Take a Spooky Road Trip
These driveable destinations pump up the BOO! factor every October.
Photo courtesy of Dorney Park / Discover Lehigh Valley
Lehigh Valley, PA
Why It’s Special: From the Lenape and Moravians to Revolutionary soldiers and industrial pioneers, many have touched this region—and legend has it some haven’t left.
What to Do: The youngest of your coven can go wild at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Stroudsburg during the last weekend of October at Spooky Days on the Farm. By day, kids can play games, catch a lift on a wagon or horse and more. Once night falls, come face to face with the Hag in the Woods to solve a murder mystery designed by real forensic specialists. Haunted Hugh Moore Park in Easton has tons of tricks and treats in store for its 5th year. Lend an ear to ghost stories, hop on a hayride, take a spooky stroll to the lock tender’s house and snag a ride on the Josiah White II canal boat (Oct. 19-20, 26-27).
Paranormal hunters will love discovering what lurks inside Kutztown’s Crystal Cave on a Ghost Lantern Tour. Explore with a Victorian-dressed guide who’ll take you through two centuries of mysterious occurrences (Oct. 12-27, Fri.-Sat.). Learn about the darker side of the Christmas City on the Historic Haunts of Downtown Bethlehem tour, where a blast-from-the-past guide will take you to spectral spots like Historic Hotel Bethlehem and God’s Acre Cemetery. For more spirits, reserve with The Old Jail Museum’s Ghost Tours in Jim Thorpe (Oct. 6, 13 and 20). Explore the cell block, gallows and dungeon with caution: this joint is a hotbed for the paranormal.
Photo courtesy of Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze
Sleepy Hollow, NY
Why It’s Special: You’ve heard Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow: schoolmaster Ichabod Crane mysteriously disappeared after a run-in with the Headless Horseman. See spots from the legend in person or revel in over-the-top retellings and reenactments.
What to Do: There’s no better introduction to this town than Irving’s ‘Legend.’ Tune into master storyteller Jonathan Kruk’s performance, complete with live organ music any weekend in October. Make a weekend drive to nearby Tarrytown’s Sunnyside: Home of the ‘Legend’ for more Irving-inspired festivities in his old abode. Also in town is TarryHollow: Walking Through Time, a two-hour venture through myths and strange incidents (Sept. 15-Oct. 27, weekends).
Catch a lift on the annual Haunted Hayride (Oct. 26-27) while keeping your eyes peeled for the Horseman himself, then end the night at a block party on Beekman Ave. Horseman’s Hollow is the town’s premiere attraction (Oct. weekends plus Oct. 25-31). Dare to enter the three-century-old Philipsburg Manor as it’s overrun with ghouls, goblins and beyond. Hit Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities for a murder mystery walk-through attraction (Oct. 19-21, 25-28, 31).
Take a lantern tour of the cemetery that's home to the grave of Andrew Carnegie and crypt of vampire Barnabas Collins. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery Tours run from April through November, but in the fall it's all about readings of Irving's horror shorts and Edgar Allan Poe's work.
The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze in nearby Croton-on-Hudson (Sept. 28-Nov. 24) is Hudson Valley’s biggest event and boasts 7K+ hand-carved pumpkins—think everything from a giant sea serpent to the Pumpkin Zee Bridge.
Photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary
Why It’s Special: It’s no shock that the City of Brotherly Love is full of haunted history, since it dates back to the American Revolution.
What to Do: Philly's home to one of the most historic (and haunted) prisons in the country. Eastern State Penitentiary holds tours daily all year, but during Halloween, things get sinister: Terror Behind the Walls (Sept. 21-Nov. 10) has been called one of the scariest walk-through haunts in the US by The Travel Channel. Hair-raising highlights include Lock Down, in which zombies take over and Infirmary (new), where you’ll face evil surgeons, dentists and nurses.
The Mütter Museum, part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, is the country's top museum of medical history, displaying everything from vintage medical tools to anatomical specimens. Marvel at the Hyrtl Skull Collection of 139 heads or Grimm’s Anatomy, an exhibit featuring real-world examples of rare and bizarre fairytale-like bodies.
Boo at the Zoo at the Philadelphia Zoo (Oct. 13-28, Sat.-Sun.) is scare-free and features a trick-or-treat safari, hay bale maze, Extinction Graveyard and a giant pumpkin wall. For more gourd action, don’t miss THE GLOW: Philadelphia in West Fairmount Park (Oct. 4-28), stocked with 5K+ carved jack-o’-lanterns radiating in the night.
History buffs: Visit the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site (weekends) where the famous writer once lived and wrote for six years. Tour Poe’s old reading room to listen to a recording of The Raven, or visit the basement that inspired The Black Cat.
Ghost tours (daily) with Spirits of ’76 are chock-full of history, too. Visit cobblestone streets, film locations, monuments and cemeteries.