Author: Selina Andersson
Tags : Couples, Fall Getaway, Kids, New York, Teens, USA, Weekend & Short Break
Within a few hours of well-lit Manhattan, the dark dreary forests, fog-shrouded bogs and haunted houses of the Hudson Valley come to life at Halloween. From late September through early November, this tranquil region along the Hudson River and upstate in Westchester, Dutchess, Orange and Ulster Counties is bursting with fun things themed to the holiday. Whether you just enjoy the fun, festive occasion for its pumpkins, candy and costumes, or if you prefer a more fearful celebration, New York’s Hudson Valley has a weekend getaway option for everyone.
New York state is not alone; for more haunted house options, visit our Haunted House and Halloween Weekend Breaks Directory.
No Need to be Sleepless over Halloween Weekend Break
Like everything else, when demanding New Yorkers want a haunted house, they want a good haunted house. Forget about Manhattan, where scary things happen all the time. If your kids and teens want a candy-collecting weekend away, with a fun, scary haunted house, a real haunted house, or a haunted house tour, upstate New York can supply it.
From Tarrytown to Woodstock to New Paltz, there are lots of other autumn attractions including hayrides, museums, nature hikes, leaf peeking, corn mazes, pick your own apple and pumpkin farms, and much, much more.
Once you’ve spooked yourself to tears, you can calm down at the Doubletree Hotel Tarrytown (914/631-5700), where several fall getaway packages like their Family Fun Package and Breakfast and Wi-Fi specials include double rooms with breakfast. Centrally located in the heart of historic Tarrytown, they provide transportation to the car-less, as well as kids' menus, cribs, playpens and highchairs for those will little ones. Doubletree amenities include their famous chocolate chip cookies at check-in, and a pool and sauna at the hotel.
Low Freak Out Factor: Hudson Valley's Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze
The great Blaze at the Van Cortland Manor is Hudson Valley's biggest Halloween event. Visitors will get to experience the sight of over 5,000 hand-carved jack o' lanterns and wander through the historic property which is all decked-out for Halloween. In past years, the pumpkins have been astonishing: dinosaurs roamed the earth and pirates set sail for buried treasure, mummies and pyramids came straight out of Ancient Egypt, and giant spiders created monstrous webs. Snakes, shrunken heads, and ghosts entertained visitors and there was even an undersea aquarium. This event occurs weekends October through early November, and tickets are only available in advance. For 2014, adult admission is $20, child (ages 5-17) admission is $16 and children 3 and under are free. Visit Jack O' Lantern Blaze or call 914/366/6900 to purchase tickets.
Sleepy Hollow becomes Horseman's Hollow
In the Tarrytown area of Westchester, Philipsburg Manor (914/631-8200) transforms into a haunted landscape in celebration of the annual Hudson Valley Horseman's Hollow. This year, there are 13 nights of age 12+ rated fun with an explicit warning (isn't this neat?) that says: "This event is NOT suitable for small children and it is not suitable for adults who are claustrophobic, have heart or respiratory conditions, are prone to seizures, or have other chronic health conditions. Enter at your own risk!" Tickets run $20 and $25 on Saturdays.
Anyone tough enough to take it can wander through the candle-lit surroundings and spooky grounds associated with this demonic fable, while avoiding confrontation with witches, goblins and uncanny apparitions in a legendary literary village. The Hollow boasts state-of-the-art special effects and professional actors, so you're sure to enjoy your fright. Horseman Hollow tickets are free for Historic Hudson Valley members and $20 for everyone else.
However, those with claustrophobia, heart problems and little kids will enjoy the Hudson Valley’s most entertaining story teller, Jonathan Kruk, who will be offering dramatic tall tales such as "Irving's Legend" to your mini-Halloween lover at a historic church across from Phillipburg Manor. There's also a block party on Beekman Avenue, hop on the haunted hayride taking guests ducking through the woods to avoid the Headless Horseman on October 24h and 25th.
And the Real Sleep Hollow Is?
Loving the Fox TX series of the same name? "Sleepy Hollow" fans can tour Westchester County's village of the same name and drop in (or drop out) at the famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It's known for burying the very rich and very famous, including beauty magnate Elizabeth Arden; NY Public Library benefactors Brooke Astor and Andrew Carnegie; car scion Walter Chrysler and his later nemesis, labor leader and AF of L founder Samuel Gompers; author of "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" Washington Irving; and the local William Rockefeller.
On October 19th and 26th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm, kids aged 7 and up gather for Spooky Stories from Six Feet Under. On the 23rd and 30th from 7pm to 8:00pm, local storyteller David Neilsen tells chilling stories straight from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Get tickets and information at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Orange County Has High Freak Out Hauntings
What about Pure Terror Screampark? Honestly, their website made us jump when it loaded.
Located at 107 Brookside Avenue, Chester, New York 10918 in who-knows-where Orange County, it is just 8 miles from the Woodbury Commons shopping outlet, where you can really freak out spending money. This Catskills scare-atorium has three separate fright zones, including our favorite "Butchers Revenge."
Their website says you cannot carry babies through the exhibits, nor are they recommended for pregnant women. Scariest of all, they close the whole thing down on November 2nd!
New York's Headless Horseman Attraction
When it comes to Halloween scares, however, farther north in Ulster is the place to be -- whether you want to scream all night or just enjoy some Halloween activities. The Headless Horseman (845/339-2666), a hayride and haunted house at 778 Broadway, Route 9W in Ulster Park, NY 12487, has been named the #1 Haunted Hayride in the country by AOL Travel and we can see why.
Not only does it have a one-mile-long themed hayride, but it also offers a spooky corn maze and several haunted houses. There are ghoulish performers and plenty of shops for candied apples, scary gifts, and yummy pumpkin pie. Older kids can go on the hayride and tour the haunted houses, while the little ones enjoy sweet treats and entertaining shows.
The Headless Horseman is open Friday through Sunday from mid-September to early November; also on select Thursdays.
It's Less Scary in New Paltz on Huguenot Street
Along with the Headless Horseman, the city of New Paltz turns spooky too. And we don't mean how spooky the old Mohonk Mountain House looks under a full moon. Haunted Huguenot Street Halloween (845/255-1889) is a ghost tour, complete with scary tales about the area. The spooky fun can be had pre-registration tickets runs $25 for non-members and $30 at the door. Members, seniors and military for $20.
Not only are the leaves gorgeous during autumn in upstate New York, there are plenty of other family friendly activities. Kelder Farm (845/626-7137) has a 100-acre Pick-Your-Own field with pumpkins and a corn maze that everyone can get lost in. The farm is open from 10am to 6pm daily for pumpkin, sweet corn and squash picking, mini-golf, and other season fun.
Ulster County hosts animal sanctuaries where your can visit the animals and learn how to protect them from cruelty. Both the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (845/679-5955) and the Catskill Animal Sanctuary (845/336-8447) offer an educational experience on how to help our furry friends and our environment. Children will have fun petting the animals and teenagers will learn to save them from abuse; call ahead for tour times as visiting hours are usually limited to weekends.
Ulster is also home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope and you can have a seat in this huge silo and enjoy a show on the ceiling above you. Tickets are only $5 each, and kids 11 and under are free so it’s a cheap thrill that’s sure to inspire some artistic talent. There's no better weekend base than the Emerson Resort & Spa, a rural getaway that hosts this famous kaleidoscope and lots of fun family activities and adventures. If you want to play in the outdoors, this may be a better choice for your family than staying in Tarrytown.