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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With a historic boardwalk and casinos aplenty, Atlantic City attracts
those who want to gamble with an ocean view. However, among the sound
of slot machines and shuffling cards, you'll also find happening
nightlife, upscale shopping, and great eats at cheap prices.
Play Harrah's Pool After Dark: When the
sun goes down on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Harrah's poolside
nightlife heats up. The dome-enclosed tropical oasis, with six hot tubs, becomes a happening place to grab a drink. DJs
complete the club-like atmosphere by playing an array of music while you
dance or swim the night away.
Shop The Pier Shops at Caesars: Home to 80
retail stores and restaurants, the Pier Shops make any shopaholic's
dream come true. The mall strives to incorporate natural elements into
the design, offering three stories of glass displaying spectacular views
of the surrounding ocean and boardwalk. With a slew of top designer
stores such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co., it's not
cheap to shop here. However, even if you don't buy a thing, you can
still enjoyan indoor fountain show.
Eat Harrah's Atlantic City Country Club Sunday Brunch:
Bring your appetite and come to Harrah's country club for one of the
greatest deals in town. On Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., you can
feast on salmon, turkey, ham, omelets, waffles, fresh fruit, and
pastries for just $24.95.
Reservations are highly recommended.
Wildwood Island is part of a cluster of barrier islands on
the Jersey Shore. Five miles of beaches and a two-mile boardwalk help make this
area one of the top summer destinations for Jersey Shore-goers. Classic
American family fun like mini-golf, go-carts, and roller coasters can be found
around town during the day. And the island provides plenty of free
entertainment at night, such as live concerts, parades, and fireworks. If you’re looking
for the ultimate Jersey experience, Wildwood has what you’re looking for.
Drink Jersey Girl Drinks & Dining: It’s not the Jersey Shore without a martini or
two, and the Jersey Girl serves up plenty of tasty treats. Stop by for dinner
and enjoy surf and turf menu options, or drop in later for drinks alone. Try a Jersey
Girl, made with Stoli Peach, fresh white peach puree, and white cranberry
juice; or order a Jersey Boy, made with Stoli Vanilla and Frangelico, and
rimmed with toasted walnuts. Martinis start at $10, but if you drop by for
little black dress night on Thursdays between 9 p.m. and midnight, you can nab a
You can use our tool to compare airfares to Atlantic City, the closest major airport, from multiple travel providers.
Known for its fantastic beach, restored Victorians, and whale and bird-watching, Cape May is a prime tourist destination. Dozens of U.S. presidents have vacationed here, the Duchess of Windsor held her debutante party here, and many of the houses and haunts from the Gilded Age are in nearly the same shape today. Fortunately, you don't have to be a duchess or a Washington kingpin to have a good time in Cape May, as long as you know where to go.
Play Beaches: It only costs a small price to frolic in the same waves that once crashed around our founding fathers. You'll want to visit Cape May Beach for its windswept beauty at least once while you're here. At sunset, head to famous Sunset Beach for prime views and the chance to pick up a few "Cape May diamonds" (quartz pebbles scattered throughout the sand). If you visit in spring or fall, keep an eye out for the 400-odd species of birds around the area. A one-day beach tag costs $5 and gets you into all of the Cape May beaches.
Eat George's Place: Cape May is the self-proclaimed restaurant capital of New Jersey, and there are certainly plenty of good eats to be had here. If you're in the mood for a reasonable and tasty breakfast or lunch, head to George's Place, a diner with a touch of seaside style, where you can chow down on breakfast quesadillas or chipped beef while Frank Sinatra croons on the stereo.
Stay John F. Craig House B&B: Every detail of this impressive 19th-century Carpenter Gothic home has been lovingly restored. The rooms are filled with antiques, wicker, and a good dose of whimsy, and have beds topped with dual-controlled heated mattress pads for those cold seaside nights. Breakfast is a lavish buffet, and the house is located just a block from the beach and the town's shops and restaurants. Rooms start at $195 per night.
To search for flights and compare prices to Atlantic City, which is home to Cape May’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.
With a historic boardwalk and casinos aplenty, Atlantic City attracts those who want to gamble with an ocean view. However, among the sound of slot machines and shuffling cards, you'll also find happening nightlife, upscale shopping, and great eats at cheap prices.
Play Harrah's Pool After Dark: When the sun goes down on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Harrah's poolside nightlife heats up. The dome-enclosed tropical oasis, with four wading areas and six hot tubs, becomes a happening place to grab a drink. DJs complete the club-like atmosphere by playing an array of music while you dance or swim the night away. The public is welcome, and admission is usually $10 or $20, depending on special events.
Shop The Pier Shops at Caesars: Home to more than 90 retail stores and restaurants, the Pier Shops make any shopaholic's dream come true. The mall strives to incorporate natural elements into the design, offering three stories of glass displaying spectacular views of the surrounding ocean and boardwalk. With a slew of top designer stores such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co., it's not cheap to shop here. However, even if you don't buy a thing, you can still enjoy one of the world's largest indoor fountain shows every hour on the hour.
Eat Harrah's Atlantic City Country Club Sunday Brunch: Bring your appetite and come to Harrah's country club for one of the greatest deals in town. On Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., you can feast on salmon, turkey, ham, omelets, waffles, fresh fruit, and pastries for just $24.95. The club also has the largest chocolate pastry display in South Jersey, giving you all the more reason to come hungry. Reservations are highly recommended.
Look at the calendar, my friends—it ain't April Fool's Day. A Market Metrix survey of 35,000 combined visitors to both cities shows that people prefer Atlantic City to Las Vegas, albeit by a slim margin. A.C. edged out Sin City in overall customer satisfaction, as well as "emotion scores," which measure seemingly unquantifiable attributes such as how sophisticated and hip/cool each city is. Atlantic City was considered to be a far greater value, which is probably the source of most of its appeal.
I can't help but feel a little befuddled here. I grew up in Jersey, and I've been to Atlantic City a number of times, though admittedly not in years. I recall, however, a prevailing feeling of shabbiness, and what I remember most is seeing bus after bus unloading retirees from the northern suburbs. Not exactly hip and cool, right? Vegas, on the other hand, is a nonstop circus of over-the-top debauchery and glamour, even if the latter is mostly superficial.
That said, Atlantic City has changed a great deal in the past five or seven years. New hotels such as the Borgata have classed up the place, bringing in celebrity chefs and popular acts like Sheryl Crow and Eric Clapton (and Paul Anka, but who's counting?). Conversely, Vegas is creeping toward overkill (which, for Vegas, is saying a lot), with mega-hotel after mega-hotel rising up like a bad poker player's debt.
I turn to you, my fair readers, for some insight here. Help a lost blogger make sense of this. Is Atlantic City, tucked away in stinky (but loveable) New Jersey, really preferable to the glitzy, elegant, celebrity-magnet kingdom of Las Vegas? Post your comments below!
7. Diners – There's simply nothing like a 24-hour New Jersey diner. The menu is usually spiral-bound and thick as a dictionary, and it contains pretty much every dish under the sun. Lobster at 4 a.m.? Absolutely. Want French toast with that? Sure thing. Seriously, these places must have walk-in freezers the size of airline hangers. Locals generally pick one diner they think is the best around, and they stick with it. From that point on, going to other diners is unheard of. Keep this in mind when asking for recommendations. There is no diner in New Jersey that is truly the best (not true, the King George diner in Wayne is the best—represent!). Regardless of where you go, you can count on burnt coffee and unspeakable decor. I can sum up the latter in one word: mirrors. Lots of them.
Lastly, the New Jersey diner wouldn't be what it is without Taylor ham. Taylor ham is a sausage subspecies of questionable origin. Whatever. A Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich is to die for.
6. The accent – I grew up in New Jersey, but moved to New England for college. I wasn't on campus more than three hours before someone made fun of the way I said "water." Not too long after that, I was picked on for the way I said "coffee," and then "Boston," and then "awful." So I did what I had to do and learned to speak like the locals did. When in Rome, right? Well, a piece of my soul died during the first cold New England winter, and the death knell came when I uttered the word "water" and didn't pronounce it "wuddah." Now when I speak to my family, it sounds like they're talking under water.
Readers, embrace the accent. It's beautiful in its ugliness.
5. Big Italian guys – An unofficial study I just made up shows that New Jersey has more big Italian guys per 100 citizens than any state in the union. This has two practical implications for normal, shrimpy people such as myself: You often feel inferior, if not downright intimidated; and there are tons of great Italian delis around. My personal favorite is the Italian Touch in Washington Township. Get a sandwich of prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers—they make it good here. I could eat this sandwich for the rest of my life (It would be a short life with a diet like that, but tasty right to the bitter end). And please don't embarrass yourself by trying to speak with an accent. Remember, respect the accent.
4. The New Jersey Devils – There are four major professional sports teams that play their home games in New Jersey. Two of them, the Giants and Jets, lie and say they're from New York. Another team, the Nets, will be moving to Brooklyn in the near future. That leaves the Devils, who proudly moved to a brand-new arena in Newark at the start of this season. They're the only team with the guts to say they're from New Jersey. They've also won three Stanley Cups in the past 15 years (tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the most during that span) and have arguably the best goalie of all time in Martin Brodeur. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, New York!
3. The Meadowlands – Legend has it this is where your problems go to die and never be found by the cops. That may be true for people involved in the state's shadier businesses, but for regular folks like me, the Meadowlands is where you go to get lost while trying to find a shortcut to the highway after a basketball game. And oh yeah, it kind of smells. More on that shortly.
2. Bruce Springsteen – Sure, women swooned for Bon Jovi. Sure, men used him as justification for dispensing enormous quantities of Aqua Net onto their hair. But none of that can hold a candle to the timeless folk-rock poetry crafted by Freehold's favorite son.
Drive down the shore sometime, maybe to Wildwood or Seaside, someplace old-timey like that. Roll down your windows and crank up "Thunder Road." I know it sounds cliché and maybe a little schmaltzy, but I also know that if you don't feel at least a twinge of adolescent romanticism swelling in your chest, you're probably dead.
1. The smell: You can always tell when someone hasn't really been to New Jersey, because they'll whine about the smell, claim the whole state stinks, and tell pathetically false stories about how they almost barfed at a rest stop because of the odor. My guess is these people probably need a refresher course in personal hygiene, because I promise you the whole state doesn't smell. The area around the turnpike usually smells—it's an indefinable, vaguely petroleum-based aroma with hints of landfill dancing on the breeze—but that's about it. People, enough with the smell, okay? It's really not that bad. Plus, if you piss off the smell, it could get ugly. Just watch this: