This October choose your poison wisely as you celebrate Halloween in some of the nation’s most notorious haunted cities. From cemetery tours in New Orleans to haunted hotel bars in Santa Fe, it appears paranormal activity is a beverage best served cold.
Williamsburg, New York
Just over the river, Brooklyn is home to some of the cities’ richest history, bars, and scariest inhabitants, hipsters. Unfortunately, with the number of ghosts roaming around this town, hipsters are the least of your worries. To meet all of your ghoulish neighbors, we recommend the Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tours. Arguably, one of the cities’ most exciting experiences, any time of the year, the Madame Morbid’s ghost tour takes you to the scene of the crime as you get to explore over 400 years of murder and mayhem such as the former stomping grounds of Italian gangsters and Brooklyn’s most deadly plane crash site, all in a Victorian trolley of course. After a few boos, you’ll have the opportunity to wash away your troubles as you check-in for some brews at the Brooklyn Brewery, Clinton Hall, and the supposedly haunted, besides the packman ghosts, Barcade.
As far as spooky destinations go, Baltimore is a city filled with plenty of legends, haunted history, and traditions which date as far back as a hundred years. In fact, one former resident, known as America’s original master of macabre, Edgar Allen Poe, has been known to make an appearance or two at his former home, turned museum, as well as his burying grounds at Westminster Hall where you can stop by for a reading of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and even a rare chance to visit the cemetery’s catacombs. Should a raven appear shrieking “Nevermore,” you can seek shelter at The Horse You Came In on Saloon where Poe famously took his final sip of cognac at this Fell’s Point favorite. We can’t say we’d recommend the cognac, however, a rye whiskey tasting is always recommended among kindred spirits at the Sagamore Spirits Distillery.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Known as the Voodoo captain of the world, the Bayou is home to things far scarier than alligators. As the city that inspired classic tales such as Interview with the Vampire, True Blood, and even Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, unusual and strange has been the status quo here for centuries. Although no evidence has been found to support the theory of vampires, tourists can get to know the history of these legends by experiencing a cemetery tour in the Garden District. The Vodoo Museum is also another unique must-see for those of us interested in getting in touch with the other side as well as a visit to the paranormal hotspots such as Muriel’s restaurant, the infamous Cornstalk hotel, and perhaps a run-in with a former female publisher at the Eliza Jane Hotel. After sazeracs in the press room, learn the methods behind the cities oldest cocktail at the all-new Sazerac House. That is before surrendering your soul to a sugary hurricane cocktail on Bourbon Street.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
With a history dating as far back as over four centuries, Santa Fe’s Native American, Spanish, and Mexican ancestry makes for the perfect blend of all things haunted. Among the Pueblo style streets, you’ll find the La Posada de Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, where art and history seem to come alive. Rumor has it the previous tenant Julia Staab still haunts her former bedroom and occasionally comes down to the bar and restaurant for a little boo and booze. After drinks with Julia, a visit to the immersive art exhibition at Meow Wolf is not to be missed as you’re invited to solve the mysterious disappearance of a young boy at the House of Eternal Return whose tale unfolds through nonlinear storytelling via exploration in a scene that appears to be something straight out of Stranger Things. Once you’re back from the upside-down parallel universe, you can make your way through the cities famous margarita trail whose extensive list of 45 margaritas is guaranteed to have you seeing apparitions.
Adjacent to the Shenandoah Valley, you’ll find everything from charming streets, quaint shops, and exceptional fall foliage in this small town. However, Staunton wasn’t always filled with farmer’s markets and cozy cafes. In the early 1800’s Thomas Jefferson’s former protégé, Thomas R. Blackburn, took on a renovation project designing a psychiatric hospital pioneering what he called “moral treatment,” which was considered progressive for the time and focused on the emotional well-being of patients. The hospital was later converted into a prison facility until, finally, several years later The Blackburn Inn settled as a luxury boutique hotel whose charming, bright and airy rooms seem to be a stark contrast to the properties dark past in question. Although no one can confirm or deny if the old patients still linger in the halls, there’s plenty of old-world charm to be found on and off the property. For classic tales of good vs evil, a visit to the Blackfriars Playhouse to see productions such as Julius Ceaser, in a performance space that emulates the London Globe Theatre, is a must-see for newcomers. Visitors can also try their hand at blowing glass pumpkins at the Sunspots Studios just as they did in the days of yore. Finally, no visit to the Shenandoah Valley would be complete without a hike to the national park followed by a visit to Barren Ridge Vineyards, for wine tastings and live music before the withing hour.
Los Angeles, California
What better way to get into the spooky spirit than by visiting the birthplace of horror, Hollywood. Strut down the walk of fame as you’re greeted by Hollywood stars of famous actors who play the scariest monsters to have ever graced the big screen. If you too fancy a flair for the dramatics, a visit to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights should be on the top of your list. Prepare for all your nightmares to come alive as you stumble through clown filled mazes, zombie littered scare zones, terrifying roller coasters and the most frightening thing to stumble around the streets at 2 AM, yourself.
Merissa Principe is a teacher and a freelance travel blogger from NYC. Teaching early childhood education has provided Merissa an opportunity to travel all over the world and live in new places. Be sure to follow her at Citygirlriss.wordpress.com for all things travel, beauty, fashion and New York City.