5 places to find spooky fun in October

The Stanley Hotel in Colorado inspired “The Shining” by Stephen King.
The Stanley Hotel in Colorado inspired “The Shining” by Stephen King. MCT

It’s that time of year when ghosts and goblins rule. Here are five places that might send a chill down your spine.

1 The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colo.: Some say the chilling laughter of children still fills the hallways of this 138-room historic inn that served as the inspiration for scare-master Stephen King’s popular book and film, “The Shining.” It’s 6 miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and outdoor activities and educational tours abound. Don’t miss the history and ghost tour offered for families eager to hear more about Room 217, where King’s “Shining” story began. Children must be 5 or older. Reservations required.

Info: 800-976-1377 or

2 The Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns: Through Nov. 2, families can wander through a nighttime display of Halloween fun that features 5,000 hand-carved lanterns. Positioned along a 1/3-mile trail, the lanterns were crafted by professional artists and sculptors and are displayed in themes that include an homage to the New York City skyline as well as popular sports themes. The event is underway at Decanso Gardens in Los Angeles as well as the Old Westbury Gardens on New York’s Long Island.


3 Hotel Alex Johnson, Rapid City, S.D.: Lights flickering, startling sounds, even ghost sightings: It’s all reported in the historic hotel’s ghost journal, a spooky diary kept by front-desk staffers to record the supernatural activity experienced by hotel guests.

Those who check in are told that while most stories emanate from two rooms on the eighth floor, no corner of the inn is immune from ghostly wanderings.

Named after its founder, a railroad executive, the Alex Johnson offers ghost adventure packages for those brave enough to dig deeper.


4 Ghostly Virginia City, Mont.: Perhaps it’s the spirit of Calamity Jane that wanders back into town, or maybe it’s the gold miner whose luck ran out. No one knows for sure, but the town that once served as home to as many as 10,000 residents, lively saloons and dance halls and carried the title of capital of the Montana Territory is a shadow of its former self. That said, travelers who make their way to this well-preserved treasure are treated to old-time theater, music and history tours. And plenty of good ghost stories.


5 Haunted houses: Sticky cobwebs, spine-chilling music, hair-raising sights. If you dare, find a haunted place near you and go boldly into the night. During this spooky season, expect fields of screams, terror in the cornfields and whole towns devoted to scaring you out of your wits.