Category Archives: Tourism

In Time for Halloween: Frightening Places across the US

There are some pretty frightening places across in the United States. In writing a Halloween-inspired piece on scariest sites for a publication, I received many submissions on different places across the country. Some are already well known, others I had heard about for the first time.

And since Halloween is this Friday, I thought I would share some of the responses I had gotten. Let me know if you’ve been to any of these destinations.

Source: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site / Tom Bernard

Source: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site / Tom Bernard

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

Prisons often have a lot of frightening history connected to them. About two years ago, I went to the Eastern State Penitentiary at night, and it was a bit nerve wrecking. Opened in 1829 and then shut down in 1971, this Pennsylvania prison, now a National Historic Landmark, hosts called “Terror Behind the Walls,” a haunted house tour of the facility, and special events year-round. This attraction features intense startles, immersive one-on-one experience, and gruesome industrial scenes. Another interesting thing: Al Capone was sent there and his cell was decorated quite nicely with Oriental rugs and other fine furnishings.

Source: Whaley House Museum's Facebook page

Source: The Whaley House Museum’s Facebook page

The Whaley House, San Diego

Visitors and ghost investigators flock to The Whaley House, this allegedly haunted home where the Whaley family, its former owners, are rumored to still be there. Another famous spirit seems to hang out the house. His name is “Yankee Jim” Robinson, a convicted desperado who was hanged on the grounds where the house now stands, a few years before the building was constructed in the early 1850s.

Villisca Axe Murder House, Iowa

It makes me sad to hear about haunted places whose stories come from real-life tragedies. I understand this one is true. On June 10, 1912, six members of the J.B. Moore family and two visiting children were killed by an axe murderer in their house in Villisca, Iowa. The murders have never been solved. Today, the Villisca Axe Murder House is open for daytime tours and overnight stays. According to the website, tours have been cut short by children’s voices, falling lamps, moving ladders and flying objects.

Along with specific places, cities overall can carry a lot of spooky legends. Here are a few:

Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore has a special connection to the poet Edgar Allan Poe as his final resting place is in the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. There is also the U.S.S. Constellation, a historic battleship that is home to unexplained figures and unnatural noises.

New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans definitely has its share of ties to legends. There are two of them. The LaLaurie House has a gruesome past, as its owner Madame LaLaurie was a Louisiana socialite with a very dark side. Or visit Muriel’s in Jackson Square, where a glass of wine and bread is left out each night at the reserved table for the resident ghost, Mr. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan.

Washington, D.C.
Visit the “Exorcist Steps” in Georgetown, which were featured in the film, The Exorcist, at the corner of Prospect St NW and 36th St NW, leading down to M Street NW. The historic Decatur House on Lafayette Square, which houses the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History, is said to still be occupied by the ghost of its original owner, Stephen Decatur, who is known to stare out its windows. Decatur had died in that house after losing in a duel.

Chicago, Illinois
At the landmark Drake Hotel, you might be able to witness the Woman in Red, who is said to have thrown herself from a tenth floor window after catching her husband mid-affair at a New Year’s Party in 1920.

San Francisco, California
With its architectural oddities and ownership by an unusual recluse, the Victorian Winchester Mystery House is given the title as being “most haunted house in the world.” Also, take a trip out to Alcatraz, as Al Capone who also was an inmate here is said to still play his banjo in the shower room.

Happy Halloween!


Check Out #TakeaBreakinChile

photo 1-3If you’re passing through Grand Central Terminal now until this Monday, Oct. 27, take a look at #TakeaBreakinChile, a promotion held by Turismo Chile. As a kickoff for its NYC event, Turismo Chile hosted an evening reception this week to unveil this new campaign in promoting this South American destination.

Not knowing much about Chile at first, I had a good time chatting with reps from tourism companies representing various hotels, airlines, cruises and other expeditions and hearing more about the different opportunities to explore the country. There was also a great presentation relating to Chile’s geography and its cultural and culinary offerings.

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Here’s what I learned.

photo 5For adventure travel, Chile is pretty awesome. Its five zones highlight different climates – from desert to mountain to grasslands – so travelers can enjoy activities like hiking, climbing and rafting. It’s also a connecting point for getting to Antarctica (now that would be awesome) as well as to Patagonia and Easter Island. Also, in being great news for Chile, the travel publication Lonely Planet has featured the Atacama Desert on its “Best in Travel 2015” edition. It comes in at number 9 on its “Top 10 Regions” list.

Plus, being another helpful tip for American travelers, is that to U.S. citizens no longer will have to pay a $160 “reciprocity fee” when they enter Chile (this is in exchange for Chile’s citizens now longer needing a visa for business or pleasure travel to the U.S.). photo 1-4With culinary travel, Chile has a wine making heritage that dates back to the arrival of Spainards who found it to be an ideal place to plant vines. Today, Chile’s wine regions produce primary reds such as Cabernet Franc, Cabaret Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah and whites including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. At Turismo Chile’s reception, I got to taste some of these wine varieties. I also tried some culinary finds including quinoa, lamb, oysters, and empanadas.  photo-16 photo 2-1
The evening also included cultural demonstrations featuring a musical performance and a showing of Cueca, a traditional dance.

At Grand Central, the #TakeaBreakinChile exhibit is in Vanderbilt Hall. It’s an interactive exhibit featuring a giant cube that you can step into too. The exhibit closes Monday at 2 p.m.

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