Take spending on candy sales, haunted houses, Halloween costumes and weekend breaks and you get an estimated $10.14 billion holiday according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF predicts sales will soar in this vaccinated year. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, destinations and attractions are going all out to frighten you while keeping everyone in masks (scary, right?), socially distanced and super clean. And who would any of the 20% of trick-or-treaters who invest in pet costumes want to leave their family pets at home?
It’s no wonder that kids have ghost stories and candy — a $3 billion market — on their minds. From the beginning of the school year, kids dream of a family Halloween weekend. Take them to America’s haunted houses, many designed for all ages. Tote toddlers on an outing to a creepy place. Or, take everyone, including your pets, for a costume shopping spree.
Halloween’s Top Tricks & Treats
What better way to celebrate this Halloween season than to dress up and partake in the frightful festivities around America? September and October are the months to feel the change of seasons. Fall trips should take advantage of nature’s beauty and annual spooktacular events all in one vacation.
Across the country, families will find a variety of haunted houses for kids and scares and other organized Halloween ideas and activities, plus activities to suit toddlers and younger kids during this special harvest season.
Refresh creativity, restore your sanity and revive your family’s best spooky stories. Here are plenty of Halloween ideas to suit the entire family.
Haunted House Chills & Thrills for the Weekend
Below, each of these regional feature stories has all of the gruesome (and fun) details about local Halloween and fall festivities. Since they are also slightly off-the-radar, you’ll avoid huge crowds while still having an entertaining and educational (not to mention affordable) experience that the whole family can enjoy. Please note that due to the pandemic and current travel restrictions, schedules and facilities may be limited this season, so doublecheck the websites before visiting.
Houston, Texas – The city offers a Nightmare on the Bayou tour located right next to the oldest graveyard in town. Plus, there are tons of other, tamer haunted experiences at the NASA center, zoo and elsewhere for families.
Baton Rouge and Southern Louisiana – Home to the famously scary haunted house: The 13th Gate, Baton Rouge has a ton of moss-encrusted, spooky events on land and in the bayou for the family’s Halloween weekend break.
Salt Lake City and Environs, Utah – Whether you are looking for sweet candy, haunted mazes, haunted houses for kids, Nightmare on 13th or a family-friendly farm experience, Salt Lake has it for you this fall.
Westchester and Ulster Counties, Upstate New York – In upstate New York, families can cringe at the Headless Horseman hayride or wander through the creepy Horseman’s Hollow and have plenty of fresh haunted house tales to tell.
Halloween Ideas, Day Trips & Frightfully Fun Excursions
Each fall, the FTF staff does a roundup of some of our favorite Halloween ideas and events centered around the holiday. Take a look at this year’s picks of outings and day-long adventures. You can go for a spooky Halloween getaway, of course, but if any are located near your house, the anticipation, experience, and the recovery time from a day trip will make your family feel like they’ve been “away” for a lifetime.
New York City Free and Cheap Halloween Festivities – Of course, there’s the world-famous Village Halloween Parade through Greenwich Village, where millions watch thousands of revelers, but local-in-the-boroughs Halloween ideas and events in NYC are fun too and even better for your little ones.
Fun & Frights in Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh, Scranton, Philadelphia, and Lancaster boast an amazing variety of weirdly fun outings… especially when you think about what a mellow state this is.
Spooky Thrills in Orlando, Florida – For pro scare tactics, there’s nowhere better than the theme parks of Orlando and central Florida, except maybe for those in Los Angeles…
Happiness & Horror in California – LA area theme parks use all the Hollywood talent at their disposal to create magical frights, but you can also enjoy the no-cost spectacle of the annual West Hollywood Parade and other fine Halloween ideas and events in LA.
Monster Madness in Missouri – If you’re within a day’s drive of Kansas City, those are the places to go to get your freak (out) on.
Enjoy these spooky fun Halloween ideas and events, and let us know if we forgot to mention your favorites!
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.