Travel read: 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12! Here are 10.

If travel seems overwhelmingly expensive, or just plain overwhelming, turn it down a notch. That’s the message in the book 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12! by Joanne O’sullivan. Plus there’s not the word “die” in the title. That’s uplifting.

Although this book is aimed towards children, it offers a fresh way to look at travel for adults as well. Each page touts a different wonder to tantalize ones fancy. Instead of specific places, there are themes so that no matter where you live, you may not have to travel far to check destinations off the list. Some don’t cost a dime.

Each offering is presented in eye candy pages complete with facts and details for finding out more. It’s like having all the best field trips in the world right at your fingertips.

First up, A Lighthouse. Did you know Michigan is the state with the most? There are 124. To find lighthouses in North America, check out this web site that features legendary lighthouses.

Here are are 10 more gotta see suggetions. See these, and there are only 90 more to go:

A Working Farm: Here’s a way to see where food comes from and get it fresh. “The closer your food is to where you came from, the, the better it is for you,” is one of the ideas behind this suggestion. To find working farms that are open to the public in the U.S., the book suggests checking with a county extension agent. Other countries have working farms open to the public as well. In New Zealand, staying on a working farm is a popular lodging option. At Offbeat Travel, there’s an account of one person’s 21-day farm stay tour. In case you can’t make it to a farm, here’s a virtual 4-H farm tour.

A Ghost Town: Head to one of these and wonder why everyone left. There are ghost towns to be found about everywhere, but particularly in the western part of the United States. Montana is filled with them. One I like in particular, because of its location up a long road in the Pintler Mountains, is Granite. To find other ghost towns, check out www.ghosttowns.com.

A Big Cave: This suggestion has a two-page spread that includes cave detail definitions. Sure you might know what a stalactite (hangs down) and a stalagmite (goes up) are but what about an anthodite and helicite? Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the largest cave in the world. To find others in the U.S., click here. To pep up cave travel, go to one that once was a salt mine. Several countries have them.

A Battlefield: It doesn’t matter which one you go to. The idea is to take time to ponder what events passed on the ground where you are standing. These are the places where lives and history were changed. Here’s a Web site to help you find Civil War battlefields.

A Great Estate: Head to where the rich, rich, rich people once lived before the word McMansion hit our vocabulary. The book suggests Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Jeremy recently suggested mansions in the Hudson Valley of New York. In India, many mansions have been changed into hotels, and several are not particularly expensive. Check out Heritage Hotels to find one.

A Haunted Place: This is one of Gadlings favorite topics every October. Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana is described as being the most haunted home in America. Haunted Prisons, ships and hotels could keep you busy for awhile.

A Place of Worship: This is where you visit a religious place that is not your religion. If possible attend a service. The point is to learn about the symbols and belief systems of other religions and notice just how similar religions are. Here’s something I didn’t know. There are more than 200 Hindu temples in North America.

A Very Big Thing: This is a suggestion that says “road trip.” It doesn’t matter what big thing you look for, just make sure it’s big. One suggestion I have is the world’s largest penguin in Cut Back, Montana. The book gives locations for finding Paul Bunyan and his blue cow Babe and the largest catsup bottle in the world.

Backstage of a Theater: Here’s where you check out the secrets behind the magic of what happens when the curtain goes up. I recently toured the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield, Ohio. This gem of a theater has a history that started back in Vaudeville. My favorite part was seeing the dressing rooms where people get ready to perform. Jerry Lee Lewis was performing there the day after I toured. Along the walls leading up to the dressing rooms are black and white photos of the various performers like Jay Leno back when he was doing stand-up.

The Middle of Nowhere: This is a place that you’ll know it when you see it. It’s a place in the world that makes you say, “we’re in the middle of nowhere. Three summers ago when we were driving through Wyoming, my then 3 year-old son looked out the window and said, “We’re the only one here.”

The other 90 suggestions are also compelling. The Orlando Sentinel said that 101 Places You Gotta See Before Your 12 is “an odyssey for kids.” I say, forget what it does for kids. It sure makes me excited to get out in the world–plus it comes with a fold out map of the U.S. and stickers to mark where you’ve been.

I checked the book out from the library. It’s now overdue, and I can’t renew it. That means I’m just going to have to buy a copy. It’s terrific.

The photo is of Greenpoint Lighthouse in South Africa.

Sleep with a ghost this Halloween

Most people steer clear of anything rumored “haunted,” but some curious supernaturalists seek these places out. Bedandbreakfast.com has a list of over 100 haunted inns in the United States, as well as a long list of Halloween specials for paranormal enthusiasts.

Visitors to the Honeybee Inn B&B in Horicon, Wisconsin (pictured) may feel the presence of a former resident named Coton and his female companions. The rocking chair where he died is said to rock on its own, and the owners have reported sightings of a female spirit.

The Black Horse Inn in Warrenton, Virginia is home to four spirits: a Civil War nurse who laughs in the ears of male guests, a dancing gentleman whose tapping steps can be heard throughout the night at the top of the stairs, a gentle ghost who simply likes to sit in one room, leaving impressions in the bedspread, and a Christmas poltergeist, who enjoys knocking over the Christmas tree each year.

Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport, Massachusetts is said to be haunted by Ralph Waldo Emerson himself, who turns on and off the lights and appears to guests as a shadowy figure. Emerson was a former guest of this inn — perhaps it was such an inspiring place that he keeps returning.

These are just some of the dozens of ghost stories available at Bedandbreakfast.com. Find a haunted inn near you when you visit this page, and let us know if you see or hear anything spooky!

Abandoned hotels past their days of glory: Which will rise again?

Over at ProTraveler, there is a read worth noting about eight abandoned hotels in various parts of the world. They once had glory days, but didn’t hold onto it for financial woes or pestilence.

These are the places that chronicle shifts of time. Hot destinations that don’t stay hot or where the owners made bad decisions. You’ve probably come across examples of these types of places in your own travels.

“What was this place?” you might say to your traveling companions. You wonder if anyone important stayed here or what the building looked like when it was brand spanking new.

One example is this picture of the Palace Hotel in Jerusalem. I love this shot. The hotel reminds me of John Everett Millais’s painting of Ophelia still clutching flowers, dead, floating face-up in a pond.

The photos are haunting, I think. Chairs with no one sitting in them, debris scattered across the floor, and an old sign that once flashed its neon. These are reminders that nothing gold can stay, but if lucky, can be resurrected into a new life.

For example, the Palace Hotel is to be reopened as a Waldorf-Astoria luxury hotel in a few years. The Diplomat Hotel in the Philippines may be turned into a museum. The folks who are going to do the project better hurry while there is still a building worth saving. It’s thought to be haunted, so hopefully, the ghosts will be happy with the change.

Haunted Hotels to Get Your Halloween Freak On At

Are you into the supernatural, the kind of person who chases ghosts and spirits? If so, well … I don’t really know what to say except why?!?! That stuff totally freak me out. But to each their own.

And if you are a ghost-lover, you probably love Halloween too. But this Halloween, instead of doing some un-scary like going to a costume party or doing a pub-crawl, why not spend a night in a haunted hotel? I bet the rates are cheap because people in their right mind wouldn’t consider it (I kid, I kid … ) Here’s a list of hotels where the guests or employees never left, including:

  • The Admiral Fell Inn in Baltimore: Once a hospice, the night nurse is purportedly still on shift.
  • The Driskill Hotel in Austin: A senators daughter came crashing to her death her and is still supposedly playing with her ball in the hallways.
  • The Hawthorne Hotel in Salem: This hotel is home to a sad — but unidentified — young woman in suite 612.
  • The Hotel Galvez in Galveston: A young widow, who committed suicide after learning that her husbands ship had sunk, still keeps watch on the fifth floor.
  • Blennerhassett Hotel, Parkersville Parkersburg, West Virginia: Cigar smoke of an unknown source wafts through the halls here. Many believe it belongs to the hotels founder.

Want to find out where the other haunted hotels are? Read the full article.

Jails, Homeless Shelters, & Soup Kitchens Turned Hotels

HotelCall it coincidence, but in this month’s edition of concierge.com they’ve listed 10 hotels across the globe with a spooky past. (Coughs, can we say perfect timing for Halloween, hmm?) After going through each one, I noticed the history of some were creepier than others depending on what you tend to get spooked by. Shack up in a past crime den, nun’s cell, jail or my personal favorite an old soup kitchen. From the photos featured one might not ever know that these places have a tale to tell, but don’t let the looks deceive you. When you’re at rest in bed the howling you hear isn’t coming from the outside. It’s the cry of the mentally unhinged resident that stayed there before you. (Insert: horror laughter.) I’m only kidding – sort of.

Check out the Poor House: Hopper Hotel Et Cetera in Cologne, Germany which now sits as a cheap-chic boutique hotel, but was once a homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Heading to Puerto Rico? Stay at the old Carmelite convent, now one of San Juans’ most luxurious hotels was once home to 11 nuns that moved out in 1903. If you’re in need of prison time look at their picks out of Turkey and the U.K., just don’t say I didn’t try to warn you of their bone-chilling ambience.