Looking to do something different this fall? Take the kids on a Halloween road trip they’ll never forget.
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. 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. 18-19, 25-26).
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. 11-26, Fridays and Saturdays). 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. 5, 12, 19 and 26). Explore the cell block, gallows and dungeon with caution: this joint is a hotbed for the paranormal.
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 a master storyteller’s performance complete with live organ music any weekend in October plus Halloween. Make a weekend drive before November 10 to nearby Tarrytown’s Sunnyside: Home of the ‘Legend’ for more Irving-inspired festivities in his old abode. Also at Irving’s Sunnyside is the new Sleepy Hollow Experience. This renowned immersive outdoor theater event has live performers guide guests from scene to scene at Washington Irving’s historic home. Meet Ichabod, Katrina and even the Headless Horseman (Oct. 4-Nov. 3).
Catch a lift on the annual Haunted Hayride (Oct. 25-26) 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 Halloween). 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. 17-20, 24-27, 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 various experiences from April through November, but in the fall it’s all about readings of Irving’s horror shorts.
The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze in nearby Croton-on-Hudson (Sept. 20-Nov. 30) is Hudson Valley’s biggest event and boasts 7K+ hand-carved pumpkins—think everything from a giant sea serpent to the Pumpkin Zee Bridge.
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. 20-Nov. 9) 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 and slices of Albert Einstein’s brain.
Boo at the Zoo at the Philadelphia Zoo (Oct. 12-27, 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 Jack’s Pumpkin Glow in West Fairmount Park (select dates, Oct. 5-Nov. 3), 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.