Travel’s Best All-American Vacations 2014

Get a true taste of Americana and marvel at the nation’s natural wonders with our travel experts’ picks for Travel’s Best All-American Vacations 2014.

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Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia, was recently named one of National Geographic's 10 "World Wonders" thanks to Thomas Jefferson's design. Beyond the campus' Rotunda and nearby Monticello, the rolling hills and Blue Ridge mountains serve as a beautiful backdrop for the surrounding wineries and orchards. For its size, Charlottesville is incredibly well-read (it supports two weekly papers), has a plethora of art galleries, is overflowing with restaurants and attracts big-name talent to its open-air pavilion on the Downtown Mall. 960 1280

Bob Mical, flickr  

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Centered around Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), there's no question that Savannah is an eclectic town with a never-ending supply of culture. But aside from its rich Southern history and gorgeous antebellum architecture, its home to the (too?) rich home cooking of Paula Deen at The Lady & Sons, an ever-rotating selection of craft brews at The Distillery and the decadent pralines at River Street Sweets. And if that's not enough, the beach at Tybee Island is only 30 minutes away. 960 1280

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Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Washington isn’t all politics. With nine colleges and universities, the capital is also a large college town, with a seriously diverse range of neighborhoods. U Street beckons with Ben’s Chili Bowl, and Georgetown is a great place for a pre-exam sugar high, courtesy of Georgetown Cupcake. A sports fix is also within easy reach, thanks to D.C.'s and the surrounding area's major sports arenas: Verizon Center, Nationals Park, RFK Stadium and FedEx Field. But nothing beats the National Mall, the 2.5-mile-long stretch of green where you can enjoy everything from a game of soccer to an outdoor “screen on the green” movie. 960 1280

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Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts

OK, so Boston isn’t exactly a “town”… but with an estimated 250,000 college students and some 80 colleges and universities, the city sometimes feels like one giant campus quad. Boston is a city with a lot of history and even more pride -– anyone who’s ever been to a Sox game can attest to that. Just be sure to avoid the city come September 1st… Boston’s notorious “moving day,” when a mass influx of students pick up the keys to their new apartments and head back to college. 960 1280

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Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

The Twin Cities is home to more than a half dozen colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota’s main campus. Go Golden Gophers! There’s always something to do when studying isn’t a priority. Head to the Metrodome to catch a Gophers, Vikings or Twins game. Visit the Weisman Art Museum, West Bank, Guthrie Theater and the Walker Art Center. Sample tasty cuisine at the hip Loring Pasta Bar and Annie’s Parlor in Dinkytown. And explore the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Falls and Lake Calhoun to witness the area’s natural beauty. 960 1280

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Chapel Hill, N.C.

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Known as “The Southern Part of Heaven” and home to the University of North Carolina Tarheels, Chapel Hill’s main strip -- Franklin Street – is the place for tailgating after parties, first-date dinners at Top of the Hill, boutique shops and Sunday strolls. As the University continues to grow and expand, so does the surrounding area: adding new shops, delis and inns to the already popular downtown Chapel Hill. 960 1280

VisitNC.com – Bill Russ  

Morgantown, W.V.

Morgantown, W.V.

Nestled in the beautiful mountains of north-central West Virginia and along the banks of the Monongahela River, Morgantown is home to the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers. Students and visitors enjoy outdoor adventure all year long with nearby rafting, hiking and skiing. Named “Best Party School in the United States” by the Princeton Review in 2012, WVU is infamous for its off-campus parties and post-game celebrations held on Sunnyside’s Grant Avenue. A Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system connects the University’s three campuses and makes game-day tailgating at Mountaineer Field both easy and safe. 960 1280

J. Robinson, flickr  

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

Where else can students wake up, go for a quick hike, stop by campus for a class, and hit the slopes by the afternoon? Even if outdoor activities aren’t your thing, there’s something for you. Go for a stroll down Pearl Street, a pedestrian mall lined with shops, world-class restaurants and fire-juggling street performers. No matter what you do here, there's a good chance your activity of choice will be set against the stunning backdrop of the Colorado rockies. 960 1280

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Athens, Georgia

Athens, Georgia

You may think of the University of Georgia as a typical southern school -- and in many ways it is -- but Athens, isn't a typical college town. The historic downtown has fostered artists, hipsters and musicians such as R.E.M. and the B-52s. And if you look beyond the frat houses in the neighborhood of Five Points, you'll find old Georgia mansions and upscale restaurants. 960 1280

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Berkeley, California

Berkeley, California

You gotta take in the view of the Bay Area from atop the 307-foot-tall Sather Tower, in the heart of Berkeley’s campus. Once you descend, your next mandatory stop is Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley’s lively commercial strip with local attractions like the historic Fox Oakland Theatre. Want to see an outdoor show? Head to the 8,500-seat Greek Theatre. Keep the outdoor fun going -- pony and carousel rides, anyone? -- at Tilden Regional Park. Like any A-list college town, Berkeley is big on sports, with nearly a dozen sports facilities that cater to track and field, soccer, field hockey, water polo and more. 960 1280

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Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison is Wisconsin’s capital city, and it’s also the largest city in the Dairy State. According to Forbes magazine, Madison ranks 16th in education and falls in the top 50 list of cities with the highest number of Ph.D.s per capita. The city is home to few colleges and one university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Aside from hitting the books, students and locals can enjoy fun, local activities, which include checking out a concert on Capitol Square, taking a swim in Lake Mendota or visiting the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. 960 1280

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Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona

Located in the middle of four major cities in Arizona (Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix and Scottsdale), Tempe is known as one of the more diverse cities in the state. Step right out of the classroom into the beautiful Arizona sun. The number of pools is endless, the sunbathing is top notch and the mountainous scenery with palm trees lining the streets isn't too shabby either. Arizona State's campus is highlighted by dozens of bars and restaurants that line Mill Avenue. And that's not all, a 5-minute ride down the road will land you right in the heart of downtown Scottsdale. 960 1280

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Bloody woman crawls from underneath floorboard at 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, LA
13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

Located in downtown Baton Rouge, 13th Gate has been used as a film location for photo shoots and movies, such as The Reaping, because of its realistic and detailed rooms. This creepy attraction keeps haunted revelers frightened by revamping its 13 different themes each year. New haunts this year include Possession, an old cabin infested with demonic entities; and Scary Tales, a new feature that pays homage to the famous Grimm Fairy Tales, but it has a 13th Gate twist. “This haunted house is so realistic that you will scream for mercy. It will give you one of the best Halloween experiences in the industry,” says Larry Kirchner, owner and publisher of Hauntworld.com and HauntWorld Magazine. 960 1280

13th Gate  

The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm (Knoxville, TN)

The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm (Knoxville, TN)

The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm is a less scary, kid-friendly attraction for families who live near Knoxville, TN. Children will enjoy the new Fairy Tale Trail, where kids follow 12 storybook pages as their guide through the kid’s corn maze. This year, the owners have also doubled the size of the corn pit, a huge box packed corn kernels for kids and adults to play. And after 15 years, this Halloween may mark the last time locals and tourists will be able to take the creepy journey along the Trail of Doom. “After several hours in the corn maze, if you happen to find yourself lost -- you may find the sound corn beneath your feet creepy rather than comforting,” says Daniel Schwartz, executive producer of Travel Channel’s TV show Ghost Adventures. 960 1280

Oakes Farm  

The Darkness (St. Louis)

The Darkness (St. Louis)

The Darkness is one of the oldest running haunted houses in St. Louis. This haunted attraction has been updated with new features, including a haunted library filled with evil spirits. The owners have also created the new Scream Zone -- equipped with a mega-scream movie wall and roaming zombies, monsters and demons -- to keep the crowd waiting outside preoccupied. And inside, it’s 2 floors of special effects and more! “The Darkness is considered America’s most detailed and technologically-advanced haunted house in America with over 200 animations, 75 CGI effects, hundreds of zombies, monsters, man-eating puppets and animated effects that grab and bite customers,” says Larry Kirchner. 960 1280

Scarefest.com  

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls (Philadelphia)

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls (Philadelphia)

It made our list, Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions 2013, and we decided to add it again this year. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls was once home to imprisoned bank robber Willie Sutton and mob boss Al Capone. Today, this penitentiary utilizes its spooky surroundings to create 6 different scare zones, including Quarantine 4D and Breakout, 2 groundbreaking attractions this year. “I’m excited about Breakout, which is a prison break area where inmates – and visitors – attempt to gain their freedom, using barrels, ropes, tunnels and ladders,” says Aaron Sagers, geek culture and paranormal culture expert. 960 1280

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls   

Fear Factory (Salt Lake City, UT)

Fear Factory (Salt Lake City, UT)

Located on 2.5 acres or a full-city block in Salt Lake City, UT, the Fear Factory features a post-apocalyptic setting with underground tunnels, towers, mazes and “2 of the largest indoor slides in North America,” according to the owners. For extreme thrills, we suggest the controlled free fall from the factory’s tower or ride the Last Ride zip line to witness the terror from above. Fear Factory, formerly a cement factory built in the late 1800s, is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of former workers who died here. “People should check out the Fear Factory because this site is one of the rare locations in the US where the history is even more terrifying than that depicted in the haunted house,” says Daniel Schwartz.   960 1280

Breck Gonzales  

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park (San Diego)

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park (San Diego)

Set in the middle of San Diego is Balboa Park, an idyllic escape from life in the city, but when the sun goes down the monsters emerge on the mile-long Haunted Trail. Beware of creepy characters and horror movie legends such as Freddy Kruger, Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhees.  “But, there’s more than just monsters that will spook you, the psychological terrors to make you want to flee the darkness,” says Arthur Hsu, producer of America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions. Visitors can also experience the Experiment, a horrifying maze with more than 3,500 square feet of freak-infested terror. We recommend wearing good running shoes. 960 1280

Mike Rollerson  

Hundred Acres Manor (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hundred Acres Manor (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hundred Acres Manor offers 6 haunted houses in one location and has been terrifying the victims for over a decade. “With nearly 200 actors you never know when the next scare is going to jump out at you,” says Arthur Hsu. The Vodou Bayou is the new attraction this year. Visitors can take a tour through the Deep South, where the spirits of the bayou beckon, the stitchers want your body, the priestess wants your soul. Dead Lift, Damnation, Torture Bank, The Maze and the Brine Slaughterhouse are the other scary highlights of this bone-chilling haunt. But, there’s a glimmer of light in the darkness, this is a charity scary attraction that donates to Homeless Children’s Education Fund and Animal Friends 960 1280

Hundred Acres Manor Haunted House  

Lord Chaz Ghost & Vampire Tours (New Orleans, LA)

Lord Chaz Ghost & Vampire Tours (New Orleans, LA)

“I like my Halloween scares dished out with a serving of history and a helping of theater,” says Aaron Sagers. “Add in a dash of jazz spirit, and you have the spooky gumbo of Lord Chaz’ Ghost & Vampire Tour in New Orleans.” Lord Chaz – actor, author, musician and street performer – provides guided tours of the French Quarter year round, but his tours are best experienced in October. His Ghost & Vampire Tour starts at Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall on Bourbon Street. On this walking tour, Lord Chaz guides haunted history aficionados through the streets and talks about the infamous murders, suicides and tragedies that have inspired well-renowned authors such as Anne Rice. 960 1280

Lord Chaz  

Netherworld (Atlanta)

Netherworld (Atlanta)

Netherworld received our stamp of approval and made our Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions last year, and again this year. It has 2 new features, including the Toxic Foam Room, where patrons step into this one-of-a-kind decontamination chamber after exiting Vault 13. Try the new Elevator of Death, where up to 20 people can ride the elevator down to Vault 13, but be prepared for the flickering lights and bumpy descent. “Netherworld is one of Hauntworld’s scariest haunted houses because they spend a long time developing one-of-a-kind costumes, masks, animation and set design that can only be experienced in Atlanta,” Larry Kirchner.  960 1280

Netherworld Haunted House  

Robert Kurtzman’s Mad FX Lab (Crestline, OH)

Robert Kurtzman’s Mad FX Lab (Crestline, OH)

You may know makeup-effects master Robert Kurtzman’s work – co founder of KNB and owner of Robert Kurtzman's Creature Corps. Kurtzman is known for his work in blockbuster movies such as From Dusk Till Dawn, Army of Darkness, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and John Carpenter's Vampires. Every year, fans converge on the Mad FX Lab in Crestline, OH, to walk through the alien lab, Freddy’s Tunnel, the home of Leatherface and the Butcher’s Room. “Robert Kurtzman and his associates apply their creative skills and imagination to this unique haunt, bringing Hollywood-caliber frights to the locals of this small town,” says Aaron Sager. 960 1280

Robert Kurtzman's Mad FX Lab  

Photos

Best Ballpark Food

Best Ballpark Food

Steering away from the ballpark classics (i.e. peanuts hot dogs French fries) we've got our eye on the best ballpark food at Washington DC's Nationals Park stadium: the roasted cauliflower sandwich from Chef Mike Isabella's G. "There is no better bite during a ballgame than a sandwich from G" says Nevin Martell. "Choose from a rag?-rich chicken Parmesan accented with Thai basil or a roasted cauliflower soaked with poppy paprika lemon vinaigrette" add Martell. The roasted cauliflower sandwich packs a flavorful punch especially for vegetarians or vegans looking for something delightful at the game. You're welcome! 960 1280

Greg Powers  

Best Ice Cream Shop

Best Ice Cream Shop

We're taking you back in time to the heyday of shave ice but this time with a twist: it's accompanied by ice cream! Our pick for best ice cream shop in the summer is Matsumoto on Hawaii's North Shore. Established in 1951 Matsumoto provides over 1000 shave ices to tourists each year. "Make sure you get with ice cream underneath. Will change your life" says Chef Michael Voltaggio. Who doesn't love a little ice accompanied by cream? 960 1280

Matsumoto Shave Ice  

Best Seafood Restaurant

Best Seafood Restaurant

Summers in the Northeast automatically mean that it's time for fresh lobster. Our pick for best seafood restaurant to get said lobster is the adorable Beach Plum Restaurant (connected to The Beach Plum Inn) located in the small town of Menemsha in Martha's Vineyard MA overlooking Menemsha Harbor. "Chef Chris Fischer grows his own vegetables at his Beetlebung Farm. The food is fresh delicious and not too fussy. You can watch the fishing boats come in with their daily haul" adds Peden and Munk. 960 1280

Elana Carlson/Ashley Jardim  

Best Brunch Spot

Best Brunch Spot

Plump tomatoes certainly say summer and eating them when they are green and fried is a Southern tradition (also eating them outside in the summer sun is a must). Fried green tomatoes are served at Baltimore's legendary brunch spot Miss Shirley's which has locations in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and a few short minutes from Annapolis Harbor. "They've got just the right amount of tang inside and savory crunch outside" says Robin Bennefield. "For a twist on eggs Benedict have them with mini crab cakes and poached eggs dusted with Maryland's Old Bay seasoning. You'll need to walk off Miss Shirley's hearty portions with a stroll along the shimmering harbor." 960 1280

Miss Shirely?s Cafe  

Best (Summer) Restaurant with a View

Best (Summer) Restaurant with a View

Summer can mean a lot of things, but to us it means shorts, flip flops and burgers. And there is no better place to find this than at Le Tub in Hollywood, FL. While you're sinking your teeth into one of their critically acclaimed burgers, enjoy a gorgeous, "Why don't I live here?" view of the Intracoastal Waterway. "You'll gladly wait a well-worth-it hour for a burger as you sip a cold beer overlooking the water, watching mega yachts cruise by," says Robyn Lindars. 960 1280

Mchael Marusin Scott Audette for VISIT FLORIDA  

Best BBQ

Best BBQ

We probably need to create an entire "Best of Barbecue" list to tackle this one but Southern barbecue is at its finest at Southern Soul Barbeque on charming St. Simons Island GA. Their juicy slow-smoked chicken pairs perfectly with their Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas and rice) collard greens and cornbread. "Sit on one of their outdoor picnic benches or grab your BBQ to go and head to one of the many beach areas (just 5 minutes away)" says Danielle "Diva Q" Dimovski. "It is like a mini vacation as you smell the Atlantic Ocean and the delicious wafts of barbecue smoke from one of their many pits" she adds. 960 1280

Benjamin Galland, h2o Creative Group  

Best Food Truck

Best Food Truck

From Washington DC to California there are some "out-of-this-world" food trucks! But "1 truck has never escaped my mind -- Kogi BBQ Taco Truck" says Rani Robinson-Kiganda. Located in Los Angeles Kogi jams an incredible amount of flavor into each bite of its tacos and burritos. "I highly recommend the chicken taco and the sliders -- what used to be a 'special' occurrence on the menu and has since become a permanent menu option. Order either the short rib slider or replace it with a meat of your choice (chicken please!)" adds Robinson-Kiganda. Three different trucks are positioned from Long Beach to Burbank in LA County from Monday to Friday. Follow the Kogi BBQ Taco Truck on Twitter @kogibbq. 960 1280

Eric Shin  

Best Bar Food

Best Bar Food

When choosing the best bar food spot we really had to concentrate on location. There are some great bars out there but Big Sur's Nepenthe made the cut with its stunning mountain views of the California countryside. "I'm one of those beat travelers who stop at Nepenthe in Big Sur after a day of hiking for a few simple pleasures: a glass or 2 of wine from Monterey County and some California-made snacks" says Casey Barber. "Order Nepenthe's Laura Chenel goat cheese and creamy roasted Gilroy garlic while taking in the 360-degree views from the mountain perch of the restaurant's outdoor terrace" adds Barber. 960 1280

Tom Birmingham  

Best Food Festival

Best Food Festival

Nearly every state in America hosts a State Fair each year and with that comes irresistible fair foods. The Minnesota State Fair made our list as one of the best. When it comes down to it it's a massive food fest with nearly 1000 vendors offering favorites like fried cheese curds jumbo buckets of double-dipped French fries giant melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies grilled pork chops on a stick and classics like hamburgers and hot dogs. "Every year I start every day at the fair with a real natural casing German-style foot long hot dog with mustard grilled onions and sauerkraut" says Andrew Zimmern. 960 1280
Best Place for Pie

Best Place for Pie

Using only fresh seasonal ingredients Dangerously Delicious Pies (2 locations in DC 1 in Baltimore MD) quickly rose to the top of our "Best Place for Pie" list. Order summer classics like cherry strawberry blueberry and their noteworthy Key lime pie or go for something authentic -- the Baltimore Bomb pie. "Dangerously Delicious Pies has a unique pie that is stupidly addictive. Berger cookies thick with fudge are melted into a vanilla chess filling to make up the gooey Baltimore Bomb" says Amy McKeever. 960 1280

Dangerously Delicious Pies  

Knott's Scary Farm (Buena Park, CA)

Knott's Scary Farm (Buena Park, CA)

"In late fall, Southern California's Knott's Berry Farm morphs into the most-attended Halloween attraction in the world. In addition to heart-stopping rides like GhostRider (one of the longest and tallest wooden roller coasters in the world), Knott’s Scary Farm Haunt's elaborately themed mazes, like the brand new Trapped: The New Experiment, will give you memories you'll never forget … try as you might. Six sinister live shows, including my very own Elvira's Sinema Séance, all add up to the ultimate horror experience!" -- Elvira, Mistress of the Dark 960 1280

Knott's Berry Farm  

The Haunting of Lemp Brewery (St. Louis)

The Haunting of Lemp Brewery (St. Louis)

“I had the pleasure of walking around Lemp Brewery when I was filming in St. Louis for our 100th Ghost Adventures episode. The building alone is creepy, and to put an actual haunted attraction inside is freaky. Very cool history of the Lemp Brewery. A must-see.” -- Nick Groff, Ghost Adventures Investigator 960 1280

  

Markoff's Haunted Forest (Calleva Farm in Dickerson, MD)

Markoff's Haunted Forest (Calleva Farm in Dickerson, MD)

“Ask anyone in the DC area for a Halloween pick and they’ll tell you to head to Markoff’s Haunted Forest, where they’ve been freaking out guests for more than 20 years. Haunted hayrides, zombie hunts and a walk through the Not-So-Fun House Maze are just a few ways your creepy adventure unfolds on one of 2 terrifying trails. Dress in your warmest clothes and bring your best running shoes. Beware of the chainsaw-wielding stalker ... and be prepared to get spooked!” -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Markoff's Haunted Forest/Calleva Inc.  

Disney's Haunted Mansion (Orlando, FL)

Disney's Haunted Mansion (Orlando, FL)

“Such a classic family attraction! Beautiful sets and wonderful illusions. We definitely go through the Haunted Mansion whenever we're at Disneyland or Disney World! It's like having a Halloween experience year-round. Fun and spooky but not so scary that you would need to have your children in therapy for years!” -- Ed Edmunds and Marsha Taub-Edmunds, Owners of Distortions Unlimited Corporation 960 1280

Disney  

Spooky Empire's The Ultimate Horror Weekend (Orlando, FL)

Spooky Empire's The Ultimate Horror Weekend (Orlando, FL)

Spooky Empire is a horror convention that takes place in my hometown of Orlando, FL, a week or two before Oct. 31. It feels like a 3-day Halloween party full of treats when you're surrounded by horror icons such as George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Bruce Campbell and Elvira. Besides appealing to my love of Halloween, this hometown event offers me the chance to see family and reminisce about Octobers gone by.” -- Aaron Sagers, Geek Culture & Paranormal Pop Culture Expert 960 1280

Michael Gavin/Spooky Empire and Mel Allebach Photography  

Eastern State Penitentiary's Terror Behind the Walls (Philadelphia)

Eastern State Penitentiary's Terror Behind the Walls (Philadelphia)

“Eastern State is by far my favorite supposedly haunted location in the country. And at Halloween, ESP gets even better. A haunted attraction in a haunted prison is cool enough, but the elaborate designs, effects and costumes at play here are artistically terrifying. I have been through countless scary attractions and Terror Behind the Walls is always good for a few startled jumps.” -- Aaron Sagers, Geek Culture & Paranormal Pop Culture Expert 960 1280

Jeff Fusco  

Spooky World's Nightmare New England (Litchfield, NH)

Spooky World's Nightmare New England (Litchfield, NH)

“I really liked walking around Spooky World because of the variety of haunted attractions they offer. Spooky World has frights for everyone, as well as family fun, for extreme people who need a rush, like myself. I had a blast at Spooky World, especially when I got to shoot zombies with paintball guns!” -- Nick Groff, Ghost Adventures Investigator 960 1280

The Pixel Perfection  

Zombie Pub Crawl (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

Zombie Pub Crawl (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

“Sometimes for fun and sometimes to promote charitable causes, zombie crawls are organized public gatherings of people dressed up as zombies. In 2012, the largest zombie crawl was in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), with an estimated 30,000 in attendance, making it the largest gathering of zombies according to Guinness World Records. It's not hard to become a zombie. Take some old cloths, cut them up and spray paint them with some dark brown and gray primer. -- Ed Edmunds and Marsha Taub-Edmunds, Owners of Distortions Unlimited Corporation 960 1280

Davide, flickr  

Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours

Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours

Fans chose Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours as their favorite to add to our list of Travel's Best Halloween Attractions 2013. With historian, author and photographer Bloody Mary, tourists visiting the Big Easy have a few options for a spooky guided tour, including the French Quarter Walking Tour, the Tour of the Undead and the Moonlight Graveyard Tour. Explore NOLA's creepiest haunts to learn about the ghosts and spirits that still lurk in the French Quarter, Treme, the Garden District and the Mid-Cities of the Dead aka the New Orleans Cemetery District. 960 1280

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ScareHouse (Pittsburgh, PA)

ScareHouse (Pittsburgh, PA)

ScareHouse is the place to be this year, especially because it has an exclusive partnership with Legendary Entertainment to help create the scariest Halloween to date. Featured attractions include The Summoning, Pittsburgh Zombies: Black Out and The Basement. This Halloween haunt offers a big-budget sensibility without losing its hometown appeal. “ScareHouse is my pick because sociologist and ‘fear expert’ Margee Kerr is always on staff to research and develop new ways to truly disturb visitors,” says geek culture and paranormal pop-culture expert Aaron Sagers. 960 1280

ScareHouse  

Fright Dome (Las Vegas, NV)

Fright Dome (Las Vegas, NV)

Located in Circus Circus’ Adventuredome, the Fright Dome is one of Las Vegas’ largest and longest-running Halloween attractions. With 6 new haunted houses, the theme park is transformed into a pitch-black, lights-out, haunted spectacle – easily making it the scariest on the Strip. The 5-acre theme park also includes 25 rides and attractions, multiple live shows at night and 4 new scare zones, including the Clown Overload Zone. “My personal nightmare of clowns with glowing eyes surrounding me came to life,” says Zak Bagans, lead investigator of Ghost Adventures. “I had the worst panic attack. Needless to say, I’ll go back again, because it was badass!” 960 1280

  

Netherworld (Atlanta, GA)

Netherworld (Atlanta, GA)

With more than 200 animated monsters and 100 live actors, Netherworld is one of the nation’s most famous attractions. Having been featured on TV and in movies such as Zombieland, this spooky attraction has amazingly detailed sets. “And unlike other Halloween attractions, Netherworld’s creepy characters greet patrons in the parking lot before they purchase tickets, scaring them off before they even enter,” says Larry Kirchner, owner of HauntWorld.com and Halloween Productions. 960 1280

  

The 13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

The 13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

The 13th Gate is one of the most, if not the most, elaborately detailed haunted houses in America, thanks to a construction crew that includes award-winning set designers, lighting and sound technicians, and special-effects artists. Sets are over-the-top and feature live animals, including snakes and gators. In each of the 13 themed indoor and outdoor areas, more than 100 professional actors and 12 special makeup artists help bring the horror to life. “Hollywood production companies have rented the attraction multiple times to film movies such as The Reaping,” says HauntWorld Magazine owner Larry Kirchner. “The 13th Gate is, without any doubt, one of the best haunted houses in America.” 960 1280

  

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Haunted House (Weston, WV)

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Haunted House (Weston, WV)

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is one of the most memorable haunted locations for Ghost Adventures lead investigator Zak Bagans, who completed a live 7-hour investigation with the Ghost Adventures crew. The spirits that roam the asylum’s halls are extremely active, and tours are offered to see how the mentally insane lived and died within these walls. “It is undeniably the scariest overall haunted attraction that I’ve been to in the US, outside of the Fright Dome,” Zak says. Additionally, visitors can participate in zombie paintball, a fall festival and the Asylum Ball, which includes a costume contest. 960 1280

  

13th Floor Haunted House

13th Floor Haunted House

The 13th Floor Haunted House is the largest and longest indoor haunted attraction in Colorado. It was renovated this year with 2 new attractions. “Watch evil take control of unwilling bodies in Undead: The Possession, or run for your life as terrifying ghouls and monsters come alive as you walk through Dwellings of the Dead,” says TravelChannel.com video project manager Arthur Hsu. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology such as Microsoft Kinect, the robotic monsters are more than capable of frightening the victims who dare to venture into the 13th Floor. 960 1280

  

Bennett’s Curse (Jessup, MD)

Bennett’s Curse (Jessup, MD)

This haunted spectacle outside Baltimore is one of the top Halloween attractions in the mid-Atlantic region. It features 3 terrifying haunted houses — Medieval Underworld, Inferno 3D and Sanctuary of Insanity — and the owners of this popular haunt continue to add monsters and twists to keep the attractions exciting for new and returning visitors. Arthur Hsu says, “Not only has Bennett’s Curse been featured on Travel Channel’s America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions 3, but it has consistently been ranked by several sources as one of the best Halloween attractions in the US.” This spooky spot is also among the first to frighten its victims with the latest cutting-edge technology. 960 1280

  

Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando, FL)

Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando, FL)

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando should be at the top of anyone’s Halloween bucket list, especially fans looking for big-budget scares. Aaron Sagers says, “Movie industry experts craft haunted houses so loaded with detail that visitors walk through and feel like they’ve been dropped into an episode of The Walking Dead or the movie From Dusk Till Dawn.” Other popular attractions featured at the theme park include Bayou of Blood, Dollhouse of the Damned and Roanoke – Cannibal Colony. Those willing to face their fears can also enter, at their own risk, the Halloween house for a face-to-face meeting with Michael Myers, the iconic masked slasher from the movies. 960 1280

ROBERTO GONZALEZ  

Festival of the Dead (Salem, MA)

Festival of the Dead (Salem, MA)

Salem, MA, is historically known for the 1692 Witch trials that left 20 people executed. This year’s Festival of the Dead includes 2 weeks of events and parties designed to bring out your inner Witch. Attend a séance to speak with the dead, share your stories with others at the Mourning Tea, pick up new ghost-hunting techniques or learn about death’s macabre customs and strange rituals. Finish the festival with the Official Salem Witches’ Ball on Oct. 31, and you’ll leave this town spellbound. Author, TV personality and paranormal expert Jeff Belanger says, “This town will cast a spell on you.” 960 1280

Chad Champoux  

Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)

Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)

The Queen Mary was built in the early 1930s as a luxury trans-Atlantic ocean liner, but it was pressed into military service to carry troops during World War II, when hundreds died in and around the ship. This Halloween, the haunted ship is offering its Dark Harbor tours with 4 new attractions: the Soulmate maze, the B340 maze, Voodoo Village and Monster Midway, which features a freak show, a mechanical monster and a new ride, the Sinister Swings. “Keep your eyes open, because those ghostly apparitions you see may not just be another special effect,” says Jeff Belanger. And before you go, make sure you check out the Ghost Adventures’ lockdown and investigation of the Queen Mary. 960 1280

  

Fan Favorite: Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, KY)

Fan Favorite: Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, KY)

We asked and the majority of the people who responded on Twitter and Facebook told us that Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in Louisville, KY, should be the fan favorite pic for Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions 2014. Built in 1908, the original building was designed to accommodate up to 50 tuberculosis patients. Today, it’s the site for paranormal investigations, tours and creepy sightings. Add it to your must-see spooky spots on Halloween. 960 1280

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