I love Halloween.
It’s a holiday I’ve looked forward to ever since I realized that well-drawn cat whiskers + an empty pillowcase = candy. That type of childhood anticipation never goes away. These days, Halloween is celebrated more and more each year with festivals, parades, fireworks, haunted houses and ghost tours. It’s a full month of fun!
Here are a few destinations for Halloween that top my list.
Courtroom trials are a favorite among us ,but O.J? Menendez Brothers? You got nothing on the great, great, great, granddaddy of them all, the Salem Witch Trials. Twenty people were tried and executed for practicing the “devil’s magic.” They, however, were all innocent.
This famously haunted city offers a line-up of haunted, scary and forbidden festivities that last almost the entire month. The Festival of the Dead proves Salem takes its witchcraft seriously, but can still enjoy rollicking good time along the way. Some of the festival highlights include Ghost Hunting 101, conjuring the Dead and the very civilized way to honor your dead: Mourning Tea.
This event may be too scary for the “I still pee in my bed” crowd, but luckily Salem has kid friendly activities through out the month, culminating with Halloween night fireworks. The highlights are its annual Children’s Halloween Parade and the Witches Cottage with face painting and balloon animals. Balloon animals don’t scare me, but sometimes the people who make them do.
We travel folks have been accused of favoring destinations on either coast, so I didn’t want skip Anoka, Minnesota. This Twin Cities ‘burb hold the title of “Halloween Capital of the World™.” And I mean that literally, they have it trademarked. Historically, Anokans would awake on the day after Halloween as the unfortunate victims of pranking teenagers. Cows roaming the streets, outhouses tipped over, the usual. To occupy the ungrateful teenagers, the town’s people decided to hold a big celebration. The year was 1920 and so Anoka is believed to be the first city in the United States to hold a Halloween parade.
When I read the calendar of events, all I want to do is move there and be a part of this wonderful community (and that’s really scary to a New Yorker). I’m talking about Movie and Hot Dog Dinner Night, Turkey Bingo, Preschool Costume Contest and a Light up the Night Parade.
Both Savannah and New Orleans claim to be America’s Most Haunted City but my money is on Savannah. No offense, but Savannah can be just downright eerie. When I toured the 250 years old Bonaventure Cemetery, I had the strange feeling I was being watched and it wasn’t by my cameraman. They say Savannah is a city built upon its dead. The cemeteries were at first at the edge of the young settlement, but as the city grew the dead were moved…or not. Founded in 1733, Savannah has had its share of all the “bring out your dead” hits: fires, pirates, yellow fever as well as the Civil War.
There are scores of ghost tours offered in Savannah, but only one where you get to ride around in a hearse.
Think you might not mind waking up to someone stroking your hair…who then disappears? Then stay at the prestigious Kehoe House. Many guests have heard children laughing and running through the halls late at night. Guests complained until they were told there were no children staying at the inn. Just as long as they don’t take my turn down chocolate, I’m cool.
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
Remember The Shining?
As I’m writing this, I know I’ll have nightmares tonight. Can you even say you’ve seen the movie if you hid your face behind clutched fingers the entire time? The Stanley is the hotel that inspired Steven King to write The Shining. He actually did stay in room 217. It was enough for him to be the author of the scariest freaking book and movie of all time.
While the events in the movie were all fictitious, the hotel is thought to be haunted by the original owners F.O and Flora Stanley. It’s pretty harmless stuff. Mrs. Stanley has been heard playing the piano. Mr. Stanley sometimes shows up in the Billiard Room. The cleaning crews hear strange noises etc, etc. All are a far cry from white-faced ghost children appearing in a hallway beckoning you to “come play with us” who then become blood stained massacred corpses. Okay, see? I am definitely not sleeping tonight.
The Stanley understands how important a character the hotel was in the movie.They offer ghost tours, including a night tour for paranormal activity that takes you into a underground tunnel, as well as the most haunted room in the hotel, the Concert Hall. There are ghost hunts for 18 and older and for the little ones ghost stories.