Hocus Pocus house in Salem, MA

Halloween movies that make us want to travel: U.S. edition

There are a million reasons to travel, but this Halloween, get inspired by your favorite scary movies. Here’s a list of our top 7 locations in the U.S. that make us want to road trip, sightsee, and become a part of film history.
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As the leaves turn to shades of fiery red and the chill of autumn settles in, there’s a magical feeling in the air. Yes, it’s Halloween season, and what better way to celebrate this hauntingly delightful holiday than by embarking on a cinematic journey through some of the most iconic Halloween movies and their filming locations across the United States?

From the whimsical streets of Salem in “Hocus Pocus” to the chilling corridors of the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining,” we’ve compiled a list of seven Halloween movies that will not only send shivers down your spine but also inspire your wanderlust.

Whether you’re a horror aficionado or simply looking for a unique way to celebrate the season, this journey promises to be a spooktacular ride through some of the most enchanting and hair-raising destinations the U.S. has to offer. Are you ready to let the movies be your travel guide this Halloween? Let’s dive into the enchanting and eerie world of Halloween movies that make us want to pack our bags and hit the road!

Hocus Pocus

Ropes Mansion, Salem, MA
Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Released in 1993, “Hocus Pocus” is a beloved Halloween movie set in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Directed by Kenny Ortega and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, this cult classic weaves a tale of witches, magic, and adventure. The story follows three kids who accidentally resurrect the Sanderson sisters, three witches from the past, on Halloween night. Set against the backdrop of Salem’s picturesque New England landscapes and historic architecture, the film captures the Halloween spirit with its blend of comedy, fantasy, and a touch of spookiness.

For travelers, Salem offers a chance to explore the real-life locations that inspired the film, immersing them in the town’s rich history and enduring connection to witchcraft lore. “Hocus Pocus” is not just a movie; it’s an enchanting journey that will inspire wanderlust and a desire to experience the eerie charm of Salem, making it a perfect addition to our list of Halloween movies that ignite travel dreams in the U.S.

Top filming locations in Salem, MA

  • The Rope’s Mansion – Allison’s house
  • Pioneer Village – Thackery Binx’s house
  • Salem Common – various shots
  • The old Philips Elementary School (now condos) – Jacob Bailey High School
  • House on Ocean Ave – Max And Dani Dennison’s House
  • Old Town Hall – Adult Halloween party in downtown

Top filming locations in Marblehead, MA

  • Old Burial Hill & Cemetery – Max and bullies confrontation
  • The fence around Abbot Hall – random shots through town

Ghostbusters

Boston University Castle
Pi.1415926535 via Wikimedia Commons

The “Ghostbusters” film franchise, born in 1984, has become a timeless Halloween favorite, enticing viewers with its supernatural comedy and urban adventures. Set against the bustling backdrop of New York City, the movies follow a quirky group of scientists-turned-ghostbusters as they combat paranormal disturbances with humor and proton packs. Famous landmarks like the New York Public Library provide a vivid setting, immersing audiences in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

For travelers, a visit to New York City offers a chance to explore the film’s iconic locations, from the Ghostbusters’ headquarters at Columbia University to the real-life firehouse at Hook & Ladder 8. It’s a unique blend of Halloween thrills and urban exploration that makes “Ghostbusters” a compelling reason to experience the magic of the movies amidst the lively streets of the Big Apple.

Fans of the franchise can have even more fun with a trip to Boston, where the newest adaptation was filmed and released in 2016.

Ghostbusters I & II top filming locations in New York, NY

  • Hook & Ladder 8 – Ghostbusters headquarters
  • The Public Library – Ghost woman haunts the basement
  • Columbia University – Outside shots of where the men work
Hook & Ladder 8, NYC
Jonathan Ford via Unsplash

Ghostbusters (2016) top filming locations in Boston, MA

  • Boston University Castle – Aldridge Mansion
  • Kaze Shabu Shabu Restaurant – Ghostbusters headquarters
  • Old Everett High School – Higgins Science Institute
Kaze Shabu Shabu, Boston, MA
Kaze Shabu Shabu via Instagram

Sleepy Hollow

“Sleepy Hollow,” directed by Tim Burton in 1999, is a gothic horror film loosely based on Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” This Halloween classic tells the story of Constable Ichabod Crane investigating a series of gruesome decapitations in the secluded village of Sleepy Hollow, New York. Set in the early 19th century, the movie weaves a tale of supernatural phenomena, witchcraft, and mysteries that challenge rational beliefs.

Headless Horseman Bridge, Tarrytown, NY
Ryan Cahill

While the film was actually shot in London, visiting this location brings you into Irving’s world, as Sleepy Hollow in the Hudson Valley, aka Tarrytown, was the inspiration for the legend. Tarrytown, known for its colonial-era charm, historic cemetery where Washington Irving is buried, and the iconic Headless Horseman Bridge, is a great spot for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

The Dutch Church, Tarrytown, NY
Ryan Cahill

For travelers seeking an atmospheric Halloween adventure, a visit to Sleepy Hollow provides a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of “Sleepy Hollow” and explore the rich folklore of this captivating region, making it a perfect choice for Halloween-inspired travel in the United States.

Must-see locations in Tarrytown, NY

  • Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (where Irving is buried)
  • Headless Horseman Bridge
  • Headless horseman sculpture
  • Old Dutch Reformed Church
  • Phillipsburg Manor 

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece, “The Shining,” based on Stephen King’s novel, is a Halloween must-watch, celebrated for its psychological horror. The film follows the Torrance family as they become winter caretakers of the remote Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Jack Nicholson’s descent into madness and young Danny’s psychic abilities set the stage for a chilling narrative.

The Overlook Hotel, although fictional, is brought to life through the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon, which provides a unique, eerie ambiance. For travelers enticed by the film’s sense of isolation and supernatural dread, a visit to the Timberline Lodge offers the opportunity to explore the real-life location that contributed to the lasting impact of “The Shining” on horror cinema, making it a captivating choice for Halloween-inspired travel in the United States.

Inspiration in Estes Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel in Colorado
1progressivedem1 via Wikimedia Commons

Estes Park, Colorado, is a picturesque town nestled amidst the stunning Rocky Mountains. With its breathtaking landscapes, serene lakes, and dense forests, it has long been a source of inspiration for artists, writers, and adventurers.

Most notably, the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park served as the muse for Stephen King’s iconic horror novel. King’s stay at this majestic hotel, along with its eerie ambiance and rumored ghostly encounters, spurred the creation of the haunted Overlook Hotel in his tale, making Estes Park an indelible part of literary history.

Filming location on Mount Hood, Oregon

Timberline Lodge, Oregon
Mt. Hood Territory via Wikimedia Commons

The Timberline Lodge, located on Mount Hood in Oregon, is an iconic piece of American architectural heritage. Its rustic facade and mountainous backdrop made it an ideal exterior filming location for Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel.

Although the story was inspired by the Stanley Hotel, it was the Timberline Lodge that cinemagoers would associate with the eerie Overlook Hotel in the film. This historic landmark not only serves as a testament to the craftsmanship of the 1930s but also stands as a cinematic icon, forever intertwined with the chilling narrative of “The Shining.” The filmmakers shot the exterior scenes at this location that fans of the movie can easily recognize.

Halloween

Michael Myer's House, California
Brian Wilkins via Flickr

John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece, “Halloween,” is a landmark in the horror genre, synonymous with the Halloween season itself. The film introduces the relentless and haunting killer, Michael Myers, who escapes from a mental institution and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to embark on a terrifying killing spree. Centered around babysitter Laurie Strode’s desperate struggle for survival, the film’s suspenseful atmosphere, chilling score, and the malevolence of Michael Myers have solidified its status as a horror classic.

While Haddonfield is fictional, the film’s portrayal of an idyllic American suburb beset by terror has become an enduring image of American suburban horror. For those inspired by this iconic film, exploring the town of South Pasadena, California will bring you to an array of filming locations if you know where to look.

Top filming locations in South Pasadena, CA

  • 1000 Mission Street – Michael Myers’ house
  • 1017 Montrose Ave – Annie’s house
  • 1019 Montrose Ave – Hedge scene
  • 1027 Montrose Ave – Lynda’s house
  • 1115 Oxley Street – Laurie’s house
  • 1537 Orange Grove Ave – Wallace house
  • South Pasadena High School – Haddonfield High
  • Pioneer Cemetery in Sierra Madre (a few miles east of Pasadena) – Haddonfield Cemetery

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” stands as a seminal work in the horror genre. Loosely inspired by real-life serial killer Ed Gein, the film tells the gruesome tale of a group of friends who cross paths with a family of cannibalistic killers in rural Texas. Set against a bleak and unsettling Texan backdrop, the movie delivers relentless terror and disturbing imagery, cementing its place in cinematic history.

Texas Gas Station
Texas Gas Station via Facebook

While not an obvious choice for travel inspiration, the film’s eerie atmosphere has piqued the curiosity of horror enthusiasts. Horror fans can visit The Gas Station in the movie, which has since become a BBQ restaurant that also features a memorabilia gift shop and cabins for rent. Would you dare stay here?

Friday the 13th

Blairstown Diner, NJ
Blairstown diner via Facebook

The 1980 horror film “Friday the 13th,” directed by Sean S. Cunningham, is a foundational work in the slasher genre. Set in the eerie environs of Camp Crystal Lake, the film tells the tale of young camp counselors who are systematically stalked and gruesomely murdered at a camp with a dark history of drowning deaths and tragedy. This suspenseful and chilling story, combined with the secluded beauty of the camp’s New Jersey setting, has made “Friday the 13th” a Halloween staple.

While Camp Crystal Lake is a fictional creation, real-life filming locations in and around New Jersey offer fans a thrilling travel adventure. Beyond the horror connection, New Jersey provides a diverse range of attractions, making it an intriguing destination for those inspired by the iconic “Friday the 13th” franchise.

Top filming locations in New Jersey

  • Hope Junctions Antiques – General store and daytime diner
  • Blairstown diner – Nighttime diner
  • Camp No-Be-Bos-Co – Camp Crystal Lake

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