Goblins and ghouls, spirits and seances… Halloween is almost here!
For the travel-lover who enjoys taking part in this spooky holiday, there are plenty of destinations, tours and hotels that offer eerie experiences in October and throughout the year. Here are six paranormal picks across the country that are renowned for being frightfully haunting.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
If you are a big Stephen King fan, booking a room at The Stanley Hotel should be on your bucket list. The author and his wife stayed here, which inspired King’s 1977 bestselling thriller The Shining. It was the film location of The Shining TV miniseries in 1997, also written by King. If staying in the hotel sounds too frightening (thanks to Jack Nicholson playing the role of Jack Torrence all too well in the adapted film), opt for the Historic Stanley Night Tour instead. The 75-minute walking experience covers the history, Stephen King and the spiritual hauntings. Tickets start at $25, stanleyhotel.com
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA
The Gothic-style Eastern State Penitentiary prison opened in Philadelphia in 1829 and became the first in the U.S. to implement solitary confinement, a hotly debated practice. Prisoners were kept in gloomy stone cells with virtually no human contact and hoods were placed over their heads whenever they were moved. Supporters of this system believed that solitude would lead to penitence, which would ultimately result in rehabilitation. When the prison closed almost 150 years later in 1971, it was believed that the ghosts of the inmates took back the prison. Visitors claim to see their apparitions wandering the corridors and hear mischievous whispers in abandoned cell blocks. Eastern State Penitentiary offers daytime tours year-round, and to celebrate Halloween, the 10-acre prison transforms into a haunted house from September to November for the 45-minute Terror Behind the Walls tour (one of the top haunted houses in the country). Tickets range from $24-$44. easternstate.org
R.M.S. Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
The R.M.S. Queen Mary is a retired ship that was once a luxury ocean liner that sailed the Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967. During her first three years at sea, it transported Hollywood celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. In 1939 she was stripped of her amenities and began her second life as the “Grey Ghost,” a World War II troopship. At the conclusion of the war, she was restored to her former glory and traversed the Atlantic for nearly two more decades. On Halloween 1967, the Queen Mary departed on her last cruise, eventually docking in Long Beach, California, where she is now a luxury hotel and popular tourist attraction. It has been reported that the ship is haunted by the spirits of those who died aboard, and Time Magazine once labeled it as one of the “Top 10 most haunted places on Earth.” This Halloween, the ship’s Dark Harbour tour is from September 26 through November 2 and features mazes, live entertainment, secret bars and rides. Tickets start at $34, queenmary.com
Zombie Ghost Tour, Savannah, GA
Savannah is known for its southern charm and hospitality, but it also has a very different claim to fame–it is one of “America’s most haunted cities”! During the incredibly popular Blue Orb tour, you’ll hear about spirit sightings and eerie happenings that real residents endured while visiting the tour’s various stops. There are many ghost tours to choose from and one of the most popular is the Zombie Ghost Tour (adults only)—a reference not to the walking dead, but to the city’s voodoo connections and the conjurers (hoodoo and voodoo practitioners) who are rumored to bring back the dearly departed. This ghost tour focuses on the conjurers’ view of ghosts, spirits and the undead. The Savannah Shadows Tour, open to all ages, lets you learn about and visit the locations of famous ghost stories, including haunted playgrounds, squares and streets. Tickets start at $25, blueorbtours.com
Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, New York, NY
Set in New York City’s artsy Manhattan borough, the Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour is one of many experiences presented by Boroughs of the Dead. During the 2-hour walking tour, a guide shares the very best ghost stories from the East Village and Greenwich Village, which also delve into the history behind the hauntings. Guides will call out secret burial grounds, spots where modern-day ghost hunters discovered paranormal activity and ways that the neighborhoods influenced great writers like Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Additional tours in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Roosevelt Island are available. Tickets start at $25, boroughsofthedead.com
The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA
By day, the Colonial shops and houses lining the streets of the quaint living-history museum of Williamsburg are full of reenactors with deep knowledge about 18th century life. At night, those 300-year-old buildings tell a spookier tale. Supplied with a candle-lit lantern and an extensive knowledge of local history, The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg’s guide leads visitors on a one-mile, night-time walk through the campus of The College of William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg, stopping to tell family-friendly stories along the way. Tourists hoping for a slightly scarier experience should attend the “Extreme” tour, during which the tour guide uses a “K2 reader” to detect paranormal activity. Tickets start at $13, theghosttour.com