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.

Top Five Destinations of Travel Writer Christopher Elliot

I checked the Baby Boomer Trips website to see what is happening there these days. Last month, I mentioned the feature, Ask Nan. This time I browsed the Interviews section. Christopher Elliot is one of the interviewees. As a person who writes for National Geographic Traveler, the U.S. News & World Report and who is a columnist for the New York Times, I’d say Elliot knows a thing or two.

One of the interview questions asked him for his top 5 travel destinations. Except for Anchorage, Alaska, Elliot seems to like warm climates. Sanibel Island is listed as #1, then the Florida Keys, then Sonoma, California, and then Bermuda. Anchorage is last.

Here’s the briefest of brief rundowns of each of these places. I don’t know what Elliot likes about each, but this is what appealed to me. Each place’s website is filled with details meant to capture a wide range of interests. Sanibel Island is a shell collectors’ dream spot and there is the National Wildlife Refuge & Bird Sanctuary. The Florida Keys is as far south as you can get and still be in the U.S. Plus, it just happens to be the dive and sports fishing capital of the world. (At least that’s what the website says.) One of my friends is in love with the Key West Literary Seminar held there every January.

Sonoma trades the tropical paradise for wine country. Instead of driving yourself from winery to winery, you can take a wine country tour. Good idea since wine tours can make a person tipsy in no time. Bermuda is a place I’d go to see the architecture. There are 785 historic houses that are listed on the National Register. Anchorage is a place to go if seeing a wildlife abundance is your fancy. Within a short distance of the city you can see bears, whales, moose and more–a lot more.

If you want more travel thoughts from Christopher Elliot, check out his own travel blog called “Ellipses.”