Five haunted attractions for Halloween: options around the world

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.

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

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. 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 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.