By Jessica Wasik
Halloween is the best holiday to venture across the country for a hauntingly good time. From the highest mountains out west to the historic battlegrounds in the east—and plenty of places in between—there is no shortage of spooky sites to explore. While some spots are certainly more frightening than others, they all promise to deliver a devilish good time while scaring you with experiences of paranormal activity. Here are five of the most chilling and unsettled places to celebrate Halloween in the U.S.
Salem is a notoriously spooky city, but while there are a plethora of haunted hot spots, none come close to that of The Witch House. Formerly known as the Jonathan Corwin House, once owned by a prominent judge during the 1692 witch trials, this historic home is reportedly so full of eerie happenings that it attracts tens of thousands of people each year, particularly around Halloween. Numerous groups of paranormal investigators, including the team of the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” back the rumors of cold spots, disembodied voices of young children and ghostly touches.The Witch House is also unique in that it is the last remaining building in Salem with direct connections to the Salem witch trials, making it a prime pick for a Halloween tour.
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
One of the most frequently asked questions those who know Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary hear is, “Is the penitentiary truly haunted?” For anyone who has seen what lies within its walls, the answer is a resounding yes. It is no surprise then that it is not only one of the county’s spookiest places, but also one of the best places to experience a Halloween adventure. Once home to many of the most notorious prisoners and criminals, this historic prison now welcomes paranormal investigators and guests brave enough to face its Terror Behind the Walls, a haunted house located within the penitentiary, named as the top haunted attraction in the United States. Step inside and see if your fears outweigh your ability to make it through this spine-chilling site, known for mysterious figures and chilling experiences.
If the name of this hotel sounds familiar, that’s because it was the inspiration for Stephen King’s movie “The Shining.” Although the movie was not filmed at this Estes Park hotel, King spent the night in room 217 alongside his wife and must have experienced the very devious sights and sounds that countless guests have reported. Book a room early if you wish to spend Halloween here as the holiday is a popular one for those looking to feel firsthand the spirits and spooks that await inside via its Stanley Tour that explores further paranormal tales. The Stanley Hotel is a favorite for paranormal teams, including TV’s “Ghost Adventures” and “Ghost Hunter”s crews.
Villisca Axe Murder House
508 E. 2nd St.
Villisca, Iowa 50864
Just the sheer thought of entering the place of a past axe murder scene is frightening enough, yet the actual home is unmatched in its haunting stories. Located in rural Villisca, Iowa, this home warns visitors exactly what awaits them shall they dare enter: “Murder House.” Paranormal investigations have turned up recordings of disembodied voices calling the names of the victims, spirits turning flashlights off and on when requested by investigators, and pockets of icy cold air throughout the home. Even the most skeptical guests will transform into believers upon checking out the Villisca Axe Murder House. Make reservations early for its overnight tours, as they are limited to small groups and will certainly sell out over Halloween.
Gettysburg is the location of the home of the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Extremely unsettled, this brick home welcomes thousands of tourists annually for its ghostly images tour, which allows visitors to step inside to experience this uneasy eeriness for themselves. Pay attention to cold spots, feelings of dizziness and the unexplained appearances of shadows and orbs while you learn about Jennie’s life and this prominent period of the Civil Ear era. Some visitors have even reported seeing visions of Jennie and those of child entities playing about the second floor of the home.