This year, it’s time to take Halloween beyond the typical around-the-block trick-or-treating. With plenty of deep discounts on airfare and car rentals this season, creative travelers can turn Halloween into a fun trip that explores the popular haunts in and out of your region. America loves this spooky holiday and celebrates big from coast to coast. From costumes and parades to haunted houses and hayrides, the festivities across the country have been prompting more folks to turn Halloween into a travel treat for young and old alike.
By using a popular hub city in your desired area as a base, you can score some great deals, and then take a few days to explore the celebrations that are just a quick day trip away. Here are a few itinerary ideas I recommend to “get your fright on” this year without paying frightfully high prices.
Necromancy in the Northeast
For those wanting east coast thrills I recommend using New York City as your central point. Flights into JFK or LaGuardia tend to be very competitively priced this time of year as many airlines call these airports their hub. Hotels are also a steal during the month of October, and this year they are actually down 10 percent from last year’s Halloween season. Once you land, start your haunted tour by heading to the country. You can take advantage of deep savings on rental cars with rates as low as $26 per day, and then road trip up to Salem, Mass.
Just a few hours northeast is a town made famous for its witch trials, where the legends surrounding the ”witch hysteria” of 1692 are alive and well. The Salem Witch Museum is a top destination to hear a family-friendly, yet chilling, history behind the phenomenon. The daring may also venture onto the haunted grounds themselves, exploring the storied seaport on one of the evening’s historical tours. After, be sure to hit the Solstice of Souls party, October 27th, 8pm, at the historically spooky Hawthorn Hotel for your share of “chowda,” and fall foliage.
If you make it through the night, make sure to stop by Sleepy Hollow on your way back to New York. Notoriously known as the home of the headless horseman, this quiet village is actually a great kid-friendly stop. Hayrides, corn mazes, haunted houses and cemetery tours are hot attractions as well as the Horseman’s Hollow, where the spooky tales all started. Once you’re ready, head 25 miles back to the city where you’ll be front and center to enjoy one of the largest Halloween spectacles in the nation. Running up Sixth Ave., the NYC Village Halloween Parade features stunning creations from artists, musicians and puppeteers, plus thousands of other revelers in costume!
West coast costuming at its best
Nothing says “dedication to Halloween” like a well-executed costume, and there’s no better city to see this craft perfected than the home of the entertainment industry – Los Angeles. Even better, LA is another city that is relatively inexpensive to get to into from all around the West Coast. And in the fall, there tends to be plenty of last minute fare sales into the area. The city honors tradition in a big way with the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnival, an event attracting hundreds of thousands to Santa Monica Boulevard on October 31st. Nearby, Universal Studios Hollywood is turning some of the most frightening television shows and movies into theme park attractions as part of its Halloween Horror Nights programming. Meanwhile outside the city, you can thrill-seek at the Queen Mary Haunted Harbor or Knott's Scary Farm Halloween Haunt.
Of course, if you’re looking for a little Halloween revelry before the Hollywood parade, Las Vegas – known for its last minute travel deals – is just a short drive away. Rental cars out of Los Angeles are as low as $29 a day and 4-star accommodations in Vegas are as low as $60 per night. So, taking a quick overnight trip to the Strip can be an inexpensive treat. There are more Halloween parties than you could haunt in one Vegas night at top nightclubs like Pure, LAX and Ghostbar.
Commonly referred to as the most haunted city in the United States, New Orleans really packs a punch this time of year, treating Halloween as a season in and of itself. With so much to do in the Crescent City, this is the only southern stop you’ll need. For starters, the VooDoo Music Festival runs the weekend before the holiday, from October 26-28. When folks aren’t doing the monster mash with musical acts like Jack White and Skrillex, they can put themselves face to face with the paranormal on one of the many historical ghost tours. Step into Anne Rice’s world of vampires and demons in the French Quarter, or attend a party at one of the stately – and haunting – old colonial homes in the Garden District. Even a day-time stroll through the above-ground cemeteries of the Big Easy can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
For a city boiling over with frightening activities, New Orleans is also a good travel deal this time of year. Hotels downtown are as low as $99 in October, while picturesque accommodations in the French Quarter and Canal Street are a mere $108. Cheap flights to the city are relatively easy to come by too, but many prefer to drive as gas prices in the south tend to be on average lower than most other areas of the country.
The best advice for travelers on Halloween is to have fun and be safe. Some want the thrill of a good costume party, while others prefer to scare up some history. If you travel smart, there’s no reason you can’t have all the fright you desire, see some of your areas best sites, all without a big budget.
Clem Bason is the president of the Hotwire Group. Every month he provides FoxNews.com readers travel information, tips and advice to help them plan a fun, affordable trip.