Due to the current state that our world is in (trying to find vaccines, cures, and treatments), we all must still move forward into the fall with optimism and safe adventures. My most favorite holiday is Halloween!! But first, let me give you a tad bit of history...
I grew up during a time of anti-Halloween. There was a large boom of boycotts throughout the world in the 90’s against Halloween. I never understood the difference between make-believe and the secular celebration of Halloween. Many adults would encourage their children to pretend and play make believe all year long, but discouraged that childlike behavior on that one particular night a year... so many people tied the holiday to satanic and demonic rituals but very few did research back then to clarify these false origin stories.
“Hallow" — or holy person — refers to the saints that are recognized on All Saints' Day, which falls on November 1st. The "een" in Halloween is representation of "eve" (evening before). Halloween is another way of saying "the night before All Saints' Day".
My family and I, most definitely, recognize All Saints’ day. So we give no life to any negative ties to Halloween other than it being the day/night before All Saints day. Now, as far as the spooks go, my theory is this: there are many different types of "fear". Fear is not related to our celebration of Halloween. There is only excitement. What some call Halloween-fear, we call thrills. It's that paralleled feeling to excitement. The thrill of a rollercoaster, the elation of a surprise birthday party... the dark and unknown can also be another variation of those same feelings. I have held my husband’s arm so tight while walking through a "haunted" house on Halloween and that feeling of the anticipated BOO! that startles you, causing you to cling tight to the one you love, never gets old. I fully understand that that type of thrill can be fear for some and therefore, it is not meant for everyone, but for the ones it is enjoyed by, let's take our common love for this one day a year on the road and have a frightfully good time!
Every year my family treks to Walt Disney World to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. As you may or may not have heard, the party has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus. Before letting ourselves feel blue over the lost tradition for 2020, I had an idea to put together a small weekend getaway that exuded all that we loved about the Halloween party that we are going to miss this year. Follow along for a spooky and spectacular list of places to adventure to during this years’ Halloween season, and if my little ones are dressed as a witch or a ghoul, it's because those are things that can cause fear so they dress that way to show they have no fear of such fictitious things. Its a mockery of something that is completely false to them. And just maybe, dressed up as a scary creature, will allow them to scare off the things that frighten you.
Alamonte Springs, FL and Orlando, FL
Tucked away in Alamonte Springs is a terrifying forest that hosts fun guided haunts throughout the nights of October. The company, A Petrified Forest, hosts the event every year and is still on standby as of right now on whether or not the event will go on this year. If it does, you can expect to have a petrifying good time. And since it is located roughly 20 minutes from Orlando, there are tons of Airbnb and hotel options nearby. Although the Magic Kingdom's Halloween party in Orlando will be canceled this year, their breathtaking Halloween decor will still be out and on display, in the parks as well as in Disney Springs, beginning September 15th! Visit my Disney During a Pandemic post for more info. So if WDW is still your vacation destination this fall, you can still stroll through Disney springs and/or visit Magic Kingdom and pick up a Halloween caramel apple (or two) at the Confectionery during your visit. And remember to stop by the petrified forest one night during your stay to complete your halloween Florida vacation.
Soooooo much perfection for your Halloween trip lies in Salem, Massachusetts. The birth place of the the cult classic movie, Hocus Pocus, along with a rich history that includes the infamous Salem witch trials, makes Salem the most epic and iconic halloween destination, by far. Flights from Savannah Georgia to Boston are approximately $220 round trip right now which is shockingly cheap. Check with American Airlines for current rates. Salem goes big for Halloween, even during the current pandemic. After booking your flight, head to https://www.hawthornehotel.com/ for an amazing place to stay. With 95 years since it's grand opening, no better location could be chosen for your Salem trip. There is so much to be recognized about The Hawthorne Hotel. From scenes filmed from the beloved Bewitched tv series, to famous movie stars filmed here, to even a presidential visit; this hotel's claim to fame is tried and true! There was even once a séance performed in the grand ballroom to communicate with the famous and late Harry Houdini. Visit their site for more on current rates. If two couples make this trip and split this cost, the room can be quite affordable. But book fast because, as mentioned above, Salem is quite busy during October and most rooms have already booked up. Many Airbnb's are still available in Salem, but again, there are fewer options right now for the coveted October weekend dates, so browse and select asap! And for your ghost tour needs, visit this site to book a hauntingly good time through Salem. Most Hocus Pocus tours have already sold out but this site gives you instructions on a self guided tour that is free so that your can take your very own movie tour through Salem. How fun, right??
The haunted history of Savannah is a very long one. From ghost pirates to phantom war victims and even home to one of the last recorded exorcisms in history, you are sure to have an encounter (or two) with an apparition during your stay. As a Savannah native, I must say that the hostess city is definitely my favorite during October. The weather is perfect, the ghosts are friendly, and the food is exceedingly paranormal, in the most delightful way.
On your quest of all things spooky, an escape room must be at the top of your list. Encryption Escape is so much fun. It was our group's first experience with an escape room last year, so we were advised to try the "Lights Out" room which is much easier than the other choices. It was totally doable, spooky, and SO MUCH FUN! But if you are going for scary, I would opt for the more difficult and creepy room titled "Zeta, eta, Zeta".
On your halloween trip, you must stay at the most haunted hotel in Savannah, the Marshall House. My husband and I stayed here on our wedding night so I am definitely biased to its charm and beauty, but all biases aside, it is a gorgeous step-back in time and is located perfectly on Broughton Street. And since this hotel is so dear to me, I will add on a bottle of wine to your stay if you book a room at the Marshall House in the month of October 2020 or October 2021. Just email me your reservation confirmation and you will have a bottle in your room upon your arrival. Your go-to ghost tour is Genteel and Bard. Be sure to grab a spiked cocoa or coffee from Six Pence eatery before embarking on your ghostly tour.
Dinner in Savannah has countless choices that are positively spectacular but we are going for a more spook-tacular setting, so Moon River Brewing Company is a must. It is loaded with haunts! And the stories from the wait staff are always a crowd pleaser. Be sure to sample the beer flights outside in the Beer Garden, under the warm, October, Savannah night skies.
As the sun begins to set, a veil of magic covers the city and you must take a stroll through Colonial Park Cemetery (closes at 8 p.m.) during this time. You can actually feel a massive amount of energy from all of the history there that lies beyond the gates.
So many haunting tours in Charleston SC but a whole lot of craft beer as well. Pair the two together for a frightfully fun October vacation. The Bulldog Tours group has the perfect tour for you while assuring safety in regards to Covid19 and ghost encounters.
Embassy Suites by Hilton is a hotel worth looking into for a couple of reasons. Reason number one is the history of this building. It was once a fortress known as the Citadel during the Civil War. The next reason may frighten you off but rest assured, "he" is harmless... Located on the mezzanine, room M113, resides a ghost that is seen so often that it is said that the room is only available if every other room in the hotel is booked. The haunt and thrill seeker in me, wants to call and request that room during October and see what happens, but I will leave that up to you...
After your terrifying trails, you will be hungry. For a more fun and less scary experience, head over to Poogan's Porch where it is rumored that the eatery is haunted by the ghost of a dog that once lived there, named "Poogan". And for your brunch that should take place the moment you wake up, but before heading home, should be at none other than 5church Charleston. It is a magnificent old church that has been turned into a breathtaking restaurant that serves up some yummy brunch selections.
Start your first night off right in the oldest city in America by touring the historical beauty that is Saint Augustine, along with locals... of the present and past. And your stay can be made easy by booking with Casa de Suenos Bed and breakfast and selecting their "Paranormal Package" as an add on to your stay. This quaint and charming B&B was once a funeral home, so your eerie lodging goals will be met for sure. Simply select the "paranormal" package upon check out and you will receive the following; a copy of the Ghosts of St. Augustine book, Oldest Ghosts (St. Augustine Haunts) book, Ghostly Encounter Walking Tour for two, and two Ghostly Tee Shirts! And it doesn't end there. Click here or select the "amenities" from the main menu, for all that is included with your stay at Casa de Suenos. It really is a "ones stop shop" for your weekend getaway!
And for a shamanistic backdrop to your dinner plans, choose Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille. The building of Harry's has it's own record of haunts, so be sure to ask your waiter if he or she has had any experiences during their time at the restaurant. Great food and an amazing atmosphere is going to complete your list for a magical time in the country's oldest city.
I hope you get to to travel to somewhere hauntingly fun this fall. Remember that Halloween is what you make it. There are so many things that have changed this year but taking off on a road trip with friends and loved ones can still happen. What better time than during the season of cooler weather, changing leaves, and pumpkins galore! Happy Halloween...
The Adventurous Alfords