With Halloween on the horizon, how about a seasonal getaway where you might see something far more memorable than fall foliage? Consider these spooky spots around the world, where the eerie encounters that have reportedly taken place include full-bodied apparitions of former royalty, ghostly orbs, mysterious echoes of cannon fire from bygone centuries, and even a phantom truck that terrorizes drivers. No matter where you go, you’re guaranteed some spirited sightseeing.
By Blane Bachelor
WHERE: Edinburgh, Scotland
Reigning above a city notorious for its murders, plague, and torture, and with 900 years of its own history spanning executions, surprise attacks, and purported witches burned at the stake, it’s no surprise that this landmark attraction is rich with paranormal lore. In fact, Edinburgh Castle was the site of one of the world’s largest paranormal investigations in 2001. Among experiences reported by the dozens of volunteers were ghostly touches, temperature drops, and shadowy figures. Today, guided tours offer the everyday visitor a chance to see a specter of their own. Don’t miss the dog cemetery, the final resting place for officers’ beloved pets.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Edinburgh Guide
WHERE: West Milford, New Jersey
For decades, this desolate, ten-mile stretch off Route 23 North in West Milford has spooked sojourners. Reports abound about Satanic rituals in the nearby woods, a phantom truck that tailgates terrified drivers, and a ghostly child who locals say haunts the perilous Dead Man’s Curve, throwing back the coins that people toss into the river below. Legends aside, the road is scary enough on its own, with no lighting and sharp turns.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's New Jersey Guide
The Tower of London
WHERE: London, England
Believed by many to be London’s most haunted buildings, this circa 11th-century fortress is bursting with stories of spirits roaming within. The most legendary include Queen Anne Boleyn—who was beheaded in 1536 and has been known to walk around the White Tower with her head under her arm—Guy Fawkes, and Sir Walter Raleigh. But the extensive paranormal activity at The Tower of London also includes levitating shapes, disturbing noises, and, most bizarrely, a bear. Listen to the ghostly tales of the fortress during popular Twilight Tower Tours.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's London Guide
WHERE: Moundsville, West Virginia
During Moundsville Penitentiary's more than 100 years in operation, this spooky spot ranked among America’s most violent correctional facilities, with prisoner riots, inmate murders, hangings, and electrocutions. The 53,000-square-foot prison closed in 1995, but screams of tortured souls can often be heard during various paranormal-centric tours. During the day, you can explore the grounds, including rows of cramped cells; by night, braver visitors can choose to be locked inside the formidable Gothic building by themselves until daybreak.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's West Virginia Guide
The Queen Mary
WHERE: Long Beach, California
More than 50 people are believed to have died aboard the historic Queen Mary ocean liner, which now operates as a hotel and tourist attraction that’s awash in spiritual activity. One prominent paranormal hot spot is the area on the hull that marks where the ship crashed into another vessel. Pounding and screams, perhaps from the souls of the sailors who met their watery end in the disaster, are often heard there. Other reports include ghostly swimmers in a pool with no water and sightings of long-ago crew members.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Orange County Guide
WHERE: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The hauntings are almost as prevalent as the history at Gettysburg Battlefield, the site of the largest battle in North American history, which claimed 51,000 casualties on July 3, 1863. Visitors and various ghost-hunting teams have heard (and recorded) screams, moans, and the sounds of guns and cannon fire. Off-ground ghostly experiences are common, too, especially in surrounding buildings such as Gettysburg College and the Farnsworth House Inn. Ghost tours offer insight into the town’s various hotspots.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Gettysburg Guide
Rolling Hills Asylum
WHERE: East Bethany, NY
Opened in 1827, Rolling Hills Asylum once served as an infirmary, orphanage, tuberculosis hospital, and nursing home, housing everyone from mentally unstable individuals to murderers. More than 1,700 bodies are buried in unmarked graves on the grounds, and reports of disembodied voices, full-body apparitions, doors slamming, and furniture moving are all ordinary experiences here. Visitors can try their hand at rustling up the resident spirits during overnight ghost hunts, while historical and flashlight tours are tamer tour options.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Niagara Falls and Western New York Guide
WHERE: San Antonio, Texas
On March 6, 1836, nearly 2,000 Texas defenders and Mexican soldiers were either wounded or killed in the Battle of the Alamo. But many of the tour guides and visitors at this significant American landmark contend that those perished souls remain very much alive here. Reported supernatural activity includes sightings of American hero Davy Crockett, sounds of cannon fire and screams, and the longtime legend of six “diablos”, or devils, brandishing flaming swords.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's San Antonio Guide
WHERE: Paris, France
Underneath the City of Light is what could be called the City of Death: a labyrinth of tunnels housing the remains of more than 6 million Parisians, whose bones were moved here from above-ground graveyards in the 18th and 19th centuries when disease ran rampant. Most of the approximately 185 miles of the Paris Catacombs are closed to the public, but adventuresome visitors can get a glimpse of the spine-tingling subterranean site, complete with freaky facades of stacked skulls and bones, during self-guided tours via the Catacombs of Paris Museum.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Paris Guide
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
WHERE: Weston, West Virginia
Starting in 1864, this sprawling, spooky spot housed thousands of people with mental illness, hundreds of whom died on the grounds. Today, that backdrop draws crowds of paranormal groups—the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum also has appeared on several TV shows—and thrill-seeking tourists, who explore the 242,000-square-foot-property looking for specters. Visitors can stay on the tamer side with daytime tours that focus on history or ratchet up the freak-out factor by being locked in overnight.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's West Virginia Guide