There’s a chill in the air, and it’s not just the changing season. In Portland, spooky stories of ghost-sightings abound. (We were once on the top ten list of most haunted spots in the U.S.) If you and your little goblins are in the mood to be spooked, we’ve got your map of local haunts all picked out. Read on for all the ghostly details.
photo: Mike Rorhig via flickr
This hotel in downtown Portland is said to be haunted by former owner Simon Benson. Built in 1913, it has hosted every U.S. president since William H. Taft., but that’s not what it’s best known for. Visitors regularly report visits by the resident spirits (there’s even a guest book dedicated to spooky encounters), and apparently they’re mostly friendly ghosts. For best results, plan an overnight with your ghostbusters in a room on the 7th, 9th, or 12th floors, which have had the most reports of ghost-sightings. The next day, you can complete your mini staycation with an excursion to Forest Park. (See our recs below.)
Rooms from $159/night
309 Southwest Broadway
photo: underutilized via flickr
For an authentic ghost-hunters adventure that’s suitable for younger kids, book the earlier (read: PG) version of this downtown walking tour of Portland’s most haunted sites. You and your crew will get to borrow “ghost-hunting equipment” as you go behind the scenes of real paranormal investigations. It includes a stop in the city’s underground “Shanghai Tunnels” and other popular haunted spots, as well as opportunities to use an electromagnetic field reader (!) to detect the presence of spirits.
The whole thing is less than a mile and a half, with no hills and a limited amount of stairs. Plan for two hours and wear layers for the unpredictable fall weather.
Tickets: $23/ adults; $19 kids 11-17; $9 kids 5-10; 5 & under free
All ages tours: Thurs.-Sun. 6 p.m. Daily through October
131 NW 2nd Ave.
Take in a matinee at this 1926 historic landmark, or stay up late and catch an old favorite (Hocus Pocus is playing October 11!) while you keep an eye out for the resident ghosts. Most sightings have been in the upstairs lobby and screening rooms, but you never know. Doors open 30 minutes prior to seating for showtimes, so get there early for prime ghost-hunting.
Tickets: $9/adults; $7/children
4122 NE Sandy Blvd
photo: Stone via flickr
Open from dawn to dusk year-round, this is one of Portland’s oldest cemeteries, with a remarkable history that is well-tended by the Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery. Once a year around Halloween, the organization hosts a special candlelit “Tour of Untimely Departures,” where volunteers dress up as the “ghosts” of some of the individuals buried in the cemetery, and tell stories. The tour is open to all ages, and isn’t designed to scare, though some of the subject matter is mature. Costumes encouraged; no dogs, please.
October tour details TBD. Check the Friends of Lone Fir Facebook page for more info.
Entrance on SE 26th St. between Stark and Morrison.
Purchase tickets ahead of time for a guaranteed spot; past tours have sold out!
On 72 acres, the Edgefield property’s 3-par golf course, warm soaking pool, restaurant, and movie theater make it a great choice for a family getaway any time of year. But it’s the hotel’s haunted history that make it a spooky choice for Halloween. Room 215 has the most reports of ghostly sightings, and you can check out the log of paranormal activity at the front desk, where guests record what they see. Even if you don’t catch a glimpse of a ghost, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable stay.
A Family room starts at $110: note that many have shared bathrooms down the hall.
2126 S.W. Halsey St.
If you’re willing to venture a little further afield for your fright, head south to Salem for a visit to the Capitol building, where paranormal activity abounds. The current building was built in the 1930s, after the previous two Capitol buildings burnt to the ground. Reports of strange sightings have been common, and recorded since the mid 1990s. Witnesses have seen and heard everything from disembodied footsteps and soft voices in empty rooms, to doors slamming shut for no reason, and the apparition of a former representative, now deceased. If you don’t experience your own ghostly encounter at the Capitol building, visit the nearby Willamette Heritage Center, also said to be haunted, or consider a tour with Salem Ghost Tours.
Visit the Capitol building for a guided tour through November, or a self-guided tour year-round.
900 Court St. Northeast
photo: rimsky-korsakoffee house via flickr
This quirky but cozy coffee shop, housed in a rambling Victorian house in Southeast Portland, has been spooking and delighting visitors for over 35 years. It’s named after Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov, and the story goes that it’s haunted by the ghosts of a famous writer and her husband (though no one can prove they ever lived there). This is a great spot for younger ghost-seekers, with delicious desserts, live music, and a friendly family vibe– plus a few “gotcha” pranks for the unsuspecting. One table vibrates when a button in the kitchen is pressed, and there’s a pair of legs dangling from the ceiling in the bathroom. We won’t spoil the other spooky surprises– go see for yourself!
Live piano music on Fridays and Saturdays. Doors open at 7 p.m. every night. Bring cash! No cards accepted.
707 SE 12th Ave.
Sun.–Thurs. 7 p.m.–midnight
Fri. & Sat. 7 p.m.–1 a.m.
photo: Kabayanmark Images via flickr
This historic tavern is reportedly the most haunted restaurant in Portland, with a resident ghost named Nina (Nigh-na) who is frequently spotted wearing a black dress and studying diners. The restaurant was built in the former lobby of the 1880 Merchant hotel, and sits right on top of the controversial Shanghai tunnels, a series of underground passageways with an unproven history and documented paranormal activity.
226 NW Davis St.
Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m
Fri. & Sat. 11:30 a.m.-midnight
Witch’s Castle in Forest Park
This abandoned stone structure deep in Forest Park was a mid-century ranger station, but it can be a spooky sight to stumble upon during an October hike. Located a half mile from Upper Macleay parking lot, it’s an easy hike for younger explorers. Pack a picnic and venture up the road to the Portland Audubon Society next, for an up-close visit with an eerie bird. Guides are often out holding owls and birds of prey for visitors to meet. You can cap off your day with a tour of Pittock Mansion, with its own modest list of hauntings, such as windows closing suddenly and picture frames moving. Plan ahead to take the monthly “Behind the Scenes Tour,” which gives you access to places not otherwise open to the public, such as underground hallways, elevator shafts, and the original furnace room. The next tour is on Oct 26, and is best for kids over 14.
Forest Park Hikes
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
5151 NW Cornell Rd
11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tours run on the hour from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.
3229 NW Pittock Drive
Tours with admission is $7 for members, $20 for non-members.