There is a chill in the air, the leaves are changing color, and the days are getting shorter. That can only mean one thing- Fall has arrived and with it so too has Halloween! In the United States, Halloween is a very big deal. It is celebrated all across the country and much loved for its fun and spooky nature. While Halloween celebrations have occurred for thousands of years originating with the Celtic festival of Samhain, today’s festivities are bit more lighthearted and amusing. You might just find yourself wondering about some spooky destinations where you can explore and let the Halloween spirit take over.
In the United States Halloween is celebrated with costumes, festivals, haunted attractions, and lots of pumpkin-spice flavored treats by revelers of all ages. When it comes to travel, Christmas tends to get all the attention as people travel around the world to festive destinations and Christmas markets. But there are quite a few frightening attractions all across the world to suit all your Halloween needs. Whether you want to don a lavish costume frolicking through the streets of a city or explore some haunted attractions, I’ve rounded up some of the best spooky destinations, both attractions and cities, to explore this Halloween.
The Whaley House- San Diego, California
The Whaley House dates to 1857 and is a California Historical Landmark as well as a museum located in Old Town, San Diego. Some say, it’s also the most haunted house in America!
Listed by the United States Department of Commerce as an authentic haunted house, it was built on the site of early San Diego’s public gallows. It is home to numerous deaths, angry confrontations, several ghosts and unexplained phenomena. The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is “Yankee Jim” who was convicted of attempted grand larceny. The ghost of Thomas Whaley has been reported to be seen on the second floor landing, dressed in a black frock coat and wide-brimmed hat. These are just a few of the spirits who still linger at the Whaley House.
Now that’s one spooky destination!
via Alexa at 52 Perfect Days
Granary Burial Grounds- Boston, Massachusetts
Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Only, he isn’t riding through the night to warn us that the British are coming. He has risen from his grave as a glowing apparition, or so people have claimed. This specter is just one of the famous ghosts of the Granary Burial Grounds, the third oldest cemetery in Boston Massachusetts.
Burials began here around 1660 because the bodies were overflowing the King’s Chapel Burying Ground, located a block east. Some graves have more than 20 occupants to save money. In total, more than 5,000 souls were laid to rest here, including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. The Granary Burial Grounds are one of 16 stops on the Boston Freedom Trail, which also includes the cemeteries at Kings Chapel and Copp’s Hill and the memorial at Bunker Hill battleground. Walking the Freedom Trail is always an adventure, but especially as the leaves start to change color and Halloween is in the air.
When it comes to spooky destinations, cemeteries always take the win!
Via Jen and Ed at Coleman Concierge
Capuchin Catacombs- Palermo, Italy
In the old part of Palermo, Sicily’s capital, you’ll find the Capuchin Catacombs. An eerie and spooky destination awaits you as you descend into the catacomb’s crisp coldness and join the thousands of slowly decaying corpses and mummies. All the colors have faded, along with the souls that lie in the coffins and hang from the walls. Hair still clings to some of the heads of these forgotten faces. Their eyes are closed or absent, but your imagination can be a scary thing, and you almost sense they know you’re there.
There are 8000 corpses and 1252 mummies interned in the Capuchin Catacombs, some dating back to 1599 AD. They are sorted according to profession and status – each dressed for the special occasion of death. A tiny child lies amongst the macabre bodies. She is one of the last bodies to be preserved here. Two-year-old little Rosalio Lombardo, also known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty of Palermo’, lays here for the tourists to adore – she is apparently the world’s most beautiful mummy. The Palermo crypts are bizarre and bone-chilling but so interesting, that it is worth stepping into the catacomb’s corridors to wander with the dead.
Via Shelley at LifeJourney4Two
Port Arthur Historic Site- Tasmania, Australia
Australia has some pretty spooky destinations despite being a fairly young country. One of the best is Port Arthur Penitentiary in beautiful Tasmania. The former prison turned historic site has a long history of housing early convicts in Australia, from the 1830s to 1880s, with over 3000 prisoners located at times. It grew to such size that the industry based prison required its own lunatic asylum, separate confinement and hospital, as just a few of the infrastructure developments.
Many of the buildings were destroyed by fire after the prison closed, leaving eerie remains in their place. Thankfully a large portion remained undamaged. In 1996, Port Arthur was the location of Australia’s largest mass shooting, with 35 people killed and many more injured when a man opened fire at tourists and staff. This horrific event adds to the devastating history of Port Arthur. These days you can walk the grounds and the restored ruins of the penitentiary and surrounding buildings. They conduct ghost tours at night, but you don’t even need to do a tour to feel spooked at Port Arthur. There is a former home that is said to be haunted, and it is eerie enough by day. And as the sun starts to set, you will feel that sense of unease start to take over.
Via Holly at Four Around The World
Whitby- North Yorkshire, England
Whitby is a small seaside town in North Yorkshire in the north of England. It is just like any other seaside town in the U.K. apart from one big difference. On the top of the hill overlooking the town is Whitby Abbey. This ancient monastery was established in 657 AD and stands today at the top of 199 steps from the town below. The abbey and town were the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula story and the town celebrates this every Halloween with a re-enactment of the story in the dark abbey grounds.
The town embraces the story with a permanent Dracula exhibition as well as events through the year. Running from Whitby is the North Yorkshire railway which climbs onto the remote moorland above the town and stops at Goathland Station. This is the station used as Hogwarts Station in the Harry Potter films for those who want even more witches and wizards. We love visiting this area as it is located in wonderful countryside and Whitby is a small but perfect seaside town.
Seems this spooky destination inspires a lot of supernatural fiction!
Via Suzanne at Meandering Wild
The Banshee Labyrinth- Edinburgh, Scotland
The Banshee Labyrinth is Scotland’s most haunted pub and that makes it a perfect spooky destination for this list. Located in Edinburgh, the alternative entertainment pub is partially connected to Edinburgh’s haunted underground vaults. The dark and dank vaults have ties to the criminal activities of Edinburgh’s past. Originally created as storage for merchants, the vaults were badly constructed and water seeped through the cracks causing the rooms to be unusable. The vaults were abandoned by the merchants but taken over by thieves, criminals and other shady characters. The Banshee Labyrinth is said to be haunted by a horrid man known as Lord Nicol Edwards as the front of the pub was once his home. During his life, he took part in the torture of witchcraft suspects during the Great Scottish Witch Hunt. Lord Nicol was believed to have his own dungeon in the basement of his house so he could torment these women in private.
The pub is a great place to spend a spooky evening drinking with friends and is host to the several ghost tours that run in Edinburgh. The tour guides will often end their evenings by bringing their tour groups to the pub for a pint. It’s a great place to connect with other people who are seeking out the pub’s paranormal past while making new friends.
Keep a firm grasp on your pint glass. The entities that live within the shadowy corners of the pub are said to violently knock glasses off their tables onto the floor.
Via Crystal at Wandering Crystal
Tequendama Falls- San Antonio del Tequendama, Colombia
Tequendama Falls is one of the spookiest spooky destinations in Colombia. Located just an hour’s bus from the center of the Colombian capital, the journey to Tequendama Falls will take you through the dusty streets of southern Bogotá to the farmers’ shacks of rural Colombia. The waterfall cascades over the misty cliffs into a sheer valley below, which legend has it is one of the most haunted areas in the country. The history of Tequendama Falls is as a tragic one, as it’s the site from which it’s said the indigenous Muísca people chose to throw themselves to their deaths in order to escape slavery by the Spanish conquistadores, and continues to be a suicide spot for city-dwellers today.
Next to the waterfall is the Tequendama Hotel, which was a popular holiday spot for wealthy Colombians in the early 20th century, but was then closed after the smell from the Tequendama River became too overwhelming – the city is working on cleaning up the river, so the smell nowadays is much improved! There have been several famous sightings of ghosts in the windows of the Tequendama Hotel, something that has only added to the spookiness of the falls. You can go inside the creepy hotel on weekends, and have a street food lunch with views of the epic waterfall on one of the makeshift balconies nearby.
Via Lozzy at Cuppa to Copa Travels
Eastern State Penitentiary- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Eastern Staten Penitentiary is a jail system located in Philadephia, PA, in the United States. It is one of the first penitentiary to enforce solitary confinement. Inmates were isolated into their own cells without contact with any other person. Even when they were going out for walks they have to put a paper bag over their heads to avoid any kind of social interaction between the other inmates. The officials believed that by putting the inmates in solitary confinement, they would have time to think and bring out the inner good that is in every person. It was a way to purify the soul. Obviously, that did not work and many people went insane. So nowadays, experts believe that Eastern State Penitentiary and investigations of paranormal activities are being done every year. Something is there but they are not exactly sure what it is. During Halloween, Eastern State Penitentiary has a haunted house called Terror Behind The Walls. It is a great spooky destination for everyone in the family at night. In the daytime, you can learn about the horrific history of the Eastern State Penitentiary.
Via Sean at Living Out Lau
Sleepy Hollow- Tarrytown, New York
North of New York City, the small town of Sleepy Hollow bursts with energy every October. Here, the setting of Washington Irving’s favorite tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, the whole area takes part in spooky festivities. You could spend several nights hopping from one activity to the next, but for starters there are two can’t-miss events.
Start with a tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Daytime tours focus on local history and famous residents, but after dark, visitors carry lanterns and hear true tales of murder and mayhem, perfectly putting you in the mood for Halloween. Afterward, you won’t want to miss the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze, a pumpkin festival featuring 7,000 hand-carved jack o’ lanterns, all lit after dark and arranged into gigantic sculptures. This is an incredible work of art and engineering, not to mention a fun night out. With more time, you can enjoy haunted houses, fall foliage hikes, and more Washington Irving-themed experiences. For anyone who wants to be in a spooky mood, this is the perfect spooky destination!
Via Becky at sightDoing
Haunted Hotel, IMG World of Adventures- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
One of the spookiest theme attractions in the world is the Haunted Hotel in the IMG World of Adventures, the largest theme park in World opened in Dubai in 2016. Unlike many other spooky attractions, this one is based on a theme. It is a hotel run by two brothers who introduce the visitors to the haunted hotel and take you to this fascinating journey. Numerous characters are involved in this attraction and the entire setup is incredible and perfectly spooky.
This is indeed not for the faint-hearted as visuals and sounds are quite scary. However, people who enjoy spooky stuff would love this attraction. The actors are excellent and perfectly blending with the theme of the hotel. This attraction is free to visit once a visitor purchases the entry ticket for the theme park. Not only the interior, the exterior of the attraction is also perfectly setup for a haunted attraction and does justification to its theme.
Via Nabiha at Verses By A Voyager
London is a great spooky destination! In a city this big and this old, pretty much everything horrific has happened here. Wars, murders, serial killers, public executions, TWO massive plague epidemics, plus the city is teeming with graveyards and mass body pits. London really does have it all. But it also has plenty of museums, monuments and tours dedicated to all these spooky and scary events, so you really can pick your poison!
For the ghoulishly minded, there’s the Clink Prison or the London Dungeon, which showcase in graphic detail the darkest histories of the city with waxwork recreations and dramatic reenactments. Or there’s the London Bridge Experience, allegedly the UK’s scariest attraction. Those with more energy can take to the streets and follow the many walking tours that cover all things spooky, from ghosts and the supernatural to sites of dark history like the Tower of London, and you can even retrace the crime scenes of the world’s most infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Even the social scene has a scary vibe. You’d be hard put to try and get a pint in a traditional English drinking hole without finding yourself amongst the undead in one of London’s haunted pubs. Whether you’re visiting over Halloween, or any other time of year, if you have a taste for the creepy and the macabre, you won’t run out of things to do!
Via Dagney at Cultura Obscura
New Orleans, Louisiana
Many say that New Orleans is the most haunted city in the United States due to its 300 year history of varying cultures and religions. Between the Spanish and French fighting over the city in the early colonial days, to African slaves being brought to the city, each left their influences to live on after they passed.
When we visited New Orleans, we were told so many ghost stories and legends from the locals. We visited the main church in the city, St. Louis Cathedral for a spooky cemetery tour to learn more about the people behind the stones. We also made sure to make a stop at Muriel’s Jackson Square restaurant, as it’s home to one of the city’s most well-known and active ghosts, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan. They even still set a table for him every day complete with a glass of red wine!
The Lalaurie Mansion (which you cannot enter or tour), Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and the Voodoo Museum are a few more of our favorite haunted places in New Orleans. If you’re looking for a wide variety of ghost stories, legends and activities to do, look no further. We promise you’ll be spooked next time you visit the Big Easy!
Via Adam at Getting Stamped
When you’re celebrating Halloween in Brussels, there are several places and activities to choose from, although one of the most remarkable ones is a small bar located right of Grand Place. It’s called ‘Le Cercueil’, which is French for coffin. As you as you walk through the small alley leading into the bar, you’ll understand the reason behind the name: there are no ordinary tables here, so you can guess what they use instead! Most of the coffins are closed, although one is covered with a glass plate so you can see the skeleton resting there forever. The rest of the interior design is rather dark with several scary elements like skulls and creepy paintings adorning the walls. The drinks are Halloween-inspired too, with a beer cocktail in a skull-shaped mug and cocktails with the most macabre names. It’s a great spooky destination to get in the mood before partying the night away.
Via Sophie at Bitten By The Bug
Queen Mary- Long Beach, California
After thirty years of service, the RMS Queen Mary is retired in Long Beach, California. The Queen Mary is considered one of the most haunted places on Earth according to Time Magazine. The ship has a rich history full of celebrity passengers, participation in World War II, and death. The ship is known to be a hotbed of paranormal activity. Strange occurrences on the ship such as flickering lights, cold breezes, screaming, crying and ghost encounters are the few things that classify this place as one of the most haunted places on Earth. There is a record of 150 spirits aboard the ship. The most activity is reported in room B-340, which after being closed for over thirty years is now open for guests. If you do not want to spend the night with the spirits, there are paranormal activity tours available.
This is one of my favorite places to go for Halloween because the ship is transformed into The Queen Mary Dark Harbor. For the months of September and October the Queen Mary is full of mazes, monsters, ghouls, zombies, and vampires trying to scare you. This is the perfect place for those who love Halloween and are searching for spooky destinations. The signature attraction is a tour through the ship that has surprises at every twist and turn. The history of the ship may have you second-guessing your next trip to the RMS Queen Mary.
Via Coritta at Itz A Family Thing
St. James Ossuary- Brno, Czech Republic
Over the centuries, these bones were gradually forgotten about, and the ossuary was not rediscovered until 2001. It’s now open as a tourist attraction, and in two of the three rooms, the skulls and bones have been artfully arranged into beautiful patterns. In the last room, the bones are left mixed up together in a huge pile, as they were found when the ossuary was first rediscovered. The St. James Ossuary is one of several spooky things to do in Brno. There’s also the 10-Z Fallout Shelter built to protect local Communist leaders from a nuclear attack, the Capuchin Monastery with a crypt full of mummified monks, and the underground tour of the Labyrinth of Cellars, which includes a “madman’s cage” and a display of medieval torture instruments
Via Wendy at The Nomadic Vegan
Chernobyl and Exclusion Zone- Pryp’yat’, Ukraine
The creepiest part of the day is the ghost town of Pryp’yat’. This city is totally uninhabited apart from the plants which have taken over the concrete city. Residents were evacuated to escape the invisible radioactivity leaking from the plant nearby. They had no idea that they wouldn’t return so it was unknowingly left to fall into disrepair. An abandoned Ferris wheel creaks in the wind sending a chill down the spine as the sound of children’a laughter echoes in the past. Memories of a happier soviet past that is now slowly crumbling to dust.
Via Rosie at Flying Fluskey
It’s hard to think of a spookier place in the U.S. than Salem, Massachusetts. The Burying Point 1637 is one of the three burial grounds in Salem that is connected to the witchcraft trials of 1692-3. More than 150 people were accused of witchcraft in a tiny American community of only 1500 and at least 24 were killed for their alleged crimes.
The Burying Point cemetery is the oldest in Salem and one of the oldest in the U.S. It contains the grave of the powerful witchcraft trial judge, John Hawthorne. You can enter the part designated as the Witch Trials Memorial. The bodies of the people killed for the crime of witchcraft have never been found as the town deliberately refused to mark or record the burial sites. It is known that the families of some of the accused witches removed the bodies and gave them proper burial services elsewhere. Witches were not able to be buried in Christian graveyards like the Burying Point 1692.
On Salem Common is the imposing Salem Witch Museum where the terrible events of 1692 are recounted. The Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers, the Salem Witch Village and the Witch Dungeon museum are just some of the other ways that Salem remembers the darkest period in its history. There’s a lot to do in this spooky destination and it is hard not to get shivers up your spine at the sad and brutal history or early Salem.
Via Monique at Trip Anthropologist
Washington Square & City Tavern- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, as one of the earlier towns in the United States, is filled with stories of tragedy, horror, and spookiness. And one area in particular that I found to be the spookiest (gave me the creeps) was Washington Square. This lovely park with fragrant, colorful hydrangea bushes throughout is home to over 11,000 bodies. What? Yes, this park is situated over what is the burial site for 2000 Revolutionary soldiers, shot by British troops, and tossed in massed graves; Prisoners of War; African Americans; and hundreds to thousands of poor souls that died of Yellow Fever. There are even stories of a Quaker women ghost walking around the site trying to protect the bodies from grave robbers. The amount of death in this park that you are walking over is astounding and definitely gave me goosebumps when I realized it.
The other site that is spooky is the City Tavern which is just a short walk from the park. The City Tavern is supposedly haunted by a bride that died in a fire in 1854 and a waiter that died (in the late 1700s) in a bar fight. Both spirits make themselves known by moving tables, clinking silverware, and you might even see the bride in her wedding gown. You can join a ghost tour around Philly to hear these stories and more or go and experience them yourself. Either way, prepare yourself for the goosebumps you will have when visiting these sites in Philadelphia.
Via Heather at RaulersonGirlsTravel
Queen Anne Hotel, San Francisco
The Queen Anne Hotel is located in the Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. This beautiful Victorian building is one of the city’s most famous haunted locations. Built in the late 1800 as a boarding school for girls, room 410 was reserved for its passionate teacher and headmistress: Miss Mary Lake. It’s often said that she was so devastated when the school closed and she never left and still frequents room 410 even now. Guests have reported their belongings inexplicable moved places overnight and unexplained shaking of the 4 poster bed in room 410.
Weird occurrences are not contained within room 410 though, guests have also reported strange reflections in mirrors throughout the hotel as well as cold spots in hallways even in the middle of the summer. But is it really Miss Lake who is to blame? One argues that maybe the hotel’s neighbor had something to do with these phenomenons as well. The so called voodoo queen of San Francisco, Mary Ellen Pleasant, used to live in the building across the street after all.
Via Jill at Jack and Jill Travel The World
Derry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
When people think of Halloween destinations they tend to think of places like Salem in the US or Transylvania in Romania. They don’t normally think of Derry (or Londonderry) in Northern Ireland. But most people don’t know that Halloween has its origins in Ireland either. In the Emerald Isle, Halloween is known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in), when according to Celtic tradition, on the night of 31st October the boundaries between the world of the dead and the world in the living, become blurred. And the place to experience this mixing of both worlds is Derry. You may be surprised to know that Derry has been voted the number one Halloween destination in the world by the readers of USA Today. There is a reason for that.
Halloween in Derry is a very big deal. The whole city is transformed and becomes the perfect setting for the creepy and spooky, where everyone gets involved. The historic 17th century city walls come alive with Awakening The Walls, a series of performances, storytelling, light shows and scary encounters that you will come across as you follow the trail of the walls. Jack O’Lantern workshops, ghostly drummer shows and the spooktacular Return of the Ancients parade are events that must not be missed. All of this makes Derry the perfect spooky destination for Halloween!
Via Teresa at Brogan Abroad
Bodie Ghost Town, California
Bodie ghost town (formally called Bodie State Historic Park) is a Gold Rush Era town on the east side of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Today, Bodie ghost town is just a little over five hours from San Francisco by car. But during the town’s heyday, residents would make the multi-day journey to and from Bodie over mountain passes and along rugged dirt roads. Now abandoned, Bodie ghost town stands in “arrested decay”—a fancy way of saying that the town’s buildings are left as they stood when the last residents vacated Bodie, with park staff only maintaining the structures rather than restoring them. Apart from a Wild West past, a distinction that usually lends itself to a colorful, and ghost-story-laden history, Bodie ghost town may also be cursed — making it a must-visit for anyone looking for the ultimate spook-factor.
The town’s visitor center has an overflowing record of letters from past visitors detailing the misfortunes they have endured after absconding from the ghost town with small artifacts, including rocks, rusted nails or shards of class — seemingly harmless trinkets that brought the wrath of the Bodie curse upon the thief until the item was returned. But whether you believe in curses or not, Bodie ghost town’s mysterious past is palpable in the peeling wallpaper and decades of undisturbed dust—signs of life that are also, in a strange way, reminders of how long it’s been since humans inhabited this little town in the Bodie Hills.
As you can see, there is no shortage of spooktacular places to explore around the world. From haunted hotels to graveyards and theme parks, there is something for everyone. If you find yourself away from home during Halloween, check to see if there is anything supernatural you might be able to explore and then go have a crazy adventure. And if you ever discover your near to any of these attractions, take a chance and check them out. Just make sure you respect the dead.
Via Meghan at Meg Moves Mountains
Celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with this Ecuadorian Colada Morada drink recipe!
Get spooked and explore history by taking a stroll through Père Lachaise Cemetery!
Read all about my paranormal encounter in a Mexican cave!
Are you ready to check out these spooky destination to explore this Halloween?
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