America's Most Haunted Restaurants and Bars

Posted October 19, 2013 by

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Bordello murders, fatal wedding-day accidents, hate-fueled arson attacks, and other tragedies have left behind unsettled spirits in historic restaurants and bars across the country. For the spine-chilling chance to see the resident apparitions and experience their antics, sit down to a filet mignon in Michigan or hit the slot machines at a Nevada saloon. Here are some of America's most haunted restaurants and bars—ones that have given employees, patrons, and even ghost hunters more than what they ordered.

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Mission Table, Traverse City, Michigan

The unhappy ghost of Genevive Stickney, an obese and jealous woman, still frequents her former residence, now Mission Table restaurant. As the story goes, Genevive and her Chicago lumber-baron husband built the home in the late 1800s. Succumbing to the excesses of good food and fruit brandies, the attractive Genevive became quite stout. She had a special gilt-edged mirror installed that made her appear thinner than she was, but eventually she became so large that she needed an elevator to transport her to the second floor. When her philandering husband took up with a mistress and left the mistress all his money, Genevive took her own life.

Haunted Encounters: In Genevive's mirror, restaurant guests have seen the reflection of a woman dressed in 19th-century clothing with hair pulled into a tight bun, the way Genevive wore hers. Lights turn themselves on and off, objects are mysteriously hurled through the air at people, hands on the grandfather clock are moved ahead, and candles are found burning in the morning.

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The Brass Rail, Hoboken, New Jersey

A ghost bride is said to haunt the historical Brass Rail restaurant in downtown Hoboken. Legend has it that on her wedding day in 1904, she tripped at the top of the staircase, fell, broke her neck, and died. Later that night, her distraught husband, who was drinking heavily, wrote a suicide note and hung himself in a room near the stairs.

Haunted Encounters: Restaurant staff and patrons have spotted spirits of the bride and groom wandering up and down the stairs. A photo taken by the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society revealed a white wisp of smoke hovering above the stairs when no one was smoking in the room. Others say they have heard walking in the upstairs dining room when it was empty and seen the ghost of a woman wearing white in the back alley.

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The UpStairs Lounge, New Orleans, Louisiana

Forty years ago, one of the deadliest crimes against the LGBT community in U.S. history took place at this French Quarter gay bar above The Jimani Lounge & Restaurant when an arsonist set it on fire, killing 32 men. The UpStairs Lounge had only one entrance—the door at the bottom of the stairwell, where the fire originated. While the fire blazed, patrons tried desperately to climb out the windows but couldn't escape, since windows were mostly barred or blocked completely. Several bodies were unclaimed by embarrassed family members, and the arsonist was never caught. The UpStairs Lounge area is now the kitchen of the first-floor Jimani Lounge & Restaurant.

Haunted Encounters: The building's current owner, who witnessed the event as a child when his father was owner, has seen apparitions of charred bodies, dark shadows, white orbs, and flashes of light in the building. When Syfy's Ghost Hunters crew visited last year, detectors picked up screeching noises in the stairwell.

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The Masquerade, Atlanta, Georgia

This concert venue in Atlanta's historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood was originally a mill that produced wood shavings. Since the mill property's opening at the turn of the 20th century, it has seen its share of fires, structural collapses, and the gruesome accidental death of mill worker Hubert Neal in 1899. But the grisly stories that circulate at The Masquerade only add to the appeal for the goths, metalheads, and punk rockers who converge here for shows.

Haunted Encounters: Staff and concertgoers repeatedly report sightings of an apparition of a tall black man and say they've heard voices, screaming, and heavy phantom footsteps. An investigation by the Georgia Society for the Paranormal Sciences gathered accounts from multiple employees who described the feeling of being watched. The group recorded several unexplained noises and encountered a dark human-shaped mass. In the middle of the night, the group watched as a mysterious dense white fog appeared and dissipated on the club's second level, called "Heaven."

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Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings, Nevada

The paranormal activity at this 100-year-old Wild West saloon just outside Las Vegas kicked off the 2013 season of Ghost Adventures on The Travel Channel. Reportedly haunted by an elderly miner and a cheating gambler who was killed at a card table in 1915, the Pioneer Saloon hasn't changed much since the days of the town's mining boom. Bullet holes from the gambler's murder can still be seen in the wall.

Haunted Encounters: Nearly every bar employee has seen the ghost of the elderly miner, a short man who wears a cowboy hat, standing behind people at the slot machines or hanging out by the potbellied stove. The spirit of the gambler makes an occasional appearance at a card table at the back of the bar. Visitors and staff have also been known to hear disembodied voices and see mysterious trails of cigarette smoke materialize.

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The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro, Little River, South Carolina

Drawing paranormal-research conferences, A&E's My Ghost Story crew, and numerous investigation groups, The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro has been called the most haunted location on the Grand Strand. It's just north of Myrtle Beach's main drag in a 103-year-old Victorian home. The restaurant owners have embraced the supernatural, saying they've never felt threatened. They regularly plan special-event dinners with psychics and talk openly about the restaurant's spook factor.

Haunted Encounters: Guests often get "locked" in the second-floor bathroom. Strange voices, unexplained movement of equipment, and shadowy figures have been reported by even the most skeptical guests and employees. When one of the restaurant owners asked the spirit who was there, the reply—captured in a recording—was "Clarence." Clarence and Essie Bessent-McCorsley were the original owners of the Victorian home.

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Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford, Pennsylvania

Built in the 1760s at a major junction of the only road connecting eastern Pennsylvania with the Ohio River, the Jean Bonnet was an important trading post and watering hole for early settlers. If the tavern's original stone walls could talk, they'd tell of rowdy trappers and traders, Whiskey Rebellion farmers' meetings, and encampments of troops summoned here by George Washington. Stories of the spirits at the Jean Bonnet Tavern are captured in The Pennsylvania Ghost Guide, Vol. II by Patty A. Wilson.

Haunted Encounters: Guests and staff describe a strange man in the bar after-hours, doors being opened and closed, and the sensation of being touched when no one is around. When members of the Central Pennsylvania Paranormal Association spent the night, a group of apparitions in frontier-type clothing appeared in a doorway and watched a man playing the piano at the other end of the bar.

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Catfish Plantation, Waxahachie, Texas

In the south Dallas suburb of Waxahachie, Catfish Plantation restaurant occupies an 1895 Victorian home where three former residents are believed to have died. The apparition of Elizabeth, murdered here on her wedding day in the 1920s, appears in her wedding gown. A Depression-era farmer named Will walks around the lobby and front porch in his overalls. Caroline, a strict religious woman who detested alcohol, passed away here in 1970, and now she sends wine glasses flying into the wall. The Travel Channel's Extreme Restaurants show, NBC News, and several paranormal groups have reported on the Catfish Plantation's strange occurrences.

Haunted Encounters: Besides seeing the resident ghosts, the restaurant's guests and staff have felt cold spots that move around. Clocks with missing parts chime. Doors, lights, and faucets all operate at will. And several knives go missing every night.

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The Jury Room, Columbus, Ohio

One of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Columbus, opened in 1831, this downtown mainstay has plenty of stories to fuel its ghostly reputation. It was built on Native American burial ground and lost its third floor to a fire in the late 1800s. The original tin ceiling and historical photos are a throwback to The Jury Room's days as a bordello. At the bar, you can order a "Hung Jury," a "Bordello Bubbly," or a "Lorenzo's Revenge," all nods to the prostitute who shot a man on the bordello's front doorstep in the 1850s and her subsequent trial for murder.

Haunted Encounters: A tall, shadowy man has been seen roaming around the bar and appearing behind bartenders. Objects move at will and women describe being attacked by unseen forces. There have been so many occurrences that the staff now keeps a ghost log and The Travel Channel's The Dead Files has come to investigate.

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High Noon Restaurant & Saloon, Albuquerque, New Mexico

In Albuquerque's Old Town, two different spirits are believed to haunt High Noon Restaurant & Saloon, housed in one of the historic district's oldest structures. Constructed in 1785, the building has served as both a casino and a successful brothel. According to Ken Hudnall's book Spirits of the Border IV: The History and Mystery of New Mexico, some say High Noon is haunted by the ghost of a trapper. The female spirit, investigated by the Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association, wears an old-fashioned white formal dress.

Haunted Encounters: Hudnall says the male ghost may be responsible for the unseen tapping that customers and employees feel on their shoulders, the smell of burning when the fireplace isn't lit, and the calling out of employees' names. Several customers and staff members have reported supernatural sightings, including the female spirit, who haunts the Santos Room lounge. High Noon is one of many restaurants and bars on the lantern-lit Ghost Tour of Old Town.


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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title America's Most Haunted Restaurants and Bars.

Saint Simons Island Offers a Golden Opportunity

Posted May 7, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Saint Simons Island St. Simons Island is the largest of what are known as the Golden Isles, located off the coast of Georgia. When Spanish explorers landed more than 400 years ago they expected to find gold, but what they discovered instead was a wealth of natural beauty. On St. Simons, visitors can explore a working historical lighthouse or battlefields from the War of Jenkins’ Ear, or simply relax on the public beaches. Temperatures really heat up in the summer, but springtime provides warm weather and plenty of activities for families on vacation.

Village Inn & Pub: After a long day exploring the island, you can relax at the Village Inn & Pub, a 1930s renovated and expanded beach cottage. At the pub, you can relax in front of the original stone fireplace with a pint of your favorite beer, or sample one of the many martinis offered. After a nightcap, check in to one of the 28 guest rooms named for St. Simons Island’s historic figures. In the morning, you can eat a complimentary breakfast on the sun porch and admire the oak trees and pool. Off season weekday rates start at $120 per night.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Savannah or Jacksonville, the closest major airports, from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: bossert via Flickr. CC Attribution.

Jekyll Island Offers Only Good Vibes

Posted May 5, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Jekyll Island Located off the coast of Georgia, Jekyll Island is a popular vacation destination. The barrier island was once the playground of the rich and famous, and today’s visitors can see how the other half lived by relaxing on 10 miles of unspoiled beaches, exploring the Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District, or riding horses along the island’s north end. The area is no longer an exclusive club, but guests are sure to love the seclusion and lushness found just an hour away from Savannah.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center: Sea turtles nest on the beaches of Jekyll Island and surrounding areas, and stranded sea turtles found along the Atlantic coastline needed a nearby place where they could recuperate and be released back into the wild. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which opened in June 2007, provides a research and rehabilitation facility for sick and injured sea turtles. Come visit Carning, Rostrum, Arthur, and other patients and learn more about the creatures and their environment. Adult tickets cost $6, and all proceeds go toward offsetting operational costs. Visitors can also adopt a sea turtle and receive an adoption certificate, a letter from their turtle, a photo of their turtle, updates about the animal’s progress, and a website link to his or her tracking information. Adoption rates are $50 per turtle.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Savannah or Jacksonville, the closest major airports, from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Denis Jr. Tangney)

Listen to Tybee Island's Last Song Without Spending Your Last Buck

Posted April 7, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Tybee Island Located less than 20 minutes away from Savannah, Georgia, Tybee Island is a laid-back seaside resort destination with three miles of ocean-front beaches and sand dunes. The shoreline and 18th century lighthouse offer a quaint, picturesque atmosphere for vacationers searching for fun in the sun. Named after a Native American word for “salt,” the island gained status after the Civil War as an escape from the heat of Savannah, and it remains a popular escape from city life.

DeSoto Beach Bed & Breakfast
: For a peaceful retreat, check into the DeSoto Beach Bed & Breakfast, located just steps from the sand and surf. Each of the four rooms is decorated in 1930s-style furniture and looks out over the ocean. After a day by the water, you can snooze in the hammock on the “sleeping porch,” mingle with other guests at the inn’s wine and cheese hour, or enjoy access to the neighboring DeSoto Beach Hotel’s oceanfront swimming pool. Weekday rates in April start at $159.95.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Savannah, the closest major airport, from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: Mary Beth Chirico)

Taste a Bit of Bavaria Without the Euro in Helen, Georgia

Posted February 5, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Helen Georgia Next to the Chattahoochee River, you'll find a little bit of Bavaria in Helen, Georgia. Here, cobblestone streets and gingerbread-style buildings bring Europe to the Blue Ridge Mountains without the heavy price tag. Come take a horse-and-buggy ride through town to learn more about its sights and history. Then indulge your sweet side with homemade candies before you return to your chalet in the mountains.

Horne's Buggy Rides: Sit back and take in the sights of Helen's Alpine Village from the comfort of a horse and buggy. Narrated tours start at the corner of River and Main Streets. Along the ride, you'll pass Bavarian storefronts and learn why folks here decided to recreate a German town.

Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen: Follow the breadcrumbs of satisfied candy lovers to the Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen, where you'll find handmade chocolates, fudge, pecan pralines, and divinity. You can watch skilled candymakers create the tasty treats on either a free 15-minute "History of Chocolate Tour" or while browsing the store. The free samples of fudge and brittle are a must, but the real attraction is the Chattahoochee Snappers, Hansel & Gretel's version of a turtle. One half-pound box of snappers costs $9.95.

Edelweiss German Inn & Restaurant: Just outside of Helen, you'll find an authentic Alpine Gasthaus surrounded by lush mountains. Here, you can experience Bavarian life in rooms equipped with five-pillow beds sporting European-style sheets and duvets. There is a German breakfast Monday through Friday and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Rooms start at $135 per night.

To search for flights and compare prices to Atlanta, the nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Helen Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Savor Spooky Treats and Tours in Savannah

Posted June 29, 2009 by Kate Hamman

GA-Savannah-RiverStreetsSweets-DEF As America's most haunted city, Savannah has a few tricks up its sleeve to entertain and spook the living. Walk the streets of this good-ole Southern city, with antique antebellum homes and a war-torn history, and be captivated by ghostly tales, haunted hotels, and tasty treats.

Savannah Candlelight Walking Tours: Everyone has a ghost story to tell in Savannah, and a few cocktails can conjure the Vincent Price in us all. Join the Haunted Pub Crawl for a spirited two-hour tour of the city's most paranormal-rich drinking establishments, where tales of apparitions and encounters will spill forth from your trusty guide and other locals in the bar. Tickets cost $10, but don't include libations.

The Marshall House: Don't be fooled by the charm and elegance of this old hotel, for something dark lurks behind its friendly and hospitable demeanor. Before you check in, you may want to ask about those who never checked out. Once used as a civil war hospital, the Marshall House may still be home to a few unhappy patients or disgruntled nurses from centuries ago. Rooms start at $119 for weekday visits, but the two-night haunted package for $375 may be just what the doctor ordered.

River Street Sweets: Let your sweet tooth reign supreme at the original location of Savannah's oldest candy store. Sugary scents entice you into the little shop where you'll witness candy makers hand-stretch, swirl, or glaze each individual taffy, chocolate bear claw, and pecan cluster. Treat yourself and taste their world famous pralines. Samples and demonstrations are free.

To search for flights and compare prices to Savannah, please use our price-comparison tool.


Live Large at Small Prices in Atlanta

Posted February 13, 2009 by Kate Hamman

GA-Atlanta-GeorgiaAquariumTunnel-DEF Everything's just peachy in Atlanta, especially with so many options, such as off-the-wall burger joints, hotel specials, and a larger-than-life aquarium. Though the city may be best known for the world of Coke and its underground area, there's much more going on above ground than soda pop.

The Georgia Aquarium: The Georgia Aquarium, one of the world's largests, houses more aquatic life than it can count in over eight million gallons of salt and fresh water. During a visit, you can say hello to the beluga whales or walk along the 100-foot underwater tunnel while whale sharks swim close by. General admission costs $26, but the premium day pass goes for $29.50, and includes general admission plus entrance to the 4D theater.

Flip Burger Boutique: When the craving hits for a juicy hamburger with all the fixins'—or for that matter, when any craving hits—Flip is the place to be. Alongside the standard burger, this cutting-edge joint offers innovative hamburgers like the "Corned Beef" served with buttered cabbage, fried egg, and beer mustard as well as the "Lamburger" topped with green olive relish, cucumber yogurt, raisin ketchup, and mint. However, the menu doesn't stop there, and you can order sides such as typical fries or vodka battered onion rings. Plus, the liquid nitrogen milkshakes made with innovative flavors such as the Krispy Kreme are not to be missed. Burgers start at $6.50.

The Ellis Hotel: Located in the heart of Atlanta, the recently renovated Ellis Hotel is an elegant escape from the ordinary. The boutique-style hotel's rooms include luxurious baths with Kohler rain-shower heads, modern conveniences such as high-definition TV, wireless Internet, and pillow-top bedding with personal pillow choices. An entire floor is dedicated to women, with a secured entry and thoughtful grooming amenities. Rooms start at $159.

To search for flights and compare prices to Atlanta, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Georgia Aquarium)

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