Now that we’ve made sure the little ones have had their holiday fun with some great Halloween theme park events and Boo at the Zoo activities, it’s time to move on to the big kids with something a little more spooky. Many US cities have ghost tours, which range from serious paranormal investigations to decidedly campy entertainment. If you can’t book a tour in time for Halloween, never fear, most tour operators offer their brand of frightful fun year-round.
Many subjects covered on a ghost tour are not intended for small children; be sure to check with the tour operator ahead of time if you’re considering bringing children along. Tours can last anywhere from 30 minutes for location specific tours to 90 minutes or more for city-wide explorations, so attention span is another thing to consider.
Nearly every tour operator in Savannah offers some sort of ghost tour. A standout is the Hearse Ghost Tours. Up to eight guests at a time ride around in the open top of a converted hearse, painted all black of course, and get a 90-minute, suitably over-the-top narration from the driver. It’s pretty cheesy, but a hip kind of cheesy.
For those who take their paranormal activity more seriously, there’s Shannon Scott’s Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Tour, an uncensored, straightforward look at Savannah’s poltergeist population.
Salem Ghost Tours takes guests on a 90-minute lantern-illuminated nighttime tour of 15 haunted historical sites in Salem. Tours guides are informative and entertaining, and guests are encouraged to take pictures to see the ghosts.
Milwaukee Ghosts Tours & Investigations introduces guests to the history, folklore, and paranormal activity of Milwaukee. Tours explore locations like the Fifth Ward, the Pabst Mansion, and the Brumder Mansion.
For over ten years, Austin Ghost Tours has been leading the curious on nighttime tours through downtown Austin’s shadowed streets. This walking tour is not canceled (read no refunds) on account of weather. If the forecast calls for rain, pack along an umbrella. Tour prices and destinations vary; be sure to check their website for details.
San Francisco, CA
One of the longer tours in this round-up, the walking tours with San Francisco Ghost Hunt last nearly three hours and cover about a mile. You’ll hear ghost stories based on documented research and may even encounter a real ghost. No reservations are accepted for the tour. This tour is not recommended for children ages 8 and under.
The Chinatown Ghost Tour takes guests on a 90-minute stroll down the neighborhood’s narrow alleyways after sun set. Guides will tell you the stories of Chinatown’s spirits, spooks, and ancestors, along with the folklore that permeates what was until recently a secretive culture. Most guests are delighted with the informational nature of the tour, whether or not they actually get to see one of the spirits.
During October, Shanghai Tunnel Tours offers a special Halloween tour, covering the history of Shanghaing in Portland and the infamous Shanghai Tunnels (fascinating stuff). This is not a spook house, but a fun and informative tour, with information not covered during regular tours. Dedicated volunteers make these tours possible, and there are specific rules for participating; please visit their website for details. The Halloween tours usually sell out, so book early.
Folks looking for paranormal action should check out Portland’s Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour which covers some of the most notorious haunted locations in the city. Tour guests learn about the seven different types of hauntings and the professional procedures used to document and study paranormal activity.