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Time for a scare: 5 places that may send a chill down your spine

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES / TNS

    Those who board the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., can learn about paranormal activity experienced on the ship.

It’s that time of year when ghosts, goblins and ghouls rule. Beware: These five places may send a chill down your spine.

1. Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Atlanta

From now through mid-­November, guests of this nonprofit museum are invited to explore the shadowy world of Woodland Spirits. Drawing inspiration from the many mysterious dark forests that emerge from literature, the new outdoor experience features a variety of ghostly figures created by Fernbank and Laura Lewis, a local artist who specializes in sculpture, painting and outdoor installations. There will also be Ghostly Gatherings every Sunday in October.

Contact: FernbankMuseum.org

2. The Queen Mary

Long Beach, Calif.

Throughout October and beyond, the opportunities to learn more about paranormal particulars aboard this 314-room ship are plentiful. Former passengers, from sailors to socialites, met their demise on the Queen Mary and were somehow determined to return and keep their spirit alive. Take a self-guided tour (don’t get lost; that’s when most sightings seem to occur) or choose from a menu of options that include touring with the resident paranormal investigator. For visits during October, ask about Dark Harbor, an extra-scary Halloween extravaganza, featuring frightful monsters and mazes as well as entertainment and rides. Bring your flashlights.

Contact: QueenMary.com

3. Ghostly

Virginia City, Mont.

Perhaps it’s the spirit of Calamity Jane who 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 Capitol 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, there is no shortage of hair-raising ghost stories.

Contact: VirginiaCity.com; VisitMT.com

4. Hotel Alex Johnson

Rapid City, S.D.

Lights flickering. Startling sounds. Running water. Even actual 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.

Contact: AlexJohnson.com

5. 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.” Located six miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, outdoor activities and educational tours abound. But don’t miss the history and ghost tour offered for families eager to hear more about Room 217, where King’s story began. Ask about Master Magician Aiden Sinclair’s presentation, “Illusions of the Passed!” During an evening of mystery, the performer introduces guests to the world of “Penny Dreadful” during a theatrical seance.

Children must be 5 or older. Reservations required.

Contact: StanleyHotel.com; Colorado.com

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