Tombstone is one gold-rush-era "ghost town" that isn't, well, a total ghost town. With a year-round population of about 1,500 (the town's motto is "The Town Too Tough to Die"), Tombstone hits its stride around Halloween, when travelers descend on the town to celebrate "Helldorado Days," which began as an anniversary commemorating the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral (it went down Oct. 26, 1881). The annual event features a variety of Old-West-themed activities and is usually held the third weekend in October. While you're whooping it up Old-West-style, don't forget to visit Big Nose Kate's Saloon to buy tickets for the "Gunfighter and Ghost Tour," featuring Tombstone's "most haunted" destinations, and check out famous Boothill Cemetery (pictured), where many of the outlaw gunslingers – and their victims – are buried.
If you've ever wanted to say you've been "to Hell and back," just make a stop in this southeast Michigan community, where residents (who call themselves "Hellions") happily sell you souvenirs commemorating your journey to the ominously named town. Visit in October and join the annual Run Through Hell on Halloween Eve, the proceeds from which go to help a designated military veteran. If you want ice cream in Hell (who doesn't?) stop by Screams Ice Cream, or visit Hell in a Handbasket general store to buy your own square inch of Hell (you get an "official deed"). All it costs is $6.66 – your soul, fortunately, is not part of the transaction.
A seaport town and former whaling village that's been inhabited since before the American Revolution, Mystic has no shortage of spooky sights and events to go with its spiritual-sounding name. From mid-October through Halloween, the Mystic Seaport (pictured) hosts its "Nautical Nightmares" event, where visitors are treated to tales of ghost ships and haunted legends, or the more kid-friendly "Sights and Frights." You can stay in the Whitehall Mansion, a bed-and-breakfast in Mystic that is rumored to be haunted by the children of the family who built the home in 1771.
Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
The setting of the famous Washington Irving short story,"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," this village in southern New York embraces its literary legend. Take a lantern-lit walking tour (given April through November) through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving is laid to rest, or check out a famous spot from Dark Shadows: the vampire Barnabass Collins' crypt. Things really get creepy in October, though, when the Horseman's Hollow "haunted experience" transforms a local historic home (pictured) into a terrifying tour through the headless horseman's Sleepy Hollow. Horseman's Hollow is only for the most intrepid thrill-seekers, but events like the Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hayride are available for those looking for Halloween fun without heart-stopping terror – though don't be surprised if this hayride has a Headless Horseman sighting!
Not all Halloween towns have to be spooky – just ask Pumpkintown, S.C. This tiny community celebrates its unusual name every October with its annual Pumpkintown Pumpkin Festival. Featuring a "pumpkin pile" popular with families looking for the perfect pumpkin pictures, the free festival is down-home southern – expect barbecue, bluegrass and arts-and-crafts booths (at the Pumpkintown festival, no commercial vendors are allowed, only artisans). Don't miss the "greased pole climb," where competitors vie to capture a flag atop – you guessed it – a greased pole. And of course, there are lots of gorgeous gourds for sale so attendees can pick their perfect jack-o-lantern canvas.