Halloween is right around the corner, and with it comes a bevy of haunted houses, hayrides, mazes and more. Halloween haunts have been an American tradition since the Great Depression – when haunted houses were a cheap way to stir up some thrills and chills. Last year, Americans spent an estimated $9.1 billion on Halloween-related purchases, making Halloween America’s second-biggest holiday. Don’t stay at home this October! Celebrate the spirit(s) of the season at one of the top haunted houses in America. They’re to die for.
Top Haunted Houses in America: Northeast Haunts
You don’t have to go far when you’re looking for a haunt! The land of Salem and Sleepy Hollow has a lot to offer when it comes to haunted houses. Northeasterners looking to get spooked can check out any of these haunts.
Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls – Philadelphia, Penn.
Dates: Sept. 21 – Nov. 10
There’s no better place for a haunt than the eerie, abandoned cellblocks of Eastern State Penitentiary. This former prison is a museum by day, but in the autumn evenings it transforms into Terror Behind the Walls, a sprawling haunt featuring six different haunted attractions. You can choose to witness the scares at arm’s length, or you can don a glow necklace and make the terror interactive. Necklace-wearing patrons will be touched by the monsters, confronted and sometimes even separated from their parties. Eastern State Penitentiary is the perfect backdrop for one of the top haunted houses in America, since many believe it is actually haunted.
Ghost Ship Harbor – Quincy, Mass.
Dates: Sept. 28 – Nov. 3
This haunt is unlike any other – because it takes place on a real ship! The USS Salem, a retired Navy ship, plays host to Ghost Ship Harbor every October. Like Eastern State Penitentiary, there are quite a few people who believe the USS Salem is haunted. Ghost Ship Harbor even advertises itself as having “real” ghosts. There are four different haunted attractions on the ship, and even a virtual reality experience.
Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses – Ulster Park, N.Y.
Dates: Sept. 22 – Nov. 3
Try saying that seven times fast. Located in the historic (and haunted) Hudson Valley is a 250-year-old farm. Every October, that farm turns into a nightmare. Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses is a sprawling Halloween bacchanal, complete with a 1-mile haunted hayride, a twisting corn maze and seven different haunted houses. With just one ticket, you can explore haunts like the Lunar Motel, the Horseman’s Tomb, Dr. Dark’s Black Spider Circus Sideshow and more. Oh, they also have escape rooms.
Bane Haunted House – Livingston, N.J.
Dates: Sept. 21 – Nov. 3
Bane isn’t messing around. This complex haunted house, set in an old Gibbs College campus, promises a full-contact, interactive experience. Don’t get too attached to your party – Bane promises to split you up for one-on-one scares. The experience is so frightening that they proudly display a tally of all the patrons who chickened out in the middle of the haunt. If you have little ones who want to check out the haunt, Bane runs “Happily Haunted,” a toned-down, daytime version of the attraction.
Haunted Overload – Lee, N.H.
Dates: Oct. 12 – 31
Featured in the documentary “Haunters: The Art of the Scare,” Haunted Overload in Lee is an outdoor haunted trail that takes the “spooky forest” genre to the next level. Haunted Overload features massive, hand-crafted sets and props, along with a forest full of actors ready to terrify. The haunt is totally immersive – there are even scares on the line to get in! For those who aren’t quite ready for such intense scares, Haunted Overload offers two other experiences: Friday Night Lite – a low-key version for easily spooked adults, and Day Haunts – a daytime, actor-free walk-through for young children.
Top Haunted Houses in America: Across the Country
If you’re willing to travel a bit further for your next haunt, check out one of these amazing haunted houses outside the Northeast.
Netherworld – Stone Mountain, Ga.
Dates: Oct. 5 – Nov. 4
This immersive haunt is filled to the brim with special effects designed to disorient, shock and thrill you. Netherworld has been haunting guests for over 20 years, and organizers aren’t going to stop any time soon. Scare actors are outfitted with movie-grade makeup and prosthetics, making your encounters shockingly believable. This intricate, carefully crafted haunt should not be missed.
The 13th Gate – Baton Rouge, La.
Dates: Sept. 28 – Nov. 03
Louisiana is the perfect place for a haunted house, and the 13th Gate makes use of its setting by infusing the haunt with a voodoo atmosphere. From live snakes to secret passageways, the 13th Gate doesn’t skimp on any scares. Across the street, you’ll find Necropolis 13 – its second haunted house, themed after a New Orleans cemetery. The crew of both haunts works year-round to make these few weeks in autumn the scariest they can be.
Hobb’s Grove – Sanger, Calif.
Dates: Sept. 28 – Oct. 31
You can sample all the different kinds of haunts at Hobb’s Grove in Fresno County. Hobb’s Gove offers a laser-tag haunt, a haunted forest, a haunted house and a haunted hayride. This is an indoor-outdoor-everywhere haunt that is sure to spook everyone in your party. Taking a break from the haunts? Hang out at the midway, which has a mystical Halloween atmosphere without any scares.
What’s the best haunted house you’ve ever been to? Let us know in the comments below.