Halloween is the favorite holiday of those who enjoy spending a little time on the dark side. On October 31st ghouls, goblins, and all things that go bump in the night come out to play. For those of us who truly love this holiday, the entire month of October is a reason to celebrate!
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Ultimate Halloween Bucket List, travel edition!
October is the perfect time to visit haunted attractions and spooky destinations around the world.
Halloween lovers rejoice! From spine-tingling experiences to bone-chilling attractions, this list includes 25 Halloween bucket list ideas for the best places around the world to get in the Halloween spirit and make the most of the spooky season. Start planning your Halloween travel adventure today!
Here are 25 Halloween bucket list PLACES (in no particular order!)
(1) Salem Massachusetts USA
Known for its history of witch trials, in 1692 more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft in Salem, 19 were executed for their “crimes.” Visitors to Salem can experience the Witch House (the only standing structure with direct ties to the trials), museums, ghost hunts, and theatrical performances surrounding the trails.
When: Year-round but Salem Haunted Happenings festival takes place during the month of October.
- Salem Boos and Brews Pub Crawl
- Haunt and History Guided Night Tour
- Ghosts, Witches, & Warlocks Guided Walking Tour
- 1692 Witchcraft Trials Walk
- Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour
- Ghosts of the Witch City tour
- Hocus Pocus Movies and More Tour
- Salem Village Witch Hunt Walking Tour
(2) New Orleans, Louisiana USA
New Orleans has a distinct cultural vibe, a mixture of Creole, Cajun, and French tradition, and is known for its voodoo and occult culture and spooky history. Fun activities include tarot card and medium readings and cemetery tours. You can even visit the grave of the famous voodoo queen Marie Laveau. The historic city embraces its haunted history and ghost tours run year-round. October events include haunted houses and the Krewe of Boo Parade.
when: New Orleans has a spooky vibe year round. Krewe Boo Parade: Saturday, October 21st @ 6:30pm (2023)
spooking tours? bookable activities:
- Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour
- Walking Tour Inside St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
- Cemetery Bus Tour At Dark
- Night Cemetery and Ghost BYOB
- 2-Hour Ghosts & Vampires Walking Tour
- Haunted Pub Crawl
- Voodoo Queen Tour of French Quarter
- Wicked History Walking Tour with a Local Witch
- Adults Only Haunted Ghost Tour
(3) Edinburgh Scotland, UK
The city of Edinburgh with its gothic architecture and hidden alleyways is deliciously dark, and darkly magical! These are the characteristics that influenced and inspired JK Rowling when she was writing the Harry Potter books.
Explore Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery with its beautifully ornate headstones, or tour Mary King’s Close, a network of underground streets and buildings. Edinburgh’s poor lived in the Close until the 19th century, and it’s said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who died during the plague.
Special Halloween events include the Samhuinn Fire Festival. For a special dining experience make a reservation at the darkly romantic Witchery, which sits mere steps away from the reportedly haunted Edinburgh Castle.
when: year-round. Samhuinn Fire Festival: October 31st (yearly)
- Late-Night Underground Vaults Terror Tour
- Witches Old Town Walking Tour & Underground Vault
- Underground Scotch Whiskey Tasting
- The Dark Side of Edinburgh
- 2-hour Nighttime Ghost Tour
- Dark History Royal Mile Walking Tour
- The Edinburgh Dungeon
(4) Sleepy Hollow, New York State USA
Sleepy Hollow is the setting for the Washington Irving classic tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” one of the most well-known Halloween books of all time. The small town is located in the densely forested Hudson River Valley, the perfect destination for a spooky Halloween experience.
Visitors can take a lantern-lit tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving himself is buried, or visit the Old Dutch church and Burying ground from the book, as well as the headless horseman bridge, yes, a real place! Special events nearby in the month of October include the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, a display of over 7,000 illuminated pumpkins.
when: year-round, special events in the month of October,
(5) Celebrate the Day of the Dead
In Mexico Halloween is celebrated as part of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) festival. It is believed that the dead could return to the world of the living for a brief time each year and in Mexico that is cause for celebration!
Popular places to celebrate the Day of the Dead included Mexico City and Oaxaca. This vibrant celebration includes a variety of events, including colorful parades. The Day of the Dead, celebrated in October/early November, is a great way to extend your Halloween celebration!
when: Mexico City Parade, November 4 (2023) Oaxaca, events take place November 1st and 2nd (2023)
(6) Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania is a darkly forested area, rich in legend and folklore, located in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. The area is also associated with tales of vampires, and was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel.
One of the most popular places to visit in Romania is the 14th century Bran Castle, one of Europe’s most authentic medieval castles. The castle has come to be know as “Dracula’s Castle, although it is unlikely that Vlad the Impaler, who is said to have inspired the novel, ever lived at Bran castle.
Also of interest in the area is The Hoia Baciu Forest which is known for its paranormal activity. The city of Sighisoara hosts a “Medieval Halloween” festival with costume contests, parades, and other spooky events.
when: year-round, Sighisoara festival: canceled for 2023, check back in 2024! Halloween Party at Bran Castle: October 28 (2023)
(7) Bran Stoker Festival, Dublin Ireland
The Bran Stoker Festival in Dublin includes fun activities such as lighted displays on the River Liffey, a freakshow theater, The Macnas Parade (Cnámha La Loba) on the Eve of Hallowe’en, cemetery tours, theatrical experiences, workshops and a whole lot more!
when: various dates in October
(8) Púca Festival in County Meath, Ireland
The Púca Festival is an annual festival that celebrates the ancient Irish festival of Samhain. The festival takes place over several nights during the last weekend in October and celebrates Irish folklore and mythology. One of the highlights of the festival is the Púca Parade, which is led by the Púca, a mythical creature from Irish folklore. Other festival highlights include storytelling sessions, fire shows, live music and dance performances, and plenty of festival food! This one just shot straight to the top of my own Halloween bucket list!!!
when: October 27th – 31st (2023)
(9) The Catacombs of Paris, France
The Catacombs in Paris are a network of underground tunnels and chambers beneath the streets of Paris. In the late 18th century Paris’ cemeteries were overflowing. To solve the problem, the remains of more than six million people were moved to these dark underground chambers.
Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the catacombs whose walls are lined with bones and skulls which creates a wonderfully eerie atmosphere. The tunnels are said to be haunted by the ghosts of those whose remains are interred there.
(10) Alien encounters in Roswell New Mexico, USA
Take a road trip through the desert to Roswell, an area known for its association with the alleged UFO crash that occurred in 1947. Fun spooky ideas for things to do in Roswell include parking at a scenic overlook in the dark of the night and scan they sky for (U)nidentified (F)lying (O)bjects, or visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center, which is dedicated to the famous incident.
(11) The Island of the Dolls, Mexico
The Island of the Dolls (La Isla de las Muñecas) is a small island near Mexico City located within the canals of Xochimilco. This island is where your childhood nightmares come to life. Covered in hundreds of creepy old, broken, and decaying dolls, many missing limbs, it is truly frightening.
Legend says that a man living on the island found the body of a young girl who had drowned in the canal and was haunted by her spirit. To appease her, he began to collect dolls from the trash and the canals, and he hung them up all over the island.
Claiming that the dolls were possessed he would often talk to them and offer them gifts. Visitors can tour the island and the canals.
(12) The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine
The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is an area of land surrounding the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history (1986).
The 1,000 square mile (2,600 square kilometer) site is today a ghost town, something out of an apocalyptic movie. The area is still highly radioactive and is said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who died in the disaster.
Visitors can take guided tours of the exclusion zone. However, there is a risk of radiation exposure. To ensure your safety you will want to book a guided tour of the facility.
when: year-round (currently closed to tourists due to the war in Ukraine, check back at a later date)
(13) The Tower of London, England
The Tower of London has a chilling history. For almost 1,000 years it was used as a prison and was the location of over 100 executions.
Many ghosts reportedly haunt the tower. One of the most famous is Anne Boleyn who was beheaded in 1536; her ghost has been said to walk around the White Tower carrying her head under her arm. Other noteworthy ghosts in the tower include Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, Margaret Pole, and the Princes in the Tower. Take a ghost tour around the tower!
(14) Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, USA
Universal Studios goes all out for the ghostly season! Choose either the Orlando Florida or Hollywood California location for your October travel destination! Halloween Horror Nights runs through most of the month of September and all of October.
Get your fright on at one of the many haunted houses and then step into a Harry Potter movie at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s for a big dose of witches, wizards, spells and dark magic. Come in costume if you like!
when: year-round, special events in the month of October
(15) Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, Derry Northern Ireland
The Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival is a four-day festival featuring a variety of events, including a haunted house, a fireworks display, a parade, and live music. It’s a family friendly extravaganza!
when: October 28th – Tuesday 31st (2023)
(16) Loch Ness Monster, Scotland, UK
The famous Loch Ness in Scotland is shrouded in mystery and legend. The dark loch sparks tales of creatures who lurk deep below the surface.
The Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie, is one of Scotland’s most well-known Folklore tales. There have been recorded sightings of a creature in the loch since the 6th century. Spend a day on this misty lake trying to spot the elusive Loch Ness Monster. While in the area don’t miss the haunting Urquhart Castle ruins, situated picturesquely on the bans of the loch. Here’s how we visited Loch Ness.
Join a tour! There are plenty of tour options on Get Your Guide, some examples:
- Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour
- Inverness: Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Day Trip
- Glasgow: Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour
(17) Lizzy Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts, USA
“Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one.” The Lizzie Borden House is the home where in 1892 Lizzy Borden’s father and stepmother were murdered with an ax. Evidence at the time pointed at Lizzy as the murderer but after the case went to trial, she was later acquitted. However, it is a common opinion that she got away with murder.
Today the house is a bed and breakfast, preserved to look much like it did at the time of the murders. If the thought of running into the ghosts of ax murder victims in the middle of the night is more than your nerves can handle, they offer tours of the home as well.
(18) Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia USA
Eastern State Penitentiary, an abandoned 10- acre prison facility, is said to be one of the most haunted places in the United States and is said to be haunted by the ghosts of former inmates. Over the years, there have been many reports of paranormal activity at the prison, including ghost sightings, unexplained noises, and strange occurrences.
Visitors and staff members have reported feeling cold spots, hearing footsteps and voices, and seeing apparitions. Visitors can take guided tours of the prison year-round but during the Halloween season they offer an immersive experience called “Terror Behind the Walls.”
(19) Aokigahara Forest, Japan
Also known as the “Sea of Trees,” this dense forest at the base of Mount Fuji is said to be home to yūrei: ghosts of the dead in Japanese mythology. The forest has come to be known as “Suicide Forest” due to its high number of suicides. For those who are brave enough, visit if you dare!
(20) The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park Colorado, USA
The hotel that inspired Stephen King’s novel “The Shining” has a reputation for being haunted. There have been many reports of paranormal activity from both guests and staff at the hotel over the years, including ghostly apparitions, cold spots, and unexplained noises like footsteps and voices. You can book a room at the Stanley Hotel and for a really good fright, be sure to watch “The Shining” before your stay! Book the Stanley Hotel here on Booking.com!
(21) The Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California, USA
A sprawling mansion that was built by Sarah Winchester, the widow of the inventor of the Winchester rifle. The house contains numerous secret passages, staircases that lead to nowhere, and other oddities. Sarah Winchester believed that she was cursed by the ghosts of people who had been killed by Winchester rifles. She believed that the only way to appease the spirits was to continually build and expand her house, which she did for 38 years until her death in 1922.
Visitors can tour this house of madness or attend their annual Unhinged: Housewarming event. If you’re looking for a fix and can’t get to this creepy attraction just yet, check out the Winchester Movie (2018), recommended by me!
(22) Las Vegas Nevada, USA
Party it up for Halloween in the city that parties 24/7! Fun events in Las Vegas vary from year to year but examples include ZOMBIE BURLESQUE, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Sistahs! The Hocus Pocus Parody, Blackout Dining in the Dark, Saw and Blair Witch Escape room, costume parties, Rock of Horror Halloweekend Celebration on Fremont Street, Sin City Halloween Ball, haunted houses, and so so much more! Get on over to Vegas and get your frightful freak on! Halloween Night has never been quite so much fun!
when: the month of October, check the official website for current events
(23) Attend the Village Halloween Parade in New York City, USA
The Village Halloween Parade in New York City is one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the world. The parade features thousands of costumed participants, floats, and live Halloween music. The parade route runs through Greenwich Village and attracts over 2 million spectators each year. If you’re in New York City during Halloween, this is a must-see event.
when: October 31st (yearly)
(24) Pumpkin Patch, Anytown USA
It seems that there’s hardly a town in the United States where you won’t find a Pumpkin Patch in the month of October. Pumpkin Patches are a whole lot of Halloween Fun rolled into one fantastical fall outing! and it belongs on EVERY fall bucket list!
Put on your best Halloween costume and head on out to the pumpkin patch where you can pick the perfect pumpkin and participate in loads of fun Halloween activities. Go on a haunted hayride or get lost in the corn mazes, gorge yourself on caramel apples, kettle corn and pumpkin pie, and try your hand at Halloween crafts.
(25) Your place, Home Sweet Home (Throw a Halloween Themed party of your own!)
A fun way to celebrate the Halloween season is by throwing a fun Halloween party. On your to-do list: throw up some spooky decorations, head to the grocery store for Halloween-themed treats like candy corn, caramel apples, and apple cider. Light a pumpkin spice candle, roast pumpkin seeds, and enjoy a bit of pumpkin carving while you listen to fun festive tunes like GhostBusters and the Monster Mash.
Now it’s time for some Halloween movies! Good choices include the popular Halloween movie Watch Hocus Pocus and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Turn off the lights and tell a few ghost stories and after the kids go to bed it’s time for the adult scary movies…a horror movie marathon!
Other creative ideas for your Halloween extravaganza:
- Create a scary movie bucket list and spend the month of October enjoying a spooky movie marathon.
- A Halloween scavenger hunt is one of my favorite family activities, so much fun! Busy schedule? If you don’t have much time, an easy way to plan this fun activity is with a ready made hunt!
- Gather a group of friends for a spooky fun Murder Mystery party! Here are some great ideas for a murder mystery dinner.
The history of Halloween
Halloween began as an ancient Celtic festival more than 2,000 years ago. The festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”), which marked the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter was celebrated on the night of October 31st. This time of year was often associated with death and darkness.
The Pagan Celts believed that on the night of Samhain, the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred, and that ghosts and other supernatural beings could more easily cross over into the world of the living. To ward off these spirits, people would light bonfires and wear costumes and masks to disguise themselves as ghosts and other creatures.
When Christianity spread to the Celtic lands, the church attempted to replace Samhain with a Christian holiday called All Saints’ Day, which was celebrated on November 1st. The night before All Saints’ Day became known as All Hallows’ Eve, which eventually became Halloween.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best Halloween attractions in the United States?
Salem Massachusetts, Sleepy Hollow New York, New Orleans Louisiana, Village Halloween Parade in New York City, Roswell New Mexico, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, Lizzy Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts, Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park Colorado, The Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California, Las Vegas Nevada
What are the best Halloween attractions in Europe?
Edinburgh Scotland, Transylvania, Romania, Bram Stoker Festival Dublin Ireland, Púca Festival in County Meath Ireland, the Catacombs of Paris, France, The Tower of London England, Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival Derry Northern Ireland, Loch Ness Monster, Scotland UK, The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Ukraine