Off-the-Beaten Path Halloween Destinations by Erin O’Riordan

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Sure, you could go to Salem or New Orleans and have a spooky good time. If you’ve been there, done that, or if you seek a vacation off the beaten path this October 31st, visit one of these places.

Anoka, Minnesota. This northern town has called itself “The Halloween Capital of World” since 1937. Medallions proclaiming so, orange with a broomstick-riding witch in the background, are embedded in city streets. The festivities have been going on since 1920, when town officials hit upon a way to divert potential pranksters. There are three parades, the grandest of which is The Grand Day Parade. It’s the largest parade in the Midwest, with an estimated 45,000 spectators each year. There’s also an Orange Tie Ball, a pumpkin carving contest, a bonfire, house decorating, a wine tasting, and more.

The Louisville Zoo. This Kentucky city’s zoo boasts “The World’s Largest Halloween Party.” Designed to be family-friendly, not scary, the zoo closes early on the nights (throughout October, ending on the 30th) of its Halloween party to prepare for trick-or-treaters. Children get their treats from costumed storybook characters in a safe environment. Adult visitors may also wear costumes, though not scary ones, and nothing with a mask.

Other cities with zoos participating in Halloween events include Baltimore, New York (for those too young for the Greenwich Village festivities) and Oklahoma City.

Greenwich Village. New York’s fully interactive, evening time village parade along 6th Avenue boasts an array of puppets and marching bands as well as costumed revelers. This parade is definitely aimed more at adults than at young trick-or-treaters.

Key West. The mile-long parade route on the westernmost of the Florida Keys is along Duval Street, starting in the Old Town on the Gulf of Mexico side and ending on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. It’s part of a weeklong revelry called Fantasy Fest, with a full schedule of masquerade balls and costume contests, including one for people and their pets.

San Francisco. Once upon a time, the streets of San Francisco’s Castro district were shut down for street parties that attracted more than 100,000 people. More recently, the celebration has been moved indoors to bars, restaurants and ballrooms for crowd-control reasons.

Foxboro, Massachusetts. Foxboro is the home of Spooky World and Nightmare New England, an amusement park originally conceived as a haunted hay ride but now consisting of six attractions and a “Monster Midway” with go-karts, miniature golf, Zombie Paintball, batting cages, a restaurant, concession stands featuring fried clams, a bar and live music. Spooky World/Nightmare New England is open throughout October.


Anoka Halloween, Inc. (n.d.) “The History of Anoka Halloween.”

“Home For Halloween.” (n.d.)

“Meijer Presents The ‘World’s Largest Halloween Party!’” (n.d.)

Monroe County Tourist Development Council. (n.d.) 
“Lavish Parade to Highlight Halloween Fantasies in Key West.“

Morton, Lisa. The Halloween Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company: Jefferson, North Carolina, 2003.

“New York’s Village Halloween Parade.” (n.d.)

Nightmare New England. (n.d.) “Spooky World.”

Skal, David J. Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween. Bloomsbury: New York, 2002.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011 Written by: Michele at 3:24 pm and is filed under Halloween Costumes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Off-the-Beaten Path Halloween Destinations by Erin O’Riordan”

  1. Erin O'Riordan Says:

    Thanks for having me as a guest blogger!

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