Mexico’s version of Halloween is the one holiday when the dead get to party with the living. During the weeks leading up to November 1-2, the country gears up for El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. The pre-Christian ritual is best experienced in areas where indigenous communities thrive, so avoid the Mexico City crowds and fly to the city of Morelia in Central Mexico. Nearby, on the tiny island of Janitzio on tranquil Lake Patzcuaro, the Purepecha Indians built their graveyard on the side of a hill, so revelers march up a winding road past colorfully lit bars and restaurants. Each small town around the lake specializes in a different craft-green pottery in Patzcuaro, wooden masks in Tzintzuntzan, handcrafted guitars in Paracho. Morelia is Mexico’s candy capital, and artisans churn out thousands of miniature sugar skulls for holiday altars. Stay at Villa Montana, a secluded estate perched above Morelia with Colonial-style rooms, tiled bathtubs, private patios, and a superb restaurant, which offers Mexican standards updated with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
DETAILS Villa Montana, 800-223-6510 (doubles start at $160); United Airlines, 800-241-6522 (flights from New York to Morelia via Chicago, $760 round-trip).