If you are looking to scare up some spooky, family fun—a guided ghost tour may be just the thing to get in the spirit of the season. Your child will get a kick of out creepy tales of Civil War ghosts, haunted mansions, flickering lights and other paranormal tales. Be sure to make note of your child’s individual scare factor and age recommendations, though, or else the experience may come back to haunt you. Just notify your guide you have little goblins in tow and they will be happy to dial down the fear factor to ensure some freaky fun for the whole family.
Roswell Ghost Tours
Now in its 15th year, Roswell Ghost Tours offers a spine-chilling nighttime tour of historic downtown Roswell. Founded by paranormal investigators, Diana and Joe Avena, the intent of these tours is not to scare, but rather inform and educate. If you get spooked—simply due to the fact that you are walking through a cemetery and by the “creepy house” where the town executioner once lived—that’s understandable. The mile-long walking tour lasts about 2 ½ hours and includes current tales of paranormal activities that these investigators and others have personally documented. Stories of Civil War soldiers and millworkers looking to reconnect with loved ones from beyond the grave are presented alongside the history of this antebellum town.
Details: Tours meet in the big white gazebo in the Roswell Town Square directly across the street from the Roswell Visitor’s Center (617 Atlanta St.), roswellghosttour.com
Cost: $15 adults, $10 children
When to Go: Available year round, check website for times. Reservations required.
Recommended Age: Roswell Ghost Tours are open to all ages. When younger children are on the tour, their highly trained tour guides leave out gory details and give families the option to wait out parts of the tour that may be particularly scary for little ones.
Especially Cool: The founders have been featured on SciFi Network’s “Ghost Hunters.” They also regularly offer tours featuring other well-known paranormal experts.
Decatur Ghost Tours
One of the newer ghost tour operations in town, these tours are led by a psychic medium, Boo Newell. The walking tour covers about a mile and lasts two hours. Along the way, you’ll hear tales of Civil War ghosts, a grieving mother, and a lovelorn woman searching for her lost love. The tour meets on the Decatur square and includes a walk through the old Decatur Cemetery. According to Boo, when children are on the tour, ghost children tend to follow along.
Details: Tours meet at the bandstand behind The Old Courthouse (101 East Court Sq.), 404-296-7771, www.decaturghosttour.com
Cost: $15 adults, $12 children (10 and under)
When to Go: Weekends year-round at 7:30 p.m., additional dates in October. Reservations required.
Recommended Age: Families regularly take the tours. There’s nothing gory or extremely violent discussed, just lots of ghost talk of course.
Especially Cool: If you live intown, it’s close by and offers a look into the history and “darkside” of Decatur.
Lawrenceville Ghost Tours
Definitely the most “theatrical” ghost tour in town; these popular tours are led by costumed storytellers from Aurora Theatre. On the 90-minute adventure through Downtown Lawrenceville your guide will take you into the old jail, show you where the corpses flew down Honest Alley and tell you other chilling tales that will send a shiver down your spine. Sometimes you can even catch the Lawrenceville Ghost Trolley – offered on special dates. It takes you to the Lawrenceville Female Seminary where ghost girls still roam the halls.
Details: Aurora Theater, 128 East Pike St., 678-226-6222, www.scarystroll.com
Cost: $12 adults, $9 children; $25 for Trolley
When to Go: Weekends year-round, everyday in October. Reservations recommended. Ghost Trolley is available on October 25 only.
Recommended Age: Since the tour is focused on dramatic storytelling and not bloody effects or gory details, it’s popular with both children and adults.
Especially Cool: Experienced local actors like “Madame Macabre” and “Miss Hannah Belle Lecter” lead tours in character – mixing a little funny in with the scary.
Marietta Ghost Tours
Marietta Ghost Tours offer two spooky options for families: the original Haunted Walking Tour and the “Scary-etta” Haunted Trolley Tour. Both are 90 minutes and focus on ghost stories in and around the historic Marietta square – which played a big role in the Civil War. As you can imagine, plenty of Civil War ghost stories abound. Lit by flickering lantern light, the one mile walking tour is led by a costumed storyteller who will regale you with tales of the “Lady in Black,” weeping statues and other scary apparitions. If that isn’t spooky enough, the trolley tour travels into two of the city’s cemeteries.
Details: 131 Church St., 770-425-5755, ghostsofmarietta.com
Cost: $17 adults, $12 children (Walking Tour); $27 Adults, $14 Children (Trolley Tour)
When to Go: Year-round with walking tours at 7:30 p.m. and “Scaryetta” trolley tours at 7 and 9 p.m. Dates and times vary with season. Reservations required. Buy tickets online.
Recommended Age: Both are suitable for families—no age recommendations. Just know your child’s “scare factor.”
Especially Cool: The Haunted Trolley may be just the thing for younger children who are interested in ghost tales but might get too tired or too spooked on foot.
Fox Theatre Ghost Tours
Some folks say that the Fox Theatre, Atlanta’s iconic old movie palace and performance venue, is hauntingly beautiful. Some simply say it is haunted. For the first time ever, go behind the scenes on an hour-long guided ghost tour of the Fox. You’ll visit the sub-basement, boiler room, a backstage dressing room and of course, the stage – all places where restless spirits are said to roam. The spook factor is enhanced with a little pumped in fog. However, the tour focuses on the stories of real life people and strange apparitions that some have witnessed when the lights dim at the Fabulous Fox.
When to Go: October 11th-16th with time slots available from 7 to 10 p.m. See website for available times and to purchase tickets.
Recommended Age: The tour is recommended for children 10 and over, but parents can use their discretion. For safety reasons, children under age 6 are not permitted.
Especially Cool: It’s behind-the-scenes. At night. At the Fox. Need we say more?
What spooky things will you do this season? Tell us below!
—Rachel Quartarone and Phebe Wahl