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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Halloween Thrills and Chills in CityPASS Cities

City Traveler Blog

Halloween Thrills and Chills in CityPASS Cities

This post was written for CityPASS by Deston Nokes, a freelance journalist, communications professional and travel writer published in newspapers, magazines and online publications. He makes his home in Portland, Ore.

If you live in a CityPASS town, you’ll be happy to learn that many are hailed as the top trick-or-treating cities in America. According to the real estate website Zillow, the number one city for devilish door knocking is San Francisco (which ironically has the least number of kids), followed by Boston, Honolulu, San Jose and Seattle. Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C, Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia.

What do we mean by best? The rankings represent cities that will provide the most candy, with the fewest walking and safety risks. That means more full-sized Snickers bars and fewer wormy apples.

But for those who feel a little bashful relegating their Halloween celebration to ringing doorbells like a spooky zealot, we offer a few mad pagan celebrations, located in CityPASS cities, for adults and families.

New York

There are parades and then there are gatherings that challenge the barriers of expression. The Village Halloween Parade in Manhattan is one such event where a huge lineup of costumed New Yorkers, puppets, 53 bands, dancers and artists will put on a dazzling feast for the eyes. Last year’s was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, so people are busting at the seams to get their marching fannies moving for the event’s 40th anniversary.

On Thursday, October 31, at 7 p.m., come watch or march. All you have to do to participate is show up, IN COSTUME, and party the night away. The costumed participant lineup is on 6th Avenue South of Spring Street and North of Canal between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. To watch, visit your favorite NYC attractions and then hang out on 6th Avenue from Spring Street to 16th Street between 7:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.


Salem is just a 40-minute drive northeast, but the spirits in this bewitched town will stay with you longer. On Halloween night, the Terror at The Village takes you through the woods and into a 100-year old house for the fright of your life. In fact, the entire town seems to focus on the holiday with a huge menu of horrible helpings, including The Salem Witches’ Magic Circle.

San Francisco

Yes, yes, I know: The Castro is supposed to be debauchery central on All Hallows Eve; but this year, no event being held. The streets will be open with traffic running normally, whatever that might be.

CityPASS holders might want to stop by the Aquarium by the Bay to watch underwater pumpkin carving from inside the Aquarium Tunnel between 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. In addition, the river otters are given pumpkin treats to eat or tussle with.

When the skies darken, head over to the Old San Francisco Mint at 88 5th Street for 25 chambers of horrors. Don’t forget to refresh yourself at the Blood and Guts Grille. There will be a full bar, DJ and lots of shivers. Not for under age 13.


Is the Eastern State Penitentiary haunted? Find out for yourself in this truly interactive, horrific tour of the damned. It’s 11 acres of an abandoned prison. Can you imagine anything creepier? Here, you can choose either to observe or go into the cellblocks and be a part of the action. That means you could be grabbled, held or sent off into a different direction. You won’t know when and where..


Atlanta CityPASS families can look forward to a deliciously spooky Halloween when the Georgia Aquarium transforms into Georgia A-Scary-Um! On October 31 - November 2, 2013. It promises trick-or-treating alongside longfin batfish and Japanese spider crabs, music, photo stations and even Radio Disney tunes it up from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Halloween evening. Costumed kids under 12 are admitted free with each paid adult or Annual Pass holder (up to 2 free kids per paying adult).


Another monstrous, family-friendly event occurs when the Children’s Museum of Houston morphs into the Monsters' Museum of Houston for Halloween. Visitors can examine slime deposits by slobbering monsters in the Crazed Chemist Lab, shop for designer monster feet and wiggle like a worm at Moe’s Monster Mash Bash from 4–8 p.m. on Oct. 31.


EMP, one of the best Seattle attractions, is cranking up the horror Halloween night from 2:00 – 8:00 p.m. with its Kids Extravaganza. It features free trick-or-treating in Sky Church, face painting, “Monster Mash” dance contests and scary movie screenings. Then, don’t miss EMP’s spine-tingling game of Kingo, inspired by the horror novels and films of Stephen King from 5:00 –8:00 p.m.

Southern California

Universal Studios is applying its unique experience in horror to conjure up an evening of chills at its Halloween Horror Nights® 2013 at Universal Studios Hollywood. It features SIX mazes based on themes including The Walking Dead, Evil Dead, Insidious and Black Sabbath (yes, the band), There’s a new Terror Tram: Invaded by The Walking Dead, and four scare zones including The Walking Dead, The Purge, and Curse of Chucky. I guess when you have a Walking Dead hit, you keep walking it and walking it until it’s completely dead. Get tickets right away before they sell out. (Want a preview - and a good laugh? Check out this clip of two Ellen DeGeneres staffers experiencing The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven!)


Head down to Chicago's historic Navy Pier where the Fear Haunted House is subjecting teens and adults to some serious frights. Here’s one you might want to leave the kidlets at home as the venue is described as “a meaner, aggressive adult-themed haunted house nighttime experience.” There are strobe lights, low lighting (duh), claustrophobic rooms, smoke effects and loud noises. Bring extra undies. The fun takes place 7-10 p.m. on October 30 and 31.


Is Canada’s castle, Casa Loma, haunted? You can explore for yourself wandering its decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables and gardens. The evening starts in the library with some haunted tales, a review of your guide’s paranormal equipment, and then a mini tour. Other dates are sold out, but some tickets might be left for November 1, 11 and 24.


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