Give the kids – and yourself – a chance to treat ghosts with respect. Halloween events don’t have to rely on fright.
Go to the lively little Georgia town named Dahlonega, an hour drive north of Atlanta, gateway to the Appalachian Mountains.
Most everybody here has a ghost story: personal encounters, Grandma-told tales, museum-preserved legends and now researched walking tours.
Families take these early evening tours, and families run them! Kind of cool, I thought, that pre-law college student Jeremy Sharpe teamed up with his mom Penny to research the local lore and share the stories in a stroll around the square and up the hill to the cemetery.
Family Friendly Ghostly Tales
Dahlonega Walking Tours is their endeavor, weaving through 14 locations on back alleys, the city square, rows of historic buildings and the cemetery.
“There’s nothing scary about what we learned and what we share,” Penny says, noting that the youngest children on the tours hang out close to Jeremy, asking for more details and more stories.
“What we see most from our research is faith strengthening that indeed there is another side,” Penny said.
No, this isn’t religious research, simply observation, and citizens on the street chimed in my evening knowing what we were discussing.
Respecting their spirits
“We don’t make a spectacle out of our spirits,” said a woman who’d only tell me her first name, Wendy. “I choose to show them my respect.
“Positive energy brings more positive but negative, disrespectful energy only brings negative,” she said several times, calmly adamant that Dahlonega spirits deserve best behavior.
Smack in the center of the downtown square is the Gold Museum run by Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites. Park rangers are reliable storytellers, don’t you always find?
This former courthouse is considered to be “very haunted” according to Dahlonega Walking Tours and Jeremy Sharpe, with numerous sightings of people in black robes, plus knocking heard many times within the walls.
The Gold Museum is the beneficiary of proceeds from seven tour dates developed by author and local resident Trisha Slay.
She’s writing a paranormal mystery novel explaining why Dahlonega is a hotbed of activity including benevolent hauntings.
Sleep with ghosts
Walking with historians whetted my appetite for more so I tried to sleep with some ghosts.
Hall House is the place, where proprietor Michael Miller readily shares his encounter with a protective spirit urging him to return a cane he had found inside the wall during renovations, and taken to his house.
Ask to stay, or at least visit, the third-floor room to see the cane. Miller’s as respectful of strange doings as was Wendy on the sidewalk and Jeremy and Penny leading their researched tours.
Dine with Ghosts
Fine dining is a local distinction so expect skilled chefs plus stories of potential spirit encounters at Corkscrew Café, Back Porch Oyster Bar and Bourbon Street Grille.
Corkscrew Café was once a jail, a cell now the wine cellar. Former town drunk Harold Anderson checked himself in and out of his open-door cell and he sounded the alarm when a fire suddenly flared. Saved the building.
I’ve ridden in hearses for ghost tours, and raised my eyebrows at supposed orbs in dark windows, but these Dahlonega experiences are different.
This is year-round acceptance, calmness prevailing when chairs put on tables for sweeping restaurant floors suddenly show up on the floor again.
You might as well start humming “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine” before you go because that’s the tune everybody knows the little girl ghost in the long white dress sings frequently.
Her name’s Betsy and she’s been known to play hide and go seek with visiting children.
Dahlonega, Georgia offers many other experiences too! Year-round fine dining, shopping, calm and historic lodging, live performance theater, a wildlife preserve and gold mining will fill some other TravelingMom travel stories.