Halloween 2012: The best cities for trick-or-treating

The alley behind Chicago's Ford Oriental Theatre is allegedly haunted by the ghosts of children killed in a fire there
Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

(MoneyWatch) Halloween is just around the corner, and that means kids across the U.S. are getting excited for trick-or-treating. But while little ghosts and goblins are most concerned with which neighborhoods give out the best candy, parents worry about their children's safety.

Zillow recently ranked the best U.S. cities for trick-or-treating, based on where children get the most candy with the least walking and greatest safety:

10. Washington, D.C. With a walk score of 73, our nation's capital is the seventh-most walkable city in America. It's also home to many reportedly haunted locations, all the better to give you a good scare this Halloween. Check out the Octagon House, D.C.'s most haunted home. Built in 1801 by Colonel John Tayloe, the estate is said to be haunted by the spirits of Tayloe's two daughters (who both fell to their deaths from the staircase) and the former slaves who lived there.

9. Philadelphia. Home to some of the allegedly most haunted places in the U.S., Philadelphia is also friendly to young ghouls and goblins. It has a walk score of 74, making is the fifth-most walkable city in America, according to Zillow. Edgar Allen Poe wrote some of his creepiest works here. Check out Fort Mifflin, supposedly haunted by the ghost of Elizabeth Pratt, who hung herself in the officers' quarters when she heard that her daughter had died of typhoid fever. Visitors have reported hearing screams from the room where she died.

8. Portland, Ore. Ranked the 12th-most walkable city in the U.S. with a score of 66, Portland must trump Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia in terms of candy haul. It certainly has its fair share of reportedly haunted buildings to spook trick-or-treaters this Halloween. One of the most famous ghosts is the spirit of Nina, a former prostitute who has made Old Town Pizza her home for years. According to legend, she was pushed down an elevator shaft to her death by one of the locals, and her spirit has never left the restaurant.

7. Los Angeles. L.A. is ranked the 13th-most walkable city in the U.S. and ties Portland with a score of 66. With all the stars that live in Los Angeles, it's likely local kids get some pretty great candy. They also get their fair share of otherworldly experiences, since L.A. is said to be one of the most haunted cities in California. One of the most notable sites is the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue. It's reportedly haunted by the spirits of its two previous owners. The first owner, John Hampton, died in 1990 after developing cancer from all the toxic chemicals he inhaled while preserving silent films. His ghost reportedly haunts the upstairs lounge, which used to be his apartment. The second owner, Lawrence Austin, was shot and killed in the lobby of the theater. Some people say his ghost can be seen hanging around the lobby after the theater has closed.

6. Chicago.The City of Big Shoulders is the fourth-most walkable city in the U.S. with a walk score of 74. Known as the home of some of the most famous mobsters in history, such as Al Capone, Chicago has plenty of haunted happenings to scare you silly this Halloween. One of the most famous is "Death Alley," which sits behind the Oriental Theater. In December of 1903, faulty wiring ignited the theater -- then called the Iroquois -- with nearly 2,000 people trapped inside. In total, 602 people, 212 of whom were children, died in the fire. As the charred bodies were pulled from the rubble they were stacked in the alley to await transport, and believers in the supernatural say their spirits have never left.

5. San Jose, Calif. Named the 19th-most walkable city in the U.S. with a walk score of 55, San Jose is home to one of the most famous haunted homes of all time. The Winchester House, owned by Sarah Winchester until her death in 1922, is sure to creep anyone out. In 1884, after the death of her husband and only child, Winchester -- who inherited millions of dollars from her famous father-in-law -- moved West and purchased an old, dilapidated farm house. She would spend the rest of her life building a massive mansion with doors to nowhere, stairs that lead to the ceiling and chimneys that stop short of the roof. According to legend, Winchester consulted a medium after her husband's death who told her to build the home to confuse the spirits.

4. Seattle. Trick-or-treaters are sure to find Seattle foot-traffic friendly. With a walk score of 74, Seattle is the sixth-most walkable city in the U.S. If you're in the mood for something spooky this Halloween, head to Georgetown Castle for some candy. The three-story home once housed gamblers and prostitutes within its walls, and the original owner, a Mr. Gessner, was found dead in one of the rooms after committing suicide. Today the home is a private residence, and rumor has it the ghosts of a woman and several children haunt the premises.

3. Honolulu. Honolulu has it all: a walk score of 63, the beauty of a tropical island and plenty of haunted places. Who wouldn't want to spend Halloween trick-or-treating in this historic city? After gorging on candy, take a trip to the Dole Cannery Theater for a good scare. The ghost of a man in his late 50s allegedly haunts screen 14, and the theater is supposedly haunted by the spirits of school children who were killed in a bus crash on the site in the 1980s.

2. Boston. Beantown is the third-most walkable city in the U.S. with a walk score of 79 -- it's also said to be one of the most haunted. You can start by heading to Boston Common, a large park that was the site of hangings until the early 1800s. It's also home to a mass grave for more than 900 bodies. Visitors report having seen the ghosts of a young girl with no face and two women, rumored to be sisters, roaming the grounds.

1. San Francisco. The second-most walkable city in the U.S. with a walk score of 85, the city is also a trick-or-treater's paradise, filled with gorgeous old buildings and plenty of people to hit up for candy. One of the most infamous haunted places in the city is Cameron House, located in San Francisco's Chinatown. It was once home to Chinese immigrants who hid in the basement with the help of the owner, Lady Cameron. The doors were locked to keep the police out, but they also kept the immigrants in. When locals heard what Lady Cameron was hiding in her basement, they set the house on fire. All the refugees died in the blaze, and their spirits are said to haunt the building.

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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.