Sure, we all love telling a good horror story around a crackling fire, but why not hit the road and experience the chills and thrills firsthand? We’ve rounded up six spooky sites where you can do just that. Enjoy an afternoon in a gorgeous yet ghostly Harlem mansion, or spend a night at a creepy castle in the Highlands of Scotland. And if you scare yourself silly — well, don’t say we didn’t warn you. …
Tampa Theatre: Tampa, Florida
With its ornate 1920’s decor, gargoyles in the lobby and a Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ rising mysteriously from beneath the stage, the Tampa Theatre is a perfect setting for a good old-fashioned scare — especially when watching classic horror movies like “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” or “The Mummy.”
But while you’re catching a flick or an indie rock concert at Tampa‘s favorite movie palace, keep your eyes open for the ghostly presence of Foster Fink Finley. The theater’s projectionist for some 35 years, he collapsed in the projection room during a movie showing in 1965, died at home a few months later and has supposedly been haunting the theater ever since.
Castle Stuart: Inverness, Scotland
Looking for a Celtic-style scare in the Highlands of Scotland? Check into Castle Stuart, a looming 17th-century tower house complete with hidden staircases, secret passages, and regularly spooked quarters known as the “Haunted Room.”
This former home of the Earls of Moray fell into ruin after a massive attack in the early 1600’s, and lay empty (except for ghosts, of course) for more than 300 years before being beautifully restored and renovated. Legend has it that a man died trying to prove that the castle was not haunted — travelers who are up to the challenge are invited to rent a room, or the entire castle.
Queen Mary: Long Beach, California
Queen Mary may not be as well known as the Titanic, but this landmark ship has a hair-raising history of its own. Launched in 1934 and now permanently docked in Long Beach, California, as a floating hotel and historic attraction, the ship has been the site of so much paranormal activity that it offers daily ghost tours.
Listen for the eerie cry of an infant in the third-class children’s playroom, and keep your eyes peeled for ladies in vintage bathing suits wandering around the first-class swimming pool.
Omni Parker House Hotel: Boston, Massachusetts
In a city known for its colorful colonial past, it should come as no surprise that Boston‘s Omni Parker House Hotel has a haunted history of its own.
Keep an eye on the elevators — they’ve been known to head to the third floor without any button being pressed, perhaps to take the ghost of writer Charles Dickens back to his former room. And keep your ears peeled for male laughter from what was once room 303, where a businessman died several years ago; so many guests complained about the noise that it’s been converted into a storage closet.
Stanley Hotel: Estes Park, Colorado
There may or may not be any actual spirits floating around this famous hotel, but it still stands out on our “scariest” list. After all, the Stanley Hotel served as Stephen King’s main inspiration for the secluded and spine-chilling Overlook Hotel he wrote of in mega-thriller “The Shining.”
King happened upon the Stanley after relocating briefly from Maine to Colorado in the early 1970’s, and wrote much of his novel during an extended stay at the sprawling, Georgian-style structure. The 1909 property doesn’t seem to mind having a reputation among supernatural buffs — in fact, history and ghost tours are offered daily.
Morris-Jumel Mansion: New York, New York
The oldest house in Manhattan (Washington really did sleep here!), the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Harlem is said to be haunted by at least four ghosts — including Aaron Burr, U.S. vice president and winner of a famous duel with Alexander Hamilton.
The stately mansion was built by a British colonel and his American wife 11 years before the Revolution, and it’s said that a soldier from that war still haunts the halls. Other spooks that have been spotted include a former lady of the house and a servant girl who leapt from a window to her death.
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–written by Melissa Paloti and Sarah Schlichter