“Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
The heat of the summer has finally subsided, leaving a slight chill. The leaves are changing to beautiful hues of orange, red and yellow and there is magic in the air, the magic of Halloween. You don’t have to be a child to enjoy the excitement and frenzy of this bewitching holiday. In fact, it is just as much fun for the adults as it is for the kids. So, dig out your best zombie costume, pack a weekender, and get to one of these spooky destinations.
There is a quaint beauty Salem possesses that is unmatched. By day, it is a picturesque New England town. It is composed of cobblestone streets in quiet neighborhoods with immaculate tree lined blocks. The homes and historical sites are 1st Period and Georgian architecture dating back as early as the 17th century. There are shops, restaurants and museums where you can find all sorts of treasures and treats.
By night, Salem is transformed. What was once an idyllic coastal town has now gained an undertone of trepidation. It’s hard to place it, but it’s there; that chill down your spine, the slight breeze through your fingers even when there’s no movement in the air, the shift in the shadows, the flickering lights… The streets are crowded with people in costumes, there is laughter and loud chatter, and kids are jumping out from behind trees to scare their friends, but that does not detract from the magic and eeriness that stems from the infamous history of this town.
Salem is home to the Salem Witch Trials, where back in 1692, more than 200 people were accused and 19 found guilty of witchcraft. Those unlucky souls were executed by hanging or worse. You can watch live reenactments, tour graveyards and see memorials of this most gruesome event in American history. It is the ultimate true crime destination and one that can’t be missed.
Top 3 Tourist Destinations:
- The Salem Night Tour– This 90 minute tour will teach you all about the notorious history and ghostly happenings of this bucolic town. It focuses on the Salem Witch Trials and will take you to the exact locations where some of the key players were buried, crushed and murdered. You will stroll through a haunted cemetery and will learn about the ghosts that live there. The tours are nightly, rain or shine and fill up quickly, so advanced reservations are a must.
- House of the Seven Gables– This is the house that Nathaniel Hawthorne made famous with his novel “House of the Seven Gables”. In the novel, he wrote of the house, which belonged to a cousin, as if it was a living, breathing thing. Hawthorne spent a lot of time in the American colonial home, which dates back to 1668. Take a tour and get a taste of what it was like living in that era and how it related to the book.
- Old Burying Point Cemetery– This is the oldest cemetery in Salem and the second oldest in the United States, dating back to 1637. Many of the organizers in the Salem Witch Trials are buried here, including Judge John Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great, great-grandfather. There are walking paths that weave in and out of ancient gravestones and it is as lovely during the day as it is spooky at night. This is a must see!
Top 3 hotels:
- Hawthorne Hotel– A beautiful, historic hotel in the heart of Salem. It is rumored that two rooms in the hotel, room #612 and room #325 are haunted. Sleepless nights await you in this lovely Federal Style hotel.
- Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites– If you would rather sleep without ghostly roommates, look no further than Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites. This luxury hotel is conveniently located along The Heratige Trail and within walking distance to all that Salem has to offer. There are no spirits to speak of.
- The Salem Inn– The Salem Inn is a boutique hotel with all the modern conveniences. It is located in the heart of Salem and has complimentary breakfast, a fitness center and free parking. The inn is made up of three historic homes and each room is decorated in its own unique way. It does have its fair share of ghost stories, particularly in room 17.
Top 3 Restaurants:
- Breakfast | Ugly Mug Diner– The Ugly Mug Diner is the perfect breakfast/ brunch spot. Everything is fresh and locally sourced. Menu items include traditional breakfast, such and bacon, eggs and pancakes, as well as more eclectic items like Nutella lattes, breakfast poutine and fried green tomato benedict. Be prepared for a line, this is a very popular spot!
- Lunch | Red’s Sandwich Shop– Ambiance is key and this little sandwich shop has it. Located in the historic London Coffee House in downtown Salem, it is easy to get to and the perfect spot to grab a hearty lunch. The portions are plentiful and they serve a wide variety of local seafood dishes.
- Dinner | Adriatic Restaurant and Bar– Adriatic offers market fresh seafood with an Italian and Mediterranean flair. It is perfect for an evening out. There is also an extensive wine list that will not disappoint.
Sleepy Hollow, NY
Sleepy Hollow is a small, Hudson River village just outside if New York City. It was home to Washington Irving, Author of the famous short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. It has become the epicenter of all thing Halloween. From haunted cemeteries and a pumpkin blaze beyond anything you could ever imagine, to Headless Horseman reenactments and a Halloween 10K, there is something for everyone, making it the perfect destination for a little Halloween hijinx.
Top 3 Tourist Destinations:
- The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze– You will be in awe of The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Over 7,000 hand carved jack o’lanterns forming illuminated sculptures of trains, dinosaurs, ghouls, monsters and more. Your imagination will run wild! It is a self guided tour and tickets sell out quickly so reserve them in advance. This is kid friendly and they will definitely be enchanted.
- Sleepy Hollow Experience– The Sleepy Hollow experience is a live, interactive reenactment of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” performed on the grounds of the home Washington Irving himself. There is singing and dancing, ghost stories and romance! Experience what Ichabod himself did in this immersive, traveling performance. It is well performed and there are only a few creepy parts that may scare the kids. Buying tickets in advance is strongly suggested. For more information, click here.
- Sleepy Hollow Cemetery Guided Tours– Tour the cemetery by day when you will be safe and sound, or by night, guided only by lanterns when the ghosts come out to play! Guides will regale you with true ghost stories while you wind your way through the graves in the darkest hours of night.
- Castle Hotel and Spa– This luxury hotel is in a 19th century castle overlooking the Hudson River. It combines old world style and modern convenience and is no more than a 10 minutes drive to all things Sleepy Hollow. It dates back to 1897 and truly is the experience of a lifetime.
- Doubletree By Hilton Hotel Tarrytown– Location is key and The Doubletree is located 2 easy miles from Sleepy Hollow. This hotel boasts free WiFi, a heated pool a fitness center and complimentary chocolate chip cookies. You can’t beat that!
- Courtyard By Marriott Tarrytown Westchester County– Renovated rooms, friendly staff, convenient location… what more could you want?
- Breakfast | Bella’s- Bella’s is a local diner with a hometown feel. It is great for breakfast or lunch. All of your favorites are on the menu and the service is top-notch. Since there’s no website for this classic, you can find Bella’s at this address: 5 S Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591
- Lunch | Bridgeview Tavern– Bridgeview Tavern lives up to its name with a lovely view of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge in the distance. Gourmet pub food is served as well as a rotating selection of craft beers. It is the perfect stop for lunch or a casual dinner.
- Dinner | The Twisted Oak– The twisted Oak offers farm-to-table fare in a fine dining atmosphere. Each dish is Italian influenced/New American cuisine and the menu changes frequently according to what is in season. It is truly a culinary delight.
- The Legend of Sleep Hollow By Washington Irving
- Legends and Lore of Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley By Jonathan Kruk
New York, NY
One of the greatest ways to experience New York City is to explore it on foot. No maps or plan needed, just take it all in…. the people, the smells (some good, some not so much!), the expected chaos and the surprising quiet. It is an adventure any day of the week, but on Halloween, that’s when things get really interesting! There are festivals, parades and parties galore! This is a no holds barred holiday for the city that never sleeps! Although they are countless, here are the top attractions, hotels and restaurants to make your trip to The Big Apple a little less chaotic.
Top 3 Tourist Destinations:
- Village Halloween Parade– This parade is iconic NYC Halloween. Watch from the sidelines or put on your costume and join the fun! It is truly an experience you will never forget.
- Boo at the Zoo– The Bronx Zoo has perfected the art of family Halloween fun with this celebration of all things ghoulish! Perfect for all ages, there are magicians, crafts, a corn maze, a costume parade, pumpkin carving, and much more! It will be sure to please all of your pint-sized pals.
- Halloween Library After Hours– The New York Public Library puts on an annual literary inspired masquerade party of epic proportions. There is food, drinks, a DJ, dancing, horror flicks and some of the library’s creepier relics on display. Tickets are available in advance.
Top 3 hotels:
- Pod 51 Hotel– Centrally located in Midtown Manhattan, this hotel boasts a cafe, patio and courtyard, free WiFi and is steps to everything worth seeing, all at a reasonable price. Most, but not all, rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. There are multiple shared bathrooms on each floor for the rooms that don’t have one.
- Hilton Gardens Inn Times Square– This hotel is consistently rated in the top 20 in New York City. Proximity to Times Square makes it an ideal place to stay when visiting the Big Apple. It has all the comforts of home including free WiFi, a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and a 42-inch TV.
- Martinique New York on Broadway– The Martinique is conveniently located off of Times Square and all the best attractions. It is in a landmark building that is listed on the register of Historic Hotels of America. The French Renaissance and Art Deco style make this a unique and luxurious experience.
Top 3 Restaurants:
It is virtually impossible to choose just three restaurants to eat at in New York City. The beauty of this city is that bad food just can’t survive here, so you are most likely going to enjoy any restaurant you find on the street. Stick to the outer neighborhoods for food, anything a few blocks off of Times Square will be far superior to the touristy joints in the flashier areas. You can’t go wrong by checking Yelp. New Yorkers love to give their opinion and they do not mince words. The reviews will be your guide and the food will most likely knock your socks off!
Some Final Thoughts
Halloween is the ultimate time to get away and get your creep on! A lot of the festivities run the entire month of October, if not longer, so check your calendar and book soon! The holiday is almost upon us and things fill up fast!
Also, don’t forget that it gets cool in the fall, especially at night! A good weekender, a pair of walking shoes, and a travel wrap will make all the difference! Go to the “Tips and Tricks” link or click here for a thorough packing checklist. You want to remember all the most important stuff because it’s not fun trying to find someone to sell you a phone charger at 10PM.
Do you have any favorite Halloween destinations? Comment below with any suggestions!