Spooky Places That Will Make Your Spine Tingle

Paranormal wanderings in some of the world's most haunting destinations.

Do you believe in ghosts? Are horror movies your flicks of choice? Do you love the thrill of chills running down your spine? Then why not incorporate the paranormal into your next vacation? If phantoms and hauntings pique your curiosity, these spooky places to visit will add a spirit of the supernatural to your next travel adventure.

Bran Castle in Transylvania

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula has inspired countless films and television shows, from the 1931 film with Bela Lugosi to the series True Blood, set in the Louisiana bayou. The original inspiration for the bloodsucking count is thought to be Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century Transylvanian ruler famous for impaling his enemies on stakes.

Although the real Vlad III Dracula never lived in Bran Castle, Transylvania’s most famous attraction was the inspiration for Stoker’s description of Count Dracula’s abode and offers a museum of vampire lore. There are also vampire-themed tours out of Bucharest, Romania, that place you in the count’s bloody footsteps.

Port cities have historically attracted a mash-up of pirates and bootleggers, cardsharps and con men. In Baltimore, some of those unsavory characters still roam the streets, despite being dead for years. The USS Constellation, docked in the Inner Harbor, is purportedly haunted with the ghosts of former crew members, like a heartbroken sailor or Captain Truxtun, on endless watch. You can stay overnight aboard the ship if you want to see for yourself.

USS Constellation docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

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Old taverns are often rumored to be haunted, and The Horse You Came In On Saloon in the once-notorious Fell’s Point in Baltimore is no exception. Visitors report sightings of the pub’s most famous drinker, Edgar Allan Poe, in the vicinity of the glass of cognac left for him by the bartender each night. Nearby, guests at the 18th-century Admiral Fell Inn have claimed to see apparitions who can’t manage to check out.

Mary Shelley is famous for her gothic horror tale Frankenstein, the story of the scientist intent on bringing to life a creature shaped from body parts. It turns out there is a real Castle Frankenstein overlooking the city of Darmstadt, Germany, south of Frankfurt. The castle is the birthplace of the eccentric alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel, who may or may not have inspired Shelley’s dead-raising tale. Dippel was known for his gruesome experiments and electrical therapies, reason enough to visit the ruined castle and have a wurst in its restaurant.

Savannah, Georgia, and New Orleans compete for the title of most haunted city in America. Both places have seen death and destruction from wars and natural disaster, the anguish of the enslaved, murderous intrigue and outbreaks of deadly pestilence. Savannah, with its history of building on burial grounds, is reportedly home to many a restless spirit. Touring the Mercer Williams House on Monterey Square, featured in the famous book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is one favorite attraction. Bonaventure Cemetery is another, with its Spanish moss-draped Gothic tombstones and eerie mausoleums.

New Orleans

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The port party town of New Orleans teems with stories of restless spirits. This is where the practice of voodoo arts has deep roots, where atrocities were committed in the infamous LaLaurie Mansion and where hidden haunted treasures abound. The city’s many ghost tours trace the bloody steps of infamous crimes and explore the “Cities of the Dead,” New Orleans’ famed aboveground cemeteries. Bars like Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop and the Napoleon House are allegedly ghost-struck too, which makes a haunted pub crawl an enticing option.

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Heidi Kazemi, AAA Travel Counselor, Roseville, Calif.

Customization is always my top priority when planning a client's vacation. I ask about their family and where they've been before. Their preferences guide our planning so the vacation is perfectly tailored for them.

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