Category Archives: Pick 5

Room with a Spooky View | 5 Haunted Hotels

Anyone can walk through a haunted house or take a haunted hayride. These spots are spooky because you never know who is going to jump out and make you scream. It takes a truly brave soul to spend the night in a haunted hotel. From spotting figures to hearing whispers, disheveled sheets to blinking lights, these high-rated hotels welcome guests that come for the top-notch service and the chance to encounter spirits from beyond the grave.

1. Stanley Hotel | Estes Park, CO

Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel. Image courtesy Flickr user Frank Kovalchek.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909 and has hosted presidents and celebrities, including novelist Stephen King, who used the hotel as inspiration for his novel The Shining. All the rooms have reported haunted activity, especially on the fourth floor, where the sounds of children laughing and running have been recounted. The hotel offers a spooky walking tour and a Ghost Adventure package that includes a fourth-floor room; a K2 meter, an instrument for measuring magnetic energy; a glow-in-the-dark Stanley Hotel squishy ghost; and a REDRUM coffee mug, a nod to The Shining.

Roosevelt Hotel. Image courtesy Flickr user pagedooley.

Roosevelt Hotel. Image courtesy Flickr user pagedooley.

2. Roosevelt Hotel | Hollywood, CA
The Roosevelt Hotel opened in 1927 and hosted the first Academy Awards. It is located on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame across from the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Notable residents included Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift, who have both been reportedly seen haunting the property. Guests have described walking through cold spots and receiving mysterious phone calls. The hotel was fully renovated in 2005 and today houses some of the most popular nightlife venues in Los Angeles.

Crescent Hotel. Image courtesy Flickr user cwsteeds.

Crescent Hotel. Image courtesy Flickr user cwsteeds.

3. Crescent Hotel | Eureka Springs, AR
The Crescent Hotel was built in 1886 as a hotel, then became a college, hospital, health resort and, finally, a hotel once again. At least eight different spirits are said to haunt the building. One particularly scary story is of a stone mason who fell to his death during the hotel’s construction in the area that’s now Room 218. Guests have reported the spirit reaching for them through the bathroom mirror and crying out in terror on the ceiling above the bed. Ghost tour packages include an overnight stay, a ghost tour that includes a trip to the morgue and scary stories told around a flickering campfire. Today the property is known as the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa and is a member of the National Trust for Historic elite reservation’s Historic Hotels of America program.

Hotel Galvez. Image courtesy Flickr user texasbackroads.

Hotel Galvez. Image courtesy Flickr user texasbackroads.

4. Hotel Galvez | Galveston, TX
The Galvez (now a four diamond-rated Wyndham Grand Hotel) was built in 1911, eleven years after a devastating hurricane that killed thousands of area residents and leveled most of the buildings on Galveston Island. The hotel was built where the hurricane came ashore. The most famous resident is the Lovelorn Lady, who checked into a room on the fifth floor awaiting her fiancé, a sailor at sea. When she received word that his ship had sunk and he had died, she hung herself in her room. She is reportedly trapped in the hotel and wanders the halls in search of her lost love.

La Fonda on the Plaza. Image courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza website.

La Fonda on the Plaza. Image courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza website.

5. La Fonda on the Plaza | Santa Fe, NM
La Fonda on the Plaza was built in 1922, but a hotel has been on the site since the early 1600s. The hotel is said to host not only travelers, but also several ghosts, including a judge who was shot to death in the lobby in 1867, and a salesman who jumped to his death in a deep well after losing a high-stakes card game. La Fonda’s dining room is situated directly over the old well and both guests and staff alike have reported the sight of a ghostly figure that walks to the center of the room, then seemingly jumps into the floor and disappears. Like the Crescent Hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza is now part of the Historic Hotels of America program.

Have you been brave enough to stay the night at these properties? Or any other reportedly haunted hotels? Share your stories with us!

Trip and Treat | 5 Iconic Candy Destinations

Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory. Photo courtesy Flickr user modernrelics.

Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory. Photo courtesy Flickr user modernrelics.

Halloween is just days away. Whether you like to dress up or prefer to leave that to your kids, chances are you probably sneak at least one snack-sized candy bar on this most treat-filled of holidays.

Some of you love candy more than others. You may have been noshing on candy corn all month. Or you plan buying extra candy for trick-or-treaters so that there are plenty of leftovers. If you fall into that camp, have you ever considered visiting a travel destination known for its sugary perks?

Treats at the Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory. Image courtesy Flickr user nikonvscanon.

Treats at the Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory. Image courtesy Flickr user nikonvscanon.

1. Ghirardelli Square | San Francisco, CA
Although these square-shaped treats are no longer made in San Francisco, the large, iconic sign still welcomes visitors to Ghirardelli Square. The Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory, located on North Point Street, is their former factory home. Not just a gift shop, this popular tourist stop features an old-fashioned ice cream fountain. Order the “world famous” hot fudge sundae or try the Cable Car – rocky road, chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and almonds. They even offer a lighter lemon sorbet sundae and amazing chocolate and coffee specialty drinks. Stop by the gift shop for souvenirs and treats to take home.

Hershey's Chocolate World. Photo courtesy Flickr user jcapaldi.

Hershey’s Chocolate World. Photo courtesy Flickr user jcapaldi.

2. Hershey’s Chocolate World | Hershey, PA
Hershey, Pennsylvania hails itself as “the sweetest place on Earth.” And rightly so! The town has been home to The Hershey Company, which makes Hershey Bars and Hershey’s Kisses, for over a century. Hershey’s Chocolate World features all things chocolate. Guests can experience a 4D show with characters, the Hershey Trolley Works, a chocolate tour ride and a create-your-own candy bar. Visitors to Hershey can also explore Hersheypark amusement park and Hershey Gardens.

Jelly Belly Goodness

Jelly Belly yummies. Image courtesy Flickr user daveparker.

3. Jelly Belly Factory Tour | Fairfield, CA
Did you know that 14 billion Jelly Belly jelly beans will be eaten this year? All that goodness comes from Fairfield, California. More than half a million visitors each year take the Jelly Belly Factory Tour, a 40-minute walking tour that showcases a real working factory where over 150 different sweet treats are created. For an upgraded experience, enroll in Jelly Belly University for a more in-depth education on how America’s favorite gourmet jelly bean is made. Participants are given lab coats, gloves and hair nets and are taken to the heart of the factory to watch master confectioners create Jelly Belly and other delicious confections. Save time for the candy store with free samples. Cream soda? Cappuccino? Chili mango? These are unique flavors you won’t find in your average jelly bean!

M&M’s® World Las Vegas. Image courtesy Flicrk user amitp

M&M’s® World Las Vegas. Image courtesy Flicrk user amitp

4. M&M’s® World | Las Vegas, NV
Opened in 1997 on the Vegas Strip, M&M’s® World is 28,000 square feet of candy-covered chocolate deliciousness. The four-story monument to these colorful treats allows guests to create their own personalized M&M’s®, including candies stamped with popular Vegas icons. A NASCAR® replica is on display, and a gift shop featuring M&M’s® in every imaginable color provides plenty of souvenir opportunities. Visitors can even escape the Las Vegas heat by cooling off in a movie theater showing a 3-D feature.

Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel. Image courtesy Flickr user lanninge.

Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel. Image courtesy Flickr user lanninge.

5. Murdick’s Fudge | Mackinac Island, MI
Murdick’s first opened in 1887 on historic Mackinac Island. Separating Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, the 3.8-square mile island is renowned for its Victorian Grand Hotel and its ban on automobiles. The island did not invent fudge, but perfected a certain variety of fudge attributed to Mackinac’s humid summers. Visitors can watch the fudge-making process at Murdick’s and can, of course, take home plenty of sugary treats to enjoy later.

Do you agree with our list? What did we miss? Tell us your favorite candy shop or factory tour!


5 Unforgettable Halloween Travel Destinations

For some, Halloween is much more than a single night in October where you take the kids door to door for treats. Instead, Halloween signifies a month long celebration filled with activities, events—even travel. And for those who do travel, Halloween provides some of the more interesting and exhilarating holiday getaways: here are 5 of our favorites.

Salem, MA

Salem Witch Museum

By Fletcher6 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL(
/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

You would be hard pressed to find a creepier locale for Halloween than Salem, MA—home of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. More than just important historical events, the witch trials permeate the entire culture in Salem (the Elementary School is called Witchcraft Heights Elementary School), making it feel like Halloween year-round. But from October 1st through October 31st, Salem kicks it up a notch and gets even spookier—landing it on the top of our list.

The month-long Halloween celebration consist of countless events including parades, psychic fairs, costume balls, haunted houses, ghost tours, and activities associated with the Salem witch hunt. In addition, the town’s intriguing new age shops and eerie historical sites add to the morbid ambiance that must be experienced at least once.

Must See: The Festival of the Dead 

Description from the Haunted Happenings website:

“Festival of the Dead explores death’s mysteries through events that investigate the favored and forbidden ways in which people have honored, celebrated, and secretly delved into life’s inevitable destination.”

Orlando, FL

Disney Halloween

By AlexBellamey (Own work) [GFDL( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (
/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Orlando is well-known for its amusement parks, with peak visits occurring during the summer months and school breaks. But what may be less known is the extent to which Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, and SeaWorld all transform into immersive Halloween experiences.

On select nights from late September through early November, you will find the following Halloween events:

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party—mainly for kids, Disney’s annual Halloween event includes parades, trick-or-treating, character appearances, and live music.

Halloween Horror Nights—Universal Studios brings horror movies to life as it transforms the park into a terrifying and interactive horror movie experience.

Howl-O-Scream—Busch Gardens takes on a new theme each year as guests encounter all-new scares throughout the park’s haunted houses and street experiences. This year’s theme is “The 13,” in which 13 evils are released into the park, including entities such as The Surgeon, The Butcher, The Psychopath, The Clown, and Voodoo Queen.

Halloween Spooktacular—similar to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, this one’s primarily for children and contains trick-or-treating and other kid-friendly music and events.

Must See: Halloween Horror Nights Universal Studios

If you have to choose one event, it has to be Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. On select nights from late September through early November, Universal Studios becomes any horror movie fan’s dream experience. This year, the haunted house lineup includes The Walking Dead, Evil Dead, Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil, and more.

And if you think you’re safe when not braving the houses, think again. The streets of the park are filled with blood-thirsty zombies, creating an intense experience the moment you enter the main gates.

New Orleans, LA

Halloween Parade

By InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

New Orleans has earned its nickname “The Most Haunted City in America.” Second only to Mardi Gras, Halloween in New Orleans is an intense experience. From haunted tours of the French Quarter to Voodoo shops to multiple haunted houses, New Orleans has everything Halloween.

Must See: Street Parties on Frenchmen Street

New Orleans holds the nation’s top Halloween street parties as New Orleanians are known for their imaginative and eccentric Halloween attire. Masses of partygoers, both locals and tourists, gather in the streets for an unmatched street party experience.

Sleepy Hollow, NY

Sleepy Hollow

By Chris Kirkman from Boston, United States (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (
/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sleepy Hollow is a small village in New York named in honor of author Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The story’s theme permeates the town during Halloween with an abundance of activities related to the story, the author, and the headless horseman himself.

Visitors can dig deeper into the history of story by taking an evening lantern tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the final resting place of Washington Irving. In addition, the town offers month long activities including haunted hayrides, farmers markets, street fairs, parades, and gothic mansion tours.

Must See: Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg Manor

Located in the heart of Sleepy Hollow, Horseman’s Hollow is the area’s leading haunted house attraction. The historical Philipsburg Manor is transformed into a chilling environment ruled by vampires, witches, ghosts, and undead soldiers all serving the Headless Horseman. First-rate actors and exceptional special effects make this the one attraction that would be a grave mistake to miss.

Seymour, IN

Halloween Graveyard

By Johnny Martin ecdl (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creative], via Wikimedia Commons

Seymour, IN is home to Fear Fair—Indiana’s top-ranked haunted attraction. This unique attraction features realistic movie scenes from The Walking Dead and Silent Hill, a haunted house set in the midst of a mutagenic gas outbreak, and an experience called the Cinema of fear that brings you face to face with monsters from your favorite scary movies.

Must See: Myctophobia – Fear of Darkness

This is not your typical haunted house. Forget about the comfort of moving through with others and knowing that the actors cannot touch you. In Myctophobia—Fear of Darkness, you must walk through alone while the actors touch you, restrain you, and deploy sensory deprivation methods. Taking the haunted house concept to a new level, this experience is not for the faint of heart. In fact, most don’t make it through.


What did we miss? Share with us your favorite Halloween travel destinations.

And don’t forget, wherever you end up traveling for Halloween, let Bags VIP handle your luggage so you can get right to the scares.