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Halloween destinations you must visit in 2021

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There’s a number of spooky Halloween destinations, attractions and haunted locations you must visit in 2021

Whist the current pandemic means that many Halloween events are cancelled in 2020, many destinations and attractions are making plans to ensure that spooky festivities can continue in 2021.

They as are also pivoting to create an exciting variety of online Halloween content and virtual events

Halloween towns, haunted hotels and spooky castles are a huge draw for visitors seeking out chilling experiences, haunted happenings and family festivities.

Check out our bumper list of Halloween destinations you must visit in the future as recommended by top travel bloggers.

Halloween destinations you must visit

Halloween destinations you must visit in 2021
Halloween towns, haunted hotels and spooky castles are a huge draw for visitors seeking out chilling experiences, haunted happenings and family festivities.

Haunted destinations you need to visit

We talk more about haunted destinations you need to visit on episode 28 of the Travel Goals Podcast.

On this special Halloween episode, I speak with a number of travel industry experts about Halloween destinations you need to visit, why Halloween tourism is big business and also the origins of Halloween itself.

Halloween in Salem Massachusetts

Salem is one of the most iconic Halloween destinations in the world. The town is infamous for the tragic witch trials of 1692.

A group of young girls claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft.

The hysteria led to a series of investigations and persecutions that caused 19 convicted “witches” to be hanged and many other suspects to be imprisoned. 

Despite its tragic history, Halloween is now big business in Salem. The spooky season accounts for around 30% of the city’s annual tourism. 

Haunted Happenings Salem

Their Halloween festival, Haunted Happenings, has a huge series of spooky and family-friendly events.

There’s an immersive witch trail reenactment, costume balls, carnival rides, psychic fairs and haunted attractions. Big events include the grand parade and the firework display.

Thousands of tourists flock to the city, many in costume, to experience Halloween at its finest.

Day of The Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico

If you’re after a spooky event rich in culture for Halloween, the Day of The Dead in Oaxaca is a 3-day long celebration you won’t want to miss!

Day of The Dead (or Dia de Los Muertos in Spanish) is a dearly held tradition in many Mexican cultures for thousands of years.

For them, death is a natural phase in life and mourning the dead is considered disrespectful. Instead, the dead continue to be members of the community, alive in memory and spirit.

Día de Los Muertos

During Día de Los Muertos, when the veil between this world and the next is especially thin, loved ones can temporarily return to Earth.

Traditionally during Day of The Dead in Oaxaca City, entire families and friends spend the nights out of their homes and next to the grave of their loved ones singing, eating and drinking tequila at the graveyard.

The gravesites are cleaned and decorated, covered with bouquets of marigold flowers, candles, and the favourite alcoholic drinks of the deceased.

Families prepare for the occasion by erecting ofrendas (or altars) in their homes.

They also create sand art in the streets, paint their faces and participate in parades and cook Pan De Muerto (sweet bread). Contribution by Castaway with Crystal.

Derry Halloween

The city of Derry in Northern Ireland does Halloween in a big way. There’s usually a full event programme full of parades, fireworks and street theatre.

Thousands of people in costume also roam the streets of an extravagantly decorated city.

Derry Halloween has become so extravagant and so popular over the years that it’s been collecting accolades from around the globe.

in 2015 USA Today, who named Derry the “best Halloween destination in the world”.

If the Americans say someone else does Halloween better, you can pretty much guarantee they do.

Halloween Celebrations in Derry

Typical Halloween Events in derry include the Legenderry Food Village & Trail, Samhain Sessions Live Music Programme and the Little Horrors Family Friendly Entertainment.

There’s also Tours and Trails, 1st Light, Carnival Parade and Fireworks, the city puts on well over a 100 events in venues across Derry.

One of the biggest successes of the 2019 programme was ‘Awakening the Walls’.

An animated trail on the City Walls and around the Walled City and included participation from cultural venues and local business.

Derry’s Halloween programme this year has a very different look and feel due to the tightened Covid-19 restrictions regarding travel and social gatherings.

Residents and Halloween fans are being encouraged to keep the spirit of Halloween alive by engaging with a wide array of virtual activities and entertainment online.

Haunted Savannah Georgia

Did you know Savannah is considered one of the most haunted cities in America? That means there are plenty of spooky things to do in the city year-round, not just on Halloween!

Savannah’s beautiful cemeteries aren’t usually open at night, so be sure to check out Colonial Park, Bonaventure (known as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world), and Laurel Grove during the daylight hours.

After exploring all day, grab a bite to eat at The Pirates’ House or The Olde Pink House, both of which are known for their ghostly inhabitants.  

Haunted locations in Savannah

You have to go on a ghost tour at least once when you’re in Savannah – it’s a tradition! The walking ghost tours are best, but you can also opt to ride around in an old hearse or hop on a haunted trolley tour.

If you’re into a different type of “spirits,” the haunted pub tours are really popular.

Alternatively, you can take advantage of the city’s open container law, grab a “to-go cup,” and explore the most haunted places in Savannah on your own.

If you’re brave enough to stay in a haunted hotel, check out Savannah’s oldest, and one of its most haunted hotels, The Marshall House.

You learn more about Savannah in the Savannah First-Timer’s Guide. It has everything you need to plan the perfect trip! Contribution by Erin from Savannah First-Timer.

Horrorland Theme Park Barcelona

What do you get when you combine the terror of The Exorcist movie, a dark graveyard and Halloween style screams? None other than the famous Horrorland Theme Park in Barcelona.

Winner of the Scare Awards “Best Scream Park” in Europe 2020, Horrorland certainly lives up to the hype!

In a country where Halloween isn’t even that popular, a theme park dedicated solely to the spookiest night of the year is well embraced by locals. 

Thrill-seekers and scare junkies won’t be disappointed by the variety of attractions meant to scare the pants off visitors!  

Scary theme parks

Haunted houses such as Clown Town, La Termica and Krampus will make your wildest nightmares come to life in a series of gore and torture.

Sporadic shows such as a performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and other frightening entertainment often take place in common areas of the park. 

Horrorland is not recommended for children under the age of 13 due to the nature of the attractions, the presence of smoke machines, impacts, strobes and of course – screams. Contribution by The Expat Chronicle.

The Clown Motel Tonopah

Tonopah is a former silver mining town that sits in the dusty desert halfway between Reno and Las Vegas.

While it is often treated as just as a pit stop between the two largest cities in Nevada, this small town boasts several haunted places that should be on your list if you are looking to get a dose of adrenaline. 

The most popular landmark in Tonopah that draws visitors from all over the world is the Clown Motel. Dubbed “America’s Scariest Motel,” this property has about 2,000 clowns.

As soon as you walk into the lobby, hundreds of clowns in all shapes and forms greet you from the walls and shelves. There is also a giant clown slumped in a chair right next to the front desk.

Each room has clowns looking at you from the pictures on the walls. Themed rooms include a Halloween room, an Exorcist room, and a Friday the 13th room.

And if it’s not enough, check out the Old Tonopah Cemetery that sits right next to the Clown Motel.

There are many stories of full-body apparitions that had been seen here, and you can even pick up the Old Cemetery Walking Tour Brochure at Tonopah’s hotels and museums.

The haunted Mizpah Hotel

Another place in Tonopah that has a haunted history is the infamous Mizpah Hotel.

The motel boasts that it’s one of the most haunted properties in America, thanks to the story of the Lady in Red.

According to the legend, the Lady in Red was a prostitute who did her business here in the early 1900s.

A customer killed her in one of the rooms, and it is said that the ghost of the Lady in Red still roams around the property. Contribution by Daria Bachmann of The Discovery Nut.

Hudson River Valley Halloween celebrations

For most of the year, New York’s Hudson River Valley is a quiet destination, perfect for antiquing and hiking.

But during the autumn months, the region truly comes alive in celebration of Halloween.

That’s because Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, was from the area.

Start with a visit to Irving’s historic home Sunnyside, which is easily reachable by car from the Tarrytown, NY train station.

The house will be decorated with gravestones and Headless Horsemen, and there are tons of fun Halloween activities for kids. 

Tarrytown Halloween Parade

Next, take a stroll through Tarrytown to see the spooky Halloween decorations covering the town.

Even the street signs are done in orange and black and have a little Headless Horseman on them. If you come on the right weekend, you’ll even see the famous Tarrytown Halloween Parade

Finally, jump on the Metro-North train and take a quick trip to Croton-on-Hudson in the evening to see the fabulous Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the Van Cortlandt Mansion.

The entire gardens are turned over to extraordinary pumpkin sculptures like dragons, a real bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and a cemetery. There’s no other sight like it in the world. Contribution by Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours.

Halloween in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city where touring cemeteries is encouraged, and everywhere you look is a piece of “haunted” history!

It’s the perfect city to visit for Halloween, too, especially since thousands of people head there for the famous Halloween parade down Frenchmen Street!

Spending 4 days in New Orleans is the perfect amount of time to enjoy the festivities and see the highlights of the city.

Now, whether you believe in ghosts or not, taking one of the “haunted” history tours in New Orleans is incredibly interesting (and a tad scary)!

These tours are a fun way to learn some of the darker more sinister events and deaths in New Orleans.

New Orleans spooky tours

Your tour guide will take you through the French Quarter for about 2 hours – stopping at various spots to talk about the brutal death/historical event that took place there

Avoid doing this on the night of Halloween, though, as this area will be packed with people!

You will also see the famous Madame Delphine LaLaurie’s house on these tours.

She was a New Orleans socialite who allegedly tortured and murdered people in very brutal ways. Her home is supposed to be quite haunted. Eek! Contribution by Lindsey Puls from Have Clothes, Will Travel.

The Peak District haunted locations

My fascination with ghosts and the supernatural began at a young age and it all originated from a trip to the Peak District, UK.

I must have been about 6 or 7 during a family holiday to the area when I picked up a book all about the most haunted places in the area. I couldn’t put the book down for the whole trip and so began my love for spooky stuff!  

Though Halloween might not be celebrated as extravagantly as some other parts of the world, the Peak District makes up by having an abundance of famously haunted locations and sightings aplenty.

Peak District hauntings

Within the small area, there really have been an incredible amount of supernatural reports over the years.

Some of the most famous are Winnat’s Pass, a whole valley which is said to be haunted by two young murdered lovers.

Tideswell also has a whole choir which reportedly sings hymns in the darkness the night before someone in the village dies.

Bolsover Castle which was built on an ancient burial ground and has a whole collection of otherworldly guests!

When you combine this with small, traditional and historical villages, many which have no reception and quite often have a thick cloud of fog hanging over them, you have yourself quite a spooky place indeed. 

Though most people visit for Peak District hiking trails, this would be a fantastic place to spend Halloween in a rural village and visit some of the eerie haunted sites! Contribution by Veggie Vagabonds.

Queen Mary Ship in Los Angeles

While Los Angeles is full of haunted destinations, the Queen Mary ship stands out as one of the most unique!

Located in Long Beach across from the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Queen Mary ship was constructed in the 1930s and first set sail in 1936 from Southampton, England.

Dripping in luxury and elegance, the Queen Mary has five dining rooms, a grand ballroom, two swimming pools, lavish guest rooms, and even a hospital!

After sailing for over 30 years, the Queen Mary retired and now sits in the Long Beach harbour welcoming visitors to spend a night or to learn of her history, including many ghost stories!

Ghost ship

Popular ghosts include an engineer who was crushed to death in the engine room, many children who dwell in the hallways and pool, and the infamous lady in white who has been seen dancing alone in the luxury rooms.

Take a Haunted Encounters tour to learn more about the creepy ghosts aboard the ship, or checkout the Twilight Tour for a better chance to see the ghosts!

Alternatively, spend a night in the hotel (room B340 is the most haunted).

In October the Queen Mary also hosts a haunted house-type walk-through attraction for more haunts and chills! Contribution By Alanna Koritzke from Periodic Adventures.

The haunted Bird House, Bracebridge, Ontario

One of Ontario’s most haunted places is the Bird House, otherwise known as the Woodchester Villa.

Located in the charming small town of Bracebridge, on the banks of the Muskoka River, you’ll find the Woodchester Villa surrounded by 10 acres of picturesque forest.

The haunted Bird House, Bracebridge, Ontario

Built in 1882 for Henry J. Bird and his family, this is no ordinary home. The Woodchester Villa is one of the largest and oldest octagonal buildings in Ontario. It was ahead of its time with heating, ventilation, indoor plumbing, and more.

With its contrasting white siding and red accents, this beautiful building is said to be haunted.

Haunted places Ontario

The building was home to three generations of the Bird family and the original owner, Henry J. Bird’s spirit, is said to still linger in the hallways of his beloved home along with his youngest daughter, Mary ‘May’ Matilda Bird.

There have been frequent sightings of Mary looking out the third-floor window, as well as other ghosts in and around the home, some of which include a doctor, a couple of young kids, and an old cook.

So, if you’re looking for a spooky place to visit in Ontario the Woodchester Villa in Bracebridge is it! Contribution by Stephanie from The World As I See It.

Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion, Wales

Looking for ethreal places in wales at halloween? There are many places in Wales that are full of eltic legends and spooky stories. One such place being Devils Bridge in the Cambrian Mountains.

At Devil’s Bridge, there are three separate bridges span the 90m waterfalls of the River Mynach, one built on top of the other between the 11th and 19th centuries.

According to local legend, the original bridge was built by the Devil himself, as it was considered too difficult a task for mortals.

The story begins with an old woman, she needed to cross the deep Mynach gorge to get her cow back from the other side of the river.

The Devil offered to build the old woman a bridge. Howver, it was on condition that he’d take possession of the soul of first living thing that crossed it. The old lady agreed, and the Devil built the bridge.

Before crossing the bridge, the old lady took out an old crust from her apron. She then threw it towards the cow on the other side of the bridge.

Her hungry dog eagerly chased it over the bridge. The Devil, expecting to get the soul of the old woman, got that of the poor dog.

It’s one of the most mythical Halloween destinations on the Celtic Routes in Wales.

Creepy Catacombs of Paris

If you are looking for a spooky destination in the French capital, head to the Catacombs of Paris, in the 14th district. Even if it is a bit far from the main Paris attractions is well worth the detour!

The Catacombs of Paris were former quarries, later used to stock the remains of the cemeteries located in central Paris.

These cemeteries became insalubrious and a health risk for the population, that’s why the government decided to close them down.

Halloween in Paris

During your visit to the Catacombs, you will explore corridors and corridors containing piles of skulls and bones of people who died centuries ago!

The entrance to the Catacombs is particularly impressive, with the following inscription carved on the door: “stop! Here’s the empire of the death!”  Some bone arrangements are impressive too.

So here’s a unique place to experience Halloween in Paris! The Catacombs of Paris are a popular tourist attraction and the lines are always very long. We recommend buying skip-the-line tickets online in advance. Contribution by Elisa from World in Paris.

Spooky happenings in Whitby Yorkshire

The beautiful seaside town of Whitby in North Yorkshire is a tourist hotspot, but behind its charming facade lies a spooky past.

From ghost stories, shipwrecks, and ties to the Dracula story, this fishing town is one of the best places to celebrate Halloween. 

There are a number of spooky events taking place such as the illuminations that decorate Whitby’s gothic abbey, and the bi-annual music festival called the ‘Whitby Goth Weekend’ (October 29 to October 31 2021) that brings in visitors from all over the world.

Halloween events in Whitby

For fans of Dracula, there’s a live performance that takes place on the famous 199 steps, and during the day there is even an outdoor market called the ‘Bizarre Bazaar’. They stock everything from insect jewellery to horror artwork! 

For families, the top choice has to be the North York Moors Halloween train that runs non-stop from Pickering to Whitby.

It includes plenty of tricks and treats to keep your little ones shrieking and smiling at the same time! 

As Halloween is a popular time to visit, it’s important to book accommodation well in advance, so check out these Airbnb holiday cottages in Whitby and get planning soon! Contribution by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within.

Halloween in Philadelphia

One of America’s oldest and by far it’s most historic cities is Philadelphia.  It’s a destination full of important structures in American history and among the well-preserved Philadelphia historical sites are ghost stories, spooky tales and even hauntings.

Perhaps the creepiest place in the whole city is Philly’s Eastern State Penitentiary.

The giant prison is located in the Fairmount neighborhood and it comprises an entire square city block.

The structure looks more like a medieval castle and it once held America’s most notorious criminals including the infamous gangster Al Capone.

The former prison is alleged to be one of America’s most haunted destinations and it’s open to the public for year round tours and experiences.

Halloween events in Philadelphia

In the Halloween season, the prison hosts an attraction called Terror Behind the Walls.

It’s a theatrical experience where visitors walk through the yard, cells, infirmary and other areas of the prison.

For a real thrill, it’s even scarier to visit the prison in the remainder of the year without the actors. Self-guided tours are available as well as various guided tours.

There are often guided tours that include ghost hunting equipment and even a simple candle-lit tour at dusk which is the most intimate way to visit the spooky site. Contribution by Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting.

Haunted Chapel in São Paulo.

Many tourists visiting the Holy Cross of the Hanged think it is just another chapel, another touristy thing to do in São Paulo.

Turns out this 18th-century chapel was built inside a cemetery for slaves, the poor, criminals, or anyone who would uprise against the empire.

Back then, the authorities would execute those people by hanging in public, and for practical reasons, that happened inside the cemetery.

While the cemetery eventually moved to another location a century later, the chapel remained in its place together with some haunted rumors.

Holy Cross of the Hanged

Legend has it that the church’s altar marks the spot where people were people were executed,and their souls still roam here since people’s remainings were never transferred or removed.

Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say, but the Holy Cross of the Hanged still draws many faithful people who light candles for the afflicted souls.

In the same breath, paranormal believers claim the chapel has abnormal electromagnetic waves. Would you light a candle there? Contribution by Bruna Venturinelli from I Heart Brazil.

Haunted Dragsholm Slot Castle Copenhagen

About an hour’s drive from Copenhagen’s city center lies a lesser-known Danish castle called Dragsholm Slot.

The spooky structure is home to manicured gardens and sweeping views of the North Sea. Dragsholm is also one of the spookiest castles in all of Scandinavia and is said to be occupied by at least four spirits.

Today you can pay a visit to any of these wandering spirits because the castle is a luxury hotel and restaurant. 

If you’re brave enough to stay over in the haunted castle you may meet the former Bishop of Roskilde. He was imprisoned in the castle during the Reformation and guests report moaning coming from the area where he was imprisoned.

Dragsholm Slot Castle ghosts

Another ghost story involved the lady in white, a nobleman’s daughter who was caught in a forbidden romance with a castle worker. Her vengeful father tied her to a pole in the castle cellars and built a brick wall around her, leaving her to perish.

A friendly spirit of the gray lady also haunts the castle. She is said to have worked on the grounds and was suffering from a toothache before she passed.

A kind fellow-laborer pulled her tooth, but it became infected so her pain was relieved but it caused her death. Her happy spirit walks the grounds looking for the chance to thank the man who pulled her tooth.

The final ghost is the spirit of the Earl of Bothwell, husband of Mary Queen of Scots.

He’s another former prisoner who has never left the castle and is said to ride his ghostly carriage through the courtyard at night. Contribution by Derek and Mike from Everything Copenhagen.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia

Bonaventure Cemetery is a quick 15-minute drive from downtown Savannah, Georgia – an already famously spooky city full of its own ghosts and ghost stories.

The cemetery though, besides the very obvious trait of being a cemetery where hundreds of dead bodies are buried, is full of its own legends of spookiness.

The grave of Little Gracie Wilson is the most famous of spots in the cemetery.

The little girl, in the late 1890s, at the age of six, passed away from pneumonia to the great sorrow of her parents, who were well known in the city for throwing parties, many of which Gracie was known to attend.

Haunted Graveyards in Savannah

Gracie is buried beneath an extraordinarily life-like statue on which visitors today often leave gifts.

Don’t dare to take one of the gifts away though, for you may cause Gracie’s statue to cry tears of blood.

Oh, and while you’re in the cemetery, keep your eyes peeled for a young girl in a white dress skipping around and playing.

Say ‘hi’ before Gracie vanishes again into thin air. Contribution by Caitlin Boylan from The Country Jumper.

Haunted Port Arthur Historic Site Tasmania

If you’re looking for a frightening place to visit in 2021 then it doesn’t get much spookier than Port Arthur Historic Site.

200 years ago Tasmania was literally the worst place in the world for an English criminal to be sent to suffer for their crimes.

On the opposite side of the world, under the watchful eye of oppressive jailers and forced into the most back-breaking labour.

More than 10,000 souls died at this World Heritage-listed convict penitentiary!

Ghost tour Port Arthur Historic Site

Those days are long gone, but it is no surprise that their ghosts remain. Even as early as the 1800s stories began to emerge of weird diseases, freaky figures, and weird events that to this day can not be explained by science.

Ghost tours are the best way to explore this sprawling site and they operate twice per day, with the first tour commencing right on dusk.

Bring a friend, because this is one ghoulish experience you’ll never forget! Contribution by Andrew Strikis of Lap of Tasmania.

Haunted Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee

Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee was built in 1893, and it has been an icon of the hotel industry for over a century.

It’s one of the best hotels in the city and the Midwest. The hotel is located near the historic Third Ward. The hotel strives to maintain the tradition of a warm welcome, great services, and impeccable style.

Did you know that the Pfister Hotel is also said to be the most haunted place in Wisconsin? 

Haunted Pfister Hotel Wisconsin

Spooky sightings in Milwaukee

Major league baseball players have reported a wide range of paranormal activity when they stayed in the hotel. Some of the things they reported are electrical anomalies, object manipulations and apparitions.

If you’re looking for less spooky surroundings, the hotel is just three blocks away from the shores of Lake Michigan.

You can enjoy 4-start services along with appreciating the beauty of Wisconsin. Surrounded by museums, malls, and theatres, Milwaukee is perfect to plan a getaway to some of the best winter cabins in Wisconsin. Contribution by Paulina from Paulina on the Road.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Recoleta Cemetery in the heart of one of Buenos Aires’ most historic districts makes for a spooky visit any time of the year.

This is the final resting place of some of Argentina’s most famous – and infamous – leaders and stars, including Eva (Evita) Perón.

The ornate, life-size sculptures and statues that decorate the mausoleums are both beautiful and haunting.

While many mausoleums are in good condition, others have seen better days, and broken glass and rusted doors offer glimpses of toppled caskets and dusty antechambers with levels of coffins stacked below.

You’ll certainly feel chills as you walk down some of the deserted rows of mausoleums.

Recoleta Cemetery ghosts

Apparitions are common and include a famed “woman in white” seen lurking around the corners, and the ghost of a young woman accidentally buried alive here years ago.

Listen for the sound of the jingling keys of a former cemetery guard that many claim never left.

Don’t forget to snap a picture of the map in the entrance showing you exactly how to find some of the most famous and spooky graves in the cemetery. Contribution by Carley Rojas Avila from Home to Havana.

Spooky places to visit

What do you think of this bumper collection of Halloween destinations and spooky places?

Have you ever visited somewhere for Halloween? Let me know in the comments below.

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