6 Cheap, Offbeat Things to Do This Weekend to Get Into the Halloween Spirit


Halloween is my VERY FAVORITE HOLIDAY. But, living in the South (where it’s still hotter outside than the surface of the sun) and being a grown-up with too much stuff to do means that sometimes even I (the most spirited about All Hallow’s Eve) need to lift my Halloween spirits mid-October. Though there are plenty of standard fall-related activities to do this time of year (pumpkin patching, corn mazing, horror movie marathon watching), if you’re really having trouble getting into the Halloween spirit, you may need an extra boost! Try one of these eccentric, kind of bizarre, definitely unconventional activities instead. Something weird this way comes…

Have a drink in the oldest hotel bar you can find

Now, living in New Orleans gives me quite the advantage on this front. One time, while eating at a local favorite restaurant (and after a few French 75s), I asked our waiter if there were any ghost stories…and boy did he deliver. He shared the story of once getting locked into the upstairs bathroom, and my dining companion and myself of course had to go ghost hunting after dinner.

Even if you don’t live in New Orleans, chances are there’s something ghostly somewhere to investigate…and why not do it with a drink in hand while perched on a stylish bar stool? Do an online search for any local ghost stories at restaurants, bars or (my personal favorite) old hotels with lovely lobby bars. Go solo or with another spirited friend and after grabbing snacks and drinks, ask the bartender or waiter if they’ve had any ghostly encounters. Believe me, whether you believe in ghosts or not, hearing the first-hand spooky account from someone while you’re in the same building is fun…and just might put you in the Halloween mood.

Take a walk in the woods…at dusk

There’s a reason lots of horror movies are filmed in the woods…remote setting + owl hooting + sun setting over scary branches = spookiness! Only go on a short walk on trails you’re VERY familiar with, don’t go alone, and don’t go so far that you can’t walk back to your car before it’s night for good and absolutely bring a light with you. But with those safety requirements in place, taking a short, silent stroll in woods that are settling in for the night can be a somber and spooky experience.

Peruse the oldest antique store or thrift store you can find (the dustier, the better)

Are there any old antiques stores around town? Flea markets that have been around forever? Locally owned thrift stores? Find one (the dustier the better) and spend some time walking the aisles, wondering about the stories behind the interesting objects you find. I personally love looking at old photographs, contemplating the lives of people long since passed. Chances are (if it’s a real good thrift store, anyway) that there will be at least a few spooky paintings where the eyes follow you, or weird dolls that give you a bad feeling. You don’t have to spend any money — just absorb the old vibes. Shopping with a friend? Challenge each other to take a photo of the scariest things you can find!

Get off the beaten path

If there are any ghost towns or small towns outside your city’s limits, take a quick day trip. I’m a big proponent of small day adventures to places that don’t seem to have much going on. They’re locations that, once you get out of the car and walk around a bit, have a lot more happening than you may realize. From admiring abandoned buildings (from afar), to quietly taking in the dusty details of foregone industries to watching a sun set over a field of amber-hued plant stalks…a day spent in quiet reflection and discovery can be a surprising way to toast the season.

Get your fortune read

Have you ever had your palm read? Or tarot cards looked at? Chances are wherever you are, there’s someone who works in the art of divination. Whether you believe in the ability to see the future or not, it could be a fun activity — with the right atmosphere — to embrace some of the quirks of the holiday. (And maybe get some insider info on what your costume should be this year!)

Go hunting for Halloween lights

When the weather outside gets frightful, it’s not unusual to go driving around listening to Christmas carols, drinking hot chocolate and looking for houses all lit with festive strings of lights. That same activity can be done in and around your town for Halloween, too! So grab your favorite Halloween candy, put on some spooky tunes and hop in the car to find some Halloween-themed yards to enjoy.

Here’s even more Halloween inspiration!

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