7 Spooky Cities Worth a Weekend Trip This October
Many people believe that when graveyards or burial sites are disturbed—or worse, desecrated—the dead don't stay at rest (uh oh). And most of Savannah's picture-perfect historic district (imagine: Spanish moss hanging from the trees, charming Southern town squares, architecture that brings you back in time) is built on top of burial grounds.
Take a walking tour of the city by night (the city has a "to-go cup" law, so you can bring your drink too) to learn the stories for yourself. Walking around town? Look down. Some people say the circular patterns on some sidewalk bricks mark areas that once were burial sites. Book a hotel with caution: Many of Savannah's hotels (including The Marshall House and 17Hundred90 Inn) are said to be haunted. Avoid ghosts at Perry Lane—a newly opened property that hosts rooftop a.m. and evening yoga classes and has Peloton bikes for a good sweat.
Waterfront Salem, about 35 minutes North of Boston, is quintessential New England—cobblestone streets, a quaint harbor and lighthouse, antique shops—any time of the year. But in October, crowds flock to hear the tales of the Salem Witch Trials.
Visit the Salem Witch Museum for the backstory, pop in and out of apothecaries and witch shops, or have your fortune read. Make it a little more active by timing your trip around the slew of Halloween-theme races the city hosts in October, from the Witch City 5K to the Devils Chase 6.66-Miler. Celebrate with a toast post-race at Hotel Salem, which has the city's first rooftop bar, complete with views of the old town hall and harbor in the distance.
You don't *have* to go to Salem to feel the spook of the Salem Witch Trials (although it's definitely worth the day trip). The Boston Common—the oldest public park in the country, right in the center of the city—held public hangings up until the early 1800s, including deaths of supposed witches. Despite its dark past, the park is one of the most beautiful strolls in the city.
For possible ghost sights, walk in the evening, stopping at Granary Burying Ground, where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere are buried. Have a drink at the Omni Parker House, where elevators are said to stop at the third floor without pushing any buttons, or The Liberty Hotel, housed in what once was Boston's Charles Street Jail (where many of the city's notorious criminals were locked up). Every year, they host a Halloween party. Need a costume? Check out these health- and fitness-inspired Halloween costumes.
New Orleans, LA
In NOLA—known for is voodoo practitioners, history of murdered slaves, and yellow fever plague—it's best to run, not walk, by the haunted sites. (They're that spooky.) Wake up before the crowds for a jog around the French Quarter and you'll breeze by many haunted destinations (including the famed LaLaurie Mansion at 1140 Royal Street and Jackson Square). Later, FreeToursByFoot offers many walking tours that are just that: free. Catering to every type of fascination, they host vampire tours, haunted pub crawls, and ghost and cemetery tours by bus at night (if walking feels too creepy). Splurge on a "voodoo ritual" at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, which is part massage and part history lesson, with an individualized herbal poultice ritual. (Follow this guide for even more healthy ways to experience New Orleans.)
Aspen—with its five-star ski resorts, fancy après scene, and celebrity clientele—might not scream "ghost town." But the Colorado mountain village, a former mining town, is home to a supposedly very haunted hotel: The Hotel Jerome, where guests claim to see ghosts, including the phantom of a small boy who drowned in the hotel pool years prior. (Note: Its cozy, western-rustic feel and easy location in downtown make it worth a stay any time of the year. This healthy guide to Aspen will fill you in on all the other must-do activities.)
In October, Aspen Walking Tours also leads guided tours through the city's oldest burial ground, Ute Cemetery. Ashcroft Ghost Town, about 10 miles away near the Pine Creek Cookhouse (an in-the-woods restaurant accessible via snowshoe) also houses the remains of a saloon, a post office, and a hotel.
As one of the oldest cities in the country, Charleston is bound to have its fair share of skeletons. Did you know the city's Old City Jail housed the state of South Carolina's first female serial killer? Ghosts are also often spotted at the old Dock Street Theatre, which burned down in the 1770s. On a walking tour with Bulldog Tours, you'll see both and hear the creepy tales to match. For some fright-free fall fun, head to the sprawling Boone Hall Plantation, which, come fall, hosts a pumpkin patch and corn maze. Photo ops galore.
Runners in the Chicago Marathon (which takes place every October), as well as visitors from far and wide, could very well be pounding haunted grounds in the Windy City. Lincoln Park is a former city cemetery. Wrigley Park has a cursed past. And many of the classic ways to see Chicago—by foot, by boat—turn festive come fall (think guided kayak tours along the river where you learn about the city's Wild West past and mobsters). Water not your thing? There is also a slew of haunted bike tours offered around the city. This month, the city also opened a pop-up beer garden and corn maze called Jack's Pumpkin Nights on two acres of land at Goose Island. (P.S. Chicago is also home to one of the coolest places to work out.)