No one takes Halloween as seriously or celebrates it so well as small towns in the USA, with Pinterest-worthy pumpkin patches and horrific haunted houses. Here, we’ve picked the best places for you to celebrate Halloween, based on your favourite monster.
Clowns in Buena Park, California
A distant relative of Pennywise the Dancing Clown?
Every Halloween, the Californian theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, reaches new heights of horror with over a thousand monsters, mazes and ‘scare zones’. Self-described as ‘160 acres of horror’, this year's Knott’s Berry Farm Halloween theme is ‘carnival’.
Fans of Stephen King’s IT are reassured (or warned) that title character, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, will be making an appearance. While the park’s ‘Ghost Town’ will be patrolled by trick-or-treaters like The Tooth Fairy, Pumpkin Eater and performers from retro arcade game, CarnEVIL. Avoid losing sleep after a night at Knott’s by checking into the not-at-all-scary Courtyard Anaheim.
Headless Horsemen in Sleepy Hollow, New York State
A Jack O'Lantern patrolling the streets of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow novella about a headless horseman is so popular in the village of Sleepy Hollow that the residents spend all of October celebrating it. Tributes include ‘haunted’ hayrides, midnight tours through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, live music, and both day- and nighttime street fairs, depending on visitors’ appetite for horror.
Not only can you spend Halloween hanging out at Irving’s grave, there’s also the Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities at the nearby and achingly-atmospheric Gothic Revival Country House. The nearest accommodation to the town is the suitably spooky Castle Hotel.
Ghosts in Flagstaff, Arizona
Trick or treat?
The city of Flagstaff claims to be one of Arizona’s most haunted areas, and the town’s residents are quick to back this up with a multitude of guided ghost walks throughout October. Tours on offer include family-friendly carved pumpkins trails and salacious storytelling about murdered bank robbers and ghostly saloon ladies.
There is also a tour of the most haunted buildings in Flagstaff’s historic downtown, and – no matter what the content of the tour – they always end with hot chocolate, cider and homemade cookies. Continue this homely Halloween by checking into the Little America Hotel Flagstaff, overlooking the Ponderosa Pine Forest.
Werewolves in Snowmass Village, Colorado
Dog sledfing for werewolf fans in Snowmass Village
The little Rocky Mountain town of Snowmass has a rather gruesome unique feature that makes it a spooky spot to celebrate Halloween: the entire town is covered with ancient bones. Bones and howling huskies. The bones and teeth – did we mention the teeth? – are mammoth fossils and are, for the most part, kept at the Ice Age Discovery Center, although there are still plenty scattered around the town, yet to be collected or unearthed.
The huskies are owned by Krabloonik restaurant to give visitors haunted sleigh rides, when they’re not raising the hair on the back of your neck with werewolf-like howling. The Timberline Condominiums overlook Snowmass and have a free shuttle into town.
Witches in Salem, Massachusetts
The Salem Witch Memorial in Massachusetts
Another US town with a powerful, haunted history, Salem in Massachusetts became famous in the 17th century for the Salem Witch Trials and inspired American playwright, Arthur Miller, to write his seminal play, The Crucible. Today, the town is full of memorials and museums to the women who lost their lives during the witch hunts
But there is a slightly more lighthearted side to the town’s celebrations, as the Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo runs throughout October and finishes with the Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel. Both the Expo and the Ball are a great opportunity to meet modern day Wiccans, mediums, psychics and crystal ball readers.
Horror-free family fun in Harbor Springs, Michigan
A glass blown pumpkin in Harbour Springs pumpkin patch
Do you prefer fun costumes and Halloween cookies to waking up in a cold sweat, convinced that Count Dracula is watching you sleep? Well we’ve got you covered, or, more specifically, the Michigan town of Harbour Springs does.
Every Halloween the town hosts a ‘Trunk-or-Treat’ where (registered) cars are lined-up with their trunks full of sweets, along the route of the children’s costume parade. There is also a hand-blown glass pumpkin patch to admire, and the welcoming atmosphere at the Colonial Inn (the closest hotel to Harbour Springs) is more than enough to keep the ghosts at bay.