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D.C. Ghost Tours
Location: Lafayette Square Park
Meeting place: Dolley Madison House, located at 1520 H St.
When: Nightly tours offered March to mid-November from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Winter hours vary.
Price: $15 for ages 12 and up, $8 for ages 7 to 11, free for ages 6 and under
This tour relives tales of hauntings for some of the early social and political
figures of D.C., including Dolley Madison, Daniel and Teresa Sickles, the wife of Henry Adams and U.S. Navy legend Stephen Decatur. The guides share stories based of newspapers and records from the 1700s and 1800s.
Drew Skrainka | Hatchet photographer
Pros: It accommodates groups of all sizes and ages, including dogs. Though paranormal encounters are not guaranteed, some guides claim they have experienced them while giving tours. Guides dress in Victorian costumes and lead tours by the light of their lanterns. The guides are great orators who seem to have a genuine love for history.
Cons: Tours are most often not able to enter the buildings, which are closed at the time of the tour. Reservations are required and tickets must be purchased online. The traffic on H Street can be a little distracting during the segment of the tour near the Decatur House.
Georgetown Ghost Walking Tour with Trusted Tours and Attractions
Meeting Place: Old Stone House at 3051 M St.
When: Tours run on Fridays from Sept. 17 to Oct. 29 from 8 to 9:15 p.m.
Price: $12 for adults, $9 dollars for children
Rating: 3 out of 5 skulls
By day, the streets of Georgetown are lined with idyllic townhouses and shops and filled with pedestrians. By night, visitors get a glimpse of the neighborhood’s deep, dark secrets.
Pros: The Old Stone House is the oldest original building in D.C., so it is sure to have some ghostly spirits lurking!
Cons: Reservations required at least 24 hours in advance. Dress for the weather because the tour takes place outside.
National Building Museum Ghost Tours
Location: National Building Museum
Meeting Place: National Building Museum at 401 F St.
When: Oct. 31, Nov. 7 and 11 from 8 to 9 p.m.
Price: $12 for members of the museum, $20 for nonmembers
Rating: 3 out of 5 skulls
Tours are led by the ghost of Mary Surratt, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit the murder of President Abraham Lincoln. Visitors can learn why she and other ghosts, like museum designer and U.S. Army General Montgomery C. Meigs, haunt the halls.
Pros: The 75-foot Corinthian columns are intimidating and add to the haunted ambiance. Also, mysterious faces can be seen swirling in them.
Cons: Prepaid registration is required and tours only occur on a few dates, so be sure to book them ahead of time.
National Museum of Crime & Punishment’s Fright at the Museum: Dead Men Walking
Location: National Museum of Crime and Punishment at 575 7th St.
When: Oct. 21 to 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 28 to 31 from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Price: $20 per person
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 skulls
The National Museum of Crime and Punishment sets up a haunted house winding through its various exhibits. The theme of this haunted excursion is the haunting of the victims of the Tennessee electric chair, which is housed in the museum. You may even see a classmate as students act in the exhibit.
Pros: The actors are very believable and are successful in scaring and engaging the visitors in their acts. They jump out and startle visitors, sometimes “threatening” them with a chainsaw or snakes. Tickets can be bought online or at the door.
Cons: The high cost does not match the experience, which was one of a typical haunted house. While going to the actual museum may be worth $20, one can get the same frightening experience from a less expensive haunted house.
Alexandria’s Footsteps to the Past
Location: Alexandria, Va.
Meeting Place: Ramsay House Visitors Center at 221 King St.
When: During October and November tours run from Sunday through Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Price: $10 for adults, $5 dollars for ages 7 to 12, ages 6 and under are free
Rating: 4 out of 5 skulls
Visitors listen to the haunted, tragic, comedic, and romantic tales of early Alexandrian residents like George Washington, Robert E. Lee and other historic Americans on this tour. They also learn about the archaic medical practices of the 1700s and the sites in the area that have hosted some strange paranormal occurrences. Footsteps to the Past is a family-owned business of a ninth-generation Alexandria, Va., native.
Pros: Footsteps to the Past also offers an “Alexandria Spirits” tour for those who are interested in paranormal occurrences. Visitors will learn about ghost hunting equipment and visit sites that have documented paranormal activities. The group also offers a real ghost hunt in which experienced ghost hunters teach participants how to use paranormal investigation equipment.
Cons: The ghost hunt has a waiting list, so the sooner reservations are made, the better.