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It’s the spookiest time of the year, and while big city Halloween festivals might be exciting, we think no one handles holiday festivities quite as well as small towns in America do. Boasting charming traditions and family-friendly events, these cities offer everything from impressive pumpkin displays to lively parties and festive parades. Filled with holiday spirit, here are the best small towns to visit for Halloween in the United States.
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Located in the southeast region of Kansas, Independence is a small town known for its “Neewollah” (Halloween spelled backward) festival. This lively 9-day-long celebration is a delight for holiday enthusiasts. You’ll find dozens of activities to participate in, from parades and food festivals to carnivals and more. It’s one of the largest annual events in the state, luring in Halloween fans from around the country who want to celebrate the holiday in style.
If you’re a fan of the Disney Channel’s Original Movie “Halloweentown”, you might recognize St. Helens in Oregon. A small town just 30 miles north of Portland, St. Helens was completely transformed into a mega-Halloween town for scenes in the 1998 film, while “Twilight” fans can also check out Bella’s house. Visit on Halloween to enjoy haunted houses and a costume parade at the Spirit of Halloweentown Festival in addition to a giant pumpkin lighting ceremony, monster fun run and haunted hearse and car show.
Quite possibly the most famous small town in the United States for Halloween, Salem is most-known for its witch trials back in 1692. Its witchy ties bring in visitors from around the world hundreds of years later, as these historic events have made this city synonymous with Halloween. You can sign up for a walking tour of the city, or immerse yourself in the Halloween spirit by attending the Festival of the Dead to experience psychic readings, talks with the dead and paranormal experts. You’ll also find plenty of haunted houses, costume parties, fireworks and parades in Salem to keep you busy in October.
Estes Park is a quiet mountainside village, known as being home to the historic Stanley Hotel. This famed hotel is reportedly a haunted property, which Stephen King used as an inspiration for his novel “The Shining”. In October you’ll find plenty of Halloween-focused events that cater to visitors of all ages. Attend the “Shining Ball” to see theater characters, a costume contest and late-night dancing as well as a murder mystery dinner, while Halloween night brings everyone out to visit Main Street for trick-or-treating fun. Attend the family-friendly Autumn Gold festival for live bands, bratwursts and beer, or head to Pumpkins & Pilsner festival to enjoy face painting, bounce houses and pony rides along with seasonal, local craft beers.
Sitting just north of Minneapolis, Anoka is affectionately known as the “Halloween Capital of the World”. This lively community puts on an array of events that include pumpkin competitions, a house decorating contest, a kid-friendly Halloween movie screening and costume parade for the kids. Events were originally designed to keep kids from stirring up trouble in the neighborhood, but it has now evolved into a much-beloved time of year where visitors of all ages can enjoy scarecrow contests, balls and parties, bonfires and parades.
Located just 30 miles north of New York City, Sleepy Hollow is a quaint East Coast town that was featured in Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. The popular Halloween city still boasts its iconic unofficial mascot, the Headless Horseman, and those who want to embrace the holiday spirit can do so by visiting the 300-year-old Van Cortlandt Manor. Every year it gets a makeover for the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze, while Horseman’s Hollow is an outdoor/indoor “period correct” haunt where Philipsburg Manor transforms into an interactive haunted trail with costumed actors from the 1700s. There’s also dramatic performances of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and cemetery tour guides.
Romeo is a quaint town in Michigan where its claim to Halloween fame is its over-the-top decorations displayed on Tillson Street. Many Halloween fans in the area gear up for the annual Terror on Tillson Street event, which sees many of the homes decorating with spooky add-ons, with plenty to delight little ones such as smiling jack-o-lanterns and Charlie Brown characters. These seriously detailed displays on their front lawns cause quite the spectacle, as they’re so intricate that they can rival the work of Hollywood set designers.
Teaming up every Halloween season, Ceredo and Kenova are two cities in West Virginia that are a hotspot for Halloween enthusiasts. Every year they host the two-day long C-K AutumnFest, which includes a variety of bake-offs, parades, festivals and arts and crafts and tractor shows. Don’t miss the popular Nightmare at Dreamland Haunted Trail and Great Scarecrow Hunt, while there’s plenty of kids activities and food vendors to please all types of Halloween fans.
Laconia is a New England town that sees a lot of love come October, as its famous NH Pumpkin Festival boasts an array of haunted attractions. Enjoy the lively festivals, food and more at the two-day event where you can find amusement rides, food and craft vendors and a Pumpkin Festival Beer Garden. There’s live music and a Zombie Walk as well as fun for the kids with pedal tractor pulls, corn hole and games. At the end of the second day, there’s a Jack-o-Lantern Lighting event and Pumpkin Dump Derby.
Chatham, Massachusetts is a picturesque seaside town that puts on its annual Pumpkin People in the Park event in October. Artists from around the region come together to display fun and quirky pumpkin creations in this Cape Cod town, offering a unique backdrop for a picture-perfect souvenir for you to take home. You can also attend Chatham’s Oktoberfest with kids activities, brats and beer and live music at Kate Gould Park.