Whether or not you believe in ghosts or goblins, there is a lot of entertainment value in spooky stories. If you want your kids to enjoy the Halloween season without any gore, why not try a family-friendly haunted house or tour? Some places on this list swear by their haunted legends, while others poke fun at them, and many offer a bit of a history lesson to boot. The best part? You can book most of these tours all year round. Scroll down to discover them all.
Beyond Bizarre Tour – Portland, OR
If you are a fan of the weird and wacky world of the paranormal, this tour is for you. This tour is presented by members of the International Ghost Hunters Society. Guests are given ghost hunting equipment to use while investigating known haunted locations. The kids will enjoy spending time under the city’s streets. Tours are offered daily, remember to book the family-friendly version at 6:00 p.m.
Portland Walking Tours
131 NW. 2nd Ave.
Portland, WA 97209
Winchester Mystery House—San Jose, CA
Known as “The House Built by Spirits” the Winchester Mystery House is one of the most famous spooky residences of all time. With staircases into the ceiling, windows in the floor and doors that lead to nowhere, this 160-room Victorian mansion is said to be filled with ghosts, including the mistress of the house, Sarah Winchester. It’s also a spectacular tour for the whole family and won’t cause too many nightmares. There are a variety of tours available including the classic Mansion Tour (you’ll view 110 rooms), the new Explore More Tour (see areas of the mansion that have not been open to the public), the Halloween Candlelight Tour (where the only illumination comes from candles) and the occasional Friday the 13th Flashlight Tours (where the only illumination comes from your flashlight).
525 S Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95128
Pike Place Market – Seattle, WA
Did you know that Seattle’s Pike Place Market was actually built over the top of an old Indian burial ground? Strangeness has been afoot ever since with apparitions and ghostly images of people popping up here and there. While you might see some of them yourself, we recommend taking one of Unexpected Productions Ghost Story Tours. This 75-minute excursion by one of Seattle’s best improv troupes leads you through the Market’s unusual arcades and alleys while sharing the often overlooked darker history of Seattle. Tours are offered most weekends throughout the year.
85 Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101
The Allen House—Monticello, AR
The story of cyanide-punch drinking Ladell Allen was an urban legend in Arkansas long before the Spencer family purchased the property in 2007. Restored to its original architectural beauty and now a popular wedding venue, this house offers paranormal tours and ghost hunters claim to have recorded ghostly voices. Check out the Facebook page for mysterious images sure to send chills down your spine. Halloween tours are available every Oct. 30 & 31 from 6-11 p.m. Other tours are available by appointment only and require at least six people. Tours include the Allen House Tour, the Dinner and a Ghost Tour (announced on Facebook and offered about three times a year), the Private Dinner with the Author Tour and the Private Tea Party.
705 N Main St.
Monticello, AR 71655
McMenamin’s Edgefield—Troutdale, OR
Originally built as the Multnomah County Poor House, this McMenamins property has a long ghostly history that’s perfect for a sinister overnight. Spooky sights like old nurses wandering the halls and glimpses of a man in tattered black clothing have been reported. Many reports come from Room 215—stay there if you dare! For some extra Halloween fun, check out the log at the register of paranormal activity—guests are welcome to record anything they see (or think they see). In addition to resident ghosts, there’s 72-acres of property to roam, a pool, restaurants, a movie theater and even a Par 3 golf course.
2126 S.W. Halsey St.
Troutdale, OR 97060
Tinker Swiss Cottage and Gardens — Rockford, IL
SyFy Channel has stopped by this mansion in Illinois, so it’s not too far off to think this window to the past could be a perfect place for ghosts to call home. Rocking chairs have been known to move on their own and the original owner, Robert Tinker is rumored to stop by every now and then. Tours are offered Tues.-Sun from 1-3 p.m. Braver souls might want to check out their Paranormal Tours, which are offered at various times of the year.
Good to know: Free tours are available several times a year and the dates are posted on their website.
411 Kent St.
Rockford, IL 61102
Ghosts of Marietta – Marietta, GA
Ghosts are pretty big in the town of Marietta. The Ghosts of Marietta offer lantern-led walking tours all-year round walking through downtown with tales of spooky sightings. Take the Historic Marietta Trolley for a “Scaryetta” tour driving through ancient burial grounds, with stops at local cemeteries. But perhaps the most unique is the Ghosts and Grieving Tour offered throughout the month of October. Here, you tour inside the William Root House (the oldest home in town) for a mourning as it would have been in 1856. Visitors will learn about the 1850’s, mourning practices and superstitions about death.
131 Church St NE
Marietta, GA 30060
The White House—Washington, D.C.
Want to get up close and personal with the President? How about a President who died over a century and a half ago? If so, then head for Washington D.C. and sign up for a White House tour, pronto. Your little history buffs will be in awe of the incredible collection of American history, and you’ll be able to keep your eye out for paranormal beings. Although there have been several strange apparitions sighted, Honest Abe Lincoln is the one who has made regular rounds since his assassination. We think it’s probably a good thing we aren’t allowed to spend the night in the Lincoln Room.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Rhodes Hall – Atlanta, GA
Built in 1904 to the tune of $50,000, the Rhodes family had a Rhineland castle-styled mansion built complete with painted glass window, a carved mahogany staircase and medallion portraits of 15 Confederate heroes. Some say the house is haunted by Mrs. Rhodes, while there are other theories that it is the caretaker and others claim that it is the Rhodes’ children. While the home looks the part and has been featured on TV’s Ghost Hunters, this tours isn't very spooky at all, is fairly inexpensive and is available on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. However, if you are looking for more fun, you might want to be a part of the city’s Haunted Castle 5K that ends with a Halloween party at the castle on Oct. 27, 2018.
1516 Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
Myrtle’s Plantation – St. Francisville, LA
If dining with ghosts in an 18th Century-era home sounds like your idea of fun, then a visit to The Myrtles Plantation near St. Francisville, LA, is a must. Said to be haunted by a house-slave named Chloe, and the three people she accidentally poisoned, ghost hunters have “caught” several strange apparitions on film. Come for the spooks, and stay for the homemade biscuits, best enjoyed outside under the sweeping oak trees. Kids will love the old-timey General Store and the nearby Clark Creek Natural Waterfalls. You can also book an overnight stay if you dare. Daily Mystery Tours are offered from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Evening Tours are offered Fri. & Sat, nights at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.
Good to know: Complimentary self-guided tours are available.
7747 U.S. Highway 61
St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775
Oxford Saloon – Snohomish, WA
This family-friendly restaurant in old Snohomish proudly boasts of its haunted history. Originally, the building was the Blackman’s Dry Goods store which opened in 1900. Years later it became a saloon where it is said that at least three ghosts (one man with a bowler hat, an older woman with a purple dress and bows and a younger woman) still haunt the place. Since 2005, the Washington State Ghost Society has investigated the saloon. While your family may not encounter these ghosts during your visit, you’ll definitely enjoy the good food and live music. Ask server about the haunted history, and we’re sure they’ll fill you in.
913 1st St.
Snohomish, WA 98290
Whaley House—San Diego, CA
Now a museum in Old Town San Diego, The Whaley House is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts. Yankee Jim Robinson is famous for (literally) hanging around, as the location of the mid-19th Century Greek Revival home was built over the gallows where he met his demise. Owners Thomas and Anna Whaley have also been spotted on the grounds, as well as several of their children, which puts a new meaning to the term, Home Sweet Home. Stop by for a tour, enjoy the museum shop and don’t forget to listen for pianos playing, silverware tinkling and children giggling. Tours are offered daily from 10 a.m.-4:40 p.m. Nighttime Tours are available too but offered at various times depending on the time of the year. Check out all the spooky happenings here.
2476 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, CA 92110
The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, CO
Once hosting novelist Stephen King and his wife, the Stanley Hotel not only served as the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel featured in his The Shining novel but was also featured in the movie and miniseries version of the story. Every night the hotel offers the Stanley Spirit Tour which is recommended for children age 10 & up. Guides take guests to darkened spaces and supposedly active phenomena weaving in tales of folklore as they go. The hotel says, “Due to the fact that spirits are not on the payroll, we do not guarantee any interactions,” so you’ve been warned.
333 Wonderview Ave.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Falcon Rest Mansion—McMinnville, TN
This Victorian-era house has crashing mirrors, mysterious whistling and even flickering lights. Yup, the Falcon Rest Mansion has all the makings of a haunted house. Tours are offered daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The stories about the ghost of Clay Faulkner and his cigars are so popular they’ve been collected together for fun play performances. Performed by the Falcon Rest Players, these spooky tales are designed to tickle your funny bone rather than send chills down your spine. Check their website for upcoming shows.
2645 Faulkner Springs Rd.
McMinnville, TN 37110
St. Augustine Lighthouse – St. Augustine, FL
Boasting of an “all ghosts, no gimmicks” tour, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and maritime museum offer the Dark of the Moon paranormal experience every weekend throughout the year. The tour features stories of the history and hauntings of its lighthouse and is the only tour that allows visitors in at night. Electromagnetic field meters are available to rent if you so choose.
81 Lighthouse Ave.
St. Augustine, FL 32080
Merchant’s House Museum —New York, NY
The Merchant’s House Museum is not only a National Historic Landmark but is also said to be the most haunted house in New York City. Seabury and Gretchen Treadwell invite you to take a peek at their home and don’t forget to admire the museum’s contents, which includes some of the best early 19th-century furnishings in New York. Candlelight Ghost Tours are offered the third Friday of each month January through July, and numerous “Spirited” Events are offered throughout the month of October.
29 East 4th St.
New York, NY 10003
Farnsworth House Inn – Gettysburg, PA
The Farnsworth House is named after Brigadier General Elon John Farnsworth. Built in 1810, the house was used as a shelter for Confederate sharpshooters and also the location of the only civilian to be shot during a three-day conflict. Later used as a hospital, the walls are marked with over 100 bullet pockmarks at the bed and breakfast which is known as one of the most haunted locations in America. The House features a variety of Sleepy Hollow” Ghost Tours including the East Cemetery Hill Walk the Mourning Theater, Ghost Hunt, Confederate Hospital Walk, Witching Hour Ghost Hunt and Paranormal Night. These tours are geared more for families with older kids.
401 Baltimore St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
— Jeff Totey with Amber Guetebier & Katrina Emery
featured image: Shane Gorksi via Flickr