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7 of the Best Family-Friendly Halloween Celebrations in the US

Oct. 20, 2017
5 min read
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Similar to big holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, Halloween is becoming a season for travel in and of itself. In a New York Times article, George Aguel, president and chief executive of Visit Orlando, agreed, noting: "Halloween’s almost looking more and more like one of the most significant holidays of the year."

Cities across the country celebrate All Hallow's Eve with everything from extravagant festivals to haunted tours. Whether your family is looking for a new trick-or-treat destination or a fun-filled costume parade, these seven Halloween celebrations deliver endless entertainment for kids and parents alike.

1. Boo at the Zoo, Bronx, NY

Boo at the Zoo Costume parade
Image by Julie Larsen Maher / Facebook.

Celebrate the Halloween season at New York City’s biggest zoo. Every weekend through October 29, Boo at the Zoo invites families to enjoy 265 acres of wildlife habitats and Halloween-themed attractions like pumpkin carving, spooky hayrides, nature treks, magic shows, costume parades and candy trails. Embrace the spirit of the season and journey through the Extinct Animal Graveyard or the Haunted Forest and get a look at all the creepy critters on display. Kids under age 12 who wear a costume gets free admission when accompanied by a paying adult. Visit the website for more information.

2. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, Louisville, KY

Image by Louisville Jack O' Lantern Spectacular / Facebook.

Skip the haunted hayrides and ghost tours and witness Louisville's largest displays of illuminated pumpkins at the city's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. Passion for Pumpkins, a multimedia production company, first brought this extravagant display of glowing gourds to Iroquois Park in 2013. The event features more than 5,000 hand-carved pumpkin lanterns and a variety of other luminous decorations. Be one of the thousands of visitors to walk the trail and check out the frighteningly creative pumpkins — you might even recognize your old friends Frankenstein and Freddie Krueger. The event runs from October 12 to November 5. Visit the website for more information.

3. The Original Ghost Tour, Philadelphia, PA

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 4.04.50 PM
Image by Marcus Roth / Facebook.

Join The Original Ghost Tour of Philadelphia and explore America’s oldest and most historic city spooked by ghostly stories. Halloween-goers and ghost hunters alike can venture on a 90-minute candlelit tour (which are available year-round) along the back streets and secret gardens of Independence Park, Washington Square and Society Hill to hear the chilling tales of Philly's frightening past. Visit the website for more information.

4.  Salt River Fields Balloon Spooktacular, Scottsdale, AZ

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Image by 3Nations / Facebook.

The Salt River Fields Balloon Spooktacular will light up the Halloween sky this year during their seventh annual festival. Dubbed the "world's longest continuous glow" at over three hours, the Balloon Spooktacular features more than 20 hot air balloons which spectators can watch lift off. If you need a little something sweet to get you through the evening, visit the trick-or-treat stations which will be serving up more than 4,000 pounds of candy. Visit the website for more information.

5. Salem Haunted Happenings, Salem, MA

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Image by Cheryl Cooper / Facebook.

There's no better place to spend the Halloween season than Salem, home of the notorious Salem witch trials. Enjoy the city's Haunted Happenings event which includes a month-long celebration of everything from magic shows and expos to haunted harbor cruises and ghost tours. Whether you come seeking history, a good spook or live entertainment, you'll find it here. Visit the website for more information.

6. Haunted History Tours, New Orleans, LA

Image by Haunted Tour history / Facebook.

In addition to hosting Mardi Gras, New Orleans is known as one of the top destinations for Halloween — and for good reason. The Big Easy is the birthplace of hoodoo and voodoo in addition to being the site of notorious haunted houses like Madame LaLaurie. The city also has some not-so-scary family friendly activities, like the Haunted History Tours. Named the top tour in New Orleans by the Travel Channel, the tour is said to be “mildly theatrical, hugely historical and thoroughly entertaining.” It includes a ghost tour of the famous French Quarter, a ghost and graveyard bus tour, cemetery tour, voodoo tour and more. Visit the website for more information.

7. HalloWeekends at Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

Image by Cedar Point / Facebook.

HalloWeekends at Cedar Point amusement park have returned with new scares and returning favorites. Kids 12 and under can trick-or-treat, race through pumpkin patches, explore hay mazes, dance in the foam pit and more. At night the park turns into a fright-lover’s dream with a collection of six terrifying mazes like Deprivation and Fearground Freakshow. Visit the website for more information.

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Where is your favorite spot to celebrate Halloween? Let us know in the comments below.

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