Haunted Gettsyburg

Haunted Gettysburg

As the hot summer air eases into a cool fall breeze and the leaves begin to change color, everything in Gettysburg seems to intensify. October is the perfect time to visit the region … for more than just fall foliage and the apple harvest.

Visitors can feel the electricity in the air as Halloween edges closer and tales of the hauntings around town become more relevant. With over eight ghost tours, visitors have the chance to experience paranormal encounters they hadn’t bargained for.

With its tragic history as one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War, it’s no wonder many believe Gettysburg to be one of the most haunted places in the world. The historic town has been deemed everything from one of the top haunted spots in America to one of the spookiest places to spend the night. Many of the most famous sites in and around Gettysburg have been featured on television shows, such as the History Channel, A&E, the Travel Channel and Syfy.

Haunted Gettysburg

“Gettysburg is the place to be during this time of the year,” said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg. “Visitors are looking for a way to get in the Halloween spirit while enjoying the change of season, and what better way than to spend a few days exploring Gettysburg.”

Every night, ghost tours walk the streets, as guides adorned in period clothing with lanterns tell stories about the people who once lived and fought here – and whose spirits are said to still linger. From the Belle of Baltimore on Culp’s Hill to the Blue Boy at Gettysburg College, there are hundreds of ghost stories to hear, and each guide has their own personal experiences to share. Every ghost tour company offers unique tours around the town –main streets, back alleys and inside some of these haunted buildings. Some companies even offer ghost hunts, where equipment is provided to visitors and they are lead to investigate some of Gettysburg’s haunted sites.

All haunted locations, such as the Sachs (Covered) Bridge, Farnsworth Inn House, Jennie Wade House, Cashtown Inn and the Dobbin House, are open to the public for both historical and haunted tours year-round. Visitors can spend the day learning the history of the sites, such as the tragic death of the only civilian casualty in the Battle of Gettysburg, Jennie Wade. But by night, be prepared to hear tales about how Jennie still haunts her sister’s home, and even spend the midnight hour in the museum’s cellar. Visitors tell stories of getting their hair yanked or the cellar doors rattling.

There is a reason visitors flock to Gettysburg and the surrounding area this time of the year; the fall foliage and crisp October air set the perfect scene for a ghost tour around the historic Civil War town during the spookiest month of the year.

Destination Gettysburg (formerly, the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau), the official destination marketing organization, markets Gettysburg – Adams County as a premier travel destination, producing a positive economic impact.

Read more of my Gettysburg experiences (including haunted experiences) here:

Visiting Gettysburg, PA

Best Place to Take A Ghost Tour

 

Haunted Alton

haunted alton(c)visitalton.com

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to take a haunted tour and/or explore the supernatural of a destination. A few years ago I discovered the most haunted small town in America. It was pure luck that I met the Alton, IL PR rep at a national travel conference. After chatting for a few minutes I realized that this was a must-visit town. A short time later I was on my way to discover just how haunted Alton really was.

My stay in Alton was fantastic and I heard lots of great stories of different hauntings in the area. There are a number of ghost tours in the area. Plus, last year began haunted river cruises on the Mississippi. The evening cruise includes a 90-minute tour that highlights points of interest along the shore and shares Alton’s goulish history. Learn more at http://www.VisitAlton.com/RiverBoat.

haunted alton(c)VisitAlton.com

Haunted Alton tours are available through the following companies:

Alton Hauntings

Based on the book Haunted Alton by Troy Taylor, Alton Hauntings Tours offers an entertaining and spine-tingling trip into the unknown, taking visitors to the most authentic haunted places in Alton. Uncover the eerie folklore, ghostly tales and documented haunted spots on a three-hour walking tour of the city’s most haunted sites. Visitors will see sites that have become nationally known, like the old Alton penitentiary, First Unitarian Church, Enos Sanitarium and many others. The tours have been proven to be popular with ghost enthusiasts and history buffs alike, and nowhere else can you learn as much about the real, haunted history of Alton. Walking tours and bus tours are offered during two touring seasons – Spring & Summer and the Haunted Fall Season. Private tours are also available for groups of 20 or more. Reservations must be made in advance for all tours. For more information or reservations, go to www.altonhauntings.com or call (888) 446-7850.

Alton Haunted Odyssey

Alton’s Haunted Odyssey began in 1992 when Marlene Lewis and Antoinette created the area’s first haunted tour. After Antoinette retired in 2011, Marlene and long-time tour guide Gary Hawkins decided to continue their haunted journey. They now off three different trolley tours that begin at the former Piasa Masonic Temple and takes you through the most haunted parts of Alton including the McPike Mansion, the Alton City Cemetery, Noll’s Bakery and Confectionary Co. and more. Ghost hunters are encouraged to bring cameras and ghost hunting equipment. Dinner tours include a meal prepared by Spirit’s Lounge. For more information or reservations, go to www.AltonHauntedTours.com or call (618) 462-3861.

Mineral Springs Haunted Tour

Interested in taking a Walk in the Dark? Mineral Springs Haunted Tours will guide the way as they take visitors on a walking tour of Downtown Alton followed by an exclusive investigation of all four floors of the Mineral Springs Hotel – a site of murder, suicide and accidental deaths. Cap the evening off beckoning the afterworld through a séance and tarot card readings. Visitors can also sign up for the Cemetery Tours, complete with a wake and procession following the Mineral Springs hearse to the Alton City Cemetery. You can also tour the Museum of Torture of Devices! Walking tours, dinner tours and haunted overnights are available. Prices vary based on tour selected. For reservations, go to www.mineralspringshauntedtours.com or call (866) 465-3205.Even if you can’t make it to Alton, you can still explore their haunted history with their new Haunted Alton app. People share photos through social media channels that are uploaded to the app giving you a look inside and outside the haunted buildings.

haunted alton(c)VisitAlton.com

In addition to seeing haunted images you can find a list of haunted tour providers and events. Download the Haunted App for free in iTunes or Android stores by searching for Haunted Alton or by clicking here:  www.VisitAlton.com/HauntedApp

Discover New Orleans Plantation Country

Oak Alley Plantation

Almost everyone has heard about the jazz, music, and revelry that make up New Orleans, but there is a hidden gem located a few miles beyond Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. Here, following the flow of the Mississippi River, sits New Orleans Plantation Country.

Today, nine plantation homes are open for tours and a few even offer overnight accommodations. One fun interesting fact about Plantation Country is that a number of movies and tv shows have been filmed here. Interview with a Vampire, True Detective, 12 Years A Slave, and Django Unchained to name a few. (See a full list here: http://www.neworleansplantationcountry.com/film/films)

I recently visited Plantation Country and loved every minute of it. It’s hard to pick a favorite plantation, each has their own unique characteristic, but there were a few standouts. This is not an inclusive list of all nine plantations, but rather a brief glimpse with my best insider tips of my favorite plantations.

Oak Alley

OAK ALLEY PLANTATION

300-year old Live Virginia Oaks line the walkway from the road to the plantation’s front door. Leaf heavy limbs reach for the sky while other limbs curve toward the ground providing a stunning shaded walkway. During your visit tour the historic home, visit the newly opened Slavery at Oak Alley exhibit, eat at the Oak Alley restaurant and stay the night at one of the lovely cabins located on the grounds.

INSIDER TIPS

• Have your camera ready because there are so many great photo opps on the plantation. When you take a tour of the home be sure to be at the front of the crowd when the guide opens the double doors to the reveal the oak alley at the front of the home. It is a true Kodak moment.

• Mint Juleps can be purchased from a cart located on the back porch of the home. It’s a perfect refreshment to enjoy while exploring the grounds.

• The restaurant has some great food. Go for breakfast when the restaurant isn’t very busy. This also gives you the opportunity to tour the grounds when there are fewer people around.

• Brad Pitt stayed the night at Oak Alley. If you are spending the night be sure to request the room where he stayed.

(c)LauraPlantation(c)Laura Plantation

LAURA PLANTATION

The first thing you’ll notice when walking up to Laura Plantation is the colorful exterior. The most intriguing stories from the plantation is how the heir to the plantation, Laura, walked away from a million-dollar inheritance. Music lovers will be thrilled to find out that this was the family home to famous musician, Fats Domino.

INSIDER TIPS

• Tours are available in French as well as English, which was a pleasant surprise.

• When you are on the second level of the home be sure the guide tells you about the grandfather clock and it’s history with Hurricane Katrina.

• Banana plants are grown on the plantation and you’ll have the opportunity to walk through these tall plants. I had no idea that bananas could be grown in Louisiana.

• If you love the stories you hear during your tour be sure to pick up a book at the gift shop. It’s a history of the plantation written by the current owners.

Evergreen

EVERGREEN PLANTATION

One of the few homes to miss being shelled during the civil war, Evergreen Plantation, sits further back from the Mississippi River than the other plantations along this road.

INSIDER TIPS

• Hollywood LOVES filming at this plantation. Skeleton Key and Django Unchained were both filmed here among many other films.

• This is still a working sugar cane plantation unlike the other plantations in the area.

• Don’t skip a visit to the slave quarters. These are original and not reproductions.

• The Live Oak trees that line the drive to the plantation are draped in Spanish moss and makes a gorgeous photo opp. Stop and take photos before parking the car.

Houma House

HOUMAS HOUSE

Garden aficionados take note that this is THE plantation to visit when you are visiting New Orleans Plantation Country. Acres of landscaping, water features, sculptures, and more will keep you visiting for hours.

INSIDER TIPS

• Find the secret garden and discover all the hidden gnomes along the trail.

• If you want to take a moment to cool off you can grab a snack, meal or just a drink at one of the two on-site restaurants.

• Wear comfy shoes, there is a lot of walking here to explore all the gardens.

• Next to the pond with the steep bridge is a large birdcage with a pretty parrot. It was a fun little discovery.

The next time you are in New Orleans be sure to visit at least one of the plantation homes and take a step back in time. Tours with or without transportation are available from New Orleans. The lovely people at New Orleans Plantation Country are also available to help you plan your visit.

disclaimer: New Orleans Plantation Country provided lodging, meals, and attraction tickets for my visit.

Join the Giant Pumpkin Boat Regatta & Festival in Damariscotta, ME

Pumpkin Regatta(c)chiotsrun–flickr
Have you ever watched giant pumpkins float down a river? How about giant pumpkins that have been carved into boats that people attach a motor too? It’s one of those events that have you to see to believe. Mark your calendar for October 13, 2014 because that is the day of the annual pumpkin boat regatta in Damariscotta, ME.

Damariscotta hosts an entire weekend of festivities including everything from the pumpkin boat regatta to parades, pumpkin derbys, pumpkin catapults, food, kids activities to as much fun as you can pack into one weekend. The regatta, started in 2007, has been gaining more and more attention over the years. It has been featured on the Discovery Channel, The Chew and CBS News–Sunday Morning to name a few.

Pumpkin Regatta(c)chiotsrun–flickr

The regatta has evolved over the years and includes two divisions a paddle race and a motorboat race. Within those division there are heats that determine the final winners, who are awarded Golden Gourd trophies.

Since I have a complete fascination with the odd and bizarre this festival is right up my alley. It’s hard to imagine a big enough pumpkin that can be carved out and have a boat motor attached to it. I don’t know what they have in the soil in Maine, but they are growing those pumpkins BIG.

Here’s a quick video that shows a clip of both the paddle pumpkins and motorboat pumpkins.

Damariscotta, ME is located 50 miles northeast of Portland and is a small town located on the Damariscotta River. If you want to attend the event and plan to spend the night you should make plans now.

While you are in the area be sure to visit the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, built in 1827. The entry fee is only $2 per person and looks like a beautiful lighthouse to visit. For a full list of additional nearby activities click here.

Prepare to have a great time at Damariscotta Pumpkin Festival & Regatta. When you go be sure to let us know what you thought and if you floated a pumpkin down the river.

Hands On Learning at the Mississippi Children’s Museum

Mississippi Children's Museum

A visit to Jackson, Mississippi with your family would not be complete without a stop at the Mississippi Children’s Museum. With 40,000 square feet of fun to offer visitors, children can explore the rich history of Mississippi, learn about health, science, technology, literacy and the arts. As a mom of four boys who homeschools, I am always looking for ways to make learning fun, and the vibrant colors, hands on play and free range layout of the Mississippi Children’s Museum provides just that. Watch your children rush from one themed area to another soaking up fun facts and burning off some energy.

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Studebaker National Museum

Studebaker National Museum

The Studebaker National Museum located in South Bend, IN takes you through the history of one of the most iconic cars of its time. Manufactured in South Bend from 1902-1963 the Studebaker established itself as having a reputation for quality and reliability. Even though Studebaker is no longer manufactured you can admire this fabulous cars at the Studebaker National Museum.

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Family Fun in Lake Erie Islands and Shores #LakeErieLove

Lake Erie
There is fun, food, and adventure waiting to be discovered in Lake Erie Islands and Shores. Comprised of Sandusky and the nearby Lake Erie Islands the area attracts almost 7 million visitors each year. There’s a reason the region is so popular. It’s the home to the best theme park in the U.S., has miles of sandy shores, islands, wine trails, good food, water parks, and more fun than you can pack into a weekend. The family is sure to have fun in Lake Erie Islands and Shores.

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