Our family is crazy about fall. We love the ever-changing colors, the falling leaves, and the warm apple cider. But our favorite thing about fall is Halloween! We are obsessed with all things spooky: we devour horror novels and see every scary film that the boys are old enough to see. We also seek out family-friendly spooky places during our travels. So, in honor of the arrival of fall, we put together our list of the 5 spookiest places we’ve seen so far in our travels.
1. Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire, England
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of Jen’s favorite novels, so we were naturally drawn to see the monastery that is believed to have inspired the story. Stoker stayed at the abbey in 1890 and legend says he wrote much of the book during his stay.
There are many ghost stories associated with the abbey, including a nun named Constance de Beverley, a phantom coach with a headless driver, ghost children that tap on visitors’ shoulders and a man and his ghost dog. It is also said that sometimes people can hear the abbey’s church bells chiming even though they were removed in the 16th Century.
We didn’t see any ghosts, nor did we find the Abbey to be creepy, but I can guarantee that Whitby Abbey has a haunting beauty and an intriguing history. You can read more details of our time at the Abbey in our post An Afternoon at Whitby Abbey.
2. The Cemeteries of New Orleans, U.S.A.
NOLA and ghosts seem to go hand in hand, so it will come as no surprise that New Orleans is said to have several haunted cemeteries. The cemeteries of NOLA are built above ground in crypts and mausoleums because of the low water table. They are often referred to as cities of the dead. We love exploring cemeteries and wandering through the tombstones reading the inscriptions. We find them to be quite beautiful and fascinating.
Our favorite on our last trip to NOLA was Lafayette Cemetery, which was built in 1832. We also liked St. Louis #1, which is New Orleans’ oldest cemetery and said to be the most haunted cemetery in the United States. Be sure to book a tour if you would like to visit, as they no longer allow people inside St. Louis #1 without a tour guide.
3. Tower of London, England
The Tower of London or Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London was erected around 1066 and has served many functions throughout the years, The Tower housed the Royal Mint, the Crown Jewels, and many political prisoners. It was also the place where prisoners were sometimes tortured and executed, which of course leads to ghost lore. Some of the people who were executed in the Tower include Sir Walter Raleigh, Anne Boleyn, and Lady Jane Grey, and all are said to haunt the fortress to this day.
Haunted or not, the Tower of London was one of our favorite spots in the city. We love exploring the fortress and gazing at the armor and crown jewels. From mid-November until January the Tower even has an ice skating rink!
4. The Forbidden Corner, Middleham, England
The Forbidden Corner is hard to define. The brochure says, “A labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies, and surprises created in a four-acre garden”. But it’s much more fun than that. We got soaked, disoriented, lost, freaked out and laughed the entire time. We ran through mazes, tunnels, and haunted chambers. We entered a giant mouth, marveled at huge tree figures and got stuck in a gate. We climbed up towers, down into dungeons and squeezed into caves. It was a blast.
We saw giant rats eaten by an enormous cat, Roman guards, gravestones, ghosts, Pan, Medusa, skeletons and many more surprises. Walls turned to doors, rooms moved and statues showered us with water. There is no haunted history here but this place can’t be beaten for creepy family fun! Read more in our post The Forbidden Corner, Yorkshire, England.
5. Isla de las Munecas – The Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico
South of Mexico City are the canals of Xochimilco, the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs. There are brightly decorated “tourist boats” that ply the canals with food, drink, and mariachis, but deep in the canals lies Isla de las Munecas or The Island of Dolls. This one small island has hundreds of creepy dolls all over it. They hang from trees, with severed limbs, decapitated heads, and blank eyes.
The legend goes like this: the island’s caretaker Don Julian Santana Barrera found the body of a little girl who had drowned. He also found a doll in the water that he assumed was hers, so he hung it in a tree as a form of remembrance. He then became convinced that the girl was haunting him so he hung more dolls to appease her. Eventually he covered the entire area with doll parts. He too drowned on the island years later. It is said that the dolls move in the trees and open their eyes to follow visitors.
I’m not sure that I buy that last part, but I do know that nothing could be creepier than an island covered in dolls!
Do you have a favorite creepy site? Or is there a haunted spot that you are dying to visit? Share your ideas with us in the comments!