Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday in which family and friends come together to remember loved ones who have passed away, as well as guide them on their journey into the afterlife. It’s not about haunted spirits or prolonged mourning, but rather a celebration of life and the afterlife. Friends and family members visit graves and build altars, which often involve decorating with sugar skulls and marigolds, as well as the deceased’s favorite food, drinks, and possessions. Luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to Mexico to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. Join in on the fun at one of these 13 best Dia de los Muertos events across the United States. Most of these celebrations feature food and drinks, so stay at a vacation rental within walking distance, so you won’t have to worry about having a designated driver. That said, check out the top spots to celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

1. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California

dia de muertos at the hollywood forever cemetery
Source: Flickr/Rebeca Anchondo

Every year, thousands of costumed attendees shuffle through the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for its music-filled Day of the Dead celebration. You won’t just find colorful altars and Aztec dancers here. Last year, you could also find an Illegal Mezcal pop-up bar and pyramid-shaped mausoleum photobooth hosted by Netflix. It is Hollywood after all! Stay in a vacation rental near the Cemetery and you’ll be within walking distance of other Los Angeles attractions like Paramount Pictures Studio and Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Then, you can avoid all of that Los Angeles traffic!

Find vacation rentals in Los Angeles

2. Muertos Fest, San Antonio, Texas

mexican dancers at a muertos fest
Source: Flickr/Carnaval.com Studios

San Antonio is a major melting pot of cultures, but the Latin American influence surpasses them all, especially in the La Villita Historic Arts Village. This Day of the Dead celebration at La Villita is full of energy with drummers dressed as skeletons, traditional Aztec dancers, and puppeteers animating ornate skeleton puppets. While you’re in the area, walk about 10 miles to see San Antonio’s famous River Walk.

Find vacation rentals in San Antonio

3. Day of the Dead Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

dia de los muertos mexican parade

Held at the National Museum of Mexican Art, this Day of the Dead celebration immerses guests in a full art experience. The Museum and surrounding area are turned into an elaborate work of art, featuring visual displays which reveal the story of the Day of the Dead. The Museum’s two-story entrance also features photos of lost loved ones that people submit, and families can create their own ofrendas (Day of the Dead altars) in Harrison Park.

Find vacation rentals in Chicago

4. Florida Day of the Dead, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

day of the dead at fort lauderdale
Source: Flickr/photo-gator

Fort Lauderdale’s Skeleton Processional is a huge parade that pays homage to the traditional cultural elements of the holiday while incorporating skeleton alligators, sea turtles, pirates, and mermaids. To get the community involved, the festival also offers workshops on traditional folklorico dance, giant puppet and mask making, and even how to make milagros, a sort of religious folk charm.

Find vacation rentals in Fort Lauderdale

Find the perfect vacation home on Tripping.com. Tripping.com is the world's #1 vacation rental search engine with over 10 million properties!

5. Day of the Dead San Diego, San Diego, California

dia de los muertos in san diego
Source: Flickr/Matthew Baldwin

San Diego is as close as you can get to Mexico without actually being in Mexico. It goes hand in hand that Latin American influences run deep. For Day of the Dead, San Diego’s Old Town comes alive with student mariachi bands and Aztec dancers. The festival also features a giant skeleton puppet and skeleton stilt walker as well as a team of family history specialists to help guests look up their ancestry.

Find vacation rentals in San Diego

6. Day of the Dead Festival, New York City, New York

day of the dead skeleton crafts

This annual New York City Day of the Dead Festival is held in Staten Island. The festival begins with the construction of two ofrendas, or altars for the returning souls. There’s a communal ofrenda where visitors can place flowers and artifacts for their deceased loved ones and a second ofrenda constructed by a family in the community to show the traditions of the region of Mexico where they originate.

Find vacation rentals in New York City

7. Muertos y Marigold Parade, Albuquerque, New Mexico

dia de los muertos marigold parade
Source: Flickr/Larry Lamsa

Albuquerque has many Day of the Dead festivities, but none compare to the annual Marigold Parade. The Albuquerque Marigold Parade celebrates the dead by having the living gather for music, dance, food, and art. There are ofrendas built in memory of those who have passed away covered in flowers, often marigolds, and decorated with skulls and other calavera art. The parade starts at Centro Familiar and Isleta and ends at the Westside Community Center.

Find vacation rentals in Albuquerque

8. Day of the Dead Festival of Altars, San Francisco, California

dia de los muertos in san francisco
Source: Flickr/Steve Rhodes

The Dìa de los Muertos Festival of Altars isn’t just a one day event. Community members and organizations are invited to create their own large box altars to anchor the sacred space of the park. Festival sponsors, The Marigold Project, even provides one 3’x7′ cardboard box each for community member or organization. If you don’t make your own altar, you can bring flowers, candles, and remembrances of your loved ones for the community altar.

Find vacation rentals in San Francisco

9. All Souls Procession, Tuscon, Arizona

a day of the dead masked dancer

This 2-mile procession involving up to 150,000 participants had humble beginnings. It started in 1990 as an artist’s tribute to her father and is now a citywide celebration. The procession ends in the ceremonial burning of a large Urn filled with the hopes, offerings and wishes of the public for those who have passed. If you’re still looking for something to do, head over the to Tuscon Museum of Art’s Picture This! Dia de los Muertos. This family event is full of pinatas, face painting, and craft stations against a backdrop of altars created by local schoolchildren.

Find vacation rentals in Tucson

10. Dia de los Muertos at Olvera Street, Los Angeles, California

dia de muertos folk art figures
Source: Flickr / IIP Photo Archive

Los Angeles has a few worthwhile Day of the Dead celebrations, and this one is definitely one of them. Olvera Street, known as “the birthplace of Los Angeles,” is a Mexican Marketplace that recreates a romantic “Old Los Angeles.” It was created in 1930 “to preserve and present the customs and trades of early California.” Many of the merchants on Olvera Street today are descended from the original vendors, and they have celebrated Dia de los Muertos for over 30 years. This week-long festival has children’s craft workshops, candlelit processions, and altar displays with ceremonial cleansings and blessings, street theater, and musical and dance performances.

Find vacation rentals in Los Angeles

11. Dia de los Muertos, Birmingham, Alabama

day of the dead in birmingham alabama
Source: Flickr/Melinda Shelton

Birmingham has an ever-growing Mexican population, but this annual Day of the Dead celebration attracts a multicultural crowd to its multi-block street party. The streets are lined with homemade altars recognizing deceased friends, families, and community figures. There are also food trucks, performances, and a costumed parade to round out the evening.

Find vacation rentals in Birmingham

12. Dia de los Muertos, Breckenridge, Colorado

disney day of the dead
Source: Flickr/Henry Ngo

This three-day commemoration of Day of the Dead features hands-on workshops, face painting, art installations and community-made altars on the Arts District campus. The opening party starts on Friday night, Saturday has face painting and a craft spirit festival, and Sunday features live music and Aztec dancing.

Find vacation rentals in Breckenridge

13. Day of the Dead 5k & Street Festival, Raleigh, North Carolina

folklorico dancers at the dia de los muertes festivities in san jose
Source: Flickr/Mike

How about a race to celebrate tradition, community, and diversity? Don’t worry, when the race is over, the fun isn’t over! There’s an art corner for kids, face painting, food, music, dancing, and local beers. There’s also a little incentive for anyone over the age of 21 to finish the race…a free margarita! Let the fun begin!

Find vacation rentals in Raleigh

 
Ready to go? Find the perfect rental on Tripping.com, the world's largest vacation rental search engine.