I am definitely a macabre traveler. I think Netflix used to have a show about it called Dark Tourism. Essentially, there are some travelers that enjoy the dark underbelly of seedy travel, where gory history meets peculiarity. If you’re a traveler that loves visiting spooky places during October and Halloween time then I am totally there with you. However, when you still want that spooky feeling but it’s too late to plan that trip to Mexico City for Dia De Los Muertos or Salem, Massachusetts to visit the witch trial sites you can turn to your own local community.
In this list of Halloween themed activities, I will give you spooky things to do that you may not have thought about when exploring your hometown. Please, think critically before embarking on some of these activities. If it makes you uncomfortable or you feel unsafe at the thought – don’t try it. Also, consider doing these activities in a group.
10 Spooky Local Activities to Explore your City
1. Visit the undergrounds of Downtown
I swear every city has an underground city that is no longer being used and probably a home for vagrants. Most large cities have underground tunnels for things that were used to transport money to banks back in the day, booze during prohibition, or are the remains of the original city. Find out if your town has an underground city (or catacomb) you can explore.
2. Go on a Ghost Tour
One of my favorite activities is visiting “haunted” landmarks or historical buildings with a history of paranormal activity. Many cities will offer ghost tours all year round but they’re especially fun during the month of October. It also gives you a chance to hear a peculiar bit about a town’s history.
In San Diego, Old Town is notorious for its ghost tours. Orange County has a secret ghost tour with limited spots, and Long Beach’s Queen Mary (pictured) has self guided ghost tours; as well as, night guided tours.
3. Go on a Murder Historical Walk
Cities with a long history of seedy and murderous activity have an amazing story to tell. No surprise that Los Angeles makes the top of the best walking tours in America but London, Chicago, and New York (amongst others) have a deep dark past worth exploring.
Do some research and create your own Murder Historical Walk in your town, or see what your city already has to offer. Here are some Serial Killer tours to get you started.
4. See a movie at a Cemetery
Many towns will host a movie night in a cemetery. You bring a blanket and some snacks and share a flick with friends and family alive and/or dead. It can be a little eerie at night but you have the safety of watching the movie with a large group of strangers.
Search local event sites for one near you.
5. Hear Stories from a Paranormal Investigator at your local library
I recently went to my local library to hear a paranormal investigator talk about her research in Long Beach, CA. We got to see photos from her work and interviews she did with those that had experienced a haunting.
Look out for these types of educational and spirited event in your community.
6. Attend a Murder Mystery dinner
Rather than a haunting, you can experience the fun of solving a puzzle with a bit of murder involved. Grab a date or a friend and experience what it’s like to be in a real-life Clue movie.
There are often coupons for Murder Mystery dinners! (Save that moneeeyy so you can travel more amiright?)
7. Visit landmarks of famous macabre writers like Edgar Allan Poe
When I visited Baltimore, Maryland I prepared for my trip by reading some of Edgar Allan Poe’s greatest works. It put me in the mood to visit his grave and his home that is now a museum. Many cities have famous local writers that were regulars at bars and coffee shops as they tortured their minds for the goriest and twisted details to put in their work.
Pick your favorite horror novelist and see if they spent time in a city near you
8. Have a drink in a historical speakeasy bar
Speakeasy bars are a fun themed way to get in the mood of secrecy. Most speakeasies are dark and badly lit so they feel a bit creepy. Bonus if the speakeasy bar is or was an actual speakeasy from the prohibition.
Here are the 5 Oldest Speakeasies in the US for my American friends
9. Go for a Walk in a Forest at Night (with a buddy)
Forests are creepy at night. You don’t know who or what hides in the shadows and movement between the trees could be something…or it could be nothing. Grab some flashlights and go for a walk with friends, tell scary stories, and talk about your own paranormal experiences. Bonus points if you visit a forest that has a history of strange things happening.
Be cautious with this one as going into the woods alone at night can be dangerous.
10. DIY Ghost Hunt
I saved this spooky activity for last because you should proceed with caution on this one. I am quite a superstitious person and don’t take likely to spirits latching on to me. Do your research before visiting any sites, and don’t go ghost hunting unless you are ready to handle any consequences of contacting spirits and tapping into that energy. Please don’t use Ouija boards or tarot cards to try and contact the dead.
As a responsible traveler, please be respectful of all places you visit this Halloween season. If you are going trail walking at night, stay on the path and use your head. Don’t have headphones in and don’t go alone. If you are going to visit an abandoned site, be respectful of signs and don’t disrupt the integrity of the structure. Don’t mess with the occult. Period.
I hope these 10 spooky things to do will help you explore your own city, state or country and make it less of a big deal that you can’t travel to Salem for the witch trial sites, CDMX for Dia De Lost Muertos, or Romania to find vampires. If you are looking for activities even more low maintenance, consider having a scary movie night in and save your money for future adventures.