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Halloween Needn't Be a Stay-Home Holiday: See These Scary Attractions

by Harriet Baskas /

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If you’ve already eaten all the Halloween candy you bought for the trick or treaters, shut off the lights, lock the doors and head out to one of these spooky attractions instead.

While Halloween typically isn’t a heavy travel holiday, many Americans find their way to destinations close to home. According to the National Retail Federation, close to 20 percent of the 157 million Americans planning to celebrate Halloween this year will be heading to a haunted house attraction.

If you’re fortunate enough to live nearby, you might want to offer one of these frighteningly entertaining destinations this year, or plan a getaway for next year:

Museums of the macabre
Photo: Tombstone - from Myths and Legends of the Graveyard.
Tombstone - from Myths and Legends of the Graveyard.Monica Rhodes / courtesy National Museum of Funeral History
  • Bad weather has forced the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston to postpone its annual Halloween Classic Car Show until March, but the family-friendly Haunted House is open all weekend. So is the museum’s interactive “Myths and Legends of the Graveyard” exhibit, which includes a misty, walk-through graveyard, ghost stories, grave rubbing and more.

“Halloween allows us to take the usually serious subject of death in a slightly more light-hearted manner,” said museum President Genevieve Keeney, “During October the museum has a little more life to it.”

Photo: CT scan shows the skeleton of intact mummy from Roman-era Egypt (30 BC –AD 395) known as the Gilded Lady.
A CT scan shows the skeleton of intact mummy from Roman-era Egypt (30 BC –AD 395) known as the Gilded Lady.

Twenty real mummies are on view, including “Gilded Lady,” an intact mummy from Roman-era Egypt that was stored in a museum vault since 1893, along with decorated coffins, sarcophaguses, mummification tools and mummies of birds, cats and a baby crocodile.

Heads will roll

Fans of Washington Irving’s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” can head to New York’s Hudson Valley over the weekend for a wide variety of headless horseman-inspired activities.

  • There are “Murder & Mayhem” lantern tours of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and, at Philipsburg Manor, the haunted trail and Ichabod’s Schoolhouse in Horseman’s Hollow have been taken over by “the undead, the evil, and the insane.”
Creepy Campgrounds

Going out in the woods could be creepy at Halloween, but many parks and campgrounds make it fun and family-friendly.

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  • There’s a Halloween Zombie Weekend at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Hagerstown, Maryland, and the Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort in Santa Claus, Indiana, is hosting site decorating and costume contests, haunted hayrides, frightful films, bonfire ghost stories and other activities, including, of course, trick-or-treating.

“We have 500 sites here,” said park spokesman Dave Lovell, “so for kids this is the motherlode of candy.”

Photo: Family dressed up for Halloween at Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort.
Family dressed up for Halloween at Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort.courtesy Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort
Scary theme parks

If candy and costume parties seem too ho-hum, head for one of the amusement and theme parks around the country that go all out for Halloween.

  • Tops among them are Universal Studios, which hosts Halloween Horror Nights at its parks in Orlando, Hollywood, Singapore and Japan;
  • Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia and in Tampa, Florida, and SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas;
  • Knott’s Scary Farm at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, which has mazes, shows, scare zones, an Elvira “Meet & Greet,” thrill rides and a “frightfully delicious” Boo-fet dinner.

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