As autumn brings a chill to the air, haunted houses, hayrides, and attractions all across New York can send a chill down your spine. Here are the freaky, spooky, and the not-too-scary things you need to check out for Halloween. Remember to stay as local as possible and keep six feet apart from others not in your party and wear a mask or face covering. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions are open and available. Be advised that New York has a travel advisory in effect, which requires travelers from non-contiguous states to quarantine for 10 days upon entering New York State. Travelers may undergo COVID testing to test out. For more details, see the guidelines for the travel advisory here. Most attractions are operating with capacity restrictions and require advance ticketing or reservations, so plan before you go.
Spooky and Scary Fun
The Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses in Ulster County are consistently some of the best-rated attractions of their kind in the nation. Maybe it’s the corn maze, haunted houses, or escape rooms? This year, a drive-through haunted experience adds to the spooky fun. And of course, the infamous Headless Horseman himself is always looking for a new way to get "a head." Gift shops, tasty cafes, and special children's days top off your visit.
Pure Terror Scream Park in Monroe holds the Guinness Record for being the longest walk-through horror attraction in the world. For more freaky things, check out Frightmare Farms, Double M Haunted Hayrides—reimagined this year as a drive-through experience—and Field of Horrors in the Capital-Saratoga region. Head to Central New York to visit Night Terrors Haunted Farm, and Cayo Industrial Horror Realm in Rome, an experience based in a post-apocalyptic world "designed to invoke fear and intrigue.” Buffalonians know that the House of Horrors and Haunted Catacombs is the place to be seen this fall—dead or alive.
The Farmer's Museum in Central New York offers Things That Go Bump in the Night Ghost Tours, with a lantern-lit walk-through of the 19th century village and spooky stops along the way. Scary storytelling including bringing Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" to life make this recommended for visitors 10 and up only.
Horror isn't purely an upstate affair—New York City hosts Blood Manor, with 5,000 square feet of themed rooms, corridors, and passageways. Bane Haunted House in Hell's Kitchen boasts of being so scary that they have one of the highest "mercy rates" in the US—meaning that more than 2,000 visitors were too scared to go through the whole experience in 2018 and had to yell "mercy" to be escorted out. The three-floor experience gives the zombie actors a day off on Sundays during Halloween season for kid-friendly "Happily Haunted" events. On Long Island, Bayville Scream Park has six thrilling attractions in its creepy collection, including "Temple of Terror" and "Evil in the Woods." The Darkside Haunted House in Calverton has 14,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor scares, and Gateway's Haunted Playhouse on Long Island has four spooky outdoor attractions open in 2020, including drive-in, drive-through, and walk-through experiences.
For a chance to have a "real" haunted experience, visit the Haunted History Trail to learn about attractions and hotels where spooky happenings have been reported. Spend the night at the Sagamore Resort, voted as one of the best haunted hotels in the US, with its stories of spirits haunting the porch, golf course, and elevator.
Not-So-Scary, Just as Fun
Credit: Tom Nycz
The Great Jack o' Lantern Blaze, a glowing wonderland with thousands of hand-carved jack o' lanterns, opened a new location on Long Island in Old Bethpage Restoration Village in 2020; limited tickets remain for this season. The original Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in the Hudson Valley is sold out for 2020.
Put a twist on your Halloween costuming plans this year—if you're dressing as an animal, you'll be in good company at ZooBoo in the Finger Lakes. Grab your favorite costume and embark on a trick-or-treating adventure through the Seneca Park Zoo.
And what is fall without fresh cider and pumpkin doughnuts? The Great Pumpkin Farm Fall Festival is the place for everything you love about autumn. Enjoy tasty fall food, corn mazes, hayrides, and other kid-friendly activities until November 1. This event is a family favorite and Buffalo must-do.