Spooky Excursions - 10 Frightfully Fun Things to do this Halloween Season by David Collier

You love Halloween. You breathe Halloween. Thing is, you do the same stuff every year and you want something new. You want to rejuvenate your Halloween appetite with new inspiration. Look no further. I've got 10 ideas that I think may give you that extra jolt to make you venture out of your Halloween stagnation and maybe into a new annual Halloween tradition. I tried to cover as much of the country as I could but you will notice I have focused on certain regions of the country more than others. You may say, "Hey, I've been screwed! There's no place for me to go to. I live in (enter state here)". Well, YOU better give me a shout and let me know what's going on in your area so I can tell others. Anyway, here we go...

1. Visit New Orleans

New Orleans is more than just Mardi Gras. New Orleans has gobs of cool cemetaries to tour. One of note is the Cemetary/Voodoo Tour in the courtyard of the Cafe Beignet. There are no reservations required and the daily tours run rain or shine. The Haunted Tour ( a walking tour) will take you through the French Quarter after dark and give you a chilling history lesson. The nightly tour meets at O'Flaherty's Pub on Toulouse Street. If you take a tour of New Orleans, no trip is complete without visiting two homes owned by author Anne Rice. These are located at 2301 and 2524 St. Charles Avenue.

2. Visit the "Most Haunted House in the U.S."

Located at the intersection of San Diego Ave. and Harney St. in San Diego, California, the Whaley House is considered the most haunted house in America. Visitors claim to see various apparitions including an executed man and Mr. Whaley himself. The house itself was constructed around 1856 by Thomas Whaley. The last of his residing children passed away in 1953 and the house soon fell into disrepair. Near demolition, the house was saved in 1956 and became a historical museum. The operating hours are from 10am-5:30pm and a small fee is required for entrance. For more info on this and other haunted houses visit HauntedHouses.com.

3. Go bat watching

In Austin, Texas from March through November, folks come out to the Congress Avenue Bridge to witness over a million and a half Mexican free-tailed bats take flight and suck down some 15 tons of insects nightly. This has got to be a bat lovers paradise and a nightmare for anyone remotely afraid of the little critters. Call the Bat Conservation International "Hotline" at 512-416-5700 for updates or visit www.batcon.org for more infomation on bats.

4. Visit a real Mystery House

Not so much a haunted house as much as an architectural marvel, the Wichester Mystery House has been a tourist favorite in San Jose, California for years. Sporting some 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases (some lead nowhere) and 40 bedrooms, the Winchester House is a must see. As the story goes, Sarah L. Winchester began construction in 1884. Being extremely supersticious, Sarah believed she wouldn't die if she kept construction of the house going. And she did...for 38 continuous years until her death. Tours are given daily and there are special "Flashlight Tours" of the house usually on a Friday the 13th and during Halloween.

5. Visit a haunt that's open all year round

Skull Kingdon in Orlando, Florida was the first haunted house I discovered that was open all year-round (aside from the carnival related dark rides). I guess I must have been living under a rock my whole life. The great thing about Skull Kingdom is that this place is really well done. I've been in a lot of haunts over the years and I can say that this is in my top 5 of all time haunts. Another plus is that that they also do shows for younger children. Since I've last visited, the haunt has added a horror show and a Chamber of Magic show with dinner. If you live in Florida and haven't been...why not?

6. Take a trip to Disneyland or Disney World

Why would you want to take a trip to either Disneyland or Disney World resorts around Halloween? The Haunted Mansion naturally. Although you can really go anytime, why not check out the mansion to kick start your Halloween frenzy. And if you've never been, you're really missing out. The Haunted Mansion is my favorite ride at the park. It just gets me into the right mood for Halloween. It's also tame enough that some kids will get a kick out of it. Just don't bring your very small children inside, it's still pretty intimidating in the dark. And every year starting in the Fall, The Haunted Mansion is transformed into the Haunted Mansion Holiday, based on the Tim Burton film "The Nightmare Before Christmas". It supposedly was going to be a one shot deal back a few years ago but it turned out to be so popular that the attraction is held annually through Christmas.

7. Check out a real mummy

Mummies are definately very interesting and nothing like they are in the movies. Not all are from Egypt. Many are from South America, Mexico and other regions of the world and not all mummies are people. Animals over the centuries have been mummified by their owners to take that long journey with them. Mummytombs.com has info on museums with mummies in several states. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium in San Jose, California is special though (not just because I live here) because it houses 6 mummies. That's more than any other museum in the U.S. that I know of. It also has a life-size tomb replica one can explore.

8. Take a Vampire Tour

If you're in the San Francisco area, why not stroll through historic Nob Hill with Mina Harker as she guides you through the vampire legends of the area. Tours are given Friday and Saturday evenings and reservations are required. The tours are available all year but are extremely popular around October for reasons I need not discuss. For more info, go to SF Vampire Tours.

9. Attend a pumpkin festival

Pumpkin festivals are a great way your family can spend the day checking out monster pumpkins, eating pumpkin flavored foods, and picking ou that perfect Jack-O-Lantern. Festivals are all over the country. Some noteworthy festivals are the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival in Barnesville, Ohio, the Keene, New Hampshire Pumpkin Fesitval and the Halfmoon Bay Pumpkin Festival in Halfmoon Bay, California. So why not load up the kids and check out a 700 pound monster squash this Fall.

10. Tour Salem, Massachusettes

I never knew there was so much to see and do in Salem. Then again, I never really thought of taking a trip there at Halloween. I figured they were just famous for burning people that fly on brooms. This is the line up in October. Several Halloween Balls such as the Vampires' Victim Ball, the Vampires' Masquerade Ball, the Salem Witches Halloween Ball and the Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo will all try to cast their spell for your attention. If partying hard at Halloween isn't in the cards (because of kids), there's also the Salem Witch Museum where you learn about the witch trials of 1692.

That's it. I'm sure there's plenty of other frightning things to do. If you know of some, why not let me know so I can use them in a future story. Heck , if I get enough stuff, I'll have to have a part two to this story.

-Happy Haunting


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