As temperatures drop across the country, scores of folks looking for fall fun may take a road trip to scary places like Sleepy Hollow, New York, or Salem, Massachusetts, but what if you serendipitously stumbled upon a surprisingly spooky place?
While we love to indulge in tame trips to the pumpkin patch, make spirited stops at Halloween haunted houses, or take impromptu road trips to the most haunted cities in North America in the run-up to Halloween, we were surprised to find that some of the most popular tourist attractions around the world are haunted.
While a ghost story or two may enhance the tour at these attractions, do you dare test your luck and wits at these original haunted haunts? Beware: You might see more than you bargained for! From haunted hotels to castles to theaters, we have found 15 places that we bet you never knew were haunted.
Palace of Versailles (Versailles, France)
France's opulent royal residence from 1682 to 1789, the palatial Palace of Versailles was the supposed setting for a ghost sighting in 1901. During a visit to the Petit Trianon, a garden hideaway on the palace grounds, two academics, Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, claimed to have seen several people dressed in 18th century clothing, including gardeners and Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution. While it remains unclear if their tale is true, the sighting was chronicled in the bestseller "The Trianon Adventure" in 1911.
St. Augustine Lighthouse (St. Augustine, Florida)
The nation's oldest port is also the site of supposed paranormal activity. It is said footsteps can be heard and shadowy figures can be seen along the 219 steps it takes to get to the top of the still-working St. Augustine Lighthouse. During the lighthouse's construction in the 19th century, two of the foreman's children along with another child died when the supply cart the children were playing in hit a gate and two of the children drowned. It is said the ghosts are the children. Others believe the ghost is that of a lighthouse keeper who died when the scaffolding he was standing on failed while he was painting the tower. The lighthouse has been featured on Syfy's "Ghost Hunters" show, and nighttime ghost hunting tours are offered Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Hunters can rent electromagnetic field meters, which ghost hunters believe can measure the presence of spirits.
Screaming Tunnel (Niagara Falls, Ontario)
Tucked in the northwest corner of the city off Warner Road, the 125-foot tunnel under the Canadian National Railways track is said to be haunted. The tunnel was built so that water from nearby farmland could drain underneath the train tracks. Farmers could also conveniently pass under the tracks with their animals and equipment. The name for the tunnel comes from variations of a legend about a girl whose screams can be heard within the tunnel - some say she was escaping a fire, others believe she was the daughter of quarreling parents going through divorce, and others say she was attacked and murdered in the tunnel. Still others believe the screams are the spirit of a woman who, after fights with her husband, would flee to the tunnel to let out screams of frustration. No matter which version is true (if any), visitors are supposed to walk halfway through the tunnel at night, without any flashlights, and light one single, wooden match, which will mysteriously self-extinguish before the screams of a girl can be heard.
The Omni Parker House (Boston, Massachusetts)
For more than 160 years, The Omni Parker House has seen many guests come and go, but it seems some never leave. Some guests who have stayed in room 303 have reported awakening in the night to the smell of cigar smoke and brandy, two things a man who died in the room would partake in. The room is now a closet, but guests still report seeing things like apparitions and an elevator that often travels on its own to the third floor.
New Amsterdam Theatre (New York, New York)
Theatergoers who come to see the musical "Aladdin" may also see an unlikely cast member at New Amsterdam Theatre, the famed Broadway theatre in Times Square. Olive Thomas, a former Ziegfeld girl, is believed to roam the theater and subject the staff and guests there to her antics. The chorus girl died by suicide in 1920 and is said to come up behind ushers and security guards. Thomas is so active that when theater staff arrive each day, they blow kisses or wave at framed photos of the starlet that have been placed at all the entrances to the theater. Theatergoers can also do the same at the entrance on West 42nd Street - Thomas is the last photo on the right.
Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons
Alcatraz (San Francisco, California)
The ghost of gangster Al Capone is said to be ever-present at the former maximum-security prison in the San Francisco Bay. Visitors to Alcatraz say they have heard a banjo playing in the prison's shower room, a pastime Capone was said to have done in this space during his living years incarcerated here.
Gettysburg Battlefield (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
The hallowed ground at Gettysburg is believed by many to be haunted. The bloody battleground where Confederate and Union armies fought during the Battle of Gettysburg and where scores died in 1863 is where many say they have seen spirits of soldiers, heard the cries of the wounded, and even seen the ghost of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Forbidden City (Beijing, China)
The UNESCO World Heritage site that was the imperial palace from the Ming to the Qing dynasties is said to be haunted by the ghosts of concubines. Emperor Yongle ordered nearly 3,000 women in his harem within the Forbidden City to be killed in 1421, and, since then, some have reported seeing a woman running within the city walls. Others have reported hearing screams or crying after the sun goes down.
Edinburgh Castle (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Deep in the hidden tunnels that run underneath the historic Edinburgh Castle is said to be the ghost of a bagpiper, who went into the tunnels to explore them but never returned. Legend has it the piper was playing the bagpipes while walking through the tunnels when the music suddenly stopped. Rescue crews rushed in but never found him. Folks say they can hear the piper's music in the castle or on the streets above the tunnels.
Tower of London (London, England)
The Tower of London, the historic castle on the River Thames, is filled with history, intrigue, and ghosts. Among the spirits that roam the Tower of London are those of King Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was executed on Tower Green; a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, Arbella Stuart, who starved while under arrest in the Tower; and a bear, who Yeoman Warders say comes out to scare visitors.
Xunantunich (San Jose Succotz, Belize)
The Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, which means "Stone Woman," is comprised of several temples, including El Castillo, the second tallest building in Belize. The name of the ruins comes from the belief among many that a female ghost haunts the site.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (Calgary, Alberta)
There are a couple of ghosts who bunk at the luxury mountain resort that is located within Banff National Park. One is the Ghost Bride, who fell to her death on her wedding day in the 1930s on one of the Fairmont Banff Springs' marble staircases. Guests and employees have reported seeing a veiled woman on the stairs or a woman dancing in the ballroom. The story is so legendary that the Royal Canadian Mint and Canada Post made a coin and stamp in her honor in 2014.
Grand Central Terminal (New York, New York)
The iconic train station is believed by many to be haunted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's dog Fala, who frequently accompanied Roosevelt on train trips to the city. The two rode in an armored train on a private track below Grand Central Terminal to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where Roosevelt often stayed.
Pirates of the Caribbean Ride, Walt Disney World (Orlando, Florida)
Some Disney cast members have claimed that a ghost named George haunts the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World. The story goes that a welder named George died while working on the ride and that he often stops the ride whenever folks question his existence. It is rumored cast members greet George each day to keep his antics at bay.
David Roark/Walt Disney World News
The White House (Washington, D.C.)
U.S. presidents have long reported paranormal activities at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Abraham Lincoln reported seeing his son Willie, who died at age 11 in the White House. First Lady Grace Coolidge said she saw Lincoln, and others have claimed to see first ladies Abigail Adams (with arms outstretched, presumably doing the laundry) and Dolly Madison (tending to the garden). Even world leaders who have stayed at the White House, like Winston Churchill, have reported frights in the night. Guess no one told them they would be sleeping in a place that offers a stay as hauntingly memorable as those available at these haunted hotels.