If you love being scared, you’ll love these ghost tours and haunted hotels.
You crawl into bed with a good book. The sound of distant thunder signals the approach of a storm. You ignore it because you are safe and warm at home. But are you?
Suddenly the lights go out.
A slow knock at the door sends a shiver up your spine.
Something catches your eye at the window. Probably just some leaves.
When you glance again, you see a shadow.
Someone appears to be holding an ax!
You open your mouth to scream but then…
Some of us love a good ghost story. Let’s face it, sometimes we enjoy being scared. If haunted houses, zombies, and the spirit realm intrigue you, then plan your next vacation with creepy ideas from these top travel writers.
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Get creeped out by Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico City
By Ashlea J. Russell of She Roams About
One of the most unique haunted destinations around is tucked away in a southern neighbourhood of Mexico City, better known for its colorful boats. Locals and tourists alike enjoy spending their weekends sharing food and drink as they ride the vibrant trajineras (gondola-like boats) through the canals of Xochimilco. But it’s not all fun and games because the canals are home to an eerie urban legend shrouded in darkness and mystery.
As the legend goes, a local man by the name of Don Julian abandoned his family to start a new life of solitude on an island in the Xochimilco canals. One day as Don Julian sat on his island the body of a drowned girl washed ashore and with her came her doll. He tried to save her, but it was too late, so out of respect Don Julian hung the little girl’s doll in a nearby tree.
Driven by madness, Don Julian became obsessed with pleasing the spirit of the girl. He spent his days searching for dolls and dolls parts, hanging his treasures in the trees around the island. After spending 50 years secluded, Don Julian’s body was found, floating in the same place he found the little girl.
Still to this day, locals bring dolls to the island to appease the spirit of the little girl. Some people swear they can hear the dolls whispering, luring them to the island and to an unknown fate. Visitors can enlist the help of a brave captain to visit the Island of the Dolls, but it’s not recommended to go empty-handed.
Find the oldest ghosts during ghost tours in St. Augustine, Florida
By: Victoria of Florida Trippers
Originally established in 1565, St. Augustine served as the capital of Spanish Florida for well over 200 years. Accordingly, it is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of either African-American or European origin in the USA.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that St. Augustine is one of the most haunted cities in the world. Plus it boasts of some of the most haunted places in Florida.
So, if you’re looking for a fear-induced adrenaline rush then join a local ghost tour. Visit haunted locations like St. Augustine Lighthouse. In fact, this is the oldest lighthouse in Florida. Visitors regularly report seeing the ghosts of two girls who died in the 1870s.
Don’t miss the Old Jail during ghost tours of St. Augustine
However, if that isn’t enough ghoulishness for you, check out the Old Jail. It now serves as a cool museum and the final resting place of some very un-dead spirits. Keep an eye out for some shadowy figures. Also view rogue orbs of light, as you see where inmates on death row were held and eventually hanged.
But, if you want to spend the night under the same roof as a ghost, book a room at the Casablanca, or Casa de Solana hotel. Former owner, Don Manuel Lorenzo Solana, historically took in many wounded soldiers and refugees. Many of these spirits have reportedly never left and like to steal guests’ personal items.
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Don’t lose your head during ghost tours in Sleepy Hollow
By: Kelly of Travel New York Now
Famous for being the gruesome backdrop of Washington Irving’s haunting tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Hollow is a small hamlet along the Hudson River that can be found in Westchester county.
It’s a quiet place that comes alive with haunting, Halloween-inspired charm once September ends and October begins. So, head to Grand Central Terminal and take a Hudson Line MetroNorth train to Tarrytown.
Upon arrival, enjoy a wide variety of fun activities. For example take a guided night tour of the old Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Explore the iconic Dutch Reformed Church there. While you’re here see if you can find Andrew Carnegie’s tombstone before heading to Route 9 and grabbing a quick photo with the Headless Horseman statue.
However, the real highlight of any visit to Sleepy Hollow is The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. It’s a truly awesome event where thousands of hand-carved pumpkins light up in the evening and are arranged to resemble giant cars, dinosaurs, lions, houses, tunnels, and more.
This event is popular. So be sure to book your tickets well in advance, like right when they come out. Also, grab hot apple cider and cider donuts. They will warm you up as you stroll through this whimsical outdoor display of magical pumpkins.”
Live your nightmares by sleeping in Shepton Mallet Prison
Contributed by Sarah from Slow Travel
Shepton Mallet Prison, in deepest darkest Somerset in southern England, was built in 1625. It functioned as a House of Correction for men, women and children, who were incarcerated. They suffered terrible conditions. Over the following centuries it evolved into a place of hard labor and for executing criminals. Many of these inhabitants still lie buried there today in unmarked graves. During World War II it served as a prison for over 700 American servicemen. Some of these prisoners met their end by hanging or killing by firing squad. The prison closed in 2013. However, currently ghost seekers can take guided tours, participate in ghost hunts or stay overnight.
The prison has been left just as it was. The walls are peeling and covered in mold. Rust creeps over the bars. Plants grow through the cracks. If you stay overnight, you sleep in a cell. Plus you have the chance to roam the whole prison throughout the night. Just you and your torch will explore the cells, the morgue, and the execution shed. You will also creep through the chapel, the exercise yard and the outbuildings, all surrounded by the impossibly high walls topped with barbed wire.
Unsurprisingly there are countless ghost stories connected to the prison, such as the White Lady who roams A-Wing. She represents the ghost of an attempted escapee who appears on the prison roof over the exercise yard. Even one of the infamous Kray Twins imprisoned there may appear in selfies. Footsteps can be heard in empty corridors. Metal doors slam and echo around the wings. Your torches pick up shadows which flitter out of sight. Ghost hunters visit regularly. They say they have found evidence of hauntings. Even the most cynical can feel their hearts pounding as they explore the prison in the dark.
It is an unsettling but fascinating place to visit. Although you won’t get any sleep, an overnight stay there is guaranteed to be a night you will never forget.
Banned: Devils Pools in Australia
Submitted by Chris Fry, the Aquarius Traveller
When looking for haunted destinations around the world, you want to visit the Devil’s Pools in Australia. The pools are located in North Queensland, right next to Babinda Boulders. They make a popular waterhole for swimming near Cairns.
The Devil’s Pools are a group of large boulders, crevices, and holes. Rushing water formed these gorgeous, natural-looking pools which attract many tourists for a swim. However, there is a haunted history behind the pools. The history is frightening and now deemed too dangerous.
Aboriginal legend has it that a young girl called, Oolana, married an elder from a nearby tribe. Shortly after they wed, she fell in love with Dyga. They both fled to the valleys to continue their adulterous relationship. When caught by the tribe’s elders, Oolana jumped into the devil pools and cried for Dyga to follow.
Both of them obviously lost their lives but said that her cries for Dyga turned the still waters into a rushing torrent, which continued to claim lives for many years. Since 1959, at least 19 people have been killed or disappeared into the Devil’s Pools. It’s said that Oolana entices people into the pools as she forever searches for her lost love Dyga.
In 2008, a man was swimming in calm waters when an invisible force pulled him back towards the rapids. He tried to reach for a branch that broke, before being sucked underwater, much like a washing machine. After his death, the pools were deemed unsafe and closed for swimming.
Its claimed to be one of the most haunted spots in Australia, but still visited for viewing by hundreds of tourists every day.
Fairmont Banff Springs, where people are dying to get in
Contributed by Marissa from The Daydream Diaries
One of the most iconic hotels in Canada, The Fairmont Banff Springs, also happens to be one of the most haunted hotels!
Dating back over 120 years, The Fairmont Banff Springs has had numerous ghost sightings from guests. In addition, guests have reported weird occurrences in their rooms.
The Ghost Bride holds the spot for the most famous ghost tale from the Fairmont. People believe that a former bride died on the marble staircase in the late 1920’s. The story goes that her dress caught fire from one of the candelabras close by. As a result, she burned to death. Over the last decade, hotel staff and guests have reported seeing a figure on the exact staircase where this allegedly happened. Visitors have also seen the former bride in the hotel, over the top ballroom. Apparently, the ghost bride really wanted that wedding. She has yet to recover from it never happening.
There have also been reports of paranormal occurrences from specific rooms within the hotel. Guests have mentioned their pillows being yanked and doors shutting. One room received so many calls that the hotel decided to permanently seal it. If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, I am not sure what will!
Despite the rumors of it being haunted, it is insanely beautiful and one of the most visited places in all of Alberta!
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Beware the Abandoned Mine at Nelson Ghost Town
Contributed by Daria of The Discovery Nut
Nelson Ghost Town is a former gold mining town in the heart of Nevada desert.
This makes a great place to learn about what this area was like in the days of the Wild West.
Nelson Ghost Town attracted a lot of outlaws during the Civil War when many people headed West to look for gold. A popular destination, it wasn’t uncommon for the newcomers to have conflicts with the native Paiute tribe for control of the land to mine for gold.
Techatticup Mine was founded in 1861. It became one of the top producing Nevada’s gold mines in the 1800’s. The area was abandoned during the WW II, because other metals became more important.
While you can visit the mine by purchasing a ticket for a tour on site, don’t forget to explore the mining town. When you walk around, you will find many cool artifacts. For example old rusty cars, antique barns and old machinery blend together in a weird composition.
The area still contains deposits of gold and silver. The main reason the area is abandoned is because, during World War II, other metals had priority.
Visiting Nelson Ghost Town is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling. You can easily get here by renting a car in Las Vegas.
Meet with eerie spectors during ghost tours of Old Louisville
Contributed by Brittany of Travel by Brit
Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the best (and most haunted!) destinations in the United States. There are plenty of ghost tours you can take around the city, especially in this historic neighborhood known as “Old Louisville.”
Old Louisville, one of the most popular neighborhoods in Louisville, Kentucky, has a reputation as “America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood.” More Victorian-style homes call this area home, than any other neighborhood in the world. In these homes, you’ll discover plenty of spooky ghosts and paranormal activity. Many ghost tours in Old Louisville, like this Old Louisville Walking Ghost Tour, share fascinating stories about the neighborhood. Stories include the Witches’ Tree, the hanging man, the lady on the stairs, and the James Carroll murder house. This top-rated tour will pass haunted houses, churches, parks, and street corners!
In addition to all the haunted places to visit in Old Louisville, you will discover plenty of cool things to do in Downtown Louisville. You will find downtown located just a few minutes away. Between your ghost hunting adventures, squeeze in a few bourbon tastings and museum tours. Or indulge in fine dining experiences at popular restaurants, like 610 Magnolia, Repeal Oak-Fired Steakhouse, or Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Grill.
Expose yourself to the spirits of the Kona Hotel
Contributed by Anu Agarwal of Destination Checkoff
Hawaii’s Big Island contains tons of sacred valleys, volcanoes and ancient legends. King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach hotel is one of the oldest hotels in the Kona region of Big Island. This hotel was built on sacred grounds. Hawaiian King Kamehameha, a great warrior in the early 1800s, may have spent his last days here. There are legends that King Kamehameha’s burial spot was somewhere near the hotel grounds. On the bottom floor of the hotel an art gallery showcases paintings of Hawaiian Royalty including a painting of King Kamehameha and his queen. Local legends state that the top floor of the hotel is haunted and that battle sounds have been heard on the top floor.
Now whether this legend is true or a tall tale, King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach hotel is sure a great place to stay at on your trip to Kona, Hawaii. It is a beautiful, renovated beachfront hotel right in the middle of the busy Kona downtown. There are plenty of things to do in Kona to learn history and legends, like visiting the Historic park of refuge, Captain Cook monument and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Big Island is also world famous for snorkeling and its many beaches, and is a bucket list vacation destination, haunted or not!
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Brave the ghosts at Island Hotel & Restaurant in Cedar Key, FL
By Jillian Michelle from Adventure Dragon
Head to Florida’s second oldest town, Cedar Key, to explore its most haunted attraction–the Island Hotel. Constructed in 1859, this historic landmark today functions as one of the most popular restaurants in Cedar Key. In addition it is a beloved bed and breakfast. In the past, however, it had other uses. Its originated as a general store and had a brief existence as a brothel. It even served as officer quarters during the Civil War. At the time, it was one of the only buildings still standing after Union soldiers captured Cedar Key and burned the town to the ground.
Today people profess that at least thirteen ghosts of previous inhabitants haunt the hotel. Among them, a Confederate soldier still stands guard on the second floor. Guests often spot him during sunrise. Other notable ghosts include a murdered prostitute who at night climbs into bed with guests staying in rooms 27 and 28. Plus a little boy, who drowned in the basement water cistern, still haunts that level to this day.
The Island Hotel was featured on the television show Haunted Inns & Mansions. It remains a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors to the island from all over the USA. If you’re brave enough to stay the night at this haunted gem, your stay will include free breakfast in the morning. Keep your eyes peeled for the ghost of former owner, Simon Feinberg, who has been roaming the lobby and dining room since the early 1900s.
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Hear the myths of Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans
By Alanna from Periodic Adventures
Located in one of the spookiest cities in the United States, sits Hotel Monteleone, the most haunted hotel in New Orleans with a terrifying history that left its mark and a few ghosts to boot.
Hotel Monteleone was opened in 1886. To this day it still attracts guests from around the world. Many people who have stayed in the hotel or worked there have reported a number of hauntings. One of the most famous is the tale of Maurice Begere, a toddler. He died from an illness in his hotel room while his parents were away at the opera. People frequently spot Maurice’s ghost on the 14th floor (the same one where he passed).
Hotel Monteleone was investigated by the International Society of Paranormal Research in 2003. Even they concluded the 14th floor was indeed haunted!
The hotel is a fantastic haunted spot to visit even if you don’t want to stay the night. Luckily, you can still go inside the hotel lobby and grab a drink at the Carousel Bar that actually spins (albeit very slowly).
You’ll find Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter on Royal Street, just a block from Bourbon Street.
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Lincoln Park Zoo – unknown ghost tours
Contributed by Brodi Cole of Our Offbeat
The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in Chicago. But many people don’t know that it’s also one of the most haunted places in the city. People say the farmhouse barn on the zoo grounds houses a number of spirits, including some of the city’s earliest residents.
The history of the farmhouse barn dates back to the mid-19th century, when it was part of the city cemetery. In those days, people buried the dead near where they died. But as the city grew, the cemetery reached capacity. The town made the decision to move the bodies to cemeteries across town.
They relocated thousands of bodies. However, many were left behind. When construction crews began clearing land for the farmhouse barn in the early 20th century, they unearthed a number of corpses. After repeated unanswered calls to the city, they decided to simply rebury the bodies on site.
Since then, visitors have reported hearing voices and seeing shadowy figures in the barn. Some believe these are the spirits of Chicago’s earliest residents, who were forgotten when their graves were relocated. Others believe they are impressions from past lives or otherworldly beings who are drawn to this place because of its dark history.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there’s no denying that the farmhouse barn at the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the most haunted places in Chicago. If you’re looking for a spooky place to visit this Halloween, be sure to add it to your list!
If you will be visiting Chicago, buy a City Pass to get a discount on multiple attractions!
Vampires & werewolves seen near Olympic National Park
Contributed by Jessica at Uprooted Traveler
With its towering trees and craggy sea stacks, Olympic National Park gives off a lot of spooky vibes. It’s no surprise this was the setting of the beloved Twilight series, complete with a vampire-werewolf-human love triangle.
Fans will like visiting the town of Forks, which features places from the book. See Bella Swan’s truck located in front of the Forks Timber Museum. View La Push Beach, with dramatic rock monoliths jutting out of the Pacific Ocean and beaches strewn with massive pieces of driftwood.
Even if you’re not a Twilight fan, Forks has plenty of hauntingly beautiful places. The Hoh Rainforest, located near Forks, looks like an enchanted fairytale forest, complete with ancient trees, dripping with moss, primeval ferns, and low-hanging fog (especially come fall). For one of the best hikes in Olympic National Park, check out the Hall of Mosses in the Hoh, where you’ll wander through the dense forest under a canopy of 300-foot tall trees.
If you’re a real ghost hunter, Olympic’s purported to have some of those up its sleeve as well. The shores of the park’s famed Lake Crescent is believed by some to be haunted by “The Lady of the Lake”. This legend originates all the way back to 1937, when Hallie Illingworth’s husband violently strangled her and left her body in the lake. Ever since then, her spirit has been roaming around the lake, especially along the Spruce Railroad Trail, trying to make peace with her gruesome end.
It’s easy to find a place to stay in the area. Just click the button below.
The Stanley Hotel – Play with us, forever, and ever…
By Megan from Red Around the World
The Stanley Hotel, located in the heart of Estes Park Colorado, is one of the most haunted places in the US. It’s also the inspiration for, and filming location of, The Shining, by Stephen King. It has a long and haunted history. When the hotel opened in 1909, the sprawling grounds impressed guests. However, by the 1970s, it had fallen into a state of disrepair.
You can stay in room 217, one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. People say the head chambermaid, Elizabeth Wiilson, still inhabits the room. One night in 1911, the power went out. Gas lanterns were put in each room. However a leak caused a gas buildup in room 217. Elizabeth entered with a lit candle. The explosion threw her to the first floor, but she miraculously survived. She returned to work in 1950 and remains there to this day, but only in spirit.
People also report that rooms 401, 407, and 428 to be haunted. Some spirits are friendlier than others. The creepiest room is 401. Most people just get to experience a short tour or a night in one of the rooms. But the employee quarters are known to have their fair share of creepy encounters, too. If you’re feeling up to it, you can stay in one of the haunted rooms. If not, or if you’re just short on time, you can join one of the ghost tours around the hotel and property. Whether you go inside or not, it’s a beautiful hotel to see. No matter the time of year, you should at least stop in to see the spooky Stanley Hotel.
Find out if you have the shining. Book your grusesome stay now.
Muster your courage to visit Laem Thian Resort
Contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
The small island of Koh Tao in eastern Thailand hosts an abandoned hotel that has become somewhat of a haunted destination for tourists. Laem Thian Resort is located close to Tanote Bay in a remote part of the island. You can access the abandoned hotel by hiking there through the thick jungle. Or head to Tanote Bay, where you can rent a kayak and paddle to the resort. Despite being abandoned for years, parts of this hotel are actually in fairly good condition, giving it a haunted feeling. There is graffiti everywhere with mysterious and dark messages such as “turn back or you’ll never return”.
The very brave can even camp out at the resort overnight. You can sleep in one of the empty rooms or on the large rooftop terrace under the stars. Just make sure to avoid walking to or from the resort at night, as the path is uneven and slippery in places. Laem Thian Resort is definitely one of the spookiest places in Thailand and perfect for those looking to do some ghost hunting or hoping to spend the night in a haunted location.
Now you are ready to plan your cadaverous trip. Comment below on which place would be your ultimate scarecation.
Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I never had the chance to participate in an organized ghost tour. However I have been to abandoned places around the world – some of them were quite spooky. However I am not sure if I would pay money to stay in some of the abandoned hotels…
I think the jail would be too terrifying for me, but it seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity if you like being scared out of your wits. I’ve been on a ghost tour in New Orleans. I also explored an abandoned hotel with some friends in college. Looking back, we could have gotten severely injured. It was a hotel that had burnt in a fire, not a tourist destination. Some of the floors were caved in.
I’m not keen on these tours because I get so scared! But my friend loves this kind of this so I will share it with her.
I really don’t like horror stories or going out of my way to be scared. But I do enjoy learning more about haunted places. I am not sure I would want to stay in a place believed to be haunted. I would love to see the Devil’s Pools in Australia although I might not want o risk getting in the waters. Since we are on our way to Hawaii, I might have to check out the Kona Hotel. An interesting mix of spots.
Have fun. Let me know how it turns out.
I can see how this might appeal to a targeted market- those who love horror, ghost stories, or want to experience something completely unique. This list is definitely that! Especially eerie would be to stay in a prison, I can understand a tour, but to stay there overnight…and pay money for it?
I’m scared to stay overnight too!
It is a great and very inspiring article! I would love to take part in any of these slightly scary tours. What exciting and chilling stories. I add to my bucket list sleeping in Shepton Mallet Prison. And would love to visit The Fairmont Banff Springs with their ghosts. I had no idea about vampires seen in Olimpic NP!
As a fan of the Shining, I want to go to the Stanley Hotel. I really enjoyed putting this together and owe a lot to the contributers.