While a large portion of the world considers Halloween to be largely for children, Americans of all ages take the holiday very seriously.

Starting as early as September, cities begin hosting their favorite eerie events designed to celebrate all things spooky – and most everyone takes part.

Across the USA this haunted season, you can discover Halloween events that are equal parts charming and creepy. Here are some of our favorite places to celebrate all things ghostly, macabre and just plain fabulous.

The Annual Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York
The annual Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York © Inspired By Maps / Shutterstock

Sleepy Hollow, New York 

Penned by Washington Irving in 1820, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” has permeated popular Halloween culture for literally centuries. Lucky for us, the town at the center of the story is very real and comes alive for a month-long Halloween celebration. 

Take a tour of the historic cemetery by lantern light to learn about Irving and other notable citizens, or head over to the historic Philipsburg Manor, which is converted into a terrifying haunt known as Horseman’s Hollow.

If pumpkins are your thing, don’t miss the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, which features over 7000 carved gourds, the Museum of Pumpkin Art and even a pumpkin windmill. 

Revelers during the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade, Salem, Massachusetts, USA
It’s easy to get into the Halloween spirit in Salem – especially if you’re a “Hocus Pocus” fan © Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images

Salem, Massachusetts 

As the epicenter of the grim witch trials of the late 1600s, Salem, Massachusetts, sits at the heart of the country’s most visceral Halloween lore. Its heritage played a starring role in the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus, and its fame has led people from all over to make the pilgrimage to this haunted spot year-round. 

Visiting Salem during October, however, delivers a special type of energy, as the town embraces the year’s biggest opportunity to delve into its history. Take a candle-lit haunted tour of the city; visit the Witch Trials Memorial and the Salem Witch Museum; dive into the world of the unknown at the Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo; and top it all off by attending the annual Witches Ball, a masquerade held at the historic Hawthorne Hotel.

A large float with a huge Dracula figure at the front is illuminated by a strong of light bulbs. People dressed in elaborate costumes throw items off the float to people on the street.
Krewe of Boo! is a Halloween celebration with a New Orleans twist © Paul Broussard / Courtesy of Krewe of Boo!

New Orleans, Louisiana

It’s no secret that New Orleans can throw a party like nowhere else – a talent that’s not limited to Mardi Gras in February. Many regard the city as one of the most haunted in the country: ghost tours abound throughout the year, making Halloween a particularly important time here. Hit the French Quarter during October for a supernatural celebration called Krewe of Boo!, which brings Mardi Gras–esque flair to the spooky season. 

The parade features what New Orleans does best – with a ghoulish twist: think hand-crafted floats, costumed bands, dancers and even beads (locally sourced and make an effort to be environmentally friendly). The Krewe also hosts an annual Zombie Run, where zombies take to the streets like a scene out of World War Z

Revellers march in costumes during the 49th Annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, New York, New York, USA
Spectacular puppets and costumed revelers take over the streets of Greenwich Village each Halloween © Andrea Renault / AFP via Getty Images

New York, New York

Head to any US city with an art-house movie theater in October and you’ll find a live-action showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with costumes, props, callbacks from the audience and a three-dimensional cast shadowing the on-screen antics.

This tradition began in New York City at the now-defunct Waverly Theater – and continues today through the work of the NYC Rocky Horror troupe. Check their website to see where they’ll be doing the “Time Warp” next.

While you’re in town, don’t miss the famous Village Halloween Parade, famed for its creativity and sheer size. Watch (or join in!) as giant puppets make their way through the neighborhood, and costumed revelers jam to dozens of ambulatory bands playing music of all genres.

A green witch float in the Sea Witch Festival parade, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, USA
The Sea Witch Festival parade in Rehoboth Beach offers family Halloween fun with a seaside twist © Khairil Azhar Junos / USAShutterstock

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware  

Not all witches dwell on land, it turns out. If your vibe skews nautical, don your seaweed and celebrate Halloween with your seafaring brethren at the Sea Witch Festival in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Festivities include Halloween staples like a parade and costume contest, but also ocean-inflected events like a haunted bonfire, coastal wildlife seminars, a trick-or-treat for kids on the beach, and a scavenger hunt for the sea witch herself.

This article was first published September 2019 and updated October 2023

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