The Best, Scariest Haunted Houses, Hayrides, and Events in Upstate NY in 2011

How to celebrate Fright Night in the Hudson Valley; PLUS: four frightening recipes featuring pumpkins

During Halloween season, the Valley is the place to be: we’ve got a trio of attractions that routinely appear in the top rankings of the nation’s scariest haunted houses. If you’re just dying to be scared silly, check out one of these spooky spectacles.

The Big Three:

The Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted House
This annual frightfest, which racks up awards as one of the country’s hottest haunted houses, sells out every year. It’s actually a collection of eight different attractions, each with a different theme. In Laboratory 13, for example, there are experiments to reawaken the dead; at Blood Manor, suspected devil worshiper Dahlia lives with a blood-eating corpse. In addition, there is a popular mile-long hayride, a haunted corn maze, food concessions, and multiple gift shops. Not recommended for children under nine. $37.95. Ulster Park. 845-339-2666;

Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion
Now in its 36th year, this popular Bowdoin Park show is lauded for its interactive and theatrical nature. So if you want to get up close and person with ghouls and goblins, come wander around the Haunted Mansion, the Garden of Evil, and the all-new Burial Ground Cemetery. $22. Wappingers Falls. 845-297-BATT (2288);

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The Forest of Fear
This creepy carnival, created by the same team that brings us the New York Renaissance Faire, houses all kinds of chill-inducing guests, including an undead doctor and bloodthirsty vampires. Wander, if you dare, through the 26 rooms and see if you survive the dark arena of terror. Not recommended for children under eight. $20. Sterling Forest, Tuxedo Park. 845-351-5174;

haunted house

For more frightening fun…

The Haunted Museum of Unnatural History
The New York State Museum has a trio of Halloween events. “Cooking the Tree of Life” (Oct. 26) features Curator Dr. Roland Kays and Food Network Chef David Britton, who give scientific explanations to three scary stories of human-food interaction (with cooking samples). Monster Mash and Bash (Oct. 22 & 29) lets kids show off their costumes in the Halloween parade. The Monster Movie Fest (Oct. 22) screens horror auteur Brett Piper’s Muckman. $5 per event. Albany. 518-474-5877;

Frankenstein’s Fortress
This haunted theme park, built almost entirely from recycled materials, is staffed by local thespians who create its unique and eerie characters. Guests tour the haunted mansion, travel the terrifying trails, and traverse the bottomless pit — if they dare… $15, $5 children under 11. Stanfordville. 845-868-7782;

Pure Terror Screampark
Pure Terror has two new attractions for 2011: Terror Under the Big Top (a clown/freak show haunted house) — and the Sanitarium (a super scary psych ward). $25. Chester. 845-391-0071;

The Terror Dome
While the three haunted attractions are designed to terrorize the bravest souls, a spooky snack stand, autumn treats at the cafe, and festive town dedicated to Halloween will soothe the faint of heart. Call for prices. Newburgh. 845-476-VAMP;

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The Barn of Terror
It looks like an ordinary barn, but looks can be deceiving. The Barn’s eight rooms and dark hallways are full of new horror for 2011. If you survive, ride down to the Corn Field for more unexpected frights. $25. Lake Katrine. 845-336-5242;

For Historic Hudson Valley’s spooky events (including the popular Jack O’Lantern Blaze), see Polly’s Picks here. For the latest on other Halloween attractions and fall-themed recipes, go to our official Hudson Valley Halloween Guide.


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