Best Places to Celebrate Halloween Slideshow

Salem, Mass. (Population 41,654)

Salem, Mass., the location of the Salem witch trials in 1692, hosted haunted and harrowing events nearly every day in October. The aptly titled Witch House, home of the Salem witch trials’ judge, is hosting a series of ghost stories in the 17th-century house Oct. 12 and 13, Oct. 19 and 20, and Oct. 26 and 27. At the House of the Seven Gables, a dramatic performance of the trials takes place throughout October. Salem’s largest beer, wine, and mead festival, Harvest Fest, returns Oct. 20. The Hawthorne Hotel hosts a Solstice of Souls Halloween Ball, a large costume party spread over three floors of the hotel including festive food and drink, on Oct. 27. The hotel also hosts The Dumb Supper: Dinner with the Dead, a Salem witch-themed dinner where diners honor the dead with a dinner served in silence on Oct 28.

Transylvania County, N.C. (Population 32,820)

Located in part of the Appalachian Mountain chain, Transylvania County’s picturesque landscape was created nearly 450 million years ago. The Cherokee Indians were the first to reside in the area, before Scotch-Irish settlers settled in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the arrival of the railroad in 1895, Transylvania County became a more popular destination for travelers. Transylvania may evoke scenes from Dracula movies, but there are no castles in sight. The town celebrates Halloween early with Halloweenfest, a daylong Halloween celebration on Oct. 27 that includes costumes, fangs, and food.

Cape Fear, New Hanover County, N.C. (population 18,388)

Cape Fear’s spooky name comes from the 1585 expedition of English sailor Sir Richard Grenville, who was headed to Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks when the ship faced rough waters. The sailors, fearful the ship would wreck, named the area Cape Fear. Wilmington is one of the cities within the county where many Halloween festivals are held, including the Poplar Grove Halloween Festival, a plantation event with a haunted barn, hayrides, games, and festive food Oct. 12 to 14 and Oct. 19 to 21. For haunted house fans, the 11,000-square-foot Panic Attack Haunted Attractionis the largest haunted house in town that runs from Oct. 12 to Oct. 31. Ghost hunters can join the free Ghost Hike at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in nearby Kure Beach from Oct. 18 to 20. Starting Oct. 19, the Battleship USS North Carolina goes glow-in-the-dark green and becomes a Ghost Ship where the brave can wander the decks starting at dusk Oct. 19 to 20 and Oct. 26 to 27. For little trick-or-treaters, Trick or Treat Under the Sea is a family-friendly party with haunted gardens and indoor trick-or-treating on Oct. 24 and 25, while Wilmington celebrates with the wee ones at Batty Battleship’s Halloween Bash, which includes truck-or-treating, games, and storytelling on Oct. 30.

Roswell, N.M. (population 48,546)

After a requisite visit to the Roswell UFO Museum to learn about the 1947 Roswell Incident, celebrate Halloween in Roswell with a trio of events: get spooked at the haunted house at Eastern New Mexico University; enjoy a family-friendly party at the Yucca Fall Festival, and dress like a zombie and join the flash mob that will perform a Zombie Walk on Oct. 27 and attempt to set a world record for the most zombies.

Tombstone, Ariz. (Population 1,396)

"The Town Too Tough to Die" was founded in 1877 by a prospector named Ed Schieffelin, who often ventured out into the wilderness "looking for rocks." According to legend, Schieffelin was warned by local soldiers that the only rock he would find would be his tombstone. Instead, Schieffelin found silver, and when he opened his first mine, he called it The Tombstone.

By the mid-1880s Tombstone, Ariz.'s population increased to around 7,500 as others came looking for silver. At its peak, it is said to have been the fastest-growing city between St. Louis and San Francisco. The city’s most iconic structure is Schieffelin Hall, the largest standing adobe structure in the southwestern United States, and was built to be used as a theater, recital hall, and a meeting place and is still in use today.

Legend has it that in June of 1881, a cigar ignited a barrel of whiskey at the Arcade Saloon, leading to a fire that destroyed more than 60 downtown businesses. Tombstone was rebuilt and even another fire in May of 1882 did not deter the town from continued growth. Tombstone’s claim to fame is the gunfight at the OK Corral on Oct. 26, 1881, which actually took place not at the corral but on Fremont Street. During this famed event, 30 shots were fired in 24 seconds, killing several cowboys.

Instead of a formal Halloween celebration, Tombstone hosts the annual Helldorado Days Celebration from Oct. 19 to 21, which features gun fight re-enactments, entertainment, and a parade.

Skull Creek, Neb. (population 268)

Located in Butler County, Skull Creek, the area was once an ancient Pawnee nation village. A top attraction is the Makovicka Winery, a family-owned and operated winery and tasting room.The town celebrates Halloween with a Halloween parade on Oct. 31.

Pumpkin Center, N.C. (population 2,222); and Pumpkin Bend, Ark. (population 276)

You’re not likely to find a pumpkin patch in this pair of pumpkin-named places. Located 93 miles from Little Rock, Ark., Pumpkin Bend, Ark., is nothing more than a picturesque small Southern town, while the more populous Pumpkin Center, N.C., 75 miles south of Greenville, N.C., boasts all the amenities of small-town America, including a primary school that celebrates Halloween by distributing fall treat bags.