Jane Addams Hull House, Chicago
Courtesy Weird Chicago
In Chicago, the Jane Addams Hull House is a featured stop on one of Weird Chicago's walking tours. About a century ago, rumor had it that a child of the devil landed on its doorstep. The early twentieth-century social activist Jane Addams denied the rumor.
updated 10/27/2009 9:16:51 AM ET 2009-10-27T13:16:51

Albuquerque, N.M.: The weird, weird West
How old does an area have to be to merit the name “Old Town”? In the case of Albuquerque's downtown, the answer is just over three centuries.

Founded in 1706, Old Town has accumulated enough crime and punishment to qualify as a major hub of the supernatural in a state that already attracts some truly inexplicable activity. (Why did the aliens land at Roswell, anyway?)

Every night here is fright night if you take the Ghost Tour of Old Town. At 8 p.m., after Old Town Plaza has grown eerily quiet, lantern-carrying “certified paranormal investigators” lead tour parties through dark alleys, quiet trails, and cemeteries, retelling tales of railroad-era murders and Civil War battles. Residents claim that they've seen apparitions and heard disembodied voices.

Tours of Old Town, 505/246-8687, toursofoldtown.com, $20, $18 students and seniors, $10 children 6-12 (suitable for children 6 and older), ticket windows open 15 minutes before tour time.

Baltimore: A cure for midnights dreary
Baltimore likes to spotlight its local celebrity, Edgar Allan Poe, 19th-century America's most morbid literary figure. (For instance, the city named its football team the Ravens in homage to Poe's famous poem.)

You'll find the best perspective on the author of the “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Premature Burial” at the Baltimore Poe House and Museum, which stands on the site where the author worked during the early 1830s.

But if you prefer atmospherics to exhibitions, check out the Westminster Burying Grounds and Catacombs — where Poe found eternal relief from his feverish imagination. It's open year-round from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Both sites become Gracelands of gloom on the weekends before and after Halloween. Special event tours are conducted by trained Baltimore historians, including one that takes brave enthusiasts deep into the cemetery's catacombs in search of some excellently Gothic heebie-jeebies.

Baltimore Poe House and Museum, 203 North Amity St., Baltimore, 410/396-7932, eapoe.org, reservations required, operates 12-3:30 p.m. Wed. through Sat. from April through November, $4, free for children 12 and younger, suitable for children 6 and older.

Westminster Burying Grounds and Catacombs, 519 W Fayette St., West Baltimore, 410/706-2072, westminsterhall.org, gravesite open during daylight for free, tours by reservation only on the first and third Friday and Saturday of each month, April through November, $5, $4 children 12 and under, suitable for mature children.

Chicago: America's most haunted
The paranormal is all fine and good, but sometimes you want Halloween horror that's as solid as a cement loafer. In Chicago, the publisher and tour organizer Weird Chicago does a bang-up job of providing exactly that, telling stories about the red-light district, pinstripe-suited gangsters and Virgin Mary sightings.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year
Autumn splendor in America

Of note is a tour based on the popular book “The Devil in the White City.” The tour focuses on H.H. Holmes, long considered the first nationally known serial killer. Holmes trapped and murdered dozens of guests at his hotel. You'll see the grounds of his torture chamber, nicknamed Murder Castle, that has since been destroyed and replaced with a post office. This tour covers a lot of territory, using a bus for portions of the trip.

Weird Chicago Tours, 888/446-7859, weirdchicago.com, reservations required, $30, $20 children 12 and under, call for latest schedule, most tours not recommended for children under 10.

L.A.: Boulevards of broken dreams
In a comic twist on the cliché that nobody walks in L.A., Hollywood's Tragical History “walking tour” of famous Hollywood crimes scene is done — by van.

Tour leader Scott Michaels conducts his three-hour trips in a Tomb Buggy that holds up to 13 passengers. The tour covers the sordid history of the murderous Menendez brothers, the serial killer Charles Manson, and other notorious characters.

Michaels also spotlights the exteriors used in some of cinema's spookiest classics, such as “Halloween,” “Dead Again,” and “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”Along the way, Michaels touches on Hollywood's horror-film industry, including a drive-by of the former haunts of Bela Lugosi, who famously played Count Dracula.

Dearly Departed Tours, 800/979-3370, dearlydepartedtours.com, $35, trips depart Wed.-Sat. at 1 p.m. with an additional 9:30 a.m. tour on Saturdays (advance purchase recommended due to limited capacity), not intended for children.

New Orleans: The Big Creepy
Thanks to Anne Rice (“Interview With the Vampire,” “The Vampire Lestat”), New Orleans is second only to Transylvania in bloodsucking lore. And you can get a great overview of the town by taking the New Orleans Vampire Tour, which embarks nightly at 8:30 from the Gothic St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square.

The nearly two-hour tour explores the French Quarter stalking ground of vampires, both fictional and (allegedly) real. Along the route are sites that Rice has written about and exterior locations from the Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt film version of “Interview.”

Note: The tour is B.Y.O. Garlic.

New Orleans Vampire Tour, 888/644-6787, neworleansghosttour.com, $20, $17 students and seniors, $10 children under 12 (suitable for children), reservations required.

New York City: Start spreading the boos
Take a Ghosts of the City as opposed to a “Sex and the City” tour, in which the Big Apple's darker history is recounted. One tour departs from a Blimpie sandwich shop (at 38 Park Row), where guides launch into sepia-toned tales of such famous characters as the pirate Captain Kidd, Algonquin Indians, and P. T. Barnum's circus freaks.

On other tours, you'll stroll through the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and the East Village, passing sites where the ghosts of Harry Houdini and Washington Irving are rumored to lurk. Be sure to ask about the dilapidated St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, where the 17th-century Dutch settler Peter Stuyvesant is interred — and where his spirit may still roam.

Ghosts of New York, 888/699-2550, ghostsofny.com, $20, reservations recommended, online price $15, online price for children 12 and under $10 but only suitable for mature children.

Salem, Mass.: Witchcraft central
If you hang, burn, stone, and crush enough witches and warlocks to death, as the authorities of Salem, Mass., did in the late 1600s, you're going to stir up a mess of hostile supernatural activity. Get an overview of this hamlet's spookiest spots by taking the Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour.

Guides dressed in colonial garb escort you around the landmark Joshua Ward House (built on the very site where many of the accused were tried, convicted and rushed to their deaths) and the Howard Street Burial Ground, among other sights.

Autumn splendor in America

From April through October, the tour departs every evening at 8 p.m., but you may want to arrive earlier in the day to visit the Witch Dungeon Museum, where reenactments of the trials are held every half hour. In fact, the whole town gets in on the act: Even its police patrol cars are branded with the logo of a witch flying on a broom.

Salem Historical Tours, 978/745-0666, salemhistoricaltours.com, $14, $10 military, $8 children 614 (suitable for children 6 and older), advance reservations recommended.

Witch Dungeon Museum, 16 Lynde St., 978/741-3570, witchdungeon.com, open daily AprilNovember, $8, $7 seniors, $6 children 413.

Seattle: Smells like mean spirits
When you think of Seattle, you probably think of rain, grunge, and Tom Hanks being sleepless — not ghouls and phantoms.

But the city has its share, as the Seattle Museum of the Mysteries can prove. Exhibits include a display of four plaster casts of Bigfoot's footprints and the story of a 1910 avalanche that claimed nearly 100 lives on a now-defunct rail line.

From the museum, you can take a 90-minute tour of the Capitol Hill neighborhood's most haunted attractions, such as the Harvard Exit Theater, where uneasy spirits have been sighted.

Guides also share stories about the behavior of the city's most famous ghosts, including that of Brandon Lee, the seemingly hexed son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. (Brandon was accidentally killed while making the Goth classic “The Crow” in 1994.)

Seattle Museum of the Mysteries, 623 Broadway E., 206/328-6499, seattlechatclub.org, admission $2, reservations recommended, tours depart at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. every Saturday night, suggested donation for tour $5, $3 for children 816.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

Photos: Haunted destinations

loading photos...
  1. Bran Castle

    Bran Castle, Dracula's castle, in fog, Transylvania. (Gavin Quirke / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. The Myrtles Plantation

    Now a bed and breakfast, this antebellum estate northwest of Baton Rouge has been called "America's Most Haunted Home." Reported phenomena include an oil portrait whose features become animated, a "bloody handprint" on the adjacent wall, and doors that open and close by themselves. (Courtesy of The Myrtles Plantation) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Pfister Hotel

    Built in 1893, the Pfister is the most regal address in Milwaukee, Wis., having hosted every U.S. president since William McKinley and scores of celebrities. But rumors abound that late at night, the spirit of hotel founder Charles Pfister, who died in 1927, arrives to check in. Some guests report hearing strange noises and having paranormal experiences. (Morry Gash / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Alcatraz

    The former maximum security facility on an island in San Francisco Bay was once home to Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. It is no longer used as a prison, but visitors and tour guides have claimed to hear screams, slamming cell doors, and footsteps. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Amityville house

    The house at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York, gained infamy in a best-selling book and several movies. Former owners reported creaking noises, voices, the music of a full marching band in the middle of the night, foul odors, and a black, shapeless apparition. (Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Edinburgh Castle

    This ancient stronghold overlooking Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions. It is reputed to have many ghosts, including a drummer who only appears when the castle is about to be attacked, and a piper who disappeared in the tunnels underneath it. (Jonathan Smith  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Paris Catacombs

    In the 1800s, Paris’s cemeteries were coming dangerously close to being filled, so some bodies were moved to tunnels that had been dug beneath the city by workers quarrying for building materials. Bones and skulls are stacked up throughout the Catacombs, and visitors have reported strange voices. (Fred De Noyelle / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Hotel Chelsea

    A familiar haunt for artists and bohemians in the Chelsea district of New York City since it was built in 1883, the Hotel Chelsea still puts up guests today ... if they don’t mind sharing accommodations with the reputed ghosts of former residents Dylan Thomas, Eugene O’Neill, and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Eastern State Penitentiary

    Located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, this prison was designed to encourage solitude, supposedly helping prisoners open themselves up to God. But it is said that many went mad instead ... which may explain the eerie noises that have been reported since it closed. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Hotel del Coronado

    In 1892, a young woman checked into this luxury hotel on California’s San Diego Bay to meet her husband. He never arrived, and a few days later, she was found dead on the hotel steps. Since then, guests and staff have noticed the pale figure of a young lady in a black lace dress.... (Nathan Hughes) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Inverary Castle

    It is said that the ghost of a harpist who was hanged in 1644 for peeping at the lady of the house can be seen wandering this castle in western Scotland, and can be heard playing every day in its library. The castle is home to the 13th Duke of Argyll today, but sometimes opens its doors to brave visitors. (Graeme Cornwallis / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. New Orleans

    The Big Easy’s French Quarter is well-known to tourists for its hot jazz and spicy food. But New Orleans is also the historic center of voodoo traditions that African-Americans brought to Louisiana during the days of the slave trade. Although those customs were suppressed by slave owners, they linger on today. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Petzow Castle

    This 18th-century castle near Potsdam in eastern Germany is a hotel and restaurant today ... but its corridors harbor a dark history involving murderous barons. (Sven Kaestner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Forks, Washington

    Michael Gurling, right, of the Forks, Wash., Chamber of Commerce, talks about the bonfire location on a beach in LaPush, Wash., that is portrayed in Stephenie Meyer's wildly successful vampire-themed "Twilight" books and movies. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Point Hicks Lighthouse

    In 1947, the keeper of this historic lighthouse on the eastern coast of Australia mysteriously disappeared. Afterward, many visitors have claimed to hear his hobnail boots at night, and it’s said his ghost continues to keep the tower’s brass doorknobs polished to this day. (Oliver Strewe  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Salem, Massachusetts

    The location of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, dramatized in Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible,” is today a mix of important historical sites, New Age boutiques, and witch-kitsch attractions. The Salem Witch Museum claims to be the most visited one in town. (Ed Young / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Sleepy Hollow

    This picturesque village 30 miles north of New York City was immortalized in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Washington Irving’s classic tale of schoolteacher Ichabod Crane and the fearsome Headless Horseman. Irving implied that the apparition Ichabod saw was a fake, but a number of visitors also have claimed to see the Horseman, supposedly a Hessian trooper whose head was carried off by a cannonball during the Revolutionary War. (Susan Rosenthal / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Stanley Hotel

    This neoclassical hotel in Estes Park, Colo., was the real-life inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” It is named for Freelan O. Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, whose ghost has been reported visiting its billiard room and bar. Guests also complain about children playing in the hallways at night ... even when no children are checked in. (Rob Lee) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Tower of London

    The ghosts of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, just two of hundreds of victims executed on Tower Hill over the Tower of London's bloody 900-year history, are among many that have been seen in what is called England's most haunted building. Legend has it that in 1816, a guard died of fright after seeing an apparition of a bear approaching him. (Scott Barbour / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The White House

    America's most famous residence is the setting for a number of ghost stories, some of which have even made it onto the official White House Web site. The spirit of Abigail Adams supposedly continues to do laundry in the East Room, while the ghost of Dolley Madison has been reported looking down upon the Rose Garden. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments