Halloween Spookfest Travels


This year’s Halloween promises to be a spectacular spookfest, with some 179 million Americans expected to participate in the festivities. They’ll spend $9.1 billion on costumes, candy and more, with 34.5 percent of people planning to attend a party and 22.7 percent heading out to a haunted house.

For true Halloween lovers, though, there’s nothing quite like an overnight stay or a long weekend away for the big celebration. With the holiday falling on Tuesday this year, most people are looking for a quick trip close to home and – no matter where you are – there’s a perfect location for happy horrification.

We’ve put together a few favorites that leave us wishing we could go too! First up is the Sea Witch Festival in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. This three-day weekend bash is celebrating its 28th anniversary in the resort town, which is a top destination for Washington D.C. beachgoers or the folks in Philadelphia.

There’s something for everyone, with family-friendly fun during the day and local nightlife for adults. Sea Witch features costume parades on the boardwalk, complete with Macy’s parade-style balloons and a separate parade for showing off pets. There’s a 5K run, a fiddling contest, and live music throughout the day, with a beach bonfire at night. Highlights also include the Broom Toss on the Beach, with a range of age categories for more competitive witches who want to throw their brooms as far as they can. The beach town has plenty of places to stay, including the well-appointed Bellmoor Inn and spa downtown.

Heading to the Midwest, there’s no place like Hell for Halloween. Yes, there’s really a Hell in Michigan, and this small but mighty town is the mecca for all things hot and Hades. There’s an official U.S. weather station there, so you can know if it’s hotter than hell, or if maybe hell froze over. The Hell Saloon, the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, the Screams ice cream shop all make Hell much like Halloween every day.

Hell’s general store sells a lot of Halloween costumes and décor, but it’s also a destination for weddings, parties, and outdoor enthusiasts drawn to the 400 acres of lakes, trails and campgrounds around Hell. There’s a Hearsefest in September and, of course, it’s the place to be for Halloween fun in October. At 20 miles, it’s a short trip to Hell from Ann Arbor, and you can go straight to Hell from Detroit on I-96.

To the west, it’s The Godfrey Hotel Chicago that’s planning its 3rd annual third Haunted Hotel party. Guests celebrate a costume party on the hotel’s indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge, and those looking for some frightful fun can visit the hotels 5th floor which is converted entirely into haunted house rooms. The holiday-weekend party welcomes guests to book the spooky rooms for an overnight stay at the end.

If ghosts in the hotel aren’t ghoulish enough, maybe an entire ghost town will do the trick. Most of them are in the American West, where old gold-rush and mining towns attract tumbleweeds and tourists. A good choice is Bodie, the abandoned but well-preserved California town that’s about 200 miles east of Sacramento or 135 miles south of Reno, Nevada. Bodie is eerie every day, because the wild mining town is essentially frozen in time, kept in what the California Department of Parks & Recreation describes as a state of “arrested decay.” Books in the school and goods at the general store are still on the shelves, exactly where they were left when the last of the town of 10,000 residents left more than 50 years ago.  A December 2016 earthquake caused some minor damage, making the secrets of Bodie spookier still.

The American Southwest is full of spirit stories, and destinations like Taos, New Mexico offer tourists a chance to explore those ghost stories. “Visit Paranormal Taos” welcomes travelers as surely as the art galleries, exceptional restaurants and several nearby hotels built in the adobe style common to the region, including the Casa Gallina, a HotelsCombined Award of Excellence winner for small towns this year.

Nowhere, though – perhaps with the exception of New Orleans, itself a real Halloween party town – is likely to be spookier than Savannah, Georgia, when it comes to cemeteries. The Bonaventure Cemetery was made famous by the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and even in daylight seems a little creepy with its shroud of Spanish moss draping over the 160-acre property. The Victorian-era cemetery is a showcase of garden and sculpture, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in a coastal city known for its architecture, as well as its parks, art galleries, fine dining, breweries and more. The Moon River Brewing Company is one of Savannah’s Top 10 haunted sites, because it was the city’s first hotel in 1821 and has an unsavory saloon-like history of bar brawls and shootings some say have yet to be over! Fortunately, the hotels in Savannah today – including The Galloway House – will leave guests nothing to fear as they plan a Halloween adventure they’ll never forget.