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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween 2018

Like last year, we've postponed our Halloween party until the Saturday after Halloween, so I have no photos to share yet. I'll do it in a post later, but for now, let's look at my Halloween social media posts that you may have missed:

Day 31: Have you ever wanted to stay in a horror movie set? Now you can! You can eat (and sleep!) at the Texas Chainsaw Massacre gas station.
Day 30: If you want to feel the fear in Transylvania, give Dracula’s Castle a miss and head to any of the region’s other atmospheric haunts.
Day 29: Halloween time doesn't have to be scary. If you're looking for something a little less creepy and little more family-friendly, check out these must-do fall festivals across the US. 
Day 28: Have you ever wanted to visit a ghost town? You can hit up a bunch if you take a trip to Montana.
Day 27: What's the scariest Halloween event you've been to? It just might be this haunted hayride in LA this year.
Day 26: If you thought horrifying animatronics were relegated to Disney and other theme parks, think again. What would you do if you saw these things out in your regular life?
Day 25: What's more terrifying than tiny airplane seats? SMALLER airplane seats!
Day 24: From blood sausage to black pudding, these are the weirdest, grossest, and most delicious blood-based foods in the world.
Day 23: A terrible airport can be a traveler's worst nightmare. Want to know the worst, so you can avoid a "scary" travel experience?
Day 22: Have you heard of the creepiest urban legend of your state? I've never heard of ours in Oregon, but he also doesn't sound so scary.
Day 21: If you're like me and a big fan of American Horror Story, perhaps you'd like to visit some of their filming locales to get you in the Halloween mood: 

Day 20: Stick 'em up! The most jaw-dropping real-life hotel heists of all time.
Day 19: Travel disasters can be scary, but they don't have to be. Learn what to do when the "worst" happens.
Day 18: Do you go to haunted houses? Do you feel happy afterwards? You might!
Day 17: Do you know where all the best Halloween parties are? Here's where to get your spooky on!
Day 16: Sometimes underwater photo can be pretty eerie, especially for people like me who find diving terrifying. These photos of Mexico's cenotes are no exception.
Day 15: The world's greatest masquerade party is in Detroit and you should start planning your trip there for 2019 now.
Day 14: Transylvania is not the only place you can see signs of Dracula. In fact, there are many places in Europe you can get the heebie jeebies from Vlad the Impaler and Bram Stoker.
Day 13: You can plan a Halloween trip where costumes are involved and still pack light. Here's how.
Day 12: You know about Dia de los Muertos, but what about these other festivals that celebrate the dead?
Day 11: Halloween isn't all about the spooks and scares. It's also pumpkin season!

Day 10: Want to stay in a haunted hotel? Here are the most haunted ones you can visit.
Day 9: Do you follow the TSA's Instagram? It's quite witty. It's fun to see the weird things people try to take on their trips.
Day 8: I can't be the only one who enjoys seeing abandoned buildings and theme parks. Well, now you can visit abandoned movie sets too.
Day 7: Sometimes we tell kids stories to keep them from being bad and sometimes kids come up with stories to scare other kids. Here are the scariest bogeymen from around the world.
Day 6: I love a good ghost tour. We've been on several and plan to go on more when we travel. Williamsburg has a great one and New Orleans has several. If you want to know why they are so fun, here are some reasons to book one on your next trip.

Day 5: Did you know that the Halloween capital of the world isn't New Orleans OR Salem? Would you have ever guessed this?
Day 4: Have you ever been to a ghost town? Where? And what did you think?
Day 3: Do you like to travel? Do you want to hunt ghosts? This might be the job for you!
Day 2: Who else wants to visit a haunted theater? It's like two kinds of entertainment in one place! 
Day 1: It's October 1. Here are some creepy statues for you.

I hope you all are enjoying your Halloween celebrations. I dressed up as a lumberjack (jane) at work and will be dressing up for our annual party on Saturday. What are you dressing up as?

Monday, October 29, 2018

One Day in San Francisco with Go Card

As you know, I love saving money and I love doing things. Usually these things don't go together, because doing things costs money and doing a lot of things costs even more money, but Smart Destinations allows you to both do things and save money. Budget travelers rejoice! 

A bit ago I wrote about how I'd use Smart Destinations to do all the awesome things I wanted to do in Philly, but I was lucky enough to work with Visit Philly on this trip and instead had a full 12 hours to spend in San Francisco with Eric and my friend Nancy. We had two one-day Go Cards and we're determined to make the most of our time.

Now, 12 hours isn't a huge chunk of time (except for a layover when you have nothing to do), but we went in hoping to do 3 things on our list. Eric and I have been to San Francisco before, but we've never been to Golden Gate Park and decided to start there.

I found a great Oceanside restaurant to grab lunch on the edge of the park and then we drove down the way to the San Francisco Zoo. Admission was included in our Go Pass, so our only cost was for parking ($10). 

I wouldn't say it was the coolest zoo we've visited (especially considering not everything was open on a Thursday), but it was one of the more interesting. There were animals we hadn't seen at other zoos, like a two-toed sloth, and you could get closer to many animals than you could other places. I was two feet away from a bunch of penguins.

We spent a lot more time than expected there, and there were supposedly gardens there that we didn't see, but the rainforest and the aviary we're both worth a little extra time to explore.

During the weekends this month they have an Oktoberfest food truck pod, they also have a fun day maze for kids, that we couldn't resist running around in. We're fun like that.

After the zoo, we drove through the Park to the waterfront and Fisherman's Wharf. Nancy had never been to the San Francisco Dungeon and always wanted to and we had only been to the one in London.

Unfortunately you can't take pictures inside the Dungeon, but it's all dark anyway. This is the closest thing I'll get to a haunted house, and it's not even scary, despite them wishing us all "Have a horrible time!" The Dungeon claims to tell the sordid history of San Francisco, but I'm not sure I learned much. You go to the Wild West and visit a courthouse, where everyone is proclaimed guilty, you visit a "doctor" that tells you about the plague in the city and announces you all have it, then you move on to a haunted room where a seance happens and spirits move things, and last you move on to Alcatraz to hear about a crazed criminal. 

The Alcatraz bit is the best part, due to the awesome actors. And at the end you get to "escape" from Alcatraz on the dumbest ride you've ever been on. Every Dungeon has a lame ride somewhere in it. London has a "boat ride" that goes about 30 feet. This one goes up 14 feet and then drops back down. Ha! It took longer to get in than to do it.

Somewhere in between you enter a mirror maze, which I made my friend hold my hand through, but nothing jumped out at us or scared us in any way. Aside from that, I found the whole experience hilarious rather than scary or "horrible"...unless you paid full price maybe. Look online for a discount coupon or use your GoCard, which I highly recommend.

Right next door to The San Francisco Dungeon is Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum where there are three (small) floors of famous celebrity figures, including historical figures like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. We took pics with all the greats like President Obama, Johnny Depp and Michael Jackson.

Amid the figures, which are sometimes disturbingly realistic, you learn about the process that Madam Tussaud used to create her wax figures and how they are made today, step-by-step. Check out how Neil Patrick Harris looks in different stages of the process.

After the Wax Museum, we had just enough time for dinner before heading back to the airport to continue on to Philadelphia. There are plenty of ways we could have configured our day, including getting on the Big Bus to hop off and on at all the great places in the city. So, what else could we do with GoCard? Check out the list:
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not!
  • California's Great America
  • Escape From the Rock
  • Exploratorium
  • AT&T Park Tour
  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise
  • Blazing Saddles One-Day bike rental
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • USS Pampanito
  • de Young Museum & Legion of Honor
  • Walt Disney Family Museum
  • K1 Speed Indoor Karting
  • Go Car San Francisco Tour
  • Angel Island RT Ferry
  • Asian Art Museum
  • U.S.S. HORNET Museum
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • California Historical Society
  • UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
  • The Beat Museum
That list is huge! If you can't find enough stuff on the list to make your vacation awesome, you just aren't trying. Choose 1-, 2-, 3- or 5-day passes or create your own pass (but you will save less if you do it this way). The more you do, the more you save, and with All-Inclusive Pass (what we used), you can save up to 60% off gate prices. How can you say no to that? You buy one card for each member of your travel group. They start at just $74, but there's definitely one that fits your travel style and length of trip.

Get your Go Card for San Francisco, or any of the other city's that Smart Destinations works with. Purchase by 10/31 and save 10% off as well!

Find Smart Destinations (GoCard and Explorer Pass) online to see how awesome it is for the budget traveler: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

How would you spend one day in San Francisco?

Disclaimer: I was given two 1-day all-inclusive cards from Smart Destinations as a promotional special and for the purposes of this review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. This post also includes affiliate links which will result in monetary compensation if you purchase through said links. Thanks in advance.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Making The Most of Your 3-1-1 Bag

As I'm doing some last-minute packing for a trip, it occurs to me that I still pack more in my toiletry bag than I need, though I take the smallest one possible to avoid taking too much. On vacation I always think I'm going to put on a whole face and look fabulous and then I don't do any more than I do at home, and, in some cases, even less. I want to be low maintenance, but still look great. 

travel beauty bag

If you typically use the same few items at home, don’t take a bunch of extra items that will just take up room in your bag, because chances are that you won’t use them when on vacation either. Here’s how to put together your Travel Beauty Bag that helps you minimize, still look great and pack light (so you don’t have to pay to check a bag):

Hang onto those samples
When I purchase from Sephora or anywhere else, I look for samples that I will use in the future. I have a good collection of trial size items that I can rotate into my travel bag, including powder, mascara and eye shadow. I buy smaller sizes of my foundation, or go for a powder foundation and everything else is tiny and lasts me several vacations before I need to toss and replenish. If you’re a member of ebates, you can always find great promo codes for deluxe size samples of Sephora buys.

Decant or put into a zip-top bag
I don’t need to take a full-size product with me anywhere. I’m not moving to my destination. I decant my moisturizer, face scrub and other items I only use small amounts of into smaller containers and bring toner or facial exfoliating pads in a zip top bag to eliminate bulky packaging and avoid putting such things in my 3-1-1 bag. If you have a favorite toner, soak some cotton pads in them, toss them in a zip-top bag, squish the air out and put directly in your toiletry bag. This way it won’t spill out in your 3-1-1 and also doesn’t need to be put in that bag at all.

Do you actually need those 47 products you almost never use at home? I don’t. I barely even use eyeliner when I’m at home, so I tend to only pack the basics: moisturizer, foundation, powder, blush, mascara and a tiny eyeshadow quad (which I may not use either). I’d rather use my toiletry space for things that I do use, like hair products to keep my hair from getting all frizzy or dry.

Speaking of, I have invested in a great solid shampoo and conditioner, so I don’t have to waste space on liquids when I don’t have to. These work just as good as my at-home products, and no chance of spillage. If I feel like my hair needs a little extra help, then I will bring a small, extra-moisturizing liquid conditioner instead. Usually, I just pack a tiny bottle of hair oil, which you can find just about anywhere, that will de-frizz whenever I need it.

Size down
That full-size shampoo that lasts you 6+ months really belongs at home. I mean, you’re going to be gone 2 weeks (or less!), so 3oz is likely to be more than you actually need, even if two of you are sharing it. Same goes for moisturizer and other products. You can purchase smaller, reusable, containers pretty much anywhere. I like these, though you can also use a spare contact case if you need something smaller.

I take this same stance on hair appliances. I have a travel-size flat-iron that will actually fit in my small toiletry bag. The one I take most often has a rounded edge, so it can be used as a curling iron, too. Don’t waste all the room in your carry-on with a full-size iron, hair dryer or other item. You can find “mini” ones that work just as well, or better, that you can keep in your bag.

I typically travel with that and a folding brush, too. It makes my mornings really easy, because I don’t have to juggle a bunch of things and they don’t take up the entire bathroom sink area…if there’s even counter space for them in the first place.

Bring Multi-use products
This is a must. I make sure I bring items that have SPF in them, so I don’t have to bring a separate facial sunscreen. I also have a great lip and cheek stain. And I swear by philosophy bath gel, which I use as shower gel and in place of shave cream. It can also work as a shampoo or bubble bath if needed, plus they all smell heavenly.

Packing light can actually help you pare down at home, because you see what you really use and what you don’t. It also allows you to be a little creative, get out of the room more quickly and care more about your actual vacation than looking like a beauty queen. You can still look great with fewer products, and you’ll be able to pick up your travel bag. Think of all the things you can spend baggage fees on instead. That’s an extra $25+ – each way – in your pocket.

How do you pare down and/or simplify your beauty bag? 

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links and making a purchase through them will result in monetary compensation. Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Celebrate Oktoberfest with Big Bear Cabins

I love a vacation rental. I will almost always book one over a hotel if I can, because I enjoy having the extra space and a kitchen, so I can make breakfasts and also bring back leftovers. If you enjoy the same things, then a vacation rental might be more for you as well.

If you’re headed to southern California and looking to get away from it all, Big Bear has activities for the whole family, or can be just a super relaxing destination that isn’t home. And if you are into that, then check out Big Bear Cool Cabins. They’re your home away from home, but better, because it isn’t home.


With over 350 rentals (homes, condos, or cabins), you can find exactly what you want for everyone you’re traveling with, whether you want to stay on the lake, be in the secluded woods, or somewhere in between. It’s the perfect way to get away for a few days or weeks.

Many rentals come with WiFi, so you aren’t too out of touch with the real world, and you can book ones that let you bring your pup(s), ones that have hot tubs, or ones that have game rooms if you’re coming with the whole family.

photo credit: Big Bear Cool Cabins // Shell Cottage

Right now, they are running a special for Oktoberfest. Book for 2 nights for the weekend of November 2-4 and get 20% off your rental, FREE Oktoberfest tickets, 2 free 2-hour bike or kayak rental and 10% off the Scenic Sky Chair or a round of golf. That’s, like, a totally packed weekend! Just use promo code ENCORE when you book.

Ocktoberfest in Big Bear is the #1 rated Oktoberfest in Southern California, and it doesn’t just have beer, but German music, entertainment and food. Enjoy the very same beers poured at Munich’s Oktoberfest for more than 150 years!  You’ll be so tired (and full), you’ll just fall into your awesome Cool Cabin bed. That’s the best feeling, in my opinion. Then you can sleep it all off and head home in the morning, or stay longer if you want. It’s all up to you.

photo credit: Big Bear Cool Cabins // Pine View Heaven

There are great rentals on special for the Encore promo, from 1 bedrooms that sleep 4 to 7 bedrooms that sleep over 20.  Go with your sweetie for a romantic stay or take a whole crew out there to indulge in the celebration. Whoever you bring, you’ll be able to stay affordably and in comfort.

So, what else is there to do in Big Bear that’s just a quick drive or a longer walk (or bike ride) from your Cool Cabin? So much! Big Bear is a four-season destination at 7,000 ft elevation. Many off-roading trails are open all year, but in the fall and winter, you can find ski opportunities, snowboarding and even snow tubing. If those aren’t quite your thing, maybe check out a nice hike on snowshoes.

Fishing is a big attraction to those going to Big Bear. You can also bring your boat or charter one for even better chance of catching “the big one”. 

photo credit: Big Bear Cool Cabins // A Wonderland

Year-round activities abound for the whole family. Head to The Village and go bowling, try an escape room, no go on a scavenger hunt, visit the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, get cultural at the Big Bear History Museum to learn more about the area. You can get a little retail therapy in funky and quaint boutique shops, or relax further with a trip to the spa for a massage or facial. Return in the summer for a whole bunch of other cool stuff to fill your days, from ziplining to riding on a pirate ship!

So, hop over to Big Bear Cool Cabins and book your Oktoberfest Encore getaway now. Just remember to use code ENCORE to get your awesome deal. Check back for other special offers throughout the year, so you can save even more off a great vacation for the whole family…or just go solo and enjoy the solitude.

For more about Big Bear Cool Cabins Vacation Rentals, find them online all over, including:

website (please use code SHEREENTRAVELSCHEAP)

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Big Bear Cool Cabins Vacation Rentals and I have been compensated for my post, but all opinions are 100% my own, as always. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

More Women Are Traveling Solo

Are you one of them? Do you want to be? While safety for women might be a huge question, if you follow your intuition and logical senses, you'll most likely be perfectly fine and have a wonderful time. I love to travel alone, almost as much as I love to travel with others. I learn more about myself and learn to make important decisions without the input of others. If you haven't traveled alone, find out why more women are traveling solo:

Have you traveled alone before? If not, what's stopping you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Daily Deals Make Your Vacation Cheaper

Okay, you guys! It’s time to save some money. It’s right around that time when I am near my vacation and using daily deals to save tons on my trip. This is the third trip I've taken this year, but I'm lucky to be working with Visit Philadelphia this go-round, but with a trip to Edinburgh and London next year, it's more important than ever to save on all my trips in between. It’s probably the same for you. I feel like if I find a daily deal for things I was going to do anyway, then it’s double-awesome. Sometimes I find deals for things I didn’t know existed or for fun restaurants, which shape a new unique vacation for me.

When we traveled to the UK and Europe, I found and purchased deals from Groupon UK and ncrowd for my trip to take a bus tour around London, a scavenger hunt through the Underground, a tour to Stonehenge, a dining card and afternoon teas. Why would I not use these savings to make my travels better where I can? I got more than half of my food and activities paid for through Groupon for my New Orleans trip, found some great ones for my Los Angeles trip and I used quite a few for Las Vegas as well.

Let’s talk about my favorite daily deal site: Groupon. I’ve used it at home and away and saved tons of money. For those of you who don’t know what Groupon is, it’s a pretty simple concept. Restaurants, spas, activities and more offer  deals (usually) between 50-90% off regular price. You buy it, save all sorts of money and do more things! And sometimes if you get your friends to purchase, too, you get your deal for free! Companies get their name out to customers, customers try them out and everyone wins!

One of the cool things about Groupon – among many – is that it’s not just for the U.S. Nope, it’s available for the U.S. Canada and 40 other countries around the world including Colombia, Uruguay and Singapore. Pretty much anywhere you go, you can purchase Groupons to save you big time on your trip. If I want to do a bike tour in Mexico or get a manicure in Greece, I can do it, providing those things come up as discounts before I go. This is why I’m watching it daily until my trip.

Groupon has teamed up with Expedia to bring you fantastic(er) deals on travel! With amazing discounts on luxury hotels and accommodations, you can’t afford NOT to travel well while still on a budget. The rates may not be slashed to 90% off, but they will be great and you’ll drool over their gorgeous photos and long to go everywhere all at once.

So, how do you sign up for Groupon? It’s easy and free! In fact, you can use your Facebook account to sign in if you want. Use either your home location or your next vacation destination as the one you wish to get deals for and then look for them in your email. I'm currently getting updates for Philadelphia and Portland, and I can change my preferred destination(s) anytime I want. I also have the Groupon app on my phone, so I can get the deals on-the-go and also save paper by bringing up the deal on my phone to use at the merchant, restaurant or attraction.

Do you know what’s even cooler? You can get up to 6% cash back on all your Groupon purchases by using Ebates, too, to make your savings even larger. If you aren't familiar with Ebates, you can read my post on it here. Why NOT save as much as possible on everything you do if you can? 

Other sites I like to use are Living Social, which is like Groupon's little sister, and Travelzoo, where you can also find great deals on travel.

Who else uses Groupon or is excited to sign up  for it? Or do you have another favorite daily deal site? 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Get 300 bonus SB when you sign up for Swagbucks in October

All throughout October you can earn large bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you're probably doing online already, like searching the web, watching videos, shopping, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, or PayPal cash. 

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus! Here's how: 

2. Earn 300 SB total before November 1st, 2018. You'll get a 300 SB bonus for it! 

3. That's it. It's super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I've earned hundreds of dollars in SB that I use to buy party goods and other stuffs from Amazon, so I have more money to spend on vacation!

Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links and I will receive compensation in the form of SB when you sign up through that link.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Great Fall Travel Tips

Fall is here! Now's the best time to travel to a lot of places, because airfare and hotel deals are less expensive than other times of the year. We tend to do a lot of things in the fall, including going on our big yearly vacation. It saves us money this way and the kids are all in school, so there are smaller crowds and fewer lines everywhere we go. 

Want to make the most out of your fall? Then here are some fun ways to celebrate the season and Halloween. We'll be doing some of these things on our trip coming up soon.

Head to New England

There are few places where you can go that are truly scary, but the New England area has a ton of history that includes witches, horror writers, massacres and more. This post gives you all the awesome things to do there. Rent a car, stay for a few weeks and drive to all kinds of awesome stuff.

Hit up New Orleans

New Orleans is quite exciting and not just during Mardi Gras. There are plenty of things to do in the fall, especially considering the spooky vibe of the city including the history of voodoo and vampire legends. here are some fun things to check out. For haunted experiences, you may want to visit these 5 places:
  • The Omni Royal Hotel - Once the building for the city’s slave market and the site of great brutality, the hotel is now a grand place to stay and home to many spirits. 
  • The Bourbon Orleans - This former orphanage run by nuns still has kids running along its corridors. Guests have reported hearing children’s voices, seeing nuns in the hallways and feeling electrical charges near the stairwells.
  • Brennan’s New Orleans - A staple of the city since 1946, Brennan’s is not only a highly rated fine dining establishment, but it also has its own ghosts. In the Red Room, a man living in the building hanged himself after murdering his family. 
  • The Pharmacy Museum - Set on the site of the very first apothecary shop, the Pharmacy Museum holds a wide variety of cures and artifacts from old medical practices and voodoo rituals, including ghastly instruments used in the past for dentistry, many by the former owner, a dentist known to conduct grisly experiments on patients.
  • St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 Nearly everyone has heard of the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and you can visit her tomb in New Orleans’ most haunted cemetery. Hundreds of thousands are buried in this one square block, with the tombs being reused over and over. 

Pumpkin harvest

I don't really get excited by pumpkin carving. That might be a little weird for someone who loves Halloween as much as I do. I just don't find it fun and I don't make pies, but often the harvest festivals are full of pumpkin-picking and other activities like hayrides, squash-tossing, farm animals and more. If you find a corn maze, it's not unusual for there to be pumpkin harvest festivities going on nearby. Kids love to run and pick out the pumpkin they will use for their jack-o-lantern at home and also enjoy running and around and climbing on things. We have farms that feature hay bale pyramids and tours on a farm train. Usually these days out are fairly affordable and you can even sign up to receive coupons when the celebration starts.

Corn maze

I look forward to the corn mazes all year long. It's so fun to go out and spend an afternoon on local farms and get lost in a maze of maize! We pack up the car with a change of clothes and the dog and hope there's no mud where we will have to use our extra clothes. The mazes test our ability to read a map or our trivia knowledge. While other families split up and race each other through the maze, we view it as a fun family outing and the three of us go together. Sometimes we just let the dog go and pick our course and sometimes we use whatever clues they give us at the beginning. After we emerge from the corn, we make a trip to the gift shop, grab something warm to eat and drink and then head home. There are always great photo ops.

Farmers' market

This is similar to you-pick farms, except you can just go with your list and have fun finding them at the different stalls. Another plus to the markets is that you are getting affordable local foods and you can usually pick up lunch from any number of food merchants there, too. Our market up the street is a great place to get everything from crepes to tamales. When you're traveling, it's a perfect way to stock your fridge with healthy options for snacks and side dishes.

Fruit picking

I love fresh fruits and vegetables. I also love to visit local farms. I'm always amazed by what people can grow. I have my own garden, but it's not big and awesome, so I like to get ideas on how to make it better. Many of these farms let you go pick your own fresh produce. You pay by the pound and often they have a store where they sell jams, sauces and other things they make on-site. These make great gifts and souvenirs as well.

Wine and beer festivals

Right after the grape and wheat harvests come the festivals! Food, wine, beer, you name it. Fall has tons of wine and beer celebrations everywhere they serve such things. Find new favorites when you can sample all the local (and some not-so-local) varietals and brews. Most of these fests require you to buy a glass for your samples, so you already have a built-in souvenir, too!

Head Underground

Lots of weird stuff happens underground. Here are three I greatly enjoy:
  • The Shanghai Tunnels under Portland. They were featured on Travel Channel’s 10 Most Haunted. Though it came in at number 10, it was the only Portland site to make the list, so by simple reasoning, it must make it Portland’s most haunted site. I was disappointed that I didn’t experience so much as a cold breeze, nor did I catch anything on my camera, unless you count dust particles catching the light of my flash and presenting themselves as “glowing orbs”, but maybe you'll be luckier (if you think it's lucky to see/feel a ghost) than I. 
  • The Dungeons are on my list of kitchy and kinda scary (if you're afraid of the dark and mirror mazes where you might be followed) and must-do attractions. The site offers best price guarantee and you can get discounted deals if you purchase a combination ticket with Madame Tussaud's and/or the London Eye. If you plan to visit off-peak hours, you can save up to 50%! You must purchase your tickets online though. Each dungeon (located in London, York, Hamburg, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and now San Francisco) walks you through the "streets" of history and winds you through creepy stories and rides that take you from one area of the dungeon to another.
  • Paris Catacombs. There are miles of underground tunnels underneath Paris full of human bones that were put there when the cemeteries became overcrowded. Even now they are still crowded, but with tourists. Get there right at opening and beat the crowds. Lines can stretch up to 2 hours long and with prices at only 5 Euros per person, it's one of the cheaper things you can do in France. I just realized I never did a post on my trip into the catacombs, so that will be coming in the near future.

Go to a theme park

Most theme parks have a Halloween celebration of some sort. Here are the top ones, including how to save on admission if there's a way to:
  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Many park days at the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland in Sept-Nov are cut short for this party that requires a special ticket to get in. From 7pm to midnight, many of the park guests come dressed in costume to enjoy 5 hours of trick-or-treating, dancing, nighttime thrill rides (only specific rides will be open during that time, not the whole park), Hall-o-wishes fireworks display, an all-villain musical show in front of the castle, villain meet and greets, amazing park decorations and, best of all, a special parade opened with the Headless Horseman on horseback. It’s all totally Disney and so out of their normal festivities that it’s worth putting off your vacation until that time of year.
  • Knott's presents Knott's Scary Farm. Save significantly on your tickets by buying them online instead of at the gate.
  • Universal puts on Halloween Horror Nights. While ticket prices don't waver, you're sure to get your money's worth while riding select rides and being scared out of your wits with roaming creeps, themed haunted houses and scare zones. It's like being in your very own horror movie. 
  • Busch Gardens in Tampa offers up Howl-o-Scream. Much like Universal, they have scare zones, haunted houses and themed entertainment. You can't get cheaper tickets for this event either, but it'll scare your pants off, which you maybe can't put a price on.
  • Legoland has spooky fun for the little ones with Brick-or-Treat. It includes trick or treating and the opportunity to dress-up and enjoy the park after it closes for the regular day. Tickets are separate from the main park admission, but totally fun!
What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate fall? If you missed my trip to Halloweentown, go check that out now. 

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