NEW YORK — You could stay home on Halloween and hand out candy, but you could have more fun by turning it into a short vacation to take in a monstrous parade or a holiday festival. Or maybe you could just spend a few nights jumping at every creak, groan and rattle in a haunted inn.
One of the biggest, baddest and freakiest events is New York's Village Halloween Parade where anyone with an imagination can sew together a costume, build a puppet or otherwise put on a show for the crowds along Sixth Avenue. Participants can be funny, silly, provocative and wildly inventive. And sometimes they're a little racy (this year's theme is "Wings of Desire"). Click on "Parade Night' for the route, and then check out the photo gallery for a preview. Stop by the official NYC & Company to look for hotels, restaurants, shopping and all of the other things to see and do in the city.
Prefer the West Coast? The West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval includes what it claims is "the largest adult outdoor Halloween event in the world," the Halloween Costume Carnaval on Santa Monica Boulevard. Click on the "Events Calendar" for that and other things to see, including the Drag Race & Pageant, which does not refer to race cars.
Head south to voodoo country and Haunted New Orleans where this year's star attraction is the Witching Hour Ball put on by the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club. Read on down the page for the calendar of events including Haunted History Tours, Voodoo Music Experience and a Ghostly Galavant through the St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. You could also try out Haunted History Tours & New Orleans Ghosts which offers a Ghost Tour, a Vampire Tour, a Voodoo Tour and a Haunted Garden District Tour. A local hotel guide has more tips including ghoulish exhibits at the Louisiana Pharmacy Museum.
Want to get really creeped out? Try Terror Behind the Walls at Pennsylvania's former Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. You can even take your kids; they have family nights, along with hotel packages and Halloween dinner menus at local restaurants. Click on "Preview" and "Attractions" for an interactive map and videos. You can even buy souvenirs online, although the teddy bears might not be suitable for impressionable little kids.
Looking for family entertainment in the Upper Midwest? Anoka, Minn., claims to be the Halloween Capital of the World with a list of events including a parade that was started in 1920. Over in Wisconsin, the Mauston Pumpkin Bash has games, a pumpkin catapult and hay rides.
Halloween needs witches along with the ghouls, so you could go to Salem, Mass., home of the notorious witch trials in 1692 and Salem Haunted Happenings for a big parade, walking tours and haunted houses. The Salem Wax Museum has its own events, next to the Tricentennial Witch Trials Memorial.
Leave the kids home with a sitter and spend a creepy night or two in a haunted inn. BedandBreakfast.com has a few recommendations including the Gratz Park Inn in Lexington, Ky., which used to have the city morgue in the basement. About.com lists 13 haunted inns such as the Inn at Merridun in Union, S.C., with a history of unusual happenings. And BnBFinder has a guide to spots including the Ghost City Inn in the old mining town of Jerome, Ariz.