Anyone who thinks Halloween is just for kids is missing out on some ghostly fun, Halloween is the one time of year when it's okay for grown ups to indulge in everything from diet-breaking candy binges to daring costumes a la vampires and the French maid.
If nothing else, Halloween is a means of breaking routine and trying out another role. Break your routine this year in one of the following cities, where the festivities promise to scare, or at least tickle, your funny bone. According to Jen Catto, Travelocity's Senior Editor, "Halloween is a time for the kid in all of us to come out and play." She adds that, "traveling to your favorite costume party, parade or pumpkin patch just adds to the fun."
From the ultimate Vegas party to the best pumpkin festival around, Travelocity's editor's picked the top Halloween events for everyone from 6 to 60:
Grisly Adult Options:
Vegas: Haunted Villages and Wedding Chapels
In true Vegas-meets-Liberace style, the Haunted Village at Orleans Arena pulls out all the stops with seven decaying haunted houses (with names like "Hysteria Hotel" and "The Morbid Clown Manor"), an above-ground graveyard crawling with ghouls and zombies, dizzying carnival rides, a DJ and live music, and on a surprisingly restrained note, a pumpkin patch with haunted hayrides. Tickets must be purchased in advance (Oct. 13–31, 7 p.m. – midnight).
Some think walking down the aisle is scary enough, but not at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. It's taking the fear of commitment to a new level with Halloween-themed wedding packages from Oct. 11–31. Depending on your theme, the chapel is transformed into everything from a foggy, Gothic graveyard—complete with the Grim Reaper, candles, and creepy music—to the costumed set of the Rocky Horror Picture Show (Minister Frankenfurter's services included).
Miami: Ghoulish Grooves
Never passing up an opportunity to let loose, Miami celebrates Halloween in style and takes advantage of the warm Florida nights. Get your ghoulish groove on at the mansion-turned-haunted house at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens' Halloween Sundowner. The beautiful people who attend this annual ball go out of their way to make themselves appear creepy with over-the-top costumes befitting of the lavish, 1916 estate that is now a National Landmark. Top-shelf liquor and J.P. Chenet wines limit this dance party to nearly 3,000 members of the 21 and over crowd. All proceeds go towards restoration of this popular museum (Oct. 28, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.).
Frightening Adult and Children Options:
London: Highgate Cemetery
Founded in 1839, high on a hilltop above the soot and smoke of London, this massive Romantic-Gothic woodland park became the most fashionable—and mystical—place to be buried in Victorian society. Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, and many of Queen Victoria's Royal household are among the 850 notables buried here. Highland was immortalized as the "most magical place in London" and was reputedly the setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula. The cemetery is notorious for its myriad myths and legends--from mysterious exploding coffins to rumors of a predatory vampire, which led locals to storm the cemetery with torches and garlic in the 1960s. Highgate has recently been restored for visitors and makes an historic and authentically eerie place to spend Halloween.
Tarrytown, NY: Old Dutch Burying Ground of Sleepy Hollow
Located along what used to be the Albany Post Road (Route 9), in the beautiful Hudson River Valley the ruins of this 17th-century cemetery lay to rest. The Romantic-style design and iconic skull and angel grave-markers are only enhanced by the overrun vines and dense wooded areas that comprise the property. The bordering, 860-acre Rockefeller State Preserve also harkens back to the days of Ichabod Crane and makes for a wonderfully eerie afternoon hike through the Valley's fog.
Editor's Tip: Just around the corner on Oct. 27, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Lyndhurst Mansion, a superlative example of Gothic-Revival architecture, hosts a 19th-century themed Halloween party, complete with famous characters from the past.
Spooky Kids Options:
Miami: Kid-Friendly Thrills
If you're traveling in family-friendly Miami with your little gremlins, take the brood to MetroBoo, Miami Metro Zoo's creepy kiddie celebration. Kids will enjoy face painting, a costume contest, and costumed parade, and parents will appreciate this safe opportunity for trick-or-treating amongst the zoo animals (Oct. 28-29, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.).
Another one for kiddies and adults alike is the Seaquarium's Monster Splash Nighttime Bash: three nights of trick-or-treating, Halloween-themed animal shows, and two haunted houses. Candy stations and other cool surprises will be set up around the park for trick-or-treaters in costume. The nighttime shows will feature cadaverous creatures performing at Flipper's Thrills and Chills Show, and little ones can follow the yellow brick road to The Wizard of Oz Sea Lion Show, or see buccaneers put up a fight at Pirates of the Top Deck Show (Oct. 27, 28, 29 and 31).
Keene, New Hampshire: Record-Breaking Jack-o-Lantern Festival
Each year, tens of thousands of people flock to downtown Keene for the annual pumpkin festival, which is so popular, the city closes off Main Street to create a pedestrian walkway. Storefronts and streets lined with jack-o'-lanterns are only the beginning: more than a mile of wooden scaffolding supports tens of 1000s of specimens in four 40-foot towers. Starting around nightfall, volunteers coordinate a simultaneous lighting, which draws a chorus of gasps. Visitors are encouraged to arrive with prepared, carved pumpkins, ready to be lit, and past years' mailed-in samples have traveled from as far as New Zealand.
In a Herculean effort that would make even Martha Stewart green with envy, the town holds the Guinness Book World Record for the largest number of lit jack-o-lanterns: 28, 952-in one place, at one time (Oct. 21, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.).
San Francisco: Halloween in the Castro
Reminiscent of Rio's Carnival or New Orleans' Mardi Gras, the annual Halloween celebration is a spectacular sight to see. Massive crowds congregate in the Castro on All Hallow's Eve to gawk at, or show off, crazy getups and be entertained by any of the four stages that feature drag shows, costume contests and live music (Oct. 31, 7 p.m. – midnight).
New York: 33rd Annual Village Halloween Parade
All those in costume are welcome to join hundreds of puppets, 53 bands of different types of music, dancers and artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation in the nation's most wildly creative public participatory event. This year the parade pays tribute to its origins with an Ancient Celtic communal fire theme (Oct. 31, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.).
Hawaii: 16th Annual Halloween in Lahaina, Maui
The Legend of Halloween, celebrated since 1990, is more than just a night on the town in costume! More than 30,000 revelers come to Front Street on Halloween night to participate in the annual children's costume parade, and enjoy crafters, activities, food booths, live music and dancing, as well as watch The Maui Tacos Halloween Costume Contest in Banyan Tree Park (Oct. 31, 5 p.m.).