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. 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 one of the many hotels in the Tarrytown area; several fall getaway packages include breakfast and Wi-Fi with a double room, as well as local shuttles for the car-less. The Westchester County Tourism Office has a listing of what's available.
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 7,000 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 2016, adult admission is $20, child (ages 5-17) admission is $16 and children 3 and under are free (weekend prices are $5 more). Visit Jack O' Lantern Blaze or call 914/631-8200 to purchase tickets and, remember, if they are sold out, there's still a possibility that local hotels will have tickets if you book a room with them.
Sleepy Hollow Becomes Horseman's Hollow
In the Tarrytown area of Westchester, Philipsburg Manor transforms into a haunted landscape in celebration of the annual Hudson Valley Horseman's Hollow. This year, there are 14 nights of fun rated for ages 10+ that come 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!"
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 ($25 on Saturdays). New for the less patient is a $15 Fast Pass that enables you to skip the line.
However, those with claustrophobia, heart problems and kids 10 and up may 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 Halloween lovers at a historic church across from Phillipsburg Manor.
And the Real Sleepy Hollow Is?
Loving the Fox TX series of the same name? "Sleepy Hollow" fans can tour Westchester County's actual village and drop in (or drop out) at the famous, 85-acre 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 baron William Rockefeller.
There are day and evening guided tours, but the popular "Murder & Mayhem" done several times in October is not advisable for kids. 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 299 Museum Village Road, Monroe, NY 10950 in who-knows-where Orange County, it is just 5 miles from the Woodbury Commons shopping outlet, where you can really freak out spending money. This Catskills scare-atorium has six separately themed fright zones, including our favorite "Butchers Revenge."
Their website says you cannot carry babies through the exhibits, nor are exhibits recommended for pregnant women. Scariest of all, they close the whole thing down on october 30th!
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, 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 -- 10 attractions in total. 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. In fact, the first weekend in October is dedicated to "A Tiny Taste of Terror." If you're really into terror, book the separate "Great Room Escape," a 60-minute escape experience you can wriggle out of with others.
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 is just a stop on this ghost tour, complete with scary tales about the area. The spooky fun can be had over six nights in October; advance tickets run $25 for non-members and $30 at the door.
Not only are the leaves gorgeous during autumn in upstate New York, there are plenty of other family friendly activities. Kelder Farm 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 (apples are mostly gone by then); mini-golf, a jumping pillow and other seasonal fun. Be sure to pick up their famr raised free-range chicken or grass-fed cuts of beef to take home.
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 and the Catskill Animal Sanctuary 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.
Greene County's Northern Catskills is Horrifying
The Great Northern Catskills should not be forgotten, especially for a weekend getaway, since many hotels are offering autumn and Halloween packages. Among the fun attractions, you can join ages 8+ at the Zombie Hunter Wars at Hunter Mountain; enroll your shaggy mop in the Tannersville Scarecrow Contest or stomp yourselves silly at the Children’s Halloween Monster Mash Party, in Catskill at the Brookside Campground.
Some of the Catskills lodging properties with themed packages include the Sunny Hill Resort & Golf Course, the Halloween & Pumpkin Fest Weekend at Gavin’s Irish Country Inn, and the Halloween Bash Weekend at The Blackthorne Resort, which features a trip through Massacre Mansion (not where the guest rooms are). Your go-to, forever-gone resource for Halloween terror in the northern Catskills is the tourism office of Great Northern Catskills of Greene County which can help you compare the offers.
And if you're really into this and up for a road trip, the entire state of New York has a Haunted History website featuring the sickest attractions in every county.
Trick or treat anyone?