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The 10 Best Places to Spend Halloween in the U.S.

When autumn comes along, many travelers will be itching to get in the Halloween spirit. Some may even want to book a trip for Oct. 31 to the scariest, most festive place around. Fortunately, there is no shortage of towns and cities in the United States that take Halloween very seriously.

From spectacular Jack-o-Lantern shows to chilling ghost tours to family-friendly costume parades, there are plenty of reasons to travel for this haunted holiday. Here are the top 10 places in the country to visit for Halloween.

1. Anoka, Minnesota Dubbed the Halloween capital of the world, Anoka is a must-see during this time of year. This Minnesota city is known for holding the country’s very-first Halloween parade in 1920, a tradition that locals continue to this day – and have grown upon greatly in the past century-plus. Anoka even has its own Halloween shop that is open on select days throughout the year.

About a week before Halloween, the city hosts a Light Up the Night parade. Then, on Halloween weekend, locals and visitors alike dress in costumes and walk in the famous Grande Day Parade. Other events in October include costumed Bingo nights, the coronation of the new Anoka Halloween Ambassador, and a house decorating contest.

2. St. Helens, Oregon This small town in Oregon got its claim to fame when Disney Channel filmed its 1998 original movie Halloweentown there. Now, locals carry on the exciting festivities with its Spirit of Halloweentown series of events starting each September.

Fun attractions leading up to Halloween include train ride tours of Halloween decorations, boat rides across the river to view impressive pumpkin carvings, a haunted house, The Great Big Halloween Exhibit, and a Halloween parade. The Museum of Peculiarities and Oddities is also well worth a visit.

3. Sleepy Hollow, New York More than two centuries after it was written, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” fuels a flurry of fall activities in its namesake village. The quaint, riverside town celebrates author Washington Irving’s headless horseman tale year-round – but especially around Halloween.

Visitors can tour the historic, 90-acre Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and visit Irving’s grave. They can also see Irving’s estate, learn about his life and legacy, and witness live re-enactments of his spooky story. Other attractions in Sleepy Hollow and nearby Tarrytown include The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze, which features artistically carved pumpkins lighting up the night sky, ghost tours, a Halloween parade, haunted hayrides, streets fairs, and a farmer’s market.

4. Salem, Massachusetts America’s Witch City, the site of the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692, is a prime spot to spend Halloween. Costumed crowds fill the streets in celebration of the spookiest night of the year, and there are plenty of festive things to do in this hip, artsy town.

For those seeking a thrill, there are several haunted houses and ghost tours to choose from. For the fainter of heart, a historic house tour or visit to one of the many gift shops could be more their speed. There is also the Salem Witch Museum and a graveyard paying tribute to witch trial victims.

5. Orlando, Florida Halloween fun awaits at Orlando’s theme parks. For those looking for a fright, Universal Orlando Resort holds its annual Halloween Horror Nights. Special event ticketholders can choose from 10 different haunted houses, including Stranger Things- and The Last of Us-themed attractions.

Disney World has more family-friendly Halloween amusement, from a Halloween parade and Hocus Pocus “villain spectacular” to trick-or-treating throughout the park and Halloween-themed fireworks.

6. New Orleans, Louisiana Like its Mardi Gras celebration, Halloween attracts many tourists to New Orleans for its haunted history and lively party scene. The streets open to locals and visitors dressed in crazy costumes, and the many costume and voodoo shops in the area hold their own events as well. Travelers can also go on tours of historic houses and cemeteries throughout New Orleans and learn why it’s often called “the most haunted city in America.”

7. Dallas, Texas For real thrill-seekers, Dallas offers some of the most intense haunted houses in the country. Two of the most popular – and perhaps most scary – are Boneyard and Slaughter House. But aside from the haunts, Dallas has many other activities for visitors young and old alike.

The Dallas Zoo hosts evening carnival-like events for families that include trick-or-treating and other Halloween-themed fun. There are also festive, kid-friendly events held at the Dallas Arboretum. When Halloween arrives, everyone is dressed in costume, and many bars and restaurants hold costume contests.

8. Los Angeles, California There will be plenty of excitement on Halloween – and all throughout October – in Los Angeles. Scary movie screenings are a staple of a Hollywood Halloween, and that’s just one option for seasonal things to do in the area. There are also the popular Mr. Jack-o-Lantern's Pumpkin Patch, which has multiple locations in the city, tours at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and other local historic cemeteries, and the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Scarium of the Pacific event.

9. Independence, Kansas The entire week leading up to Halloween weekend in this Kansas town is Neewollah (Halloween spelled backwards), which is chock full of family-friendly festivities. Highlights include a carnival in downtown Independence, several street parades, an arts and crafts show, and a marching band competition.

10. Las Vegas, Nevada It’s no surprise that Las Vegas goes all out for Halloween. Hotels on the strip will be decked out in spooky décor, and there are plenty of on-theme shows and events to attend. This year’s attractions will include a Blackout Dining in the Dark experience and an official Saw and Blair Witch escape room. There will also be Zombie burlesque show, and it’s certain that there will be plenty of costume contests to partake in.

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