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Family travel 5: Spook-tacular destinations for a Halloween getaway

by Tribune News Service | October 20, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Halloween decorations are seen on display during the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, on Oct. 22, 2020, featuring over 7,000 hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins set against a backdrop of 17th-century buildings and riverside landscape. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

It's the season when ghosts and goblins rule. Here are five spooky spots that may send a chill down your spine.

Sleepy Hollow, New York

Check out the brilliant autumnal display while hiking, biking, visiting historic attractions and celebrating the spooky season. Take in the Jack-o'-lantern Blaze, where more than 7,000 individually hand-carved and illuminated jack-o'-lanterns glow in a historic, riverside landscape. Learn more about Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow during a spine-chilling tour on the Irving estate. Take part in a literature-themed scavenger hunt and take in a special exhibit that highlights how the legend has lived on in popular culture. Take your chances during a haunted hayride and pay homage to the author and the season with a visit to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Washington Irving is buried.


Virginia City, Montana

Perhaps it's the ghost of Calamity Jane who saunters back into town. Or maybe it's the gold miner whose luck ran out. No one knows for sure, but this colorful mining town is said to be "spirited." Once home to as many as 10,000 residents, lively saloons and dance halls, Virginia City was considered the capital of the Montana Territory. Today, travelers who make their way to this well-preserved treasure are treated to old-time theater, music, train rides, living history demonstrations as well as walking or horse-drawn carriage tours. And, plenty of good ghost stories.


Anoka, Minnesota

If you're a fan of this ghoulish holiday, then a pilgrimage to the self-proclaimed Halloween Capital of the World deserves a spot on your chills and thrills list.

Back in the day, circa 1920, a group of concerned parents concocted a plan to divert their children's attention from pranks. Today, the all-volunteer-led event typically includes fun runs, parades, chili cook-offs, farmers markets, house-decorating contests, pumpkin carving and ghostly walking tours.


Knott's Scary Farm, Buena Park, California

If you dare, enter the "atmosfear," where more than 1,000 free-roaming monsters lurk in fog-shrouded corners throughout the 160-acre Southern California park.

The fully transformed park features haunted mazes and attractions, sinister shows, and a new scare zone that channels the dark decadence of a by-gone era. Enter with a secret password and mix with ghostly revelers and otherworldly musicians.

Children younger than 13 are encouraged to check out Camp Spooky, where not-so-scary shows, music, activities and trick-or-treating are under way.


Haunted houses

Sticky cobwebs, spine-chilling music, hair-raising sights. If you dare, find a haunted place near you and go boldly into the night. During this spooky season, expect fields of screams, terror in the cornfields and whole towns devoted to scaring you out of your wits. To find a chamber of horrors to suit your family's tastes -- anywhere in the United States -- visit

(Lynn O'Rourke Hayes ( ) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter lohayes, Facebook, or via

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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