As the days grow shorter in New Jersey, longer nights can only mean one thing––Halloween is almost upon us. The Garden State is now brimming with crisp ciders and fall foliage, letting locals celebrate the start of the brisk fall season. However, with Halloween rapidly approaching, are you seeking a chilling experience unrelated to the weather? Or, perhaps, in search of something between eerie and spectacular? Luckily, the Garden State has many ways to celebrate the fall season. Here are five spooky Halloween attractions in New Jersey for the perfect brew of tricks and treats.
1. Boo-Tastic & Boo at the Boardwalk – Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
Stuck between missing summer and enjoying fall? Experience a mix of both at Boo-Tastic & Boo at the Boardwalk. Starting on Oct. 23, Jenkinson’s Boardwalk is hosting its annual Halloween event on Saturdays and Sundays for the remainder of the month. From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., celebrate the holiday season with various spooky and spectacular events. Package deals at the boardwalk include face and arm painting, crafts, mini-golf, and aquarium events. Purchase tickets to the aquarium to participate in underwater pumpkin carving or stop by the sweets shop for the complete experience. Just remember to grab your light-up pumpkin necklace and Halloween bag before you leave.
If you’re looking to test your innovation skills, enter Perky’s Pumpkin Derby. This annual event at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk will run on Saturday, Oct 30. Enter the pumpkin versus pumpkin derby to compete against others for prizes ranging from race winner to creative designer.
2. Brighton Asylum – Passaic, NJ
New Jersey has a remarkable history. From creating the first U.S. boardwalk to inventing saltwater taffy, it’s known for its richness in culture and innovation. But, like many other states, the Garden State has a dark side. In the 1940s, a facility known as the Brighton Asylum opened in Passaic County. While the complex housed many patients with mental illnesses, the Brighton Asylum building is known today housed those most violent.
In the late 1940s and early ‘50s, strange rumors circulated about this complex. Bizarre tales of medical experiments, harsh living conditions, and even staff disappearances led to its shutdown in 1952 pending an investigation. However, even today, no results have been determined.
In 2011, the industrial complex reopened as a haunted attraction, receiving renovations each year. Brighton Asylum was featured on “The Today Show,” “Cake Boss,” Buzzfeed, and in statements by celebrities, frequently referred to as the “Scariest Place on Earth.” Certainly, this attraction is not for the faint of heart.
The Brighton Asylum offers numerous experiences, including after-hours ghost tours, escape rooms, axe throwing, haunted houses, and combo packages. There’s also a haunted museum, where visitors can observe artifacts from the mysterious venue. Ghost tours, beginning once the asylum is closed, serve as paranormal investigations. Guests can explore the grounds with flashlights, perhaps uncovering something the 1952 detectives missed. For a test of courage and a real fright, this is one of the best Halloween attractions in New Jersey, which opens every weekend this month.
3. Great Pumpkin Sail – Mountainside, NJ
After Halloween, carved pumpkins often meet a bitter fate. For many, however, it’s difficult to part with their creations. If you’re hoping to enjoy your jack-o’-lantern one last time, visit the Great Pumpkin Sail. Located at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside, the annual tradition of sailing carved jack-o’-lanterns is a peaceful, heartwarming goodbye to the month of October. After all, the sight of Echo Lake illuminated by softly glowing pumpkins is a sight capturing the heart of fall.
The event is scheduled to take place on Nov. 1, with a rain date on Nov. 3. Tickets are available for three sailing sessions, with the evening starting at 6:45 p.m. and ending at 9:30 p.m. Organizers encourage attendees to buy tickets in advance to secure their pumpkin’s spot in the display.
4. Brite Nites at Wagner Farm – Warren, NJ
Halloween is best celebrated with a mix of fun and fright. An eerie atmosphere, a brisk night, and the warm comfort of friends are the epitome of the fall season. At Brite Nites, located at Wagner Farm Arboretum Foundation, drive through the 10th annual Halloween-themed pumpkin display for exactly that. Thousands of hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns are arranged in a brilliant show for guests, with new special effects and themes adding another layer to the experience. This year, the display is a tribute to first responders and essential workers.
The 15-minute drive-through opens on the last three weeks of October, from Wednesday to Sunday. The final night for the pumpkin display is Nov. 1. Visitors can purchase tickets online, selecting a specific time between 6:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.
5. Night of Frights at The Historic Village at Allaire – Wall Township, NJ
If you’ve ever visited the Historic Village at Allaire, you may have marveled at the architecture and dated history. Scattered with historic homes from the 18th century, it was once a self-sufficient iron-producing town. During modern times, a non-profit organization turned the village into an interactive museum where visitors could experience life in the 1700s.
But, on Oct. 22, the village will turn into something ghoulish.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the entire village transforms into spooky shops and haunted attractions for the Night of Frights. Each historic building will serve a different purpose, giving visitors of all ages a wide range of marvels. For instance, the Chapel will become a venue for scary storytelling while the Manager’s House offers fortune-telling. If you’re looking for a bite, visit the town’s very own haunted food trucks or try unique treats at the Bakery. Just be careful not to bump into the fire juggler or costumed ghouls!
The village also offers two haunted trails in the woods. And, for children needing more fun and less fright, there’s a haunted hayride at twilight. Between the glow in the dark witch shows and the Blacksmith’s “special night out” event, there are varied activities for people of all ages.
Have you visited one of these spooky Halloween attractions in New Jersey? Tell us about it!
Feature image by Taylor Rooney