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As soon as mid-October rolls around, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind: what to be for Halloween. If you need a bit of inspiration, start with choosing where to spend All Hallows’ Eve. From family-friendly festivities, to over-the-top parades, costume balls and Day of the Dead celebrations, TPG Contributor Lane Nieset shares five spots that are known for throwing a killer Halloween party.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
Dubbed America’s “Most Haunted City,” you don’t need Halloween to roll around to see the spookier side of New Orleans. The city is teeming with “haunted” hotels, like former Confederate hospital Hotel Provincial, where visitors have seen Civil War hospital scenes play out, as well as creepy above-ground cemeteries because the city is below sea level. In addition to cemetery and spirit tours, travelers can take part in Halloween-themed festivities like the annual Krewe of Boo parade or the Voodoo Music + Art Experience festival (taking place October 31-November 1 ), which features a lineup of artists including Deadmau5, Ozzy Osbourne and Jane’s Addiction.
Boutique property The Saint Hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, is set on Canal Street in a building that dates back to 1909 and features an on-site jazz club with local musicians. Rates at this Category 8 hotel start at $199 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is another favorite near the French Quarter that has hosted a slew of politicians and presidents, as well as Elvis Presley during the filming of “King Creole” in 1957. Rates start at $239 or 70,000 HHonors points per night.
American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United and more fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).
2. Orlando, Florida
Orlando’s theme parks bring all of your favorite horror movies and villains to life during its annual Halloween parties. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Universal Studios Florida’s Halloween Horror Nights (through November 1). This year features nine haunted houses (including Freddy vs. Jason and AMC’s The Walking Dead: The Living and the Dead), two live shows and five “scare zones” scattered throughout the park, with characters popping out to create the ultimate Halloween block-party vibe. For more on how to save at Universal Studios, see Maximizing Purchases and Redeeming Awards at Universal Orlando Resorts.
Bring the kids and trick-or-treat around Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom (through November 1), where Disney characters will be decked out in Halloween costumes and the nightly firework show takes on a scarier theme as “HalloWishes,” with songs from the Haunted Mansion ride, Fantasia and The Nightmare Before Christmas. For more ideas on planning a vacation to Disney World, see 5 Ways to Save on a Disney World Vacation.
The Category 7 Orlando World Center Marriott is close to the theme parks and offers shuttle service to Walt Disney World. Rates start at $249 or 35,000 Marriott Rewards Points per night. Located within the Walt Disney Resort, the Walt Disney World Swan, an SPG Category 4 and Westin property, starts at $209 or 10,000 Starpoints per night and includes benefits like FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours. For more on this hotel and its neighbor, the Dolphin, see our post Comparing Starwood’s Swan and Dolphin Disney World Resorts.
Air Canada, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Virgin America and more fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO).
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Halloween weekend in Las Vegas is like the ultimate high-end pub crawl, with each club along the Strip one-upping the other for best ball (and costume party). Though the Las Vegas Halloween Parade has been canceled for 2015 (due to return in 2016), this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Annual Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, “Sin City’s Hotter Than Hell Halloween Ball,” that draws a crowd of more than 7,000 in outrageous costumes. At LiFE at SLS Las Vegas, Lil Wayne will be hosting Halloweezy, while DJ Kash and Mike Fusion spin at the Heaven and Hell on the Moon Halloween Bash at Moon Nightclub at the Palms.
The glam 2,995-room Cosmopolitan hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, is set in the center of the Strip and features suites, bungalows and penthouses with wraparound terraces that show off the city’s skyline. Rates at the Category 9 Marriott start at $850 or 90,000 Marriott Rewards points. The South Beach-inspired Tropicana Las Vegas, a DoubleTree by Hilton, is also set on the Strip and features a 50,000-square-foot casino as well as the 10,000-square-foot Glow, a Mandara Spa. Rates start at $249 per night or 50,000 HHonors points. For more accommodation ideas, see 6 Roomy Las Vegas Suites You Can Book With Points.
Alaska, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United and more fly into McCarran International Airport (LAS).
4. Key West, Florida
The Florida Keys are known for having a few quirky Halloween-esque attractions, including the annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest in Key Largo and the Smallest Parade in the Universe, with floats no larger than 18 inches that are displayed at Key West’s Waterfront Brewery. However, the one event that takes the cake/candy each year is Fantasy Fest, a 10-day party that’s a mix between Mardi Gras and Spring Break. This year’s theme is “All Hallows Intergalactic Freak Show,” complete with a burlesque parody entitled “The Sexy Side of Star Wars,” a Duval Street parade, a 1960s-themed pool party, a pet masquerade and the 33rd annual Headdress Ball.
Part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, Sunset Key Cottages offers one- to four-bedroom cottages with pools and ocean views on a 27-acre island, just a ferry ride away from Key West. Rates for this Category 7 hotel start at $665 per night or 30,000 Starpoints. For a solid option within walking distance of Duval Street, Waldorf Astoria Resort The Reach is just one block away and features its own private beach. Rates start at $329 or 70,000 HHonors points per night.
American Airlines has daily direct flights from Miami (MIA) to Key West International Airport (EYW), while Delta offers daily flights from Key West to Atlanta (ATL). Find more hotel options and activities in our post Destination of the Week: Key West.
5. Mexico City, Mexico
Fly in for Halloween weekend, then stay for Mexico’s Día de los Muertos festivities, when locals lay out offerings and altars to the souls who return to Earth for this short stretch of time. Although the official day is November 2, the celebration starts the day before with street stalls and processions in San Andrés Mixquic and its cemetery, as well as in nearby Xochimilco, where the nighttime party includes boat excursions along the decorated canals.
The 189-room St. Regis Mexico City is set in the 31-floor Torre Libertad, overlooking the Paseo de la Reforma. Rates for this SPG Category 6 hotel start at $433 or 20,000 Starpoints per night. At the 755-room Hyatt Regency Mexico City in the fashionable Polanco neighborhood, you can catch skyline views over Chapultepec and Lincoln parks. Rates start at $320 or 12,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points.
Even if you weren’t lucky enough to score $226 tickets to Mexico City on Delta or AeroMexico, rest assured that Air Canada, American Airlines, Copa Airlines and United will also fly you to Mexico City International Airport (MEX). For more on what to do once you land, see A Food Lovers Guide to Mexico City or Destination of the Week: Mexico City.
Be sure to see 8 Haunted Points Hotels for Halloween — and let us know your own favorite spots to celebrate Halloween!
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