Since we can’t exactly travel much right now, why not use this time to plan ahead for some epic travels in 2021 instead? From here on out, you’ve got an entire year to plan the ultimate spooky American road trip.
Remember this post? I’ll be the first to admit it needs some work, but it’s not too bad for my first American road trip guide. So I thought, why not make another? And one planned around Halloween at that?
So if you love Halloween as much as I do and wish you could travel to America to experience all the scream parks, decorated streets and ultimate #fallaesthetic, let me be your guide. From west coast to east coast, here’s how to have the ultimate haunted road trip across America.
As with before, you know the drill. This is just a (really fun) general guide, although I’ve tried to set it out in as much detail as possible so that essentially, between reading the post now and going on this trip next year, you can actually budget for it so you can actually get there. Pandemic pending of course…
For more variation, check out my Google Maps here, with varying categories: Haunted AF – aka real hauntings with history, not just entertainment, Attractions – scare parks, museums etc, A bit of everythin’ (but also super pretty) – cool towns to visit either with a rich spooky history or just lots of cool Halloween events and, finally For the gram – aka pumpkin picking!
*Also, please note, for hotels I have only listed general budget based on two adults sharing (as the price would be the same for one adult!) in a random night in October. Prices will obviously vary.The ulimate Halloween Road Trip | America on Roadtrippers
You can see this entire spooky Halloween American road trip (including distance and ideas for quirky stops along the way!) on Roadtrippers here! Please note, this doesn’t include stays – except for the Clown Motel, which is an attraction in its own right!
THE NEED TO KNOWS
If you’re seriously considering taking this trip (I know I am!) here’s everything you need to know off the bat:
- 4,616 miles
- 77:21 driving hours
- 16 stops – not including hotels or ‘optional stops’
- 14(ish) days minimum (I think)
- $2280.47 / £1760.82 (including the hotel stays suggested on this post, tickets to attractions, gas and car rental: but not general spending money/food money) – for one person. Two of you travelling? The total costs would be $2632.82 / £2,033.85 – or $1,316.41 / £1026.25 each. The more people that join you, the cheaper it’ll be!
*Immediately runs off to convince my boyfriend to take this trip with me next year…
That being said, this is a rough guide! I have picked particularly fitting hotels – so you can always choose cheaper places – and you obviously don’t have to do EVERYTHING on this list. This is just a guide to show you that if you basically save the minimum amount above by this time next year, you can realistically follow this spooky American road trip entirely.
Pick a car to rent. I literally did a google search and based on the journey above (14 days), from San Franciso to Salem, the suggested fee is $999.83 / £772. However, this is with a hefty one-way fee. You could consider doing a round trip, but using Roadtrippers again to work this out – what you’d save in one-way fees, you’d only spend on gas.
Make the best road trip playlist. Grab some tasty snacks..oh, and start your journey at Spirit Halloween for all things spooky. Side note: how on earth did I only just discover this year (thanks to TikTok!) that America has this awesome chain store JUST for Halloween? And WHY DON’T WE HAVE IT HERE IN THE UK?!
And set off for the spookiest road trip of your life…
HAUNTED AF | Alcatraz Island
B201 Fort Mason, San Francisco, California 94123 USA
$39.90 / £30.69
Start your American road trip on the West Coast with a visit to Alcatraz Island which once housed a military fortification, a military prison and a federal prison throughout its operating years. It’s also said to be heavily haunted, with both visitors and tour guides experiencing unexplained phenomenon – and the site has been investigated by paranormal investigators too. There are four different tours you can take with Alcatraz Cruises, each of which shares the fascinating history of the island. The night tour isn’t currently running (due to Covid-19), so I’ve listed the price for the day tour above. However, the night tour costs $44.00 / £33.85 but often gets booked up weeks in advance. Just an hour away is the Winchester Mystery House..
HAUNTED AF | Winchester Mystery House
525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
$24.99 / £19.33
Personally one of my favourite mysteries – as it’s just so baffling – the Winchester Mystery House is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Since its construction in 1886, the mansion has always had tales of hauntings. Sarah Winchester – the owner of the house – insisted on around the clock construction under the belief that this would warn off vengeful spirits. This continued until the day she died and has resulted in this bizarre mansion boasting secret passageways, staircases that lead to nowhere and doors that open to sheer drops. You can take tours around the house, including an evening Hallowe’en Flashlight Tour.
Optional: between San Jose and Las Vegas, you could squeeze in a night’s stay in LA, which is home to the Museum of Death, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and Cecil Hotel: well noted for its history of crime and death. American Horror Story: Hotel was inspired by The Cecil, and it also plays a huge part in the sad story of Elisa Lam.
STAY | Clown Motel
521 North Main, Tonopah, Nevada 89049 USA
$70 / £54.13
You can’t go to America and NOT stay at the world-famous Clown Motel! The motel is well known for the fact that it’s themed around clowns – the website explains they have a ‘total of unique 31 rooms featuring 2-3 pieces of clown art’. Interesting. This place has been on my radar for a while now because I just think it would be so odd to stay at, however upon further research, I’ve discovered it is actually said to be haunted too, due to being next door to a cemetery. If you can handle the idea that you may have a paranormal experience – and that the motel is home to 2,000 clowns – than this should certainly be your first overnight stay on this road trip.
HAUNTED AF| Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum
600 E Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89104
$48 / £37.14
I can personally vouch for this museum being very, very creepy. Although it’s a museum that includes a small bit of light ‘scare factor’, due to the number of haunted artefacts housed in this mansion, it should definitely come under an actual haunted house as opposed to an attraction. You have to sign a waiver before you enter – basically agreeing that you won’t sue if you get hurt, possessed or otherwise – then you’ll be lead through the house, with each room having its own spooky theme. I even had my own sort of weird experience when I went. If you’re a true believer in the paranormal, you’ll need to be brave to enter. If you don’t believe in any of that stuff? You’ll still find it super fascinating.
Optional: On your way to Roswell, consider swinging into Colorado to see The Stanley Hotel – best known for its inspiration for The Shining. It’s pricey to stay, but given that it’s apparently haunted too, it may be worth at least visiting to take a look. They also host events, such as ‘Illusions of the passed’ – a theatrical séance/show!
A LIL BIT OF EVERYTHIN’ | Roswell, New Mexico
I mean, what do I even need to say about Roswell? Not everyone believes in aliens, but this kitschy city is worth visiting even if you don’t. The Roswell UFO incident was named after this town (although didn’t actually occur at Roswell) – you could even try and find the infamous Area 51 as you navigate between Las Vegas and Roswell. Area 51 is supposedly above Las Vegas (in the opposite direction) but you didn’t hear it from me..! Roswell is also home to the International UFO Museum and, well, lots of cool/bonkers alien ‘stuff’ everywhere. Including a UFO-themed McDonalds. If that isn’t enough to tempt you to visit, I don’t know what is..
Must-visits: The International UFO Museum, the iconic ‘Welcome to Roswell’ sign and Alien Zone (for some fun photos).
STAY | Budget Inn
2200 West 2nd Street, Roswell, NM 88201, United States
$49.40 / £38.00
Roswell is full of different inn’s, but I’d suggest the Budget Inn – it’s just outside of the centre of Roswell which means plenty of open sky for star gazing and UFO spotting..
Reserve (and pay upon arrival) now via Booking.com – with free cancellation.
ATTRACTIONS | Screams Halloween Theme Park
2511 FM 66, Waxahachie, Texas, 75167
$32 / £24.58
Ready to get scared silly and have a bit of fun? Screams Halloween Theme Park is the first spooky theme park on this list. And yes, I’m still so jealous America is home to actual Halloween theme parks. Screams claims to be the world’s largest Halloween theme park, featuring around 50 acres of Halloween thrills and chills – plus five different haunted houses, scary-oake, live entertainment, a food court and actual pubs for dutch courage (or after scare drinks).
Optional: if you have time – and you’re able to book a tour – there’s also the pretty cool Munster Mansion Replica house nearby – just for fun! You can book onto a tour for $120 for four people – but even if it’s just a couple of you, you still have to pay the full $120.
For stops along the way and a downloadable map to use whilst you’re on your trip, visit my map on Roadtrippers here! This will give you different options along the way, as well as a way to find nearby hotels, gas stations and everything else you need for the ultimate American road trip.
A LIL’ BIT OF EVERYTHING | New Orleans, Louisiana
Technically, The 13th Gate attraction is next on the list (see below) but as you’ll likely be visiting such attractions in the evening, it makes sense to drive straight to New Orleans and check into a hotel for a couple of nights. Here, make time some upbeat Halloween fun (and lots of partying). At this point, you’ll probably need it! Halloween in New Orleans is said to be a close second to Mardi Gras in terms of celebrations where you’ll find an array of spooky characters parading up and down Frenchmen Street. If you still want to get your scares in, however, there are haunted tours on offer throughout the French Quarter, where you’ll also find several real Voodoo shops or haunted houses.
Must-visits: The Mortuary Haunted House, a cemetery and voodoo walking tour with Gray Line Tours and St. Charles Avenue for plenty of Halloween decorations.
STAY | Super 8 by Wyndham New Orleans
6322 Chef Menteur Highway, New Orleans, LA 70126, United States
$65 / £50
As New Orleans is an amazing place to let your hair down, I’d recommend going for a budget place to stay more than anything else during your time here. $65 / £50 a night isn’t bad either, so why not consider stretching your stay to two or three nights? This quaint hotel offers everything you need – plus breakfast to help with those hangovers…
ATTRACTIONS | The 13th Gate Haunted House
832 St Philip St, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70802
$30 / £23.04
Backtrack to visit The 13th Gate Haunted House, about an hour outside of New Orleans. I’m not going to lie: I’d probably travel all the way to America to visit The 13th Gate alone. This haunted attraction is all about ultra-realism – so although it’s got the jump scares, you’ll also find yourself fascinated by the sets which include a real-life pirate ship, the streets of Whitechapel, hidden passages filled with live snakes and even a zombie-infested graveyard across 13 nightmarish realms.
ATTRACTIONS | McKamey Manor
12 Stephenson Rd, Summertown, Tenessee 38483
Entry is FREE except for small donation of dog food (oh and the signing of a detailed 40-page waiver…)
WARNING: This is NOT for the faint-hearted..but what kind of haunted American road trip would this be if it didn’t mention the world-famous McKamey Manor? This extreme scare attraction continually comes under fire for the terrifying ordeal that takes place within its walls..yet it currently boasts a waiting list of around 24,000. Those brave enough to enter will likely be gagged, bound and tortured for around six hours – so basically this is a borderline torture house as opposed to your typical scary house! However, the owner Russ insists that anyone who does sign up are well aware of what they’re walking into and that most of the horror is actually psychological. Despite the negativity surrounding the manor, it’s still very successful with people continuing to sign up in a bid to survive the ordeal. Is it as extreme as it seems or do you think it’s just scare tactics? I’ll let you decide.
If McKamey Manor is too much for you (I think this is the one thing that is just too extreme for me!), why not backtrack towards Kansas City for The Sallie House, something just as scary but in a much different way? Check out episode 17 of Ashley Flowers’ Supernatural podcast for the full story behind this haunted house.
Next, drive on over to Kentucky to visit one of the scariest places on earth..
Optional: make a quick pit-stop at Bell Witch Cave in Tennessee to hear all about The Bell Witch legend. You can book either a cave and cabin tour for $18 / £13.85, or just a cave tour for $12 / £9.23.
HAUNTED AF | Waverly Hills Sanatorium
4400 Paralee Dr, Louisville, Kentucky 40272 USA
$25 / £19.24
This former sanatorium is dubbed to be so haunted that people travel from all over the world to visit – however, it’s also known for its beautiful Tudor Gothic Revival style architecture – oh and the fact that it’s also home to a Death Shute. Creepy AF. You can visit for either a paranormal guided tour, or a daytime historical guided tour – both for the same price of $25 / £19.24, which is nice.
STAY | Wildwood Inn
7809 US Highway 42, Florence, Kentucky 41042 USA
$82.80 / £64
Two haunted attractions in just one night is probably too much for anyone to handle. There doesn’t seem to be any creepy places to stay in this general area, so why not go super quirky with a themed room at Wildwood Inn instead? Themed suites include Aztec Jungle, Pirate Ship, Tennessee Caves. There’s an indoor pool on-site, and some rooms even offer kitsch heart-shaped hot tubs.
ATTRACTIONS | The Dent Schoolhouse
5963 Harrison Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45248
$20 / £15.36
The Dent Schoolhouse is an interesting one because although it’s been turned into a scare attraction (consistently selected as one of the best haunts in America apparently!), it does actually have a haunting history. The story goes that the school’s janitor, Charlie McFee, murdered a bunch of students between 1942 and 1952 (anyone else getting Freddie Kruger vibes?!), and now both Charlie and the children haunt the school. I believe the tours you can now take are attraction based (i.e filled with jump scares), but you can book actual ghost tours – however, these cost $300 for a group of eight. I’ve priced the standard scare tour above because who’s to say you won’t see a ghost when you’re screaming your head off and running away from chainsaw-wielding actors anyway?!
Optional: zombie enthusiasts – swing by the Living Dead Museum in Pennsylvania on your way to Philadelphia. It’s small, but the museum will take you through a visual history of zombies in cinema and pop-culture. Less scary, but something a bit different!
STAY | Cashtown Inn
Old Rte. 30, Cashtown, Pennsylvania 17310 USA
$140 / £108.21
Cashtown Inn is said to be one of the most haunted places around Gettysburg – so much so that it even appeared on Ghost Hunters. Though it’s a place to rest your head during this American road trip, the inn does run events, such as a private tour and ghost investigation over Halloween.
ATTRACTIONS | Bates Motel Haunted House
1835 Middletown Rd, Glen Mills, Philadelphia 19342
$40 / £30.71
Another horror theme park for you to visit – and possibly one of the best sounding yet. Boasting a haunted hayride, ghost towns, a slaughterhouse and an actual Bates Motel, you’ll definitely get your scare on across the 26+ sets that make up this theme park. It sounds terrifyingly fun – and includes a Haunted Corn Trail. Why are cornfields not as scary in the UK?
Note: Bates Motel Haunted House and Eastern State Penitentiary are super close by together: so it may make sense to do Eastern State Penitentiary in the day, followed by Bates Motel in the evening.
HAUNTED AF| Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, 19130
$15 / £11.52
In the same city, you’ll also find Eastern State Penitentiary. Once the most famous prison in the world, this location is now a hub of paranormal activity which now hosts day and night time tours, as well as the annual ‘Terror Behind the Walls’ Halloween event.
A LIL’ BIT OF EVERYTHING | Sleepy Hollow, New York
Not to be confused with the film (but just as aesthetically pleasing!), Sleepy Hollow hosts the Great Jack-‘O’-Lantern Blaze (which sees the 300-year-old Van Cortlandt Manor get a spooky makeover) and is also home to Lyndhurst Castle and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Must visits – Make sure you make time for Washington Irving’s Home, Rockefeller State Park (for all those #fallvibes) and the Headless Horseman Bridge.
STAY | Dobbs Ferry home
Dobbs Ferry, New York
$69.87 / £54
Sleepy Hollow oozes enough gothic and Halloween aesthetics, so any old hotel will do. A room in this historic 1828 Dobbs Ferry home is cheap and cheerful (cheerful? More like charmingly fall-themed!)
P.S Book through my affiliate link above for up to £50 off your first Airbnb booking.
HAUNTED AF | Lizzie Borden’s Bed & Breakfast/Museum
230 Second St, Fall River, Massachusetts 02721 USA
$40 / £30.71
You could stay in this notorious B&B..but you have to be very brave – and it is pricey! Luckily, you can also take a night tour for cheap to learn all about the history of the brutal double murder that took place in 1892. I won’t share too much detail, but people visiting have shared rave reviews of how creepy this must-visit museum is.
ATTRACTIONS | Haunted Overload
20 Orchard Way, Lee, New Hampshire 03861
$40 / £30.71
The last scare attraction: I promise! If you can face anymore jump scares, this outdoor haunt offers over the top sets, gigantic monsters, stunning costumes and impressive light and sounds effects to create a Halloween world set in the New England forest. There’s also three different levels of fear – so there’s something for everyone – and this haunt focuses more on the tradition of Halloween than much else. So think less blood and guts, more classic legends such as scarecrows and headless horsemen. It’s often been described as similar to a Hollywood set because of how creative it is, so I’d say it’s well worth making time for.
A LIL’ BIT OF EVERYTHING | Salem
And so we come to the final stop on this epic spooky American road trip – and where better to end than Salem? I don’t even know where to begin with this charming town! Best known for the Salem Witch trials, the entire town oozes history and has plenty to do once October comes around. Although bear in mind, it obviously gets very, very busy come Halloween.
Must visits: The Witch House (obviously), a tour of The House of the Seven Gables, the Salem Witch Museum and the Witch Dungeon Museum.
So, there we have it. 14(ish) days of getting your scare on along the ultimate spooky American road trip. From sprawling scary theme parks with sets so realistic that they’re compared to Hollywood movie sets, to motels home to so many clowns that if the haunted cemetery next door doesn’t get to you, the creepy clowns will, this trip packs in EVERYTHING.
Of course it’s pricey..but there are ways to save money! I’ll also share a follow-up post soon, outlining exactly what you can do to save/earn enough to take this trip!
And if I have missed anything? Drop me and email at email@example.com and I’ll be sure to add it to my map. Speaking of which…
I’ve also created my own Google Map which basically pins everything on this list/trip – and more. I’ve included the best spots for pumpkin picking and the best towns to visit to enjoy over the top Halloween displays – all in a handy little guide depending on what you’re after, whether that’s to get scared silly or just soak up those fall vibes. And I’ll continue to add to it too, so definitely bookmark it so you can use it offline.
Tell me: would you take this spooky American road trip? What must visit-places would be on your list? Let me know!