Don’t let the creaky floors and spooky stories get to you, these haunted houses are fun for the whole family
Whether or not you believe in ghosts or goblins, there is a lot of entertainment value in spooky stories. Unfortunately, a lot of those spooky stories come with legitimate scares that might be too much for kids. If you’d still like to get in on some of the Halloween action this year, this list is for you. These “haunted” houses for kids have their own legends and even offer a bit of history to boot. The best part? You can book most of these tours all year, not just during the Halloween season.
House of the Seven Gables | Salem, MA
The Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, aka The House of the Seven Gables, was built in 1667 and immortalized by author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Just because it now serves as a museum doesn’t mean that the staff hasn’t had their share of scares. At times, it seems as if the electrical and plumbing systems have minds of their own, a ghost of the former owner shows up from time to time, and there is a little boy who supposedly likes to play in the attic. Guided tours are available and include trips to the Kid’s Cove at the Counting House overlooking Salem Harbor, and if a Living History Lab is operating during your visit, take advantage of it. They even have an audio tour of the gardens, ground, and waterfront.
The Allen House | Monticello, AR
The story of cyanide-punch drinking Ladell Allen was an urban legend in Arkansas long before the Spencer family purchased the property in 2007. Restored to its original architectural beauty and now a popular wedding venue, this house offers paranormal tours and ghost hunters claim to have recorded ghostly voices. Check out the Facebook page for mysterious images sure to send chills down your spine. Halloween tours are available every year and other tours are available by appointment only.
Tinker Swiss Cottage and Gardens | Rockford, IL
SyFy Channel has stopped by this mansion in Illinois, so it’s not too far off to think this window to the past could be a perfect place for ghosts to call home. Rocking chairs have been known to move on their own and the original owner, Robert Tinker is rumored to stop by every now and then. Tours are offered Tues-Sun from 1-3 p.m. Braver souls might want to check out their Paranormal Tours, which are offered at various times of the year.
Good to know: Free tours are available several times a year and the dates are posted on their website.
Munster Mansion | Waxahachie, TX
Munster Mansion has been a dream project of Charles and Sandra McKee since 2002; the couple has gone to great lengths to build a replica of the home from the 1960s sitcom, The Munsters. Not only does the outside look like the fictional one, but so does every room of this house, and they’re not finished yet either. More and more props from the show (or exact matches) are added each year. Since the McKees actually live here, the home is only open for public viewing during the Halloween season, but you can book a private tour through their website at other times of the year.
The White House | Washington, D.C.
Want to get up close and personal with the President? How about a President who died over a century and a half ago? If so, then head for Washington D.C. and sign up for a White House tour, pronto. Your little history buffs will be in awe of the incredible collection of American history, and you’ll be able to keep your eye out for paranormal beings. Although there have been several strange apparitions sighted, Honest Abe Lincoln is the one who has made regular rounds since his assassination. We think it’s probably a good thing we aren’t allowed to spend the night in the Lincoln Room.
Winchester Mystery House | San Jose, CA
Known as “The House Built by Spirits” the Winchester Mystery House is one of the most famously spooky residences of all time. With staircases into the ceiling, windows in the floor and doors that lead to nowhere, this 160-room Victorian mansion is said to be filled with ghosts, including the mistress of the house, Sarah Winchester. It’s also a spectacular tour for the whole family and shouldn't cause too many nightmares. There are a variety of tours available, including the classic Mansion Tour (you’ll view 110 rooms), the Explore More Tour (see areas of the mansion that have not been open to the public), the occasional Friday the 13th Flashlight Tours (where the only illumination comes from your flashlight) and the new "Unhinged" horror experience for brave souls only. Now go get lost.
Oxford Saloon | Snohomish, WA
This family-friendly restaurant in old Snohomish proudly boasts of its haunted history. Originally, the building was the Blackman’s Dry Goods store which opened in 1900. Years later it became a saloon where it is said that at least three ghosts (one man with a bowler hat, an older woman with a purple dress and bows, and a younger woman) still haunt the place. Since 2005, the Washington State Ghost Society has investigated the saloon. While your family may not encounter these ghosts during your visit, you’ll definitely enjoy the good food and live music. Ask the server about the haunted history, and we’re sure they’ll fill you in.
Loveland Castle | Loveland, OH
Looking like something you’d see in a European country instead of the United States, the historic Loveland Castle and Museum Chateau Laroche was built with a nod toward the men who served as knights. It took some 50 years for Harry Andrews to build this medieval replica. It is said that a married couple lived near the castle until the wife was killed when their moonshine contraption exploded. Today, some people swear that she walks the grounds along with Harry hanging out in his old bedroom. There is even talk of a Viking stumbling around as well. Whatever the case, this castle is pretty cool with lots of artifacts to look at during your self-guided tour.
Whaley House | San Diego, CA
Now a museum in Old Town San Diego, The Whaley House is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts. Yankee Jim Robinson is famous for (literally) hanging around, as the location of the mid-19th Century Greek Revival home was built over the gallows where he met his demise. Owners Thomas and Anna Whaley have also been spotted on the grounds, as well as several of their children, which puts a new meaning to the term, Home Sweet Home. Stop by for a tour, enjoy the museum shop, and don’t forget to listen for pianos playing, silverware tinkling, and children giggling. Check out all the spooky happenings here.
The Stanley Hotel | Estes Park, CO
Once hosting novelist Stephen King and his wife, the Stanley Hotel not only served as the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel featured in his novel The Shining but was also featured in the movie and miniseries version of the story. Every night the hotel offers the Historic Stanley Night Tour which is recommended for children age 10 & up. Guides take guests to darkened spaces and supposedly active phenomena weaving in tales of folklore as they go. The hotel says, “Due to the fact that spirits are not on the payroll, we do not guarantee any interactions,” so you’ve been warned.
Falcon Rest Mansion | McMinnville, TN
This Victorian-era house has crashing mirrors, mysterious whistling, and even flickering lights. Yup, the Falcon Rest Mansion has all the makings of a haunted house. Tours are offered and you can hear stories about the ghost of Clay Faulkner and his cigars. Performed by the Falcon Rest Players, these spooky tales are designed to tickle your funny bone rather than send chills down your spine. Check their website for upcoming shows.
St. Augustine Lighthouse | St. Augustine, FL
Boasting an “all ghosts, no gimmicks” tour, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and maritime museum offers the Dark of the Moon Tour paranormal experience every weekend throughout the year. The tour features stories of the history and hauntings of its lighthouse and is the only tour that allows visitors in at night. Electromagnetic field meters are available to rent if you so choose.
Merchant’s House Museum | New York, NY
The Merchant’s House Museum is not only a National Historic Landmark but is also said to be the most haunted house in New York City. Seabury and Gretchen Treadwell invite you to take a peek at their home and don’t forget to admire the museum’s contents, which include some of the best early 19th-century furnishings in New York. Various tours are offered around Halloween and throughout the year.
Farnsworth House Inn | Gettysburg, PA
The Farnsworth House is named after Brigadier General Elon John Farnsworth. Built in 1810, the house was used as a shelter for Confederate sharpshooters and also the location of the only civilian to be shot during a three-day conflict. Later used as a hospital, the walls are marked with over 100 bullet pockmarks at the bed and breakfast which is known as one of the most haunted locations in America. The House features a variety of "Sleepy Hollow” Ghost Tours that are geared more toward families with older kids.