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.
The world-famous parade known as Mardi Gras is part of a week-long festival of street celebrations, floats and beads-galore. The city-wide event takes place every year before the season of Lent. Mardi Grad, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday -- the final day of Carnival. Visitors come from all over to be a part of the festivities, and for many locals, it is the most anticipated event of the year.
This town in central Alaska advertises its ZIP code (99705) as "Santa's ZIP Code." And why not? After all, it's got the right name -- even if the reason for it is more about economics than holiday spirit. When a development company bought the area in 1952, it decided to call it North Pole in the hopes of attracting a toy manufacturer or theme-park developer to the area. While that didn't pan out the way the developers had hoped, the town does lay claim to the Santa Claus House, the "official" home of the jolly gift-giver. A 42-foot tall, 900-pound Santa statue welcomes visitors to the sprawling store, which, predictably, specializes in Christmas-related merchandise and collectibles.
Jutting 3,300 feet out into Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is one of the most visited places in Chicago. The pier was built in 1916 as a cargo facility for freighters. Today, Navy Pier features a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel, IMAX theater, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Children's Museum.