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The children are back at school, football is on TV and everything smells like pumpkin spice: it’s October! If spooky season has taken hold of you this year, don’t worry. Here are three trips you can book with points right now, plenty of time for tricks and treats.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Is there a more perfect recipe for a haunted city than New Orleans?
Start with New Orleans Voodoo: a religious practice brought by enslaved West Africans that blended with local Catholic beliefs in a unique blend. Add centuries of history shaped by tragedies ranging from fires to smallpox to Hurricane Katrina. And finish with a touch of architecture, from above-ground cemeteries to the enclosed balconies of the French Quarter.
Plus, while we’re talking recipes, how can you resist food? If you like a shot of ghost story mixed in with your Rum Runner, Muriel’s Jackson Square is the place to dine. Muriel’s is worth a visit for the food alone, especially the shrimp and goat cheese pancakes and the pecan-dusted drumfish, but even if you’re solo, you might not be dining alone.
The most famous spirit in Muriel is Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, an 18th century townsman and degenerate gambler, who lost his beloved home which was built on the property where Muriel now stands. Rather than give up his house, he gave up his life on the second floor of the house. Mr. Jourdan, to date, is welcomed to the restaurant with his own table. Try to spot it while you enjoy a cocktail in the upstairs sitting room.
Once you’re fortified with liquid courage (don’t forget to grab a mug for your drink), join a Ghost City Tours walk through the French Quarter. There are a variety of tours, some of which are family-friendly, but the “Bad Bitches” tour seems most appropriate for a town known for its unsavory locals.
If the thought of Bourbon Street revelry is enough to scare you, get out of the French Quarter and take the St. Charles Streetcar to Magazine Street in the Garden District. Here you can buy a vintage Halloween costume from the treasures of Century Girl Vintage, which is a museum of past fashions. If nothing fits your style (or budget), take a stroll down the street and check out the brand new Out of the Closet, a thrift store benefiting the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. If you’re really lucky, you could win a $3 pin straight out of Dynasty for your Joan Collins costume. Turban optional.
To get into the Halloween spirit, head to one of New Orleans’ many haunted hotels. The Troubadour, part of Hilton’s Tapestry collection, was the site of a tragic fire in 1972 that claimed the lives of six restless souls. You can leave anytime, but with live music in the downstairs listening room and stunning city views from your room, you might not want to leave. Rates hover around 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
San Antonio, TX
San Antonio is a perennial favorite, but if you’ve ever wanted to visit a place that seems like it could have been the whole of coconut, visiting during Dia de los Muertos makes the town in Texas the perfect destination for Halloween. The city rolls out the marigold carpet in late October for mortal and immortal visitors.
Between the dazzling and vibrant sugar skulls that adorn the floats along the Riverwalk Parades and the live performances at Muertos Fest, it would be as easy to forget you’re in the United States as to remember the Alamo. You can even purchase supplies to create your own family altar as a truly unique keepsake.
If you want to up the scare factor, consider a stay at the Holiday Inn Express San Antonio, North Riverwalk Area. The hotel, located just three blocks from the Riverwalk, once housed the Bexar County Jail. You can still find graffiti of the prisoners scratched on the walls, and the hotel is said to be haunted. Rooms can be purchased for less than 20,000 IHG One Rewards points per night, so even if you’re scared, your wallet won’t be.
If your favorite type of “Boo” is “Bibbity Bobbity,” consider a trip to Orlando to visit Disney World. While after-hours party tickets are sold out for 2022, you’ll still find availability to visit the decorated parks in their finest fall snacks and special Halloween-themed snacks. Longing for Winifred (it’s Sanderson, from Hocus Pocus fame) Elixir of youth? You’re in luck because the black tea slushie with kiwi foam is available during park hours.
You might want to save your snack for Epcot, as the food and wine festival is in full swing until mid-November. Not only can you eat (and drink) your way around the world, but if you’re lucky, you can catch Ray Parker Jr. in concert and sing “Ghostbusters” to your heart’s content.
You couldn’t be blamed if the ticket prices for a Disney World vacation had you screaming for outings. Luckily, you can get the Disney experience without rushing for a park ticket by visiting Disney World and Disney Springs resorts. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit and enjoy the resorts. Check out the zebras and giraffes at Animal Kingdom Lodge and play “Match the Feces to the Species” in the lobby (that’s exactly what it sounds like). It’s easy to do a full day of Disney transportation between the ferries, monorail, and new Skyliner.
Disney Springs is much more than a themed mall. Live entertainment this Halloween includes skeleton stilt walkers and the ‘Zombeats’ drumming band. You can even snack on Oogie Boogie’s Dole Whip Nachos at Swirls on the Water in Disney Springs.
If you’re flush with Hilton points, Disney Springs is the place to stay, as three of the chain’s properties are represented. Room prices are dynamic, but you can expect to pay around 50,000 Hilton Honors Points per night for a standard room.
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You’re not some poor unfortunate soul – it’s not too late to plan a Halloween getaway, and better yet, it’s not too late to use your hotel points to help pay. Happy places await you.