How do Traveling Moms celebrate Halloween? By checking into haunted hotels, of course. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, a stay at a haunted hotel promises a scary good time and more fun than a ball of candied popcorn! Read on for the best haunted hotels for a spooky Halloween along with its family-friendly rating.

One of the most infamous haunted hotels is The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, inspired one of the scariest hotels in literature – in Stephen King’s The Shining. Photo by Diana Rowe, Traveling Grandmom

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Best Haunted Hotels for a Spooky Halloween

1. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
2. Cornstalk Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana
3. Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, California
4. Claremont Hotel, Berkley, California
5. Lizzie Borden B&B, Fall River, Massachusetts
6. Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
7. Hotel Alex Johnson, Rapid City, South Dakota
8. Haunted Ship – Queen Mary, Docked in Long Beach, California
9. Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland
10. America’s Most Haunted Hotel

Exploring the halls of haunted hotels and then actually booking a room is not for the faint of heart. During the spooky Halloween season, thousands of ghost hunters book their stays at haunted hotels around the world, and Traveling Moms and their families are no different. Read on for our suggestions for the best haunted hotels, many that also offer ghost tours.

1. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, beautiful by day, but ghosts haunt its halls at night

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, beautiful by day, but ghosts haunt its halls at night. Photo: The Stanley Hotel

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“Paranormal activity is at its all-time high in October, especially at historic hotels,” according to the Madame Vera, the Resident Psychic at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. I sat down with Madame Vera during a visit to one of the most haunted hotels in the United States.  She went on to add that perhaps that was due to people being more open to visits from the other world.

One of the first horror films I watched was The Shining  — and raise your hands if that still makes you want to hide under the covers! While his visit to The Stanley Hotel inspired Stephen King to write this novel, the movie wasn’t actually filmed at this Colorado haunted hotel. However, there’s plenty of spirits roaming these haunted hallways and rooms.

Ghost sightings and hauntings have been recorded (and rumored) at the Stanley Hotel since as far back as 1911. The most infamous of all is Room 217 when Ms. Elizabeth Wilson, a housekeeper, was electrocuted during a lightning storm. Although she wasn’t killed, this room is a hotbed of paranormal activity, amongst many other rooms in this haunted hotel.

Perhaps the spookiest moment of my life to date was when I dared to explore the haunted hotels of Colorado including the Stanley a few years back. I had already stayed at this haunted historic hotel, but this was the first time a ghost had visited me.

Ghost Tours at The Stanley Hotel

Night tours are already creepy, right?  It’s dark, and guests are venturing into places they’ve never been. Combine that with the tour guide telling stories about past guests, ghosts sightings, and you’ve got a recipe for a spooky Halloween.

A group of us went on one of The Stanley Hotel’s guided night ghost tours, and we used our phones and cameras to snap many photos (looking for orbs) and turned the recorder device to listen for ghosts. We also downloaded paranormal apps like EMF Meters and ghost detector radars (many free). The hotel also provided paranormal devices such as drowsing rods and other meters.

Night Tour, Age Limit 10+, Standard $28 per person / $25 per hotel guest

A Ghostly Visit

Ghost tours and a visit with The Stanely Hotel's Resident Psychic Madame Vera are amongst options at haunted hotels

Ghost tours and a visit with The Stanely Hotel’s Resident Psychic Madame Vera are amongst options at haunted hotels. Photo credit: Diana Rowe / Traveling Grandmom

I admit I was at first skeptical. I’m not a believer, but I’m not necessarily an unbeliever of ghosts. Yet when I toured the concert hall next to the Stanley, I felt a definite decrease in temperature, and I felt a presence. Several of my photos also showed orbs. That night, after a calming nightcap, I returned to my room and quickly fell asleep — only to have “something” wake me up. An eery presence and a very strong smell of roses — and this stay occurred in October.

I turned on the TV to calm me down, only to have it default to the 24-hour showing of The Shining. I quickly switched to another station, and at the advice of our guide, chanted, “You are not welcome.” Until I fell asleep.

The next morning when our group visited Madame Vera, she immediately said, “Someone had a visit from Mrs. Stanley [original owner of hotel]. She was worried about you and brought roses.”

I gulped and said it was me and Madame Vera related that Mrs. Stanley looked out for the guests, especially women when she felt like other “male ghosts” were visiting them. Yeah…creepy, right?

2. Cornstalk Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

the Cornstalk Hotel in New Orleans' French Quarter

Cornstalk Hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Photo credit: Lara DiPaola

“I don’t scare easily,” says Lara DiPaola, “but the Cornstalk Hotel in New Orleans‘ French Quarter freaked me out.

“It has a long history in the French Quarter, and its owner is a true NOLA character who made us feel very welcome. We’d sit out on the veranda and listen in to the hourly stops made by guided ghost tours, so I figured that played into what I thought I’d felt. And maybe even some of what we’d seen. The light in the bathroom would go on and off; just an electrical issue, of course – it’s an old house. The door to the sitting room would open when I knew I’d closed it. Again, it’s an old place, the foundation could be askew causing the doors to not quite fit into their frames.

Do you see the ghosly blur at the Cornstalk Hotel in New Orleans' French Quarter?

An arrow points to the blur in Lara DiPaola’s French Quarter photo. Photo credit: Lara DiPaola

“The view from the veranda is gorgeous, and I love to take pictures of architecture. One of those pictures, the third in a series of six, had more than tourists and wrought iron in it. Now I know what you’re going to say: “It’s a smudge on the lens.” But there’s no smudge in the other five photos taken before and after the “mist.” Maybe it’s a blur created by a person. You can clearly see the people in the image. The man closest isn’t running. It was October in NOLA, no fog and it wasn’t humid. Is it a ghost? I doubt it. But it’s fun to speculate.”

3. Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, California

Amber Johnson, the Mile High Mama, went on a ghost hunt at the Hotel del Coronado, which is rumored to be haunted by Kate Morgan.

Amber says: “We even went on a ghost hunt and used what I thought was a silly app that detected ‘movement.’ Some reaaaaaaaaly weird things happened … the app kept throwing out random words it was picking up, which made no sense. Until we told our guide and he explained the history of some of them. Creeeeepy. The app wasn’t on my phone and I never wrote about it so I can’t remember the details but it was GPS-based.

“I’m not really a believer in stuff like that but it had me creeped out,” Amber adds. “The app had a sensor for ghost activity and in certain areas where the activity was high, random words came across the screen. Or at least we thought they were random until we ran some of them by the hotel’s archivist and several of the more random ones (I think there was the word monkey?) had connections to the hotel.”

A Google search for haunted del Coronado pulls up pages and pages of stories; check-in – if you dare.

4. Claremont Hotel, Berkley, California

“The Claremont Hotel in Berkley, Calif., was originally built as a castle style home for a wealthy family in the 19th century,” says Karen Heffern, founder of Desert Chica Ramblings. “After a fire destroyed it in 1901, it was rebuilt as a hotel that opened in 1915. The hotel is said to be haunted either as the result of the fire or a death of a child. I didn’t experience any ghostly incidents during my stay, but the old-fashioned vibe of the hotel definitely lends itself to the possibility.”

5. Lizzie Borden B&B, Fall River, Massachusetts

The Getaway Mavens have the spooky scoop on the Lizzie Borden B&B in Fall River, Mass., where you can stay in the murder room. You’ll need to be feeling brave to tour this Victorian mansion. The autopsies were done on the dining room table and replicas of the skulls are displayed there. Though Lizzie was acquitted, the double murder of her parents, by axe, is still considered unsolved.

6. Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts

Liberty Hotel in Boston was once a jail, reported to be haunted by its former inmates. Photo: Nasreen Stump, Road Warrior TravelingMom

The Liberty Hotel has a long and storied past, according to Nasreen Stump, Road Warrior Traveling Mom. “Before opening in September of 2007, the Boston historical site served as a jail from 1851-1991. Housing notorious prisoners in its imposing granite facade, the Charles Street Jail was built in a “modern” style with large windows and soaring ceilings to provide prisoners with light and ventilation. These features remained in the jail’s makeover to luxury hotel.”

Home to infamous prisoners such as the Boston Strangler, The Liberty Hotel is said to be haunted by its former inmates. Read more about Nasreen’s hotel experience at Liberty Hotel: Stay in a Boston Jail.

7. Hotel Alex Johnson, Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota, Hotel Alex Johnson, Skybar

The Hotel Alex Johnson’s Vertex Sky Bar offers glamorous surroundings to enjoy. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker / National Parks TravelingMom

Catherine Parker, National Parks Traveling Mom reports that Hotel Alex Johnson in the Black Hills is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts. “Like a little girl that plays pranks on the employees like pushing over glasses. A jilted bride committed suicide by throwing herself out of a room on the eighth floor and she wanders the halls. I don’t have an issue with staying in haunted hotels and would love to see something wandering around.”

Want to explore more of the Black Hills?  Catherine writes about Round Up the Kids and Giddy Up to South Dakota’s Black Hills.

8. Haunted Ship – Queen Mary, Docked in Long Beach, California

How about a haunted Ship? Catherine Parker also stayed in the Queen Mary in Long Beach. “The staterooms are vintage and feel more haunted. Its known as the haunted ship and it even offers a haunted tour. I didn’t explore after dark but my family joked about what we would do if we saw something.

9. Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland

The most famous of ghosts in the Ballygally Castle is that of Lady Isabella Shaw who lived in the Castle 400 years ago.

BallyGally Castle offers a beautiful Christmas celebration including a huge buffet, ice sculptures, toy trains around the tables, and a Santa visit.

BallyGally Castle offers a beautiful Christmas celebration including a huge buffet, ice sculptures, toy trains around the tables, and a Santa visit. Photo: Kathy Penney, Special Needs TravelingMom

Kathy Penney, Debt-Free Traveling Mom, “Lady Shaw was put in a tower room by the Lord after safely delivering a male heir. Reports say she was either tossed from the tower window or fell trying to escape to get to her child. She is by all accounts a friendly spirit. You can visit the tiny tower room which is much the way it was at the time she inhabited it. We did and it was cold (well, it’s a 400-year-old castle tower room haha!). There was a strange feeling in the room but it could have been the power of suggestion. I stayed there for Christmas and it’s an amazing hotel and we never experienced anything odd.”

10. America’s Most Haunted Hotel

Crescent Hotel ghosts linger in the hallways.

There’s safety in numbers while hunting for ghosts, right? Photo Credit: Julie Thompson-Adolf, Garden Geek Traveling Mom.

Are you brave enough to spend the night at America’s Most Haunted Hotel? From glowing orbs to ghostly shenanigans, Arkansas’ 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa claims visitors can share rooms with “guests who checked out but never left.” Or, if you’d prefer a good night’s sleep, you can play ghost hunter on a group tour. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the ghoulish history of the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa will make you shudder.

Want more haunted hotels and creepy ghost tours?

6 of the Spookiest Haunted Hotels in Arizona

Haunted Hotels and Tours in Colorado

Haunted Colorado Hotels, Tours and Festivals

If you check into a hotel that is supposed to be haunted and bump into anything in the night, we want your story! Leave a comment below.

Best Haunted Hotels for a Spooky Halloween #hauntedhotels #ghosttours #stanleyhotel

This is an updated version of a post originally written by Kim-Marie Evans.