Autumn is here — a time to pick apples, carve pumpkins, get confounded by corn, and have the wits scared out of you. Here are some of the biggest, best, and spookiest ways to celebrate fall around the country.

8 Phenomenal Fall Activities

1. Most Epic Pumpkin Festival

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, Half Moon Bay, CA
Third weekend in October

Half Moon Bay is known as the “World Pumpkin Capital,” and with more than 3,000 tons of pumpkins waiting to be picked each year, it’s easy to understand why. This 2-day festival features a parade, a costume contest, a haunted barn, some 250 vendors selling harvest-themed arts and crafts, and food stands serving every type of pumpkin dish imaginable.

You can also see the award winners from the Safeway World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-Off (last year’s champion gourd tipped the scales at 1,985 lb.).

2. Most Spine-Chilling Haunted House

Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA
Late September through early November

This imposing building was the first official “penitentiary,” intended to create remorse in notorious inmates like Al Capone. Long since abandoned, the prison is now considered one of America’s most haunted places, appearing on shows like Ghost Hunters and World’s Scariest Places.

Every fall, the 11-acre prison becomes an enormous haunted house. Guests can choose to merely watch the spooky events or have a more interactive experience (and, in some cases, even be part of the show). Kids aged 7-12 are welcome on Family Nights, but if things get too scary for the little ones, saying the words “Monster, be good” will tone down the fright.

3. Biggest Corn Maze

Cool Patch Pumpkins Corn Maze, Dixon, CA
Late September through early November

This maze set the world record for largest temporary corn maze in 2007, measuring 40.5 acres. The Cooley Brothers have broken their own record many times since — the 2014 maze is around 60 acres. Guests can use GPS coordinates to find the raised viewing stations around the maze, which offer aerial views of the field and (ideally) help you figure out where to go next.

4. Most Mind-Twisting Corn Maze

Davis Mega Maze, Sterling, MA
Mid August through late October

Flashlight Mazing: Saturday nights, late September through early October
Fright Nights: last 3 weekends in October (geared for adults)

What this maze lacks in size, it makes up for in complexity. Though it covers only 8 acres, the Davis Mega Maze includes 3 miles of pathways and more bridges than any other field maze, and the layout can change daily.

More adventurous types can choose from 7 levels of Extreme Mazing intensity, featuring puzzles, water games, and obstacle courses. On Saturday nights, you can explore the maze at night using just a flashlight. And during “Fright Nights,” the maze becomes a haunted zone of terror.

Check out:  Do You Need Travel Insurance?

5. Most Historic Apple Festival

National Apple Harvest Festival, Biglerville, PA
First 2 weekends of October

Held near history-laden Gettysburg, the National Apple Harvest Festival is having its fiftieth anniversary this year. For 2 weekends in October, America’s favorite fruit is feted with pie-eating contests, tractor square dancing, chainsaw-carving demos, an antique auto show, a petting zoo, and hundreds of craft booths.

6. Best Festival to Avoid If You’re Acrophobic

Bridge Day, Fayetteville, WV
Third Saturday in October

With its span soaring 876 feet above the river, the New River Gorge Bridge has been a West Virginia icon since it opened in 1977.  Now, every year on Bridge Day, locals and visitors celebrate this great span by jumping off it. Though most of the 80,000 or so guests are spectators, hundreds of B.A.S.E. jumpers take the plunge.

Experienced rappellers can also rappel into the gorge, and there’s a 700-foot zip line called the High Line that’s open to the public (and books up weeks in advance).

7. Best Place to Slam Dance

THE FEST, Gainesville, FL
Last weekend in October

Maybe pumpkin carving and bobbing for apples isn’t your thing. If you’d rather celebrate the change of seasons by rocking out to punk bands, then FEST is your fest. This event offers an insane lineup of 365 underground bands at 12 venues over the course of 3 days.

8. Fastest-Growing “Day of the Dead” Celebration

Corpus Christi Dia de los Muertos Street Festival, Corpus Christi, TX
Last weekend in October

A traditional Latin American custom honoring the dead, Día de los Muertos is celebrated all over the U.S., but especially in the Southwest. A relative newcomer on the scene, Corpus Christi’s festival has grown from 600 attendees in 2008 to almost 35,000 last year. Guests can enjoy live music, cultural performances, and over 90 craft vendors.

This year, the Texas A&M University art department will be there, printing custom T-shirts and helping guests create miniature sculptures out of poured iron.

Make sure your insurance is phenomenal too

If you’re hitting the road for one of these fall events, make sure you’re covered against car accidents and theft. And if you’re celebrating at home, be aware that Halloween is one of the worst nights for vandalism. The best way to avoid Halloween dangers is to be prepared.

But Halloween isn’t all doom and gloom (well it is, but sometimes in a good way!). If you prefer a more beautiful fall experience, become a leaf peeping expert.

Travel hacks

about Ellen

Ellen has spent many years as a professional wordsmith, helping to shed light on such topics as world travel, cargo pants, and the porosity of bath tiles. As a freelance copywriter for Esurance, she brings her boundless curiosity to the world of insurance. Outside work, she can be found cheering on the San Francisco Giants, hiking in the Oakland hills, and (barely) resisting smuggling penguins home from Antarctica.