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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. Boasting an array of spook-tacular events, here are the best small towns to visit for Halloween in the United States.
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. There is a lot to see and do in this charming town. 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 a 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 decorated 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 are 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.
One of the best towns in Pennsylvania for a Halloween getaway, New Hope is a picturesque destination set along the Delaware River. Near the New Jersey/Pennsylvania state border, you’ll find a long list of spooky events to attend when visiting. Lantern-led ghost tours are available throughout September and October, while Scarecrows in the Village is a popular annual event with a variety of humorous and scary displays. Little ones will love the silly, not-too-spooky Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place, and Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres is a nationally acclaimed haunted attraction with state-of-the-art technology, cutting-edge special effects, and a cast of well-trained performers.
Dearborn is known for its annual Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village event, which sees over 1,000 jack-o’-lanterns light up. From harvest markets and fall themes to costumed storybook characters and ghostly performances, the 40+-year tradition is one of a kind. In addition to the over-the-top decor, there’s a popular Hallowe’en Express that takes riders along a ghoulish and surprising journey through Greenfield Village. Downtown Dearborn also has a variety of Fall-tastic events, including pumpkin carving and trick or treating.
Sycamore, Illinois hosts the annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, which includes two carnivals, two indoor craft shows, a parade, and various entertainment and activities for the whole family. All ages will delight at the pumpkin displays, which include thousands of pumpkins painted or carved for judges, while food vendors dish up fall favorites like pumpkin pie and caramel apples.
Savannah might not be the tiniest town on the list, but it still serves a healthy dose of quaint Southern charm. It’s well known as one of America’s most haunted towns, so it makes sense to plan a trip to this top Georgia destination around Halloween. With an abundance of haunted tours, cemeteries, historic buildings, and haunted houses to choose from, you’re in for a great Halloween in this beautiful city. You can see the cemeteries and beautiful streets of Savannah’s Historic and Victorian districts in real hearses with Hearse Ghost Tours, join a haunted pub crawl, then discover real-life ghost stories at historic accommodation options like the Hamilton-Turner Inn and the Kehoe House.
Croton-on-Hudson hosts one of the Hudson Valley’s most exciting fall events, the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. It’s the biggest Halloween festival in the area for a reason, as it includes over 7,000 hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns lit up and on display – all with synchronized lighting and a soundtrack. The one-of-a-kind event is usually scheduled from September to November, so you’ll have plenty of time to come and experience this special Halloween event, which is best viewed at night.
Eureka is a family-friendly Halloween town in Missouri that boasts its annual Eureka Scarecrow Festival. Its a colorful celebration of all with artfully designed scarecrows that pose in front of locall businesses, churches, schools, and homes. You can even earn big cash prizes at the Great Scarecrow Hunt by sharing photos of you with the displays, or just simply take a tour of the festive Halloween town to see the scarecrows along Fifth Street and Central Avenue.
Providence is the perfect place for a Halloween escape, home to the award-winning fire sculpture installation on the three rivers in downtown that set the scene for a spooky getaway. Don’t miss the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo with its illuminated and intricately carved pumpkins, then take a walk (or boat ride) on Providence’s paranormal side on a Providence Ghost Tour and hear about the city’s most haunted tales. Are you a literary fan? H.P. Lovecraft, the famed author of horror fiction, lived most of his life in Providence. You can visit his grave in Swan Point Cemetery and see what mysterious mementos his fans have left behind.
Cynthiana, Kentucky is home of the Walking Dead – the TV show, that is. Two Cynthiana natives are the creator an artist of the comic book series turned tv show, and this small town is home to the world’s largest Walking Dead mural. The city goes all out for Halloween with over 500 skeletons that decorate store windows and homes. There’s events happening every weekend beginning in September, from fall festivals to parades, ghost walks and a witches night out. It’s also home to one of the most haunted places in Kentucky, the Rohs Opera House, which has nightly ghost walks through the historic downtown area.