Halloween Road Trips: 5 Surprisingly Creepy Attractions in Places You Least Expect It
From not one but TWO mummies in rural Indiana to a clown dollhouse(!) in Nebraska, here's where to find some of the country's coolest, creepiest attractions.
Abandoned mansions. Old cemeteries. Derelict hotels. These are the types of places you expect to send tingles down your spine, especially in historic cities which are known for great ghost stories.
But in reality, some of the country’s coolest, creepiest attractions are hiding in places you’d least expect — from mummies in rural Indiana to an alien watchtower in a southern Colorado valley.
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With Halloween approaching, we hunted down some of America's most unexpected, surprisingly creepy attractions in the most unassuming places. After all, the best scares are the ones you never saw coming, right?
1. Mummies in Rural Indiana
A mummy in Indiana? Actually, there’s two and they’re both in Wayne County, points out Indiana Public Media. Earlham College’s Joseph Moore Museum houses an Egyptian mummy, which has been on display in the museum since 1889. The mummy’s name? Lady Ta’an. The coffin’s hieroglyphics hint that she was the daughter of a priest who lived during the end of the Egyptian empire. Around the same time the museum acquired the mummy, it also received a skeleton of “Tippo Sahid,” a local circus animal that had gone mad. The Wayne County Historical Museum houses Indiana’s only other Egyptian mummy, which is estimated to be 3,000 years old. Less is known about the mummy because the coffin its in once belonged to someone else.
2. A Clown Dollhouse in Nebraska
The “Klown Doll Museum” in Plainview, NE is sure to stir up some coulrophobia. (That’s the technical term for “fear of clowns"). The museum, where admission is free, houses more than 7,000 dolls. It’s located — where else?! in northeast Nebraska on U.S. Highway 20. You’ll know you’re getting close when you spot an 8-foot-tall wooden clown mascot near the museum entrance. The clown doll collection started in the 1950s after some local musicians started the Plainview Klown Band, dressing up as clowns and playing music in an effort to draw tourism. That led to “Klown Day” celebrations in the summer. Then, a secretary at the Chamber of Commerce started placing the clown dolls in the chamber office, which led to even more doll donations. And, that’s how so many clown dolls got corralled, putting Plainview, Nebraska on the map for clown doll tourism.
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3. A UFO Watchtower in a Colorado Valley
Unless you’re on, say, Mars, spotting aliens qualifies as pretty darn surprising. While Roswell, NM is a known destination for tourists wanting to hear stories of alien sightings, there’s a small Colorado town also bidding for some extraterrestrial attention. Hooper, CO (population 103) in the San Luis Valley is home to an alien watchtower.
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Former cattle rancher Judy Messoline, owner of the watchtower, says there’s been more than five dozen sightings over the past 12 years. Even if you don’t spot a UFO, you’ll probably pick up on chit-chat about alien abductions and extraterrestrial life while hanging out on the raised, metal platform that serves as the watchtower.
4. A Giant Underwater Skull in Florida
The scene: You’re scuba diving near South Walton, FL and spot an 8-foot-tall skull, complete with a stainless steel jaw, nasal cavity and eye sockets shaped like Southern Stingrays. The piece of artwork is striking (not to mention slightly unnerving) and it’s among seven pieces that make up the debut collection of the Underwater Museum of Art. The skull’s dome is cast of cement embedded with limestone to attract corals. “For a diver, one of the most exciting things to do is shine your dive-light in a dark hole and see who is staring back at you,” says the skull’s artist, Vince Tatum, in a description of the piece. “A large skull covered in coral and marine growth, teeming with life, makes for one hell of a photo-op.”
5. A Haunted Historic Mansion in Silicon Valley
You expect old, haunted houses in old, eerie cities that are dotted with historical markers. But what about a historic haunted house in the middle of a high tech city? The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley, certainly has a knack for giving visitors chills and has been billed among the most haunted houses in the country.
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The house inspired “Winchester,” a 2018 supernatural horror movie. Helen Mirren portrayed Sarah Winchester, who spent a fortune building the chaotic house while grieving the sudden death of her husband, gun manufacturer William Wirt Winchester. Lore has it, she was trying to lock away ghosts and deter them in the sprawling mansion that has 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 17 chimneys and 160 rooms. Construction played out from 1886 to 1922. Public tours are available. To really get this right, though, dare to do the candlelit Halloween tour.