Who needs a haunted house when you have a Wi-Fi?

By Andrea Romano
October 02, 2020
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Nico Schimmelpfennig/picture alliance via Getty Images

Halloween, like everything else, looks different this year.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means that people, especially in the U.S., will likely have to continue to social distance through the fall, and that means trick-or-treating, parades, and Halloween parties are probably a no-go.

Virtual experiences have been increasingly popular since people have to stay home more. Since the pandemic began, there have been virtual museums, virtual train rides, virtual outdoor travel experiences, and more. And now, Halloween is going virtual, too, so you can enjoy the spooky season while keeping your friends, family, and yourself safe.

If you’re looking for a good fright, there are lots of virtual haunted houses to enjoy throughout October. Some of these tours of so-called “real” haunted houses and others are more kitschy, Halloween-themed houses.

Check out some of these virtual tours that are all about the things that go bump in the night.

Winchester Mystery House

No list of haunted house tours is complete without the Winchester Mystery House. Located in San Jose, Calif., it once belonged to Sarah Winchester, the widow of the heir to the family who founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (which patented the Winchester rifle). Rumor has it that Sarah conversed with spirits who threatened her to keep building the house. She allegedly built hidden passageways and doors to “hide” from the ghosts. Now, it’s a popular tourist attraction, and you can do a virtual walkthrough on the official website.

The Pittock Mansion

Once the home to newspaper publishers Henry and Georgiana Pittock in Portland, Oregon, the home sat empty for years before becoming a historic house museum. Why would such a beautiful estate be unoccupied for so long? Rumor has it that the original owners may have not actually “left” the house after passing away. You can now take a virtual 3D tour of the entire mansion online.

Lizzie Borden House

It may seem strange that such a gruesome true crime case is now a Halloween destination. But the Lizzie Borden house, rumored to be haunted by Lizzie, her father, and her stepmother themselves, is actually a museum and library these days. You can take in-person tours of the house, located in Fall River, Massachusetts. But, if you are staying home this year, you can easily take a virtual tour on the house’s website.

Paris Catacombs

While not a haunted “house,” these tunnels are still spooky nonetheless. Some would say the spookiest place on earth. The dark tunnels once held the remains of over six million people. Today, any bones you might see are usually decoration put in place for tourists, but it’s worth taking a 360-degree tour of the catacombs, some of which are quite claustrophobic.

Salem Witch Museum Online Tours

Have a little history with your Halloween plans. The Salem Witch Museum is dedicated to the famous Salem Witch trials of 1692, which oversaw the deaths of 25 people. Naturally, there have been a fair amount of ghost stories that came as a result of this tumultuous period in history, including people spotting ghosts in the town. The museum has compiled a number of tours for different, important locations in the town, including several homes of people involved in the trials, including the Jonathan Corwin House, (a.k.a. The Witch House). Check them out on the museum’s website.

The Queen Mary

This famously haunted ship, now docked in Long Beach, Calif., is well-known for being haunted, especially Stateroom B340, which has been investigated by ghost hunters many times. This room in particular has a history of people seeing paranormal activity, such as lights turning on and off or faucets running on their own. You can take a Google Earth tour of the ship itself. Or, if you’re looking for more Halloween-appropriate content, the ship’s YouTube page has a whole playlist of walkthrough tours of the annual Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Halloween experience.

The Stanley Hotel, Room 217

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado regularly does haunted tours of the grounds throughout the year, but now you can experience one of its most famous rooms virtually. While the hotel has been rumored to be haunted for a long time, it is probably most famous for its connection with author Stephen King and his book, "The Shining." Now you can walk through the hotel virtually by watching its tour video on YouTube. It’s not inherently spooky, but maybe you’ll spot a ghost somewhere.

Crescent Hotel

With a reputation as being one of the most haunted hotels in the world, the Crescent, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, has been rumored to be the final destination for ghosts, poltergeists, and other paranormal beings. Much like the Stanley, the Crescent Hotel regularly gives in-person ghost tours. Since traveling to the hotel itself isn’t in the cards for many people this year, you can experience the tour on YouTube instead.

Haunted Mansion Escape Room Adventure

This online experience through Airbnb is a Halloween-themed escape room that is conducted online. Each experience is for five people at a time, who will work together to solve puzzles and escape a haunted mansion being controlled by a Game Master. You and your friends can make a booking on the Airbnb website.

Bran Castle

Yes, you can take a look at Dracula’s lair from your couch. The famous Transylvanian castle located in Bran, Romania, is most often credited for being the inspiration for Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" novel. Thanks to Google Maps, you can tour parts of the castle online.

In addition to these experiences, there are walkthrough videos for dozens of Halloween attractions (i.e. not real haunted houses) from all over the U.S. on YouTube, including Knotts Scary Farm, Middletown Haunted Trail, and the IT Experience: Niebolt House in Hollywood.