On Wednesday, I shared two of my favorite ways to celebrate Halloween: visiting a seasonal haunted house and touring a “real” haunted locale . Of course, I merely grazed the surface of all the haunted places – both seasonal and year-round – that America has to offer. If, after all, the proliferation of horror movies in this country is any indication, Americans sure do love to be scared, especially around Halloween. So, whether you live in the United States or you're visiting from another country, you might be wondering how to spend this popular holiday – which, incidentally, is only two days away. If you have yet to make your plans, consider two more of my favorite ways to embrace Halloween:
3. Take a ghost tour.
As I mentioned in my five-part series about America's 10 most haunted cities , ghost tours are prevalent throughout the country. While many are available all year long, they're especially popular during the Halloween season. Not surprisingly, many of the most favored ghost tours can be found in historic Southern port towns like New Orleans, Key West, Savannah, and Charleston.
In the Big Easy, for instance, Haunted History Tours  (504/861-2727, $20 adults, $17 seniors and students, $10 children 6-11, children under 6 free) offers a walking ghost tour through the French Quarter (6-8 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. nightly), which departs from Reverend Zombie's House of Voodoo at 725 St. Peter Street, and a walking ghost tour in the Garden District (2:30-4:30 p.m. daily), which begins in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 at 1400 Washington Avenue. New Orleans Spirit Tours  (504/314-0806, $20 adults, $18 seniors and students, $10 children 6-12, children under 6 free) also leads walking ghost and vampire tours (8:15 p.m. nightly) from Toulouse Royale Gifts at 601 Royal Street. In addition, Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours  (504/915-7774) features a haunted pub crawl (5 p.m. daily, $30 adults 21 and over) that begins near the supposedly haunted Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop at 941 Bourbon Street.
Other Southern favorites include The Original Ghost Tours of Key West  (423 Fleming St., Key West, Florida, 305/294-9255, $15 adults, $10 children 4-12, children under 4 free), which offers 90-minute, lantern-led walking tours of the Southernmost City's most haunted landmarks, and Savannah's Cobblestone Tours  (512 E. Oglethorpe Ave., Savannah, Georgia, 912/604-3007), which features a candlelit Haunted History Tour (7-8:30 p.m. and 9-10:30 p.m. nightly, $10 adults, $8 seniors 55 and over, $5 children 5-12, children under 5 free) and an adults-only Haunted Pub Crawl (8-10 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. nightly, $10 adults, $8 seniors 55 and over). In Charleston, meanwhile, Bulldog Tours  (40 N. Market St., Charleston, South Carolina, 843/722-8687) leads several spooky tours, including the Charleston Ghost & Dungeon Walking Tour (7-8:30 p.m. and 9-10:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Mar.-Nov., $18 adults, $10 children 7-12), the Charleston Ghost & Graveyard Walking Tour (7:30-9 p.m. and 9:30-11 p.m. nightly, $18 pp), and The Haunted Jail Tour (7-7:45 p.m., 8-8:45 p.m., 9-9:45 p.m., and 10-10:45 p.m. nightly, $18 adults, $10 children 7-12).
Besides Portland, San Francisco, San Antonio, and Salem – some of the other places mentioned in my “haunted cities” series – you'll encounter ghost tours in such towns as Boston, which features the 90-minute Ghosts & Gravestones Boston Frightseeing Tour  (617/269-3626, hours vary Apr.-Oct., $38 adults, $24 children 4-12), and Kansas City, home to the Kansas City's Ghosts & Gangsters Tour  (816/472-4467, 6 and 9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $30 pp), which departs from The Edge of Hell attraction that I mentioned in the first part of this series. Reservations are usually recommended, if not required, for all ghost tours, especially around Halloween.
4. Explore a ghost town.
Another fun way to celebrate Halloween is to experience any one of the hundreds of ghost towns that exist in this country. Naturally, ghost towns can range from just a collection of abandoned structures alongside a highway to popular tourist destinations like the Calico Ghost Town  (36600 Ghost Town Rd., Yermo, California, 800/862-2542, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, $6 adults, $5 children 6-15, children under 5 free), a former silver-mining town that was established in the early 1880s, abandoned in the mid-1890s, and restored in the 1950s by Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farm fame. Today, Calico features historic attractions, shops, eateries, and recreational diversions, including a campground.
Of course, if you're looking for a spookier experience, you might want to consider a less touristy ghost town. Most can be found in Southwestern states like California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Texas and Oklahoma have their share, too, as do many other U.S. states. In fact, you'll even find some abandoned sugar plantations in the Hawaiian islands. For a whole slew of suggested ghost towns, check out this helpful website . Just bear in mind that, as with all third-party sources, some of the information there might be a bit outdated – and be prepared for some fairly incessant, Western-style music. Also, for safety's sake, I wouldn't recommend visiting any isolated ghost towns all by your lonesome, no matter how tempting such an experience might be. Given the remote, run-down nature of many ghost towns, you never know what perils await – whether in the form of deteriorating structures or nefarious strangers.
That said, how do you plan to celebrate this year's Halloween?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar  © 2011 Daniel Martone / Text © 2011 Laura Martone
Laura Martone is Moon’s American Nomad  and the author of Moon Michigan , Moon Florida Keys , Moon Baja RV Camping , and the upcoming Moon New Orleans, which will be published in Fall 2012.