Halloween Destinations

The following list of spooky, spine-tingling destinations will give you a leg up in your quest to be the hippest Halloween cat around.
By: Eli Ellison
 'Ventian Masks'


'Ventian Masks'

Photo by: ThinkStock


You may think that when it comes to Halloween, you've done it all - high-end costumes, parties 'til dawn, eating yourself sick on candy corn. But to qualify for perpetual Halloween bragging rights, you'll need to travel. The following list of spooky, spine-tingling and downright raucous destinations will hopefully give you a leg up in your quest to be the hippest Halloween cat around.

Sin City Celebrations
No, there isn't a naughty nurse convention in town every October. It's Halloween in Las Vegas, when hotel nightclubs host over-the-top costume blowouts and it becomes quite difficult to tell scantily clad tourists and paid escorts apart. Of course, the town's hottest bash is always the annual Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball, where the only costume prohibited by the dress code is your birthday suit.

If your leather bustier is at the cleaners, instead join Haunted Vegas Tours on a hunt for the ghosts of Liberace, Bugsy Siegel and Elvis. If rocking out is more your Halloween scene, get your ghoulish groove on at the Vegoose music and arts festival, held annually on the grounds of Sam Boyd Stadium. Big name headliners - from Tom Petty to Rage Against the Machine - top eclectic lineups loaded with hip-hop, indie rock and jam bands. A costume contest, bizarro burlesque show and giant spinning jack-o-lantern in the middle of the crowd make this a regular Halloween-a-palooza.

Halloween in the Garden of Good & Evil
According to legend, several areas of historic downtown Savannah, GA, are built on top of cemeteries. With so much bad juju underfoot, it's no surprise every day feels like Oct. 31 in Georgia's sultry capital of the supernatural. The city's River Street bars are the place to sip spirits on Halloween night as bands of locals and tourists go pub crawling in costume.

Before heading out, dine at The Olde Pink House restaurant (23 Abercorn St. - no Web site), frequented by the specter of James Habersham, builder of the 1771 mansion. Delve deeper into Savannah's afterlife by joining one of the city's ubiquitous ghost tours or visiting the Mercer Williams House, site of the murder in the true crime novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil.

If you dare, stroll among the moss-draped oaks and gravestones of the creepy Bonaventure Cemetery. Later, lay your head at the 17-Hundred-90 Inn, where lovelorn Savannahian Anna Powers committed suicide by leaping to her death from the third-floor balcony. Her ghost awaits you in room 208.

Get Down in Tinseltown
Drag queens, devilish divas, men in chaps - they're all mainstays of the annual West Hollywood Costume Carnaval, which draws nearly half a million party people to one of the country's biggest Halloween street festivals. What began as a primarily gay and lesbian event now attracts all walks of Southern California life.

With Santa Monica Boulevard closed to traffic for the night, the crowd cuts loose, bumping, grinding and boogying down a one-mile stretch of what was once Route 66. Live music and costume contests lead up to the evening's climax, the crowning of the honorary "Queen of the Carnaval." Recent honorees include 1980s mall-pop sensation Tiffany.

Spooks With Spurs
In 1881, just days before Halloween, all heck broke loose in Tombstone, Arizona at the O.K. Corral as the Earps (remember Wyatt?) took on the Clantons in an Old West gun battle of mythic proportions. Tombstone's bloody  past spawned a healthy ghost population that famously haunts "The Town Too Tough to Die."

Touristy, you ask? Sure.

Witness the daily re-enactment of the infamous gunfight, complete with costumed Clantons shot dead by Earp impersonators before cheering crowds. The real bodies were buried up at Boothill Cemetery, where specters of the Wild West wander among wooden grave markers. In town, keep your eyes peeled for cowboy ghosts, often seen roaming the dusty streets and back alleys after dark.

Big Nose Kate's Saloon, a hotbed of poltergeist activity, was once the home of everyone's favorite huckleberry, Doc Holliday. In the Bird Cage Theatre, perhaps the town's most haunted building, listen for the disembodied voices of gamblers and opera singers. Since it is Halloween, don't be afraid to don a Stetson and twirl your prop six-shooter. No one will bat an eye in a town where the locals dress as gunslingers on a daily basis.

Scary, you ask? Yeah.

Maui's annual Halloween in Lahaina party, dubbed the "Mardi Gras of the Pacific," proves you don't need a chilly autumn night to properly celebrate All Hallows Eve. A warm aloha spirit fills the historic whaling town of Lahaina as Front Street is closed to traffic and the children's costume parade gets underway. Later, the real party revs up when some 20,000 costumed revelers, mainlanders and locals alike, take to the street in outfits ranging from the risqu�� (bawdy buccaneers and hula hotties) to the ridiculous (a group dressed as Mount Rushmore).

Food stands, live bands and the big costume contest draw crowds to Banyan Tree Park. Meanwhile, the busiest night of the year in Lahaina's restaurants and bars sees mai tai-fueled revelry extend way past the witching hour. Hotels in town typically sell out months in advance. Plan early and try for a room at the historic Plantation Inn.

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