the festivities of Halloween. But it holds a slightly personal significance for all the families that participate and make altars to honor their deceased relatives and friends. On this day, multiple parades with live music and costume events can be witnessed and participated in. One can decorate altars and also participate in a variety of art competitions held throughout the celebratory week.

10Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP), Pennsylvania

Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP), Pennsylvania,USA - Halloween in USA
Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP), Pennsylvania,USA – Halloween in USA

Counted amongst the top haunted places in the USA, ESP was one of the largest prisons until 1971. It has since then been converted into a historic museum for the public. During Halloween, the famous ‘Terror behind the walls’ event is organized at ESP where the public is given day and night tours to the haunted spots and haunted art exhibitions within the premises. Numerous films, documentaries and TV shows from the horror genre have been shot at ESP. Visitors, guards and past inmates have reported seeing shadowy figures, hearing echoes and whispers and feeling heaviness within certain areas of the prison.

Also Read: The 13 Best Places To Celebrate Halloween Around The World This Year

Check Out These Halloween Party Ideas For Halloween In The USA

Other than visiting haunted spots and attending costume parties around the neighborhood, one can indulge in the following activities commonly organized during Halloween in the USA. These Halloween ideas are sure to make your Halloween in the USA memorable.

Go Apple Bobbing – This is a traditional game played during Halloween. The players are supposed to compete by grabbing the most number of floating apples from a tub of water, only with their teeth.

halloween ideas
Little girl bobbing for apples – Halloween in the USA

Visit A Pumpkin Farm Festival – Since Halloween coincides with the harvest season, a lot of farms organize community events that include pumpkin farm tours, pumpkin competitions, costume events, tarot card readings and other activities.

halloween party ideas
Image source: Pixabay

Participate In Carving Jack-O’-Lanterns – Famously used as decorative props during Halloween, Jack-o’-Lanterns are usually carved out of pumpkins and turnips that are harvested in abundance around Halloween. During Halloween week, a lot of competitions are held where contestants carve out the most artistic and intricate Jack-o’-Lanterns.

halloween festival
Freshly Carved Pumpkin Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween

Visit An Amusement Park Or Escape Room – Many amusement parks organize Halloween themed attractions and events especially during the end of October. These events usually run throughout the night, post the usual closing hours of the theme parks. Playing escape room games with friends has also become a popular activity during Halloween in recent years.

Attend A Horror Storytelling Session – Horror story buffs can attend live storytelling and book reading sessions and marathons organized during the Halloween week. Multiple restaurants also have an open mic night on Halloween for horror storytelling. Alternatively, live theater performances and musicals are also fun options to spend the Halloween night with friends and family.

Attend Baking Workshops To Learn Halloween Themed Recipes – Halloween is the prime festival for sugary candies and baked goodies. One can try their hand at baking Halloween themed sugar crafts or savories at workshops specially organized during this festival.

Learn Folklore And Legends About Your Neighborhood – Halloween is the best time to learn a little bit more about the spooky history of one’s neighborhood. Local libraries, community centers and tourist help-desks happily assist amateur horror enthusiasts in doing research about the paranormal and other legends about the city during Halloween.

Go On A Halloween Food Crawl – Right from blood lava cakes and gummy spiders to slow burning mac and cheese and batwing sundae ice-creams, Disney theme parks are by far the best places to eat magical and spooky food during Halloween. One should also definitely not miss out on the special pumpkin and apple pies and the more traditional soul cakes, Irish Colcannon and Boxty pancakes during Halloween season.

halloween food ideas
Traditional American pumpkin pie and jack o’lantern

Also Read: This year, if you are in Romania, you can celebrate Halloween in Dracula’s castle

So this is a list of top places to visit and entertaining things to do if you are planning to celebrate Halloween in the USA this October. Generally speaking, every American state has its own spooky legends and haunted spots to keep the Halloween spirit alive. Hope you have a fun Halloween and most importantly, always be mindful and respectful while visiting any locations that may have a cultural or historical significance.

What is Halloween and why do we celebrate it?

It was believed that on October 31st, the souls of the dead returned to their homes. So people dress up in scary costumes to ward off these spirits.

Why Do We Celebrate Halloween on October 31?

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints Day. The evening before All Saints Day (Oct 31st) came to be known as All Hallows Eve, and later as Halloween.

When did Halloween become popular in the US?

It was not until after mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century that Halloween became popular in the US. Today, Americans spend around $6 billion annually on Halloween. That makes it the second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

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