New Jersey

America's Most Haunted Restaurants and Bars

Posted October 19, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com

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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.

You Don't Have to Spend a Lot to Win Big in Atlantic City

Posted July 14, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Atlantic City 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.

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

(Photo: Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority)

The Situation in Wildwood is Good

Posted May 10, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Wildwood 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 half-price martini.

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

(Photo: iStockphoto/Sharon Meredith)

A Presidential Holiday for Just a Few Washingtons in Cape May

Posted June 30, 2009 by Amy Westervelt

NJ-CapeMay-Sunset-DEF 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.

(Photo: John Woodworth, iStockPhoto.com)

You Don't Have to Spend a Lot to Win Big in Atlantic City

Posted March 23, 2009 by Kate Hamman

NJ-AtlanticCity-Bdwlk-DEF 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.

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

(Photo: Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority)

Study Shows People prefer Atlantic City to Las Vegas

Posted April 29, 2008 by Carl Unger

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.Llnj956_2

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!

Interested in Atlantic City? Check out:
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The Seven Wonders of New Jersey

Posted March 24, 2008 by Carl Unger

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.

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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.

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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.

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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! 

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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.

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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.

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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:

So be careful, okay?

Interested in New Jersey? Check out:
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Cheap flights to New York (close enough!)
Cheap flights to Trenton
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