By Jeniece Smith
If you love Halloween but aren’t into the kitsch and gore of haunted houses, try these spirit walks and ghost tours – perfect for history buffs and, in some cases, families with school-age kids. Here’s a selection of communities across the state hosting events this season.
More than one murder has happened within the walls of this former speakeasy- and brothel-turned-bar. Grab a discounted Shakers Ghost Ale, Shadow People Lager or Death in the Absinthe cocktail and join the hour-long tour to learn about 150 years of haunted history. Those under the age of 18 must have parental consent to participate.
You’ll learn all about the dark side of Wisconsin’s largest city on these 90-minute walking tours through Milwaukee history. Take an overview tour of the city or a more focused tour of storied Milwaukee neighborhood Yankee Hill.
Take a walk around downtown Madison’s famed Capitol Square for spooky, sordid and otherwise strange stories, along with city folklore and beautiful architecture. You’ll never see Wisconsin’s capital city the same way again.
A guided tour through the Lincoln-Tallman House tells dark tales of the old mansion’s terrifying history. Before or after your tour, stop in for food or a drink at the SpookEasy, located next door in the Carriage House. This eerie event is intended for those age 13 years or older.
This historic building has a haunted history going back more than a century. Order a Dead Guy Ale off their overwhelmingly extensive beer and wine list, and if business is slow, ask about the former pool hall owner who has haunted the building since taking his own life many years ago.
This well-preserved 1850s settlement along the Wisconsin River has plenty of stories to tell, and the highlight of tour is speaking to the spirits themselves, represented by actors in period clothing. They’ll emerge from the shadows to tell their stories as you walk along by lantern-light.
Hear the Dells’ local ghost lore as you travel by boat up the Wisconsin River, then disembark for an after-dark expedition through Cold Water Canyon or Witches Gulch. This intense, hour-and-a-half experience is recommended for children older than 10.
The spirits of the past are said to roam historic downtown Baraboo, and you can hear their stories for yourself on this guided walking tour. Or, if you favor hitching a ride on your ghost hunt, you can even rent a rickshaw!
There’s a lot more than gorgeous waterfalls hidden throughout this area! A guide in period clothing and a flickering flame will show you the way through historic sections of Marinette said to be haunted.
Climb aboard the “Trolley of the Doomed” for a two-hour guided tour of Door County’s dark side. Learn about the peninsula’s mysterious history with stops at haunted houses, cemeteries, a shipwreck site and a lighthouse.
This family-owned business provides ghost tours and even a creepy cemetery walk, led by a guide dressed as a resident of the past! The lantern-lit excursions last 80 to 90 minutes and are family-friendly.
Ready for some more scares? Check out these 10 historic Wisconsin hotels with some ghoulish guests who never checked out.