Talk about a scary travel trend (and no, we’re not talking about the increasing cost of gas):
Halloween has become big business for the travel industry every autumn, drawing increasing numbers of tourists to haunted houses, spooky schoolhouses and paranormal prisons.
The Haunted Attraction Association estimates there are 2,500 Halloween-themed attractions around the world, generating $300 million in business annually.
And quite a few of them are within an easy drive of Northeast Ohio.
A few frightening ideas:
• Lake Eerie Fearfest is five haunted attractions in one, covering 6 acres in Sandusky. Frightening features include Ghostly Manor, a year-round attraction, plus seasonal houses Darkmare, Caged, Quarantine and Eerie Chateau. Admission is $25 for all five, or $15 for Ghostly Manor alone. For information: lakeeeriefearfest.com.
• While in Sandusky, check out the latest rendition of Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends, which combines family-friendly fun during the day with more scary sights at night; weekends only through October. For admission and hours: halloweekends.com.
• Kings Island’s version of autumn fun, Halloween Haunt, also runs weekends through October. For info: visitkingsisland.com.
• The Haunted Prison Experience Dead Walk, inside the historic Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, is open Thursdays through Sundays in October (plus Wednesday, Oct. 31). Admission is $17. Information: hauntedx.com.
• For political terror more frightening than any presidential race, check out Haunted Statehouse tours in Columbus. The tours, offered Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 12-13 and 19-20, are available by advance reservation only. Price is $12; $6 ages 11 and under. For information: statehouseshop.com (click “seasonal”) or 614-728-9234.
Coming up: The Lakeside-Marblehead Lighthouse Festival runs 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 along the Lake Erie shore, Ottawa County. Activities include hayrides, sailboat rides, kids crafts, live entertainment and a pumpkin-decorating contest at Lakeside, plus tours of the nearby Marblehead Lighthouse and Wolcott House. Admission to Lakeside is free, though some activities carry a small fee. For information: lakesideohio.com.
Enjoy sauerkraut pizza, fudge and ice cream at the 43nd annual Waynesville Sauerkraut Festival in southwest Ohio next weekend. The festival runs 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14. More than 450 arts and crafts vendors will be selling their creations throughout town. Information: sauerkrautfestival.com.