You’re either a Halloween person or you’re not, but if you have young children, there’s no escaping the annual trek around the neighborhood. For grown-ups who want to step up their trick-or-treating game this year, consider bringing the kids to one of these seven Philadelphia-area Halloween haunts.
In the classic slasher film Halloween, Michael Myers returns home to a fictional town inspired by this quaint South Jersey suburb (cowriter and producer Debra Hill grew up there). In real life, the Haddonfield trick-or-treating scene really does look like a Hollywood set, with over-the-top decorations and festivities, especially along Washington Avenue.
Lauren Regina, who lives on the 200 block of Washington, starts her candy-buying weeks in advance. “I make sure to have over 3,000 pieces,” she says. On Halloween night, she hosts a party on her front porch, complete with a full spread of sushi and sandwiches, and a hired bartender slinging drinks in the driveway. “The action starts just as school lets out around 3 p.m.,” she says.
Perhaps the most densely packed area of the city on Halloween night, Society Hill has a solid reputation for quality candy (yes, kids will score at least a few full-size candy bars). There are fun surprises throughout the neighborhood, too, like a gorilla-costumed resident who has been known to pop out of a doorway on the 300 block of Delancey Street.
The trick-or-treating epicenter here is Three Bears Park, which hosts a party after school — before hordes of kids of all ages swarm the streets. Note that it’s best to arrive early, because some of the prime houses run out of candy after a couple of hours.
Home to the popular Harry Potter-themed Witches & Wizards Festival earlier in October, charming Chestnut Hill gives kids a bonus trick-or-treating day the weekend before Halloween.
On Sunday, Oct. 27, local businesses host Halloween on the Hill, when kids in costume can get candy from any shop with a designated sign in the window.
When the 31st comes along, Chestnut Hill is generally a smart destination for trick-or-treaters because the houses near the main drag are close together, maximizing the efficiency of candy collection. Locals say that the houses near the 8300 to 8500 block of Germantown Avenue, like those on Gravers Lane and Ardleigh Street, are reliably worth visiting.
Because the neighborhood has a lot of apartment buildings, parts of Rittenhouse Square are candy dead zones on Halloween night, but certain houses near the square go all out for trick-or-treaters. The area near the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Delancey Street, in particular, is worth a visit.
The nonprofit marketing group Rittenhouse Row hosts an extra trick-or-treating day the weekend before Halloween. On Saturday, Oct. 26, shops, restaurants, and hotels give out goodies to kids in costume.
Longtime Lambertville resident Kendra Lee Thatcher advises first-timers to “bring two or three bags” to stash all of the goodies they’ll collect in this picturesque town on the Delaware River. Thatcher says that the whole town really gets into the Halloween spirit, with events throughout the month. “The stores here do elaborate displays,” she says.
Some of the best trick-or-treating is centered around Union Street, where Dolores Dragan, a former art teacher, creates a gorgeous, sprawling Tim Burton-esque display in the front yard of her Victorian home. (If you can’t make it to Lambertville, there’s a tour of her Halloween decorations on YouTube.)
Not quite as “extra” as some of the spots on this list, Queen Village and Bella Vista are ideal for families who appreciate less crowded sidewalks and a more laid-back experience.
Zigzag through these neighborhoods and you’re bound to encounter pockets of festive gatherings in alleyways and small streets, where hosts are known to offer weary chaperones a glass of wine. And since many of the houses aren’t quite as inundated with trick-or-treaters, your chances of getting bonus candy are higher. A resident on the 900 block of League Street even hands out children’s books.
Off of Front Street in Queen Village, Stephen Jawork takes over an entire courtyard with his elaborate “Haunted Hallway,” with several different themed areas, sports and games, and five fog machines.
“Each year it gets a little crazier,” says Jawork. “I want it to be a way for the community to get together — a nondenominational event that everyone can come to,” he says.
On the opposite side of the city, the streets near Baltimore Avenue in Spruce Hill are a spirited trick-or-treating route for West Philadelphians.