Want to really get spooked this Halloween? You could get tickets to some manufactured haunted house, with demented clowns popping out at you when you least expect it. Or you could hop on a hayride and get scared senseless by scarecrows that mysteriously come alive, wielding chainsaws. Or you could experience the real thing and book a night at a haunted hotel. These seven properties all have one thing in common: paranormal activity -- if you believe in that sort of thing. So, go on: Pack your overnight bags and spend an evening with the spirits. We dare you.
[See a photo recap of America's Spookiest Hotels]
The staff at the 1859 Historic National Hotel recommends that you say hello when you run into their live-in ghost, Flo; she's friendly but has been known to cause some disturbances. And here's why: Back in the late 19th-century Gold Rush, an elegant woman -- Flora -- met Henry, the requisite tall, dark and handsome man, and the pair immediately fell in love. They booked separated rooms at the National Hotel of Jamestown, Calif. and made preparations to marry at Christmas. They planned their wedding at the hotel and all was the stuff of fairytales, until one fateful December morning. The Jamestown drunk shot Henry; Flo, overcome with heartbreak, sobbed uncontrollably until New Year's Eve when she donned her lace-trimmed wedding gown and died. The doctors of the time said it was heart failure, but the more romantic will say it was heartbreak. Today, forlorn Flo is sometimes seen hovering in the hotel's windows, but more often she is associated with clanging pots in the kitchen and a bone-chilling-cold "presence" in the guest rooms -- even when the heat is turned up.
Should you be scared? We don't think so. Hotel staff says that Flo seems to be a friendly soul. On its website, the hotel says that, "Flo … seems intent on a long and happy stay -- a fate we wish for all our guests."
Reward for Staying the Night: You can sip the hotel's delectable hot buttered rum in the downstairs saloon, then recreate it yourself when you get home. National Hotel has posted the recipe on its website.
You shouldn't count on getting much shuteye at this quaint bed and breakfast, burrowed in the Cherokee National Forest in northeast Tennessee. And that's quite simply there are things that go bump in the night. Major Joseph Wagner, who fought in the Union Army, built this Victorian home a couple decades after the Civil War in 1889. After he passed on (or did he?), the home was sold to the Rambo family -- who in turn, departed this world -- before current owners Robert and Judy Hotchkiss converted the home into a bed and breakfast. But some B&B guests are pretty sure that the previous owners never really left. At odd times, a strong smell of spilled bourbon seems to emanate from one of the guest rooms. In the middle of the night, guests can sometimes smell the phantom aromas of peanut butter cookies and muffins baking, yet there's no one in the kitchen. And co-owner Robert Hotchkiss has heard the steady thump-thump-thump of a phantom walking up the staircase. One guest even saw an apparition of a man wearing a military uniform in the window of her room.
Should you be scared? Probably not. Although the funerals for Wagner and the Rambo family were held in this B&B, co-owner Judy Hotchkiss says, "Given the smells and sounds, we think they are still the happy people who very much loved living here."
Reward for Staying the Night: If you book your stay from October 27 through 31, you'll receive an assortment of Halloween-theme candies and treats.
The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego is famous for its history, which dates back more than a century. It's also significant for its noteworthy guests, from U.S. President Benjamin Harrison to the inventor Thomas Edison. But the most intriguing guest is Kate Morgan, who checked in on November 24, 1892, but never checked out. Morgan came to the Del to supposedly meet her estranged husband. But he stood her up and just five days later, her lifeless body was found on the beach. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head, which experts believed to be suicide. Others at the time weren't so sure. Since then, guests have reported hearing unexplained noises, feeling sudden bursts of cold air and seeing what could be the apparition of Kate Morgan roaming the rooms.
Should you be scared? We think that the supposed ghost of Kate Morgan is pretty benign, but her presence might cause you to feel an overwhelming sense of sadness.
Reward for Staying the Night: If you book at Hotel del Coronado over the Halloween weekend, you can take advantage of the "Room with a Boo" package, which includes a copy of the book about the enigmatic Morgan, as well as s'mores on the beach and an outdoor screening of the film Ghost Busters (on Oct. 28).
Spirits might be swarming you at this address in New Hope, Penn. The Logan Inn, which hails back to colonial times, claims no fewer than four ghosts. The poltergeists are as follows: Emily, the mother of a late innkeeper; a Revolutionary War soldier in full dress; and a little girl, who drowned on the property but who rarely makes her presence known in the parking lot; and lastly, a haunt that seems to roam the basement wearing old-school knee breeches. For the best chance of experiencing a ghost, we suggest room no. six: It seems to be frequented by the spirit of Emily and a mysterious man's reflection in the bathroom mirror. Sometimes, these ghosts even rip pillows from beneath sleeping guests' heads and cry out. Full kegs of beer have also been known to topple over without explanation, and lights tend to flicker too.
Should you be scared? With a full house of guests, including four invisible ones, you may feel supernatural energy bouncing off the walls. But no one's been hurt … yet.
Reward for Staying the Night: If it's nice out, you'll get to sit out on the inn's lovely patio and enjoy a tasty brunch, punctuated by $3 mimosas (with the purchase of an entrée).
This is one of the most famously haunted bed and breakfasts in the United States. In fact, we've written about it before in our article about the World's Scariest Places. But the bloody story behind this B&B is worth repeating. This chilling rhyme will help you remember the basic plot: "Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41." In the late 19th century, Lizzie was living in Fall River, Mass. with her father, stepmother and sister. On an August day in 1892, Lizzie claimed to be biting into a juicy pear in the nearby barn at the same time that her dad and stepmom were being hacked to death. A jury later acquitted her of the gruesome crime, but whispers surrounded her the rest of her life. Today, ghost sightings are an almost normal occurrence at the Borden home, now converted into a B&B. But no one's sure whether the phantoms are the murdered parents or the perhaps guilty daughter. There's even speculation that they might be entirely unrelated to this event: The haunting might be coming from the ghosts of two children who drowned in cisterns on the property.
Should you be scared? Just watch your back. That's all we're saying.
Reward for Staying the Night: If after staying here, you need a vacation from all those that go bump in the night, you're a little more than an hour's drive from Cape Cod.
This Kansas City hotel, which opened its doors in 1888, is known as the oldest continuously running hotel west of the Mississippi River. And since it's been around so long, Hotel Savoy has given a couple of ghosts the chance to move in and make themselves at home. (Although according to About.com, the Savoy's 1980s renovation extremely upset them). Supposedly, one of the ghosts is Betsy Ward, who met her end in the bathtub in room no. 505. The other is Mr. Fred Lightner, who is known to hover about too. So, don't be surprised if you see doors open and close of their own accord or if you witness unexplained shadows.
Should you be scared? We don't think so. By all accounts, Ms. Ward and Mr. Lightner are affable spirits.
Reward for Staying the Night: You'll tread the same lobby and hallways that President Teddy Roosevelt and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller once did.
Do you want to see celebs? Then L.A. is the place to go. But do you want to see celebs that are dead? Well, L.A. is still the place. And if you particularly want to run into the spirit of that blonde bombshell Norma Jeane Baker (a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe), you should head to the sleek and chic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It's conveniently located on Hollywood Boulevard, just a three-minute stroll from the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In the 1950s, Monroe stayed in suite 229, looking out onto the rooftop pool. Her reflection is said to appear in a mirror, which was once in her suite and now hangs on the hotel's ground level. But Monroe isn't the only ghost here: Montgomery Clift, who stayed at the hotel for a few months while filming From Here to Eternity, is also said to roam its storied hallways. He reportedly haunts his old room (no. 928), as well as the eighth floor, where he used to practice his lines. Don't be surprised if you hear the eerie melody of his trombone echoing down the corridor.
Should you be scared? Not of ghosts. But you might fear offending the fashion police (the posh people who stay and party here).
Reward for Staying the Night: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is gaining back much of its former glory, so be on the lookout for those stars that are alive and well.
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