Each year Americans of all ages get in the "spirit" of Halloween. Like so many others, my family and I enjoy all of the typical Halloween activities; from trick-or-treating and costume parties, to pumpkin patches and jack-o-lantern carving.
But one thing we have yet to do is visit a haunted attraction -- even though there are several wildly popular options near where we live.
However, for some die-hard Halloween enthusiasts, make-believe haunted houses are simply not enough. They want the real deal. So, in honor of those looking for something really spooky this All Hallows' Eve, the Fly.com team is sharing some of its favorite haunted locations from our own travels within the U.S.
Visit them if you dare!
Have any spooky destinations of your own? Feel free to share.
- - Michelle Erickson is the director of public relations at Fly.com and is based in California. A British native, Michelle has lived on three continents and is an avid traveler.
Probably the spookiest destination on our list is Brookdale Inn & Spa (formerly Brookdale Lodge), and it comes at the recommendation of one of our Fly.com software engineers. The haunted <a href="http://www.hauntedbay.com/features/BrookdaleLodge.shtml" target="_hplink">story</a> behind this historic building will likely give even the most strong of heart goose bumps. Billed as a popular destination for family vacations, romantic getaways, reunions, parties, weddings and other special gatherings, it is currently closed for renovations and is scheduled to open in November.
This house is nothing short of odd. From the moment you arrive you are struck by how the Victorian complex stands in stark contrast to its immediate (and modern) surroundings. But the real weirdness awaits you inside. Sarah Winchester, the owner of the property, allegedly created what is now a labyrinth of hallways and <a href="http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/thehouse.cfm" target="_hplink">strange features</a> in an attempt to ward off evil spirits. Be amazed by details like stairs that lead into ceilings and doors that open onto walls. And if you have compulsive tendencies, try and discover how many times the number 13 reoccurs throughout the house.
Hard to believe, right? But, according to Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon, co-authors of the book <a href="http://www.hauntedbaseball.com/" target="_hplink">Haunted Baseball: Ghosts, Curses, Legends and Eerie Events</a>, Wrigley Field is the most haunted baseball venue in existence. The list of spirits supposedly in residence includes baseball greats like Charlie Grimm, the broadcaster Harry Caray, singer songwriters and Chicago Cub fans. Not a believer? Wrigley Field is still worth a <a href="http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ballpark/tours/index.jsp" target="_hplink">tour</a> – or, of course, you could just go to a game.
Recently re-opened to the public after an annual maintenance sabbatical, this 122 year old lighthouse is rumored to be home to two ghosts. One is a young girl who is believed to be the daughter of a former lighthouse keeper (it is said that she can sometimes be heard playing in one of the rooms of the building's upper floor). The other is supposed to be the headless spirit of Josefa - a Spanish princess who was decapitated by a pirate called Jose Gaspar (hence the name Gasparilla Island). And while you are checking out the area, why don't you also consider a stay at the nearby South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island? Even though I didn't see the African slave spirits that are rumored to wander the grounds - or hear strange footsteps, like other guests - I can definitely recommend this <a href="http://www.southseas.com/photo_tour/hotel.cfm" target="_hplink">beautiful hotel</a>. <em>CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that this lighthouse was in Boca Raton.</em>
Due to its rich history and status as Savannah’s oldest hotel, <a href="http://www.marshallhouse.com/" target="_hplink">The Marshall House</a> has its fair share of ghost stories. The hotel was even featured on Travel Channel’s Haunted Hotels back in 2005. However a stay here could come with loud crashes, rattling door knobs, strange sensations, and the sound of children running in the wee hours. There have even been some actual ghost sightings. But if this isn’t enough, we can highly recommend dinner around the corner at The Olde Pink House on Abercorn Street – a converted Georgian mansion that is also supposed to be haunted.
Skip the ghost tours and cemeteries of New Orleans and, instead, head on over to Arnaud’s Restaurant for some great eating and Dixie jazz – packaged into a classic old New Orleans experience. And while you are there, ask your server about the <a href="http://www.arnaudsrestaurant.com/about/ghost-stories/" target="_hplink">ghost stories</a> attached to the restaurant.
Infamous for its witch trials of 1692, Salem’s history makes it a perfect destination for those interested in all things that go “bump in the night”, as well as anyone looking to learn more about the religious intolerance of that time. Hands down the best place to visit is <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/ghost-adventures/photos/salem-witch-house" target="_hplink">The Witch House</a>. It was not only the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, but is also the only remaining building directly tied to the trials. And, throughout the month of October, you can purchase tickets to its onsite evening <a href="http://www.witchhouse.info/tales.html" target="_hplink">ghost story series</a>.
It makes sense that one of New York’s oldest performance theatres (it opened in 1913) is rumored to be haunted. Although it is likely that many patrons are unaware of theatre’s <a href="http://palacetheatreonbroadway.com/" target="_hplink">rich history</a> (or its associated ghost stories) when they go to see <a href="http://www.broadwaymusicalhome.com/shows/annie.htm" target="_hplink">The Musical Annie</a> today. But, according to Long Island Paranormal Investigators, more than 100 different ghosts have been spotted by patrons, performers and ex-employees – even the ghost of the late Judy Garland!
You can’t visit Nashville without stopping by the <a href="http://www.ryman.com/history/" target="_hplink">Ryman Auditorium</a>. Originally home to the Grand Ole’ Opry (from 1943 to 1974), this legendary music venue not only hosted some of the entertainment industry’s greatest performers but was also graced by visits from other legendary figures, including President Teddy Roosevelt, Bob Hope, Rudolph Valentino, Katherine Hepburn. Rumor has it that some have never left.
The small city of Cody is well worth a visit, regardless of whether or not you are on a ghost hunting trip. Founded with the help of the legendary Buffalo Bill (William Cody), this former Wild West town still oozes its cowboy and pioneer past. A prime example is the centrally located <a href="http://www.irmahotel.com/html/history.html" target="_hplink">Irma Hotel</a>…which, you guessed it, is also supposed to be haunted. Whether you are at the Irma to enjoy a prime rib dinner, or are planning on staying the night, keep your eyes open for a sighting of a soldier spirit, a lady in white, or Buffalo Bill Cody’s daughter (Irma).
Follow Fly.com on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@fly_com