Why Charleston Is the City to Go to for Halloween

Water park lovers will find that this Midwestern getaway has it all: plenty of outdoor thrill slides in the summer and an ideal theme park-style escape during cold winter months. Intertwined body slides, multiple funnel slides and tandem tube rides are among the dozens of attractions enticing both hotel guests and day visitors to the 125,000 square foot indoor-outdoor water park. But the highlight comes by way of Master Blaster, an indoor water roller coaster that dips down and shoots back up for a fast-paced thrill. Once you dry off, you can board a six-story Ferris wheel, ride go-karts, or even test your skills on a ropes course or enjoy some upside-down thrill rides fit for kids young and old—all without having to step off-property.
Although they look like props from an H.G. Wells film adaptation, these giant metal towers in the Thames estuary were actually constructed to protect England from German air raids during WWII. The forts were decommissioned in the 1950s, and the abandoned towers were used by pirate radio operators in the following decades. Today, one nearby fort is managed by micronation Principality of Sealand; the rest can be seen safely from a boat or, on a clear day, the shores of Shoebury East Beach.

If you’ve ever been to Charleston before, it’s likely you’ve gone on one of the many ghost tours offered throughout the city. But did you know that several major horror films, including the newest Halloween and Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing, were filmed in the area, too? With a rich history of haunted hot spots and scary filming locations, it’s no wonder that Halloween is a particularly exciting time to be in this part of South Carolina. Here are some of our favorite things to do this year in Charleston between now and October 31.

Go on a tour of the haunted Old City Jail

If you want to go on a ghost tour of Charleston, you have several options, but go with Bulldog Tours, which was named the “Best Tour Company” in 2018 by Charleston City Paper. It offers a wide variety of spooky tours, including the nighttime trip round the Old City Jail. Operated between 1802 and 1939, this downtown Charleston jail was home to pirates, Civil War prisoners, and Lavinia and John Fisher, who were infamous for poisoning guests at their hotel in the 1800s. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, a portion of each ticket sale benefits local restoration efforts. To date, it’s raised over $2.7 million for the preservation of the Old City Jail, as well as the Circular Church’s graveyard and the Old Exchange. The Haunted Jail Tour happens every night throughout the year at 7, 8, 9, and 10 p.m., so you can still take part even if you’re not in Charleston for Halloween. 18 Anson Street, $28, bulldogtours.com

Participate in Boo Fest at Workshop

From 12 p.m. to 3 p.m on Saturday, October 27, 2018, head up King Street to Workshop, Charleston’s new food court (with a rotating list of six kitchens), for its second annual “Boo Fest.” There will be a dog costume contest, live entertainment, and lots of Halloween candy for kids and adults alike. Make a day of it and try something from each one of the current kitchens, such as Vietnamese food from Little Miss Ha, simple Cuban American cuisine at Spanglish Cuban Kitchen, or tacos with locally made tortillas at Rebel Taqueria. 1503 King Street, free, workshopcharleston.com

Get scared silly at Boone Hall Fright Nights

Why Charleston Is the City to Go to for Halloween: Charleston’s Old City Jail is reportedly haunted by the ghosts of pirates, Civil War soldiers, and a pair of serial killers from the 19th century.

Every year, Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens transforms its grounds into South Carolina’s largest haunted event. You can choose from four different attractions there, including a haunted corn maze and hayride (if you’re brave enough, you can pay $33 to experience all four). If you’re easily scared, or with children under the age of 12, Boone Hall also hosts a family-friendly pumpkin patch every day of the week through October 31 until 6 p.m. 2413 North Hwy. 17, Mt. Pleasant, from $11, boonehallfrightnights.com

Take in the cuteness at the Kenpuppy Derby costume contest

For something a little more awww than ahhh! head over to Bay Street Biergarten on Sunday, October 28, to watch Charleston’s dogs don their Halloween best at the Kenpuppy Derby. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can enjoy a Halloween-inspired Sunday brunch menu and watch the puppy costume contest. It’s free to get in, but 50 percent of the proceeds from the special cocktail menu that day benefit Pet Helpers Adoption Shelter and Spay/Neuter Clinic. 549 E. Bay Street, free, facebook.com

Watch Hocus Pocus with commentary by local comedians

On Tuesday, October 30, three local comedians will provide running commentary to the beloved Halloween movie Hocus Pocus (if you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you’ll likely enjoy this). It’s part of the Cinerruption Live! series at the Charleston Music Hall; doors open at 7 p.m. and the movie starts at 7:30 p.m. 37 John Street, $10, charlestonmusichall.com

>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Charleston

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