THE Perfect Destination for Halloween: St Augustine FL

The days are growing shorter and the nights seem darker and cool breezes rustle the palms in our courtyard. Or…was it really just the breezes rustling the palms? St Augustine is the oldest city in the United States with almost 450 years of people living (and dying…) here. Shadows darken our narrow streets and the clip clop of horses hooves make you wonder if that carriage is from our century, or perhaps an apparition from centuries ago. Halloween – one of our favorite times of the year – is almost here and there is lots of fun to be had – both in the daytime and, if you dare, during the shadows of the night! And, yes! We still have availability for that spookiest of weekends, but call soon because availability is limited! (photo courtesy of wiki images (Citroulle préparée pour Halloween. Auteur : Carole Pasquier le 31 octobre 2004 {{GFDL}} {{cc-by-sa-2.0-fr}}))

Each day, City Walks presents fun-filled and informative tours of the Ancient City, but throughout the month of October each tour honors the historical origins of Halloween and Samhain, The Celtic New Year. Plus, explanations of modern day Halloween customs such as bonfires, jack-o-lanterns, costumes and trick-or-treating are woven into each fascinating tour. Choose from walking tours such as the St. Augustine Pub Crawl ($34 all inclusive); St. Augustine Creepy Crawl ($17); History, Mystery, Mayhem and Murder! ($14) and Savory Faire-A Food Tour with Taste ($45). For reservations, call 904.540.3476 or purchase tickets online at www.StAugustineCityWalks.com.

There’s no better place to encounter Creatures of the Night than the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park – the only place in the world that is home to every species of crocodilian. From 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the evenings of October 29, 30 & 31 children ages 2-11 and the entire family can enjoy Halloween in an unforgettable setting. Young ghosts and goblins can wander the wild walkways and encounter costumed animal keepers with creepy creatures and candy! There will be an alligator feeding show and drawings for annual passes. Tickets are available at the door — $8 adults; $6 for children ages 2-11. Discounts are available for members. For more information, go to www.alligatorfarm.us or call 904.824.3337.

When it comes to the strange and bizarre, it would be difficult to surpass the original Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in St. Augustine. As Halloween approaches, this first-ever shrine to weirdness becomes an irresistible destination for those who appreciate the oddly different aspects of life. Each night, Ripley’s award-winning Ghost Train Adventure takes passengers on a fascinating and sometimes frightening interactive paranormal adventure. Each ticket holder gets to use a handheld EMF Ghost Meter to find the spirits and a 35 mm camera to capture spectral images on a train trip that includes stops at ghostly hotspots including the Spanish Military Hospital, Old Drugstore and Castle Warden. On the nights of October 29, 30 & 31, Oculto the Deejay will be cranking out creepy and spooky tunes and tossing candy from the roof of Ripley’s. Train tours will run well after midnight on those haunted nights. Tickets for a 90-minute tour are $26 for adults and $11 for children ages 2-11. A 75-minute journey takes passengers to a haunted inn and ancient Indian burial grounds. Tickets are $23 for adults and $11 for children 6-through-12. For details and required reservations, go to www.ghosttrainadventure.com or call 904.824.1606.

How about spending Halloween sailing the Seven Seas aboard an actual pirate ship? You can if you sign up to be part of the piratical crew of the Pirate Ship Black Raven. On Saturday, October 30, the black ship will cast off from the St. Augustine City Marina for three spine-chilling adventures. The 6:15 p.m. Family Friendly Cruise will showcase a treasure hunt, magic and mystery. At 8:15 p.m., the Adults-Only Cruise will leave the dock for a voyage of mature jokes and festive fun. Finally, at 11 p.m. the Black Raven will depart on a two-hour tour that frankly, is so frightening and thrilling that the details can only be learned by calling 1.877.578.5050 for tickets.

At 6 p.m., on Saturday, October 30 the gates will swing open at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre to welcome ghosts and goblins to a Halloween Double Feature – The Addams Family (rated PG) and Carrie (rated R). There will be a costume contest at 7 p.m. and the movie features start at 8 p.m. Admission is free! No outside food or beverages, concessions will be available. For details, go to www.staugamphitheatre.com or call 904.471.1965.

HootsnHowls gets Halloween started at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 30, at the St. Augustine Pier in the City of St. Augustine Beach with a special pet contest. Lots of fun and prizes, including awards for the best pet costume, best howl and many others, will be featured. The $5 per category entry fees will support local animal rescue organizations like S.A.F.E., WAGS and WHISPERS, H.A.W.K.E., Diamonds in the Rough Farm, and HootsNHowls. For more information, call 904.461.9066.

Florida‘s Haunted Trails will be featured from 6 to10 p.m. on October 22, 23, 29 and 30 at the Florida Agricultural Museum located on the corner of U.S. 1 and Old Kings Road, 15 miles south of St. Augustine in Palm Coast. Visitors can enjoy wagon rides through spooky woods, haunted houses, story tellers, carnival games for kids, the dreaded Mugwump, headless horsemen and the scariest stuff imaginable! Admission is $8 per person. For more information, go to the Florida Agricultural Museum or call 386.446.7630.

For those who want to combine great bargains with some trick-or-treating, the St. Augustine Premium Outlets will be the place to be from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 31. A list of the many participating merchants will be available for goblins to pick up at the Information Center. The Premium Outlets are located at I-95 and SR 16 (exit 318).