We began our search for America’s top 25 spots by looking at the country’s most family-friendly towns. After identifying at least one such town in every state, we narrowed the list according to relative safety, calculated according to crime rates and number of registered sex offenders in each municipality. Next, we looked at each town’s scheduled community events around Halloween, from fall festivals to community parties. Finally, we looked at each town’s Zillow “walkability rating” to determine which would be the easiest for little trick-or-treaters to navigate. Our top towns were those with the best longstanding Halloween traditions, as well as the highest safety and walkability ratings.
Our list differs from last year’s in several ways. First, when going through the most family-friendly towns in America, we looked at the top 80 towns this year, compared to just 50 last year. This broadened the scope of the cities we considered, making for a more comprehensive list. Secondly, last year’s list did not evaluate each town’s walkability rating. Adding this factor allowed us to truly determine which towns, among the safest and most festive, are most accommodating to trick-or-treaters.
This year, we kick off our list of the top 25 trick or treating towns with the city of Raleigh. The city celebrates Halloween with its Peg-Legged Ghost Haunted House and Tour. Ghostly guides take guests on a winding tour through downtown Raleigh, telling creepy tales of the spirits that haunt various landmarks. The guided portion ends at the Holman house, an eighteenth-century home, where those who dare to enter can make their way through the spine-chilling haunted house. Afterwards, trick-or-treaters can indulge in candy and warm up with hot chocolate or spiced cider.
Families in New Boston kick off their Halloween festivities at the community Trunk or Treat and costume party. Residents and business owners park their cars in the town hall lot and hand out candy and prizes to the costumed trick-or-treaters. Afterwards, little ones can collect even more candy inside the Old Engine House. Plus, for just $3 kids can enjoy a light dinner from the “Creepy Café” so they don’t overdo it on their candy romp around the neighborhood.
On the second Saturday in October, families in Elmhurst, Illinois head downtown for the city’s annual Fall Fest. In addition to pumpkin carving and painting, activities include storytelling, pony rides, a petting zoo, and a moon jump. Everyone is welcome to come out and show off their cutest and creepiest costumes. The event ends with trick-or-treating at local businesses and a discussion about staying safe on Halloween night. Kids roam the festively decorated neighborhood for treats from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Halloween.
For 35 years, Williston has hosted the Haunted Forest, which combines ghostly outdoor theater, stunning special effects, and the magic of a moonlit forest. Mysterious guides lead guests through the forest’s paths, which are lit by over 1,000 glowing jack-o’-lanterns. Guests encounter fascinating characters and witness humorous and horrifying Halloween-themed performances. Children under eight years old are encouraged to attend a less spooky but equally thrilling matinée show the Saturday before Halloween.
Though this town fell from #5 on our list last year, Halloween remains a community event for the folks of Cedarburg. On Halloween night, residents take their skillfully carved jack-o’-lanterns for a stroll to the city’s main street and line them up along Washington Avenue for a spooky lighted Pumpkin Walk. Local businesses open their doors to trick-or-treaters at 5 p.m., and kids are free to roam the neighborhoods until 8 p.m.
For over 20 years, the Halloween parade in Canton's Collinsville section has kicked off from the Canton “Hysterical” Museum’s porch. This small Connecticut town’s resident ghost, Boosolini, leads the procession. The haunting sound of a pipe organ, various forms of ghoulish entertainment, and a cannon shooting off flying ghosts and treats add to the spooky ambiance. The evening ends with the Collinsville Judges’ search for the crowd’s scariest, most original, and funniest costumes. Canton may no longer hold our #2 spot, but it certainly continues to provide festive fun for its residents and visitors.
Every October, the Boo Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester, Massachusetts transforms into a magical, haunted forest. Trick-or-treaters wander the Halloween-themed trails lined with softly glowing lights while learning about the woodland creatures of New England. Families can also visit the Great Pumpkin Fest to see more than a thousand glowing jack-o’-lanterns and enjoy trick-or-treating, science programs, and a costume contest. Finally, Clark University hosts “Not Quite Human” for scary story enthusiasts interested in monsters, demons, and the supernatural.
Every year, Centerville’s bravest residents visit the Whitaker Cemetery for a tour and tales about Centerville’s “permanent” residents. For those too spooked to walk through a cemetery, the Whitaker also hosts a “haunting.” This family-friendly event features a bonfire and Halloween stories told by award-winning professional storytellers. Finally, families looking to counteract the results of their candy binges can sign up for the Zombie Family Fun Run, where participants dress up and try to outrun the zombies lurking around the next bend.
In Grand Rapids trick-or-treaters kick off the season with a costume swap to help parents save money and to get kids super excited for Halloween night. Later in the month, the John Ball Zoological Garden hosts the Zoo Goes Boo event, featuring over 20 activity booths, opportunities to interact with the animals, and over-the-top decorations. The excitement doesn’t stop there. The Michigan Farm Garden is home to giant pumpkins, weighing in at hundreds of pounds. Families can pick up pumpkins of their own, as well as receive tips on how to cook fall’s most popular gourd.
Photo courtesy of Boulder City Township, Nevada
If you’re looking for Halloween fun on the run, Boulder City, Nevada (just 20 minutes from Las Vegas) offers a haunted train ride. The weekend before Halloween, kids can board the Southern Nevada Railway for a Halloween party on the go. The train is decorated and costumed kids can ride for free! As for Halloween night, feel safe trick-or-treating with the family in this charming town with decorations lining the streets.
With a very low crime rate and easy to navigate neighborhoods, St. John is the quintessential trick-or-treating town. Those looking for a little fright in their night can visit the Lake Hills Haunted House, which was rated the eighth scariest haunted house in Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois. The weekend before Halloween, the house offers child-friendly hours where the zombies and witches are replaced with fun and familiar cartoon characters.
In this small California city, Halloween is a weekend-long event. Walnut's ranking may have dipped slightly from last year when it came in at #12, but there's no doubt that this town is still in high Halloween spirits. On Halloween night, in addition to trick-or-treating, families can get lost in the Haunted Maze for a screaming good time. There is also a “Mostly Ghostly” event for families looking to party and show off their costumes for a chance to win the local costume contest. The fun even continues the next day with an “After Halloween Lot Party” for food and music.
Located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, just 45 minutes from New Orleans, Mandeville offers several Halloween events for those hoping to escape the city crowds. The Shadowlands Haunted House opened in 2009 and has quickly made a name for itself. It is not recommended for young kids as it leans towards terrifying rather than spooky. The Bayou Jam Halloween Bash is a more family-friendly north shore attraction; all are encouraged to come in costume and kids can enjoy safe trick-or-treating in the parking lot after the concert.
Not only are the streets of Lake Mary safe and welcoming to trick-or-treaters, they are also the site of a chillingly fun Halloween event. Every October, tour guides from the Lake Mary Museum conduct ghost walks through the historic town. Participants visit local spirits and encounter eerie storytellers scattered throughout downtown Lake Mary. Everyone is encouraged to stop by the museum’s vintage costume exhibit afterwards, which displays antique Halloween garb and decorations all month long.
All aboard! The quaint town of Apex is our second city with a haunted train ride — a Halloween event that will keep you on track, literally. The New Hope Valley Railway hosts its annual Track or Treat event the last two Saturdays of October. Costumed kids board the spookily decorated Triangle Train for an interactive train ride featuring live Halloween-themed scenes. After encountering a wicked witch, a headless brakeman, and a palm reader, passengers head back to the rail yard for more festive fun.
Moving up to #10 from #13 last year, the town of Saline is a trick or treating favorite. On November 1, you might be suffering from both a sugar hangover and the knowledge that the best holiday of the year is over. Saline knows how to remedy your post-Halloween blues! Every year, they stage the “Great Pumpkin Roll,” where families can race their old pumpkins against their neighbor’s jack-o’-lanterns down the hill. This family-friendly event is free and includes hot cider and doughnuts to keep everyone in the spirit!
Families flock to the Haunted Trails Halloween event at the Cool Creek Park and Nature Center in Carmel. The haunted trick-or-treat trail is not recommended for kids under 12, as ghouls and goblins lurk at every turn. However, there are plenty of activities for young visitors, including a not-so-scary nature trail, a monster mash dance, marshmallows and a campfire, and free hayrides.
Cornwall was number one on our list last year. Although it didn't measure up to some of the safer and more festive towns on this year's list, it's still a top pick for many trick or treaters. Everyone in this Hudson Valley town knows to include the Corn House of Horrors in their trick-or-treating route. Local legend tells of Thaddeus Corn, a notorious smuggler who returns to Cornwall every Halloween, seeking revenge upon those who wronged him years ago. Those who are brave enough to enter can visit the haunted house, erected annually, to try to catch a glimpse of the Corn family and the mansion’s other creepy inhabitants.
Photo courtesy of Geneva Township, Illinois
Halloween in Geneva, Illinois is a spooktacular good time! Families flock to the Halloween Weekend Carnival for rides, games, and refreshments. Those who visit the carnival during designated hours can take advantage of unlimited rides. Back in downtown Geneva, local businesses host trick-or-treating for costumed kids the Thursday before Halloween.
Photo Courtesy of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
Trick-or-treaters in Cranberry Township start celebrating Halloween early with the Great Pumpkin Festival on October 16th. At this event, kids can pick their perfect pumpkin, enjoy tasty Halloween treats, and participate in spirited games and crafts. Later in the month, the town hosts its annual Zombie 5K and 1 Mile Candy Corn Walk. Families gather at North Boundary Park to run or walk in their most creative costumes.
Each year, residents of West Linn, Oregon are treated to a Halloween Scavenger Hunt and Monster Mash at the local public library. Kids are encouraged to come in costume for an age-appropriate Halloween story time, festive tunes, and tasty treats. The weekend before Halloween, families can visit West Linn’s Mary S. Young Park for a romp through their festive walking trails. Storybook enthusiasts can choose the “Enchanted” route, while those looking for a fright can take the “Haunted” ghost and ghoul’s trail.
Palo Alto had the highest walk score of the twenty five cities, bringing it to #4 on our list. This California city boasts several easy to navigate neighborhoods that make trick-or-treating a safe and fun event for the whole community. Certain homes are known for their over-the-top decorations, attracting trick-or-treaters from out of town. To get in the Halloween spirit, families can visit Gamble Garden the weekend before for pumpkin picking, a costume contest, and a magic show by Rav the Wizard.
Photo courtesy of Chester Township, New Jersey
Halloween is a month-long affair in this small New Jersey town. Alstede Farms’ Family Fun Days, held every weekend in October, feature pony rides, a moon bounce, and a giant hay pyramid. Young kids can work their way through the “A, B, C, and D’s for Dinosaurs” maze, counting the number of dinosaurs along the way. Older kids play the role of detectives to figure out who kidnapped Farmer Joe in the larger “FSI: Farm Scene Investigation” maze. After 6 p.m., guests can hop on the Harvest Moon Hayride or sip hot apple cider by the campfire at the Night Time Corn Maze Event.
Photo courtesy of Royal Oak Township, Michigan
For those trick-or-treaters who prefer merry over scary, the Detroit Zoo, located in Royal Oak, hosts “Zoo Boo” every weekend in October. Kids can trick-or-treat along a festively decorated trail throughout the zoo, as well as enjoy live entertainment, games, and crafts. The day before Halloween, costumed kids and pets alike attend the Downtown Royal Oak “Spooktacular” for trick-or-treating at over 50 businesses. After filling up on candy, families can join magician Baffling Bill and his assistant Gus the Bunny to welcome in the magic of the fall season at the Royal Oak Public Library.
With all the fun and fright happening in Colorado Springs, it isn't hard to see why this is our top trick or treating town! The Western Museum of Mining’s Haunted Mines Haunted House is the perfect venue for the brave at heart. Combining historically based scenes and Halloween horror, the event has visitors crawling through old mine shafts and outrunning zombies. Those looking for some light-hearted festive fun can attend North Cheyenne Cañon Park’s free Halloween Costume Carnival. Located in the heart of the park’s majestic forest, the carnival features a costume contest, cookie decorating, prizes, and a journey along a haunted trail.