I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween. As a kid I loved dressing up and, of course, the candy, but I never quite warmed to the idea of going to strangers houses begging for a handout. Fast forward thirty a couple of years to the present, and you’ll find me manning the candy bowl at home rather than taking my son around the neighborhood.
Fall is my favorite time of the year, and I will use any excuse to travel. Even Halloween. And if you’re going to use it as an excuse to get out of town, why not make it interesting by planning a haunted vacation? That’s something even I could get into.
You could be obvious and head to Salem, Massachusetts, but you’d be missing out. Across the U.S. there are a ton of spooky destinations that you may never have considered.
For The Novice
If you’re easily scared, you might prefer your fright prepackaged. There are dozens and dozens of excellent haunted houses and scream parks around the country. Some states have several highly-rated ones, so you could easily make a haunted road trip of it.
Rated among the best haunted houses is the 13th Gate Haunted House in Baton, Rouge, Louisiana. It features 13 indoor and outdoor areas—40,000 square feet of freak-out fun. 13th Gate employs movie-industry technicians, scenic designers and special effects artists to make your experience top-notch. This is not a crappy high-school gym haunted house.
Also top-rated is the Bates Motel in Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania. It’s not just a haunted house, it’s a scream park that features three creepy attractions: The Bates Motel, The Haunted Corn Maze and the spectacular Haunted Hayride.
You can find more amazing haunted houses at hauntedworld.com.
For The Curious
Some of us (that would be me) don’t like all that faux-scary stuff, but like a little creepy history to get us in the Halloween mood.
Colonial Williamsburg has evening programs including the “Ghosts Among Us” tour and a recreation of an actual witch trial. Williamsburg is one of my favorite historical sites and offers an authentic glimpse into early America.
But I guess some of you are insistent on the being frightened. Not to worry, there are many other haunted cities to explore.
In Savannah, Georgia, you’re likely to hear many tales of haunted houses. It’s considered one of the most haunted cities in America. One of the more popular places to go is The Pirate’s House, once a stopping place for privateers and sailors and now a restaurant. But it’s supposed to be haunted. Laughter is often heard from the vacant upstairs area and the first floor has the ghost of sailor that hangs around the staircase. And apparently in one dining room the chairs are rearranged on a nightly basis. You can find The Pirate’s House at 20 East Broad Street.
Every state seems to boast at least one haunted place, even the District of Columbia has the White House (yes, apparently it’s haunted and not just by scandal). You can find a comprehensive listing at realhaunts.com.
For The Adventurous
If you really want to immerse yourself in the spirit (yes, that’s a pun) of Halloween, check in to a haunted inn. There are many scattered throughout the country, particularly in the Northeast, but the West coast has its share.
Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, Washington, just outside of Tacoma, is a nine-room bed and breakfast that’s still watched over by the original owner, Chester Thorne. Chester has visited many people at the inn over the years. He’s known to unscrew lightbulbs when he’s particularly pleased or disturbed by something. Visitors have also reported seeing Anna, Chester’s wife, in the mirror in the inn’s bridal suite. The Stephen King miniseries Rose Red was filmed at Thornewood Castle.
If you like your ghosts more playful, visit The Groveland Hotel in Groveland, California, just east of San Francisco. Lyle, the spirit of a gold miner who lived (and died) in the hotel is not shy; he’s known for relocating women’s makeup from “his” dresser to the bathroom sink nearby. He also plays with the lights and turns on the water in the shower. The most popular room at The Groveland Hotel is Lyle’s room, and every employee there has a story about him.
You can find more haunted hotels and inns at Ghosthaunts.com.
Fall is a beautiful time to get away, and although I believe that you never need an actual reason to get away, I love the idea of adding a little fun to your trip by giving it a spooky theme. Just be sure to stay within your budget or things could get really scary.
Photo Credit: Halloween – Pumpkins by yaxzone on Flickr Creative Commons