Published October 25, 2011
Rising holiday airfares aren't the only thing that's scary about this month. October means Halloween, that annual festival of things frightening. And it's become a big deal in top destinations like Orlando, where major events spur a ton of business in an otherwise quiet travel period.
Up for a good scare? We've rounded up and ranked 10 spectacles worth the trip, with links to low fares that'll have you in the mood to get up and go.
1. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal: Orlando, Fla. Through Oct. 31, the popular theme park morphs into one of the most frightening places on earth. Eight haunted houses with top-shelf production values and exclusive "RIP Tours" make this one a screaming good time. Click here for low fares to Orlando.
2. Terror Behind the Walls: Philadelphia, Pa. Built in 1829, the old Eastern State Penitentiary is one of Philly's most impressive historic sites. (Al Capone slept here). Through Nov. 12, the 11-acre property, long ago abandoned, becomes one of the world's niftiest haunted houses. Click here for low fares to Philadelphia.
3. Halloweekends at Cedar Point: Cleveland, Ohio Did you let another summer go by without a visit to one of the best coaster parks on the continent – maybe the world? Weekends through Oct. 30, be terrified not only by those crazy rides, but also the park's annual screamfest. There's a ton of kid-friendly fun by day; after dark is a different story. Click here for low fares to Cleveland.
4. Voodoo Music Experience: New Orleans, La. More scary cool than straight up scary, this annual music festival takes over the Big Easy's atmospheric City Park Oct. 28-30, featuring art installations, good food and performances from Soundgarden, Fatboy Slim and more (thevoodooexperience.com). Click here for low fares to New Orleans.
5. Headless Horseman Hayrides: Hudson Valley, N.Y. A peaceful farm in a sleepy Hudson River town not far from New York City – right in the heart of Rip Van Winkle country – has become one of the country's most famous Halloween attractions, with a mile-long haunted hayride and multiple haunted attractions on an idyllic (well, during the day anyway) 45-acre property. Click here for low fares to Newburgh.
6. Detroit Urban Legends: Detroit, Mich. For some people, the windswept Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit is eerie enough at high noon on a sunny day, let alone late at night, after a run through this creepy haunted house, located inside an old church and benefiting a local social services organization. Weekends through Oct. 31. Click here for low fares to Detroit.
7. Village Halloween Parade: New York City, N.Y. The only thing scary about this annual, all-comers-welcomed happening is some of the outfits, and how they're being worn. Anyone in a costume is welcome to march, so dress your (freaky) best. Click here for low fares to New York.
8. Kennywood's Phantom Fright Nights: Pittsburgh, Pa. A vintage amusement park (wooden coasters!) is in the tenth year of its fun Halloween party. A nifty new attraction – Biofear – shows you what happens when a science experiment goes horribly wrong. Hint: The results will not be kid friendly. Through Oct. 29. Click here for low fares to Pittsburgh.
9. Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern: Chattanooga, Tenn. There will be nobody to hear you scream when you're 26 stories down, inside this underground cave turned haunted house attraction. Through Nov. 4. Click here for low fares to Chattanooga.
10. Salem Haunted Happenings: Salem, Mass. The Boston-adjacent town that famously burned suspected witches to death back in the day is hugely popular in the run-up to Halloween. The town throws a month-long fest that's perfect for those that like their fright a little more highbrow, or at least historically accurate. Click here for low fares to Boston.
George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and founder of the low-airfare listing site Airfarewatchdog.com.