It’s the weekend and only 8 days left until Halloween. Can’t think of anything to do this weekend? Why not go to a haunted house? Sure, it’s strange to go somewhere with the goal of intentionally being scared out of your mind. And, yet, we do it and we love it. In fact, our cultural obsession goes well beyond the ghostly and ghoulish temporary creations erected for Halloween.

We read books about fictional haunted houses. Goodreads (my favorite website for book fall-of-the-house-of-ushernerds) has a million lists if you want to find one that’s just right for you. I’m partial to The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe could do dark and creepy like no other.

We read books based on supposedly real haunted houses. Amityville horror is probably amityvillethe most famous of them all. But, there are others. Check out this list of “8 terrifyingly true stories of haunted houses you should read with the lights on” . Also, if you’re looking to read something “true” (I put it in quotes because maybe you don’t believe any ghost story could be true), check out a book on one of these lists.

paranormal-activityWe watch movies about haunted houses. If you’re looking to be spooked out this weekend by a scary haunted house story, here are a few that I love or terrify me or I love and terrify me. I’m really conflicted here.

  1. Paranormal Activity 
  2. The Others
  3. Goodnight Mommy
  4. The Shining
  5. Poltergeist 
  6. The Amityville Horror
  7. Beetlejuice
  8. Ju-On: The Grudge

So, where do you find a haunted house? Here are some Halloween haunted houses around the US that are supposed to be amazing and maybe worth the trip if you don’t live nearby. Some are even based on true hauntings!

South and Eastheadless-horesman

  • Headless Horseman Hayride (Ulster Park, New York) – This one might be my favorite because it is obviously based on a famous book, Sleepy Hallow. This interactive fear feast features the Great Room Escape Challenge in which visitors are trapped in a series of rooms and have 1 hour to escape.
  • Bennett’s Curse (Baltimore, Maryland) – This horror attraction is unique in that it is the only medieval vampire knight themed haunted house in the world. Because, of course, everyone needs to experience medieval vampire knights at least once in their lifetime – come on!
  • Woods of Terror (Greensboro, North Carolina) – Once just a tiny haunted trail, this fearful forest has grown over the last 25 years and now has 20,000 visitors a year who brave 20 acres of monsters hiding in trees and ghastly ghouls jumping out from the dark.
  • The 13th Gate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) – Louisiana, steeped in mysterious history, is a prime location for Halloween scares. This haunted attraction is located in the backwoods bayou and features voodoo haunts, swamps, live snakes, cellars, caves, and a ride in a hearse. (Live snakes? Seriously? I’m with Indiana Jones when it comes to those creatures. I’m not sure I could handle this place.)

West and Mid-West

  • Thrillvania (Terrell, Texas) – This Dallas-area “fear farm” boasts 50 acres of scary thrills. The terrifying terrain is the home of Verdun Manor, a two-story haunted house designed by none other than Imagineers from Disney. (I didn’t realize Disney could be so dark).
  • 13th Door (Denver, Colorado) – This haunted hotel takes brave visitors back in time to the Barrington Hotel’s infamous October 1912 massacre. 13 doors stand between you and checking out alive.
  • The Hex House (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – This haunt is inspired by a true story in Tulsa
    hex-house
    The real Hex House

    where two young women were held captive by occultists for seven years. The real story includes a police investigation in 1944 that uncovered caskets in the backyard, hypnotized women, spell-casting, and devil worship. The truth really can be much scarier than fiction.

  • The Scream Zone (Del Mar, California) – This petrifying place features four different houses, including a zombie boot camp. Considering my issues with zombies I may need to jet over there now and get some tips.

And, if you want more, check out these lists!

If you live in the DC area like me, here are some links specific to Halloween Hauntings in or near the Nation’s capital.

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