Photography isn’t just about clicking a shot based on what’s in your viewfinder. Elements like lighting, framing and timing all matter when you’re hoping to capture that perfect shot. Just take a look at Flickr user andykee’s image of these four lake houses in Delaware for proof. Andy turned what could have otherwise been a ho-hum shot at the beach into a photo loaded with atmosphere. The muted gray colors, blurry reflections and ample space at the top and bottom suggest the structures are floating on air – mysterious ghost houses shrouded in mystery and intrigue.
Halloween is the one day a year we seek fear rather than try to avoid it. We invite the prospect of ghosts, witches and vampires, and even if we concede that they aren’t real, it’s fine to suspend disbelief for a day. To heighten the sensation, consider wrapping your next trip in the Halloween spirit. There are plenty of destinations around the world that will help the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end.
1. Melbourne’s Haunted Bookshop
Ghost-hunter and historian Drew Sinton is waiting for you at The Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia. If you’re not afraid of the written word, this starting point won’t scare you, but along the way, you’ll hit a number of spots where ghosts have been sighted. Old Melbourne Goal (jail, that is) was home to 135 hangings. One of them, Ned Kelly, is said to have resulted in a ghost that won’t leave the site of his demise. While you’re there, walk the road to the gallows. If this isn’t enough for you, look for nutty ghosts on the Beechworth Ghost Tour at what was once the Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum.
2. Under the Royal Mile
Beneath Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile, you’ll find a warren of hidden “closes” where people once lived, worked … and perished. Mary King’s Close, once abandoned and forgotten, is now open via the Supernatural History Tour. Explore one of Scotland’s most haunted locations, get the scoop on urban myths and hear about sightings that occurred as recently as 2003. A few claim to have felt ghosts brush past on this tour. Will you be one of them?
3. Follow New France’s Great Master
Old Montreal‘s cobblestone streets set the scene for any supernatural encounter. The sun goes down; the wind blows off the river. You don’t know what’s gust and what’s ghost! History is the breeding ground of the other-worldly, and the Great Master will take you through the century’s that have contributed to what is now the “New France Ghost Hunt.”
4. The Darker Side of Luxury
No, you won’t have to worry about peasant uprisings, but if you’re looking for paranormal trouble, you can find it at a handful of Fairmont hotels. At the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (where I suffered through a business trip from hell a decade ago), keep an eye open for Victoria, a now deceased member of one of the founding families of the Sonoma Valley. A former steward, now dead, of course, hangs out in the silver room at the Fairmont Royal York, and a hotel maid who fell to her death in 1908 has yet to leave the Fairmont Empress.
5. The Ghastly Side of Downtown Orlando
I’m sure there’s something going on at Disneyworld, but skip it in favor of downtown Orlando (my favorite part of Florida). On the Orlando Ghost Tours, you’ll get two hours to pick up the basics of parapsychology and poke around in locations confirmed to be haunted. You’ll even get to use specialized equipment to conduct your own paranormal investigation. Who you gonna call? After this, probably yourself.
May is the month that kicks off the full season of the Ohio State Reformatory tours. This prison that played centerpiece to the movie Shawshank Redemption is a Gothic style stone building that looks formidable even in daylight. At night it can really creep a person out. Known for its chilling location as a Halloween haunted house, the reformatory is a ghost hunter’s dream.
As the story goes, the reformatory that once housed wayward boys is haunted by some former inmates who haven’t left. They wander the halls. Although there may be other prisons with ghosts, Alcatraz seems fitting, in my opinion, the Ohio State Reformatory is the only one that offers an overnight tour package.
That’s right. People on the tour get to stay at the prison all night long to look for paranormal activity. Not only are people allowed to stay all night, they can walk around on their own. Tour guides are on hand to answer questions and tell about the prison history, but other than that, feel free to poke around without them. Unfortunately, the tours are sold out for this season, however, there are many other opportunities to tour the prison in daylight. This is something to keep in mind for next year. Put it on your calendar to call for next year’s dates as to not miss out. Planning ahead is warranted. You have to be 21 and over for the ghost hunt experience.
There are days that don’t sell out in advance. May through September, the prison is open for tours on Sundays, and starting on June 2 daily tours are available Tuesday through Friday at 2 p.m.
The Sunday one-hour tours come in three versions–West Tower Tour, the East Cell Block Tour and the Hollywood Tour. The times for these thematic tours vary and are on a first come first serve basis starting at 1:00. The last tour is at 3:45. These tours are family friendly, although not recommended for under age 7 due to hazards like lead-based paint. Pregnant women may not want to go inside either.
For the price of your ticket, you’re helping to keep history alive because proceeds are rolled into restoration projects. Keeping an 1886 building standing is not cheap. You don’t need to be a ghost hunter to appreciate the prison. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boasts the world’s largest free-standing steel cell block. Who knew?
By the way, Halloween is sooner than you think. The Halloween tours sell out fast also. Under 13 aren’t admitted.
Old prisons look creepy in the day. In the dark, they can really spook you. Perhaps it’s those rusted locks, the way cell doors sound when they clank shut, the stairs where people don’t tread anymore. Add a hangman’s noose or an electric chair, and you have a real chills up your back shudder.
Pair a trip to a prison on Halloween and you’re in for some screaming good times.
Or, if you can’t swing by one of these prisons before Halloween, take in a night tour when you get the chance. Each of the these three prisons featured offers night tours year round. And each have tales of being haunted.
Haunted or not, I can vouch for their chill factor. I’ve visited each of them.
(photo of stairway at Mansfield Reformatory taken by thadman.)
My most recent visit was to the Mansfield Reformatory. In its heyday, the prison was a reformatory for boys but was closed in the 1980s.
This goreous gothic building that looks both elegant and forbodding even in daylight acquired its most recent fame as the setting for the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Through Halloween weekend there is a haunted house here that is a guareenteed screamfest. People under 13-years of age are not allowed.
The reformatory’s Night of the Evil Dead haunted house experience takes in most of the prison that is now a museum. I met some folks who had been on the tour the night before I visited here during the day. They loved it and mentioned several times how they felt hoarse from screaming.
I’ve been to Alcatraz Island in San Franciso twice. Although haven’t been on the night tour here either, in the daylight wandering through the rooms where the likes of Al Capone hung out creates a chill factor straight off.
Add in the tales of the guys who tried to escape by swimming for the distant shore but never made it, and you have another creepy detail. There’s also the soliary confinement cell where you can experience the dark in a way that is different than perhaps you are used to.
The night tours at Alcatraz are Thursday through Monday and include special talks around certain themes. How about the Shadow of Death? There are others from which to choose. A bonus of Alcatraz’s night tours is the view of San Francisco.
The view was terrific by day. If you do go on this tour any time of the year, whether during the day or night, make sure you bring warm clothes. Even in the summer it gets chilly.
I did take the night torchlight tour of the Fremantle Prison in Perth, Australia. Very cool. I was hanging out with a group of adolescent boys as a field trip chaparone. This age is a hard crowd to please, but I promise, they were pleased big time.
The Fremantle Prison, built in 1850 by convicts, was a place where British citizens who committed crimes were sent along with people who already lived in Australia and were naughty. Later the prison was used as a military prison.
The night view of this prison is quite imposing. Of all the places we visited in Western Australia, this was one of the highlights.
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!