Halloween is approaching, and our minds often turn to the creepy, spooky and haunted! During October, at Lake Zurich Travel, we seem to have many requests for the scream theme destinations! Here are some places to visit both near and far for “Getting Your Spook Fix.”
Tower of London
On the banks of the River Thames, this well known imposing stone tower built in the 11th century has long been viewed as one of the most haunted buildings in Britain. A former political prison and place of execution sights the ghosts of many famous prisoners, including Lady Jane Grey, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII, who was beheaded by her husband in 1536. Her ghost is sometimes spotted with her head in hand, walking through the Tower’s chapel. She is buried underneath the floor there, along with the bones of hundreds of other people.
Base of Mount Fuji, Japan
Want to visit what feels like the “Blair Witch Project?” This is the place. Called Japan’s Suicide Forest, hundreds have journeyed into this forest to kill themselves amidst its dense trees and vines, made increasingly eerie by the quietness of the wind-blocking density of the trees. Volunteers help police to do annual sweeps to find and clear away the bodies. Understandably, many people believe the forest is haunted by the souls of those who have died there. Others point to the haunting of souls who died of starvation during the famine in ancient Japan, and those ghosts still haunt the forest today.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery
Chicago Suburbs, Illinois
The abandoned, fairly small cemetery near Midlothian contains just 82 plots, many of which are unoccupied. The cemetery’s first official burials began in 1840. Over a hundred years later — in the 1950s through the 1970s — reports of hauntings in the cemetery reached an all-time high. Witnesses have reported seeing a phantom farmhouse, a two-headed ghost, figures dressed in monk robes, a black dog, and a woman in white — the latter of whom may have been captured in a famous photograph, taken by Judy Huff Felz in 1991. Look that one up on the Bachelor Grove website!
Eastern State Penitentiary
This was the first prison to institute solitary confinement, which is said to have caused mental illness among the prisoners. When an inmate left his cell, a guard covered his head with a hood so that he remained in confinement. Solitary system was discarded eventually, during which time it housed both Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton. The prison was abandoned in 1971 and rumors of strange happenings have plagued the stone penitentiary ever since. Now a museum and Halloween Haunted House (you can overnight), its visitors report footsteps in the yards, sounds of someone pacing in the cells, eerie noises, and lonely wails in the cold, dark corridors. Cell Block 12 is famous for its disembodied laughter and one guard tower appears to be occupied by a shadowy figure.
The Stanley Hotel
Estes Park, Colorado
This hotel was built in 1909 and made famous by Stephen King’s “The Shining.” The idea came to King during his stay in room 217, but it is room 418 that is believed to be visited by the ghost of Lord Dunraven. The ballroom has also had many strange and unexplainable experiences such as piano music while empty and children playing in the corridors late at night. In 2013 the hotel’s ghosts were further provoked when they decided to dig up a pet cemetery next door!
Lizzie Borden House
Fall River, Massachusetts
Located just 50 miles south of Boston, this house is where the axe murders of Andrew and Abby Borden took place in 1892. Although acquitted of the murders, Lizzie Borden was the prime suspect in the gruesome deaths of her father and stepmother. If you dare, you can book a room because it is now a bed and breakfast (you’ll even be served the same breakfast Andrew and Abby ate on the day they were murdered) or if you’re too scared to stay the night, sign up for one of the daily tours.
The Island of the Dolls
Just south of Mexico City, Mexico
Voted “Biggest Scare Factor” by our staff, this island, hidden among the Xochimilco Canals, is dedicated to a girl who, according to legend, drowned under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s. Her body was discovered by Julian Santana Barrera who was told by her spirit to gather dolls for her to play with, which he did, and he hung hundreds of them from the trees on his island in an attempt to ward off evil spirits. Mr. Barrera died in 2001, but the dolls remain, and the creepy island can be visited by boat.
Do you have some favorite “Haunts” that did not make our list this year? Contact us so we can add them next year!
Sue Shimkus is the president of Lake Zurich Travel, Lake Zurich and Lakeside Travel Advisors in Wauconda.