I’d always known that Halloween was a much bigger deal in America than in the UK, but on a recent trip to the other side of the pond, I discovered just how crazy Americans go for the second-most commercially successful American holiday (after Christmas). Indeed, it’s estimated that as much as a quarter of all sweets—or should I say “candy”?—purchased in the US is for Halloween. Overall, spending for the holiday usually totals over a staggering $5 billion. If you’re thinking about a holiday to Florida in the near future, I would highly recommend timing it next year for this all-American holiday.

On my recent visit to the States, I caught up with an American friend who reminisced about trick-or-treating as a kid in the Miami suburbs. House decorating, she said, was a ruthless competition among neighbours. Her family laboured for hours to turn their home into a convincing haunted house, complete with spooky music and fake cob webs, competing with the neighbours for trick-or-treaters’ attentions. One house in her area was so famous for its outlandish decorations that people would travel out from the city to check out their mock graveyard, complete with pneumatically-operated skeletons and ghosts.

Courtesy of Free Flower on Flickr

But the insanity doesn’t stop at trick-or-treating and decorating suburban homes – Halloween is everywhere in the States. And Florida, compared to other American destinations, makes for the perfect place to discover the holiday with the weather still warm in late October.

Halloween haunts at amusement parks have become all the rage with sophisticated and spooky mazes, costumed crazies chasing guests down midways, monster-loving shows, and themed rides. But if you are looking for an alternative to Florida’s famed theme parks next year, here are some of our top picks for frightening fun in the “Sunshine State”:

For Latino-style Halloween: Guavaweeen Family FunFest

This huge street party attracts more than 100,000 people in the neighborhood of Ybor City in Tampa. People of all ages come to this daylong fiesta to enjoy the costume party, the various concerts, and the lively Mama Guava Stumble parade—perhaps Guavaween’s most popular attraction.

For a Scary Halloween Party, discover the Annual  Haunted Swamp: Walk of Terror

This crazy event takes place in a haunted jungle behind an old theatre in Orlando, where locals in the area of Maitland tour over 3,000 feet of a rotting swamp full of disguised lunatics lurking out of the muck looking to frighten for naive onlookers. Don’t worry, to calm your nerves, there are plenty of Halloween drink specials waiting at the bar for an unforgettable party that will last late in the night.

For some family fun: Halloween on the Mile

Courtesy of phil41dean from Flickr
Courtesy of phil41dean from Flickr

Always a family affair, this Miami celebration has something for everyone and is known for its safe Halloween festivities. Whether your children want to trick-or-treat along Miracle Mile, listen to spooky story telling, or take part in themed photo booth and kiddie costume competitions, this is ideal for kids of all ages.

So why not take your young ones to Florida for some Halloween fun or, for those who dare, a scare of a lifetime!

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