If you love Halloween as much as I do, then you know the fun isn’t really limited to a single night–it happens all October long. That’s why I am officially unofficially declaring October to be the absolute spookiest and most fun month in Ocean City, ever. I’ll even be so bold as to claim that this OCtober will be more exciting than July and August combined. Obviously there will be far fewer tourists in town and no lifeguards in the stands, but the lack of cars zooming down Coastal Highway on a foggy autumn night only adds to the creepy, desolate ambience of the town. And isn’t that what Halloween is all about?
While I’m obviously of the opinion that this is the most wonderful time of the year, it’s not always obvious to Ocean City visitors what all there is to do during these “off” months. Admittedly there’s not nearly as much happening around town in October as there is in the summer, so sometimes you have to make your own fun. Luckily, around here, that’s not super hard to do. Here’s just a few things that I know I’ll be doing to celebrate Halloween in Ocean City.
Our neck of Delmarva is actually really haunted. Sleep with your lights on, and be sure to check out a few of these places that are well-known and widely accepted to be occupied by ghosts.
Where there’s old hotels, there’s usually haunted hotels, too. You don’t necessarily have to book a room if you’re hoping for a ghost sighting–many of these places might be closed for the season, anyway–but Chesapeake Ghost Walks’ Ocean City or Berlin tours will likely give you a taste of such spooky lodgings. Otherwise, planning your own homemade Ghost Walk always makes for a fun Saturday afternoon. Here’s a few to add to your list. Just don’t trespass!
At the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin, which was built in 1895, it’s said that the spirit of a little girl haunts the second floor, and paranormal activity is often reported from room 16.
If you find yourself in Bethany Beach, check out the Addy Sea Inn. It’s home to a mysterious shaking bathtub, organ music seemingly without origin and the spirit of the inn’s former handyman.
In the heart of Ocean City, the Henry Hotel is no stranger to ghost sightings, either. The Henry was built around the same time as the Atlantic, but provided lodging for “colored” guests before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was put into effect. Today, people passing by have reported seeing a ghostly young man in overalls standing on the porch and at other times hearing jazz music from the empty building at night.
A bit farther down the boardwalk, the Shoreham Hotel is known for its haunting “trifecta,” having provided the backdrop to a murder, a suicide and an accidental death years and years ago. If you’re able to go inside and are hoping for a paranormal experience, check out the basement and room six–they’re said to be the paranormal hotspots of the Shoreham. (While you’re on the boardwalk, by the way, stop by the Life Saving Museum and pay a visit to Laffing Sal–she’s plenty possessed in her own right.)
If haunted houses are more your thing than haunted hotels, you’ll want to venture out to Gumboro, DE and visit the Old Gumboro Homestead. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in the small township, known for the spooky sound of heavy breathing and disembodied footsteps upon entrance into the home, the occasional reverberation of harmonica music and sightings of translucent figures moving across the yard at night.
A few miles nearer Ocean City is Salisbury, MD, home to the Poplar Hill Mansion. The 1795 plantation functions today as a museum, which means you can actually go inside and look for the spirits of the former servant Samuel, the mansion’s former owner and a young enslaved girl who burned to death after her dress caught fire.
The great outdoors
If you’re looking to convene with nature on a crisp fall day, there’s a number of places outside that may or may not be totally haunted.
One of those places is the Witch’s Tree in Whaleyville, MD. Legend holds that women thought to be witches were once hanged from the tree, but whether that’s true or not, just being in the presence of the looming tree with its gnarling branches and long shadows cast can send chills down your spine. And there’s multiple orbs in every picture I’ve ever taken of the Witch’s Tree, for whatever that’s worth.
Not too far from the tree in Frankford, DE is a cemetery commonly known as Catman’s Grave. Supposedly a long-dead cemetery caretaker with catlike features watches over the graveyard, and if you knock three times on the bizarre brick wall just behind the cemetery, the Catman will mess with your car to keep you from leaving.
Maybe you’re looking to be scared, but not in a “real life” sort of way. When your heart is racing and you’re terrified out of your mind, it is sometimes nice to remember that whatever’s haunting you is for sure only an illusion.
Sadly the Trimper’s haunted house only opens up for the season when Halloween falls on a weekend, but OC Screams waits until right after October 31st to close. And there’s truly no better way to celebrate Halloween than by having a tiny heart attack every time a zombified sailor jump-scares you.
Free your inner child
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the kid-friendly side of the holiday. We all need a break from paranormal investigations and pee-your-pants scary haunted houses sometimes, after all.
Most OCtoberfest events are geared toward children, but some, like the Halloween Beach Maze, are still open to all ages–and the Halloween Beach Maze is populated with witches, ghouls and zombies, in case you’re up for a lite scare. There’s not really anything too spooky about the Howl-o-Ween Pet Parade unless you’re a cat (I predict the parade is dog-heavy), but the event really embraces the cute, quirky aspects of the holiday. And the Great Pumpkin Race provides the opportunity to get a little competitive by building a tiny pumpkin racecar.
Other events and happenings…
If you’d rather engage in more adult-oriented fun, the Shore Craft Beer OCtoberfest will introduce you to a ton of delicious, local craft brews–many of them, in the spirit of the season, pumpkin flavored.
Be sure to check the events that are happening at your favorite nightlife hubs. Many larger venues throw Halloween parties, like Seacrets‘ Spooktacular Halloween Party and Costume Contest.
If your favorite Halloween activities or haunted locales weren’t mentioned here, we’d love to hear about them on our OCtoberfest thread.