October 31 has traditionally been a holiday for children – a night of spookiness, fun, pranks, and, of course, candy. In recent years, it has become a huge holiday for adults as well. It offers the perfect excuse to take on a new identity and join the revelry. Here are our picks for the best places for grown ups to celebrate Halloween.
Haunted Hoochie at Dead Acres – Pataskala, OH
Billed as the darkest show on earth with over 450,000 square feet of space, Ohio’s Haunted Hoochie has planty of scary surprises at almost every turn. Grizzly activities include shooting live demons with paintball guns, being chased by a zombie with a chainsaw, getting picked up and thrown over the shoulder of an abductor and even witnessing the birth of a baby demon.
Las Vegas is always an adult playground, but at Halloween everyone comes out to play! Casinos up and down the Strip sponsor costume contests with hefty cash prizes and clubs hold crazy parties. Join a Halloween pub crawl, check out a theme-appropriate show like Evil Dead – The Musical or Zombies Burlesque or choose your own fright level at Freakling Bros. Horror Shows. Feeling particularly outrageous? Grab tickets to the wildest party in town – the costume-mandatory Fetish & Fantasy Ball at the Hard Rock Hotel, where 7500 of the sexiest people in Vegas come to let loose.
If you’re up for a trip abroad to Romania’s land of deep, dark forests and Gothic architecture, the brooding atmosphere of Bran Castle can’t be beat for an eerie adventure. Legend has it that this fortress was home to Vlad Tepes, known as “Vlad the Impaler” for his brutal practice of impaling thousands of his enemies and leaving them on display. He was the real-life inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Modern visitors can take guided tours year round, but special Halloween tours are the spookiest of all.
Village Halloween Parade, New York City
An amazing array of custom costumes, puppets, and more are on parade when Lower Manhattan is shut down for this annual event. Billed as “The nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world,” this parade invites the public to join in an exuberant celebration of Halloween. Costumes are required to join the mile long walk in its 43rd year. Village Halloween Parade
ScreamsPark, Waxahachie, TX
Who said Killer Clowns can’t be fun? Billed as “The Ultimate Halloween Experience,” this theme park guarantees to scare the daylights out of you with 3 haunted houses, the CarnEvil Clown Maze and the all new Zombie Wasteland. Live actors prowl the Scarborough Renaissance Festival fairgrounds to add to the thrills and chills. Music, games, pubs, shops, and food drinks are available to keep your entertained for the entire night. ScreamsPark is open Friday and Saturday nights through October 29.
This New England town has certainly learned to embrace its past! Known for the infamous 17th century Salem Witch Trials, which resulted in 26 people being convicted of witchcraft and put to death, the town now offers cemetery tours, séances, witches balls, an annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo, and even a 5k run with contestants dressed as witches. The Haunted Happenings celebration runs the entire month of October
Day of the Dead, Oaxaca, Mexico
This town near the tourist resort of Acapulco, turns into a giant street party as locals and visitors gather for three days, beginning on October 31 to celebrate and remember those who have passed. Spirits of loved ones are believed to return and they are welcomed with parties filled with dancing, food, and drink. Locals visit their relatives’ graves and everything is adorned with colorfully painted skulls, skeletons, and flowers.
Austin, with its mix of Tex-Mex heritage, celebrates both Halloween and the Day of the Dead. Parades, music, and special events abound. As always, the 6th Street bars are rocking, bringing costumed partiers out in droves. Austin’s film scene hosts special screenings of horror flicks and upscale events such as the Halloween Mansion Costume Ball and the 5th Annual Vampire Ball offer a glitzy take on the holiday.
West Hollywood Carnaval, Los Angeles, CA
This is the world’s largest Halloween street party, drawing over half a million people to the streets of West Hollywood. Costumed revelers fill Santa Monica Boulevard, hoping to see and be seen. This spectacle can be a bit over the top, so it’s recommended for adults only. More than 50 musical acts perform at outdoor stages while hip restaurants and clubs offer contests and great drink specials, and a fantastic food. A famous celebrity is named as royalty each year. Previous queens of the Carnaval have included Rhianna and Queen Latifah.