Halloween activities that may actually give you nightmares

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The bewitching season is upon us! You’ve been waiting patiently all year long to let your dark and twisty sensibilities take over, and your time has finally come. With October comes Halloween, sure, but Halloween doesn’t have to be the only day to indulge your inner darkness. No, no, no. You can partake in scare-inducing Halloween activities all October-long.

From festivals, to ghost walks, to haunted hayrides, there’s practically a “spooky” Halloween activity that will appeal to everyone. But what if you’re not, you know, everyone? What if you want to really amp up the creepy factor this year? If that sounds familiar, we’ve got you covered.

Forget about the standard stuff that everyone else will be doing — you want to take the chill factor to the max, right? Look no further, because these creepy Halloween activities may just scare the living daylights out of you.

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Go to a zombie survival camp

Yes, this is 100 percent as badass (not to mention sure to evoke sheer terror) as it sounds. At zombie survival camp, trained instructors will teach you what to do in a doomsday scenario. Arguably the most well-known of these apocalyptic retreats takes place over the course of three days in Orillia, Ontaria, and you still have a few days left to secure a spot! However, there are smaller versions take place all over the country, so keep a watchful eye out.

Alternately, if you want to prepare your favorite next gen’er — ’cause you’d obviously want your favorite to survive a zombie apocalypse — you can sign them up for Camp Bernie YMCA’s zombie survival training camp for 12 to 17-year-olds.

Take a haunted road trip

Road trips are, by nature, one of the most fun adventures you can have. But haunted road trips will get your adrenaline pumping even more. Syfy’s pro ghost hunter Steve Gonsalves recommends a route that starts in Salem, Massachusetts, ends in Louisville, Kentucky, and spans 1400 miles.

Stay the night at an insane asylum

This sleepover is not for the faint of heart. At the iconic Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia, you can bunk for eight hours in the same halls that were designed for 250 souls — but once housed a staggering 2,400 in abject conditions. Or, you could look into staying at Kentucky’s legendary haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium, where visitors claim to hear paranormal screams and see moving shapes where patients have died.

Download a ghost hunting app

Who knew this was a thing?! If you fancy yourself a bit of a paranormal buff, why not put your paranormal skills to good use? You can do so by downloading apps that (*claim* to) help you detect paranormal activity — some, like Digital Dowsing’s “Ovilius” EMF radar, have even been featured on TV shows such as Ghost Adventures.

Order a haunted mystery box

For those of us who’ve watched any movie in the Annabelle series, this might actually prove too spooky. But if you’re not terrified at the thought of bringing a possibly possessed item into your household, you can order a mystery box from eBay or Etsy purportedly filled with haunted items — think vintage porcelain dolls or a men’s broken pocket watch said to bear the lingering presence of something paranormal.

Play a spooky game

Remember when you were young and brave and used to do all manner of terrifying things before you grew up and got some good sense about you? Well, throw all that good sense out the window, because it’s time to bring back an oh-so-creepy childhood Halloween activity: playing spooky games.

To get your spine-tingling off to a solid start, let us jog your memory. In the “Charlie Charlie Challenge,” you (and whichever crazy ride-or-dies you convince to do this with you) balance a horizontally aligned pencil on top of a vertically aligned pencil. If you’re envisioning this, yes, you’re right — that forms a cross. Of the four newly formed quadrants, two say yes and two say no. You then recite, “Charlie, Charlie, can we play?” If he’s feeling frisky, the demonic teenage spirit named Charlie will spin your pencil to yes.

Or maybe you’d prefer to stand in front of a bathroom mirror with the lights off and door closed, chanting “Bloody Mary” three times and hoping that the embittered, long-deceased monarch won’t scratch your arms or (worse!) pull you into the dark abyss that lies behind the mirror.

Either way, prepare to test your mettle.

Pitch a tent at a haunted campground

People often talk about staying at haunted hotels and, sure, those can be shiver-inducing. But there’s no denying that being outside, in the dark, in a truly creepy place is unnerving in a heightened way. That’s why we recommend locating a haunted campground near you to pitch a tent. Need inspiration? The Dyrt has pulled together a list of six spooky spots you can reserve a site, but you may have to do a bit more digging to find someplace ominous in your neck of the woods.

Need a quick shot of inspiration? Campers at Hard Labor Creek State Park, Georgia’s most haunted campground, are rumored to be tormented by all types of paranormal spirits (including two particularly malevolent entities).

Join a paranormal investigation

Let’s be real: It’s entirely possible that, even if you download every ghosthunting app available, your DIY paranormal investigation won’t turn up anything. For a more authentic ghosthunting experience, find a paranormal investigation tour near you. In Charleston, South Carolina — one of the country’s most storied haunted locales — Bulldog Tours will take you inside of the Old City Jail to measure cold spots with an infrared thermometer, try to pick up paranormal energies with tools like a spirit box and EFM meter, and much more.

Visit an abandoned building with an eerie history

A place doesn’t have to be explicitly haunted to be really frickin’ creepy. Don’t take our word for it, though; do a little digging into abandoned buildings in your hometown that have a dark history (Atlas Obscura is a great place to search). You might stumble upon a spooky gem like Wisconsin’s Buckstaff Furniture, a now-dilapidated factory that once churned out caskets and coffins.

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Board a haunted train ride

Haunted hayrides get all the attention, but haunted train rides are even better. Maybe it’s the sheer number of trains depicted chugging through the night in horror movies, but there’s something about a vintage locomotive that simply feels… unsettling. If that’s a feeling you’re willing to chase this October, you’re in luck — there are haunted train rides all over the country in varying degrees of terrifying.

In Pennsylvania, the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad’s adults-only Halloween Train: Terror on the Tracks promises “to frighten the strongest of heart, and test the nerve of all onboard.” In Washington, you can hop the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad’s Headless Horseman Halloween Trail for good old-fashioned frights (including, you guessed it, the decapitated equestrian himself).

Bonus activity: Try to survive the night

At Survive the Night, an adults-only horror-themed overnight experience that takes place in a Michigan forest, campers are chased by chainsaw-wielding “maniacs” and welcomed to enjoy scary movie screenings all night long (when they’re not running for their lives). But that’s not all, the site claims campers will experience “intense scares, strong verbal content and adult-themes,” and may be “moved, bound and handled.” Uh, terrifying. It’s safe to say you probably won’t be sleeping. But, hey, at least you’ll get to eat! Tickets include dinner and a light breakfast… if you’re alive to see the morning.

Need scary Halloween costume inspiration? Learn how to give yourself a head injury with a coca-cola can (and fake blood).