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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Planning a Halloween Getaway

Well, you guys. I've had some plans for my vacations for the coming years, but then someone posted a video on Facebook and I have now (mostly) planned an October trip for 2018. Wait, what? That's over two years from now! I hear you, but for those of you who have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know several things: I always plan a trip in the Fall, I love going new places, I love Harry Potter, and I adore Halloween. So, 2018 is going to revolve around all those things. Perhaps you would like to visit the East Coast earlier and get in on some awesome Halloween getaway goodness. 

Salem, Massachusetts  

Where better to celebrate Halloween than witch-central? All October long you’ll find themed festivities and attractions including a carnival, haunted house, spooky tours and more. Every day of the month you’ll find something going on. This is my kind of town.  Where else can you hit the farmers’ market during the day and then see the Crucible at night and get your palm read and go to a witchcraft shop in between? There might be some places, but I doubt many. And there are even fewer places where you can visit the actual places where witch trials took place. This is definitely on my list of must-see places. I can't wait to run down my camera battery here. 
  • 4D Haunted Adventure at Salem Time Machine - It's a "haunted" attraction for the whole family. You get 3D glasses, walk around in a blacklight environment that takes you through a narrated Olde Salem. It sounds really dumb, but also really fun. If you want to be scared, do the 4D Haunted House instead, with live scare actors.
  • Derby Stree Carnival
  • Museum Place Mall - They show two 3D short films that tell you about Salem and the history of Halloween. There's also live music on the weekends.
  • Salem Haunted Magic Show - 'Nuff said.
  • Visit Lady Irene - A Greek psychic who reads coffee...? I dunno what that entails, but I want to see!
  • Haunted Dinner Theater at the Hawthorne Hotel - The show changes every year, but it always sounds fun.
  • More things to see and do can be found here.
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Laconia, New Hampshire

For 25 years, the pumpkin festival has been held in Keene, but it has now moved north to Laconia to eliminate the many drunken college students who congregated in the small town square. The community comes together to carve pumpkins to add to the pyramid for one of the nation's biggest collection of jack-o-lanterns. for one day, the town lights up with pumpkins, a beer garden, parade and other fun stuff, like magic, vendor booths and face painting.

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So, I'm not going to Boston for anything specifically Halloween-related, but that doesn't mean they don't have anything. We have family there to visit, plus seafood! Save money on sightseeing with the Boston CityPASS. Valid for 9 days from first use and covers the top Boston attractions for just $54 per person (adult). See the best of Boston with your pass and have plenty of time to do it in. There’s something for everyone and you save almost half off admission prices! Here are just a few I think would be fun.
  • New England Aquarium        
  • Museum of Science 
  • Skywalk Observatory 
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History OR The Old State House
If you're looking for other things in Boston that are Halloween-themed, there are several corn mazes (haunted and traditional) around the area with pumpkin patches and haunted houses. Factory  of Terror has a one of the best haunted attractions in the area. Boston College Club runs a wine tasting with craft beer, hors d’oeuvres, live music, and a charity silent auction. The Haunted Castle Bash has a cocktail reception, dancing and hors d'oeuvres. Find more ideas here.

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Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania

Okay, so the pièce de résistance of this trip, and the reason I want to go is the Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Weekend. For two days, the town turns into Hogsmeade and the college is turned into Hogwarts. Visitors are strongly encouraged to dress up (uh, yes please!) and participate in awesome activities, like dueling classes, make new friends, ride the "Knight Bus", go on a Butterbeer crawl and watch a Quidditch tournament. Watch this video:

I seriously get chills just watching this. Me and whole bunch of other Harry Potter nerds enjoying our love of The Boy Who Lived and the rest of the Wizarding World, while not actually going to Universal Studios (which you know I'm not against). If you love Harry Potter as much as I do (or even a fraction as much), you may want to put Chestnut Hill on your travel list for next Halloween...or this one if you can road trip it.

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Since Philadelphia is just a short drive from Chestnut Hill, why not check out what it has to offer. In October, you can look forward to the Chrysanthemum Festival, the Schuylkill Regatta and South Street's Pumpkin Festival. The Mutter Museum, a museum of weird and interesting medical stuff, has always been on my list, so I'm totally going to hit that up. Aside from that, there's tons of history. You can purchase the Philadelphia CityPASS for $59 and check out 4 of these 5 things:
  • The Franklin Institue
  • The Big Bus & Philadelphia Trolley Works
  • One Liberty Observation Deck
  • Adventure Aquarium OR Philadelphia Zoo.
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Hershey, Pennsylvania

Who doesn't love chocolate? Well, I do, so this seems like a no-brainer. Candy for days, a theme park and walking chocolate bars! I'm totally in! Plus it's right next door to:

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Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Another thing that's been on my wish list for a long time. I'd love to buy some sweet homemade quilts and other goodies, while learning more about the Amish community and way of life. Maybe I'll get a chance to ride in one of those horse and buggies where cars aren't a problem like they are in the city. Believe it or not, there are a lot of things to do here, from museums and tours to driving over (through?) covered bridges and wine tasting. 

I'm really excited about this trip, even though it's going to be a lot of driving, unless we take the train from Boston to Philly and rent a car in those two cities only. We'll see. I have two years to plan, since next year we're visiting Toronto and New York City (including Niagara Falls) and this year we're headed to New Orleans. It's true I like to plan far in advance, but I think that just gives me time to plan a more awesome trip. 

If you've been to any of these places, what were your favorite things to see or do? 

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