From spooky vacation rentals to Halloween-themed hotels , Broadry has rounded up some places to keep on your radar this holiday season.
The 'Scream' House
Answer the phone in this seemingly charming suburban Northern California home if you dare, but just remember: things didn’t work out too well for Drew Barrymore’s character, Casey, in this '90s pop culture phenomenon.
“You should never say, ‘Who’s there?’ Don’t you watch scary movies?” taunted Ghostface in this tongue-in-cheek franchise with four blockbuster films and a fifth slated to drop early next year.
To pay homage to the film's 25th anniversary in December, you can channel your innermost fears and stay in the home where the terror all began, thanks to Airbnb.
With its spine-chilling history and haunting witch trials, Salem, Massachusetts, is a mecca for the macabre the whole year through, but no more so than this month, when visitors descend from far and wide to potentially be in the presence of unsettled souls.
Just blocks from the site where 19 innocent people were hanged during the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692 stands the Saltonstall-Tuckerman House, ripe with original architectural detail including a three-story suspended spiral staircase. Guests can stay in this 6,000-square foot, six-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home with high ceilings and oversized windows throughout.
Built in 1810 for Captain Thomas Saunders as a gift for his daughters, its best-known occupant was Leverett Saltonstall, the first mayor of Salem. Perched in the heart of the McIntyre Historic District on oft-photographed Chestnut Street, it’s easily walkable to some of Salem’s most eerie attractions including the Salem Witch Museum, the Halloween Museum and Witch Mansion, a walkthrough haunted house that promises you’ll come “face-to-face with witches, ghosts, vampires and other creatures of the night.”
Hotel Peter and Paul
What could possibly be creepy about staying in a 19th-century schoolhouse, rectory, church (that hosted countless funerals...) and convent? The Hotel Peter and Paul in New Orleans, listed on Booking.com, is a unique parcel with four properties in one, each of which have been thoughtfully restored and repurposed with no two rooms alike.
Nestled in the heart of Marigny, a historic district steps from the Mississippi River known for its colorful, preserved Creole cottages, vibrant arts scene and eclectic eateries, the former rectory at the property, built in 1875, has been reinvented as the Elysian Bar featuring specialty cocktails including the Blithe Spirit, made with whiskey and Suze, a bitter French gentian apéritif dating back to the 1880s, and a curated wine list.
While there's nothing decidedly spooky about the property (it’s quite extraordinary in fact), the neighborhood and nearby French Quarter is rich with ghostly lore, all of which in revealed on the French Quarter & Marigny Carriage Tour, a riveting ride riddled with true stories about the spirits that lurk throughout the Crescent City.
With three centuries of history and tragedy, there are plenty of unsettled souls to learn about. For a daytime option, the New Orleans Cemetery History Tour, which takes you along bustling Canal Street, is ripe with visits to a handful of final resting places in between learning about period architecture and local legends.
Couch9 by Barsal
While the Pacific Northwest is known for its unequaled natural beauty, you’ll also find a place here with a sordid past and haunted tales. Rest your head just steps away from Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels, a labyrinth of intricate interconnected passages that lie beneath Old Town Chinatown; the remains from when the city thrived as a booming international seaport.
From the mid-1800s through the early 1940s, “The City of Roses'' earned a unenviable reputation for “Shanghaiing” or “crimping,” terms used for when men found meandering about the waterfront would be drugged, kidnapped and sold to captains to serve as crew aboard trade ships, usually en route to China. Legend has it the tunnels, though used for legitimate trade purposes, were also home to opium dens, brothels, betting parlors, Prohibition-era speakeasies and other shady activities.
You can learn more about these infamous catacombs of Portland’s underbelly when you stay at a Barsala property, a consortium of hand picked high-end condos with all of the conveniences of a home but with hotel-style amenities. Couch9 is a luxury three-bedroom condo that sleeps six located in the center of the Pearl District and can be booked direct or via VRBO. If the Shanghai Tunnels are a little too spooky for your taste or you need a palate cleanser, head to nearby and utterly iconic Voodoo Doughnut for the Dashing Pumpkin doughnut: a pumpkin spice-dusted pumpkin cake delight with buttercream frosting.
The Hobo Hill House
Jefferson City, Missouri
You know things are about to get real when a house is regularly visited by paranormal investigators. From the outside, the century-old Hobo Hill House doesn’t give off particularly frightful vibes. Unremarkably nestled in one of the city’s historic districts, the two-story American Foursquare-style home proves that looks can be deceiving.
Soon after a couple purchased the home in 2017 and lovingly restored it to a warm and welcoming place to raise their family, things reportedly got weird. The couple said appliances began turning off and on without explanation. They would hear noises coming from areas of the home nobody was in, and they thought they could hear voices.
But the dealbreaker for the couple was when one night, their young daughter began acting in a way that was unnerving, so less than a year later, they moved out and turned it into a vacation rental. Since then, the Travel Channel's show "The Dead Files” filmed an episode in the home, and guests who like to tempt fate – if they dare – can stay in the three bedroom home that sleeps 10 for an affordable rate.
Creepy dolls? Check. Creaky floorboards? Check. Paranormal expert on-site? Check. Inspiration House is located about 45 minutes from Cleveland in the charming city of Oberlin.
Built in the 1870s, Inspiration House is today owned by paranormal researcher and author Michelle Belanger, who has been featured on TV shows “Paranormal State” and “Portals to Hell.” Indeed, she says shares the home with ghostly residents (what she casually calls “a cozy haunting”), and now, you can too.
With four bedrooms to choose from, guests consistently give Airbnb high praise while reporting a spectrum of paranormal activity. The unexplainable sound of someone pacing across the wood floor, flickering lights and doors closing for no discernible reason are just some common occurrences. And for those with a taste for the supernatural, there are detailed notes throughout the home marking areas of activity.
The “display room” on the first floor is kept closed as not to spook guests with no interest in the paranormal, but those with an appetite for unusual phenomena will want to pay the room a visit as it’s stocked with the tools of the trade: vintage children’s toys, ouija boards, rocking chairs, a doll house and really, really old things. For guests who want to take a deeper dive into the paranormal, Belanger offers classes and workshops on psychic development, energy work and spirit communication. Happy haunting!
David Stewart Farm
Bad things happened at the David Stewart Farm – at least, one can only surmise. The farmhouse and barn on this bucolic 100-acre property were used as a Civil War field hospital immediately after the Battle of Gettysburg, where it is estimated a staggering 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lost their lives during the three-day dogfight that began July 1, 1863. The wounded were taken to a host of makeshift hospitals, including David Stewart Farm, one of the largest facilities, where countless soldiers spent their final moments, and reportedly, still wander.
Your host, Stephani, calls herself “your only ‘living’ host,” adding that there are “many who reside with me.” A wealth of knowledge when it comes to the critical Civil War battle, Stephani says she has seen many apparitions in her nearly four decades at the farm, including uniformed soldiers, but insists that the spirits are all friendly. Period antiques pepper the decor and enhance the 19th-century vibe of this place, which oozing American history
Foley House Inn
Local resident Owen Foley and his wife Honoria owned the first bed and breakfast in the city, and after Owen passed, his widow built a new spacious inn over the ashes of a former home destroyed by the Great Savannah Fire of 1889 – perhaps setting an ominous tone, the inn's website notes.
As legend has it, one of her guests snuck into her bedroom in the dead of night and attempted to harm her, but Honoria whacked him in the head with a candlestick. Terrified of the consequences, she reportedly enlisted the help of another guest to hide the body and she only spoke of the occasion on her deathbed without revealing where they buried the body.
When a skeleton was found in a wall during renovations in the late 1980s, rumors abounded. Today, guests and staff report your “garden variety” of weird noises or cold rush of air, though many claim to have seen a man in a top hat walking around the garden (staff have dubbed him “Wally” ... because of where the skeleton resided for nearly a century).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Halloween 2021 vacation rentals: Rent the 'Scream House; stay in Salem