As the temperatures drop and pumpkin spice comes back into season, Halloween comes knocking at the door with thrills and chills. While you might not think of Virginia Beach as especially spooky, the city is home to no shortage of fun seasonal events. Whether you’re looking for serious paranormal activity or fun for the whole family, Neptune City is sure to delight. Keep these events in mind as you plan the rest of your Halloween season.
Visit a Haunted Hotel at the Oceanfront
The Cavalier Hotel was built in 1927 and welcomed a number of big names during its heyday. Al Capone, Frank Sinatra, Muhammed Ali, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are all said to have stayed at the legendary resort. Coors Beer founder Adolph Coors was also once a guest, but met a tragic end when he “fell” from a sixth-floor window in 1929. There are other ghostly happenings around the property too – from the Crystal Ballroom piano playing by itself to a wandering WWII solider to lost cat scratching and meowing at doors, don’t be surprised if you encounter some paranormal activity during your visit.
You don’t have to be a guest of the Cavalier to enjoy all the resort has to offer, either. Bask in the luxurious atmosphere, enjoy lunch on Becca’s sunroom, or treat yourself to afternoon tea in the Raleigh Room. While none of these are explicitly spooky, it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes and ears peeled for ghostly presences throughout the property.
Search for Pirate’s Booty at First Landing State Park
In search of buried treasure? First Landing State Park is the ideal place to begin your treasure hunt. It was once the favorite hideout of the legendary pirate captain Blackbeard. Local legends say that if you get too close to his treasure, you’ll be visited by a headless ghost! Even if you don’t stumble upon Blackbeard’s booty, the whole family will enjoy the region’s most-visited state park. With miles and miles of trails for hiking and biking awaiting you, there are endless opportunities for ghost hunting and adventure.
To really make a day of it, consider packing a picnic lunch for your excursion. There aren’t many opportunities to grab a snack within the park, so you’ll want to bring along some food and drinks to enjoy on your hunt for treasure.
Get Witchy in Pungo
The Witch of Pungo – also known as Grace White Sherwood – was the last person to have ever been convicted of witchcraft in the Commonwealth. She weathered constant accusations from neighbors before finally agreeing to prove her innocence. Of course, the way she was asked to prove her innocence is the stuff legends are made of: Grace agreed to trial by ducking. She was thrown into the Lynnhaven River while onlookers watched at the Ferry Plantation. When she surfaced, her survival was used to prove that she was, indeed, a witch. Grace was thrown in jail but eventually released.
Grace lived out her remaining days in peace, but legend has it that she’s buried under a tree on the Ferry Plantation. Those who live nearby say that on clear nights, you can spot the shape of a woman with long, wet hair walking along the riverside. Locals are reminded of the barbaric practice of witch dunking every time they drive along Witchduck Road.
Embrace History at the Ferry Plantation House
The Ferry Plantation House was built in 1830 and has stood stalwart against the backdrop of local history. In addition to the Witch of Pungo lore, the home is the center of a number of other ghost stories. Now a recognized city landmark, the Ferry Plantation House is said to be haunted by no less than 11 ghosts, including a slave named Harry, a woman mourning the loss of her soldier lover, and a mysterious lady in white who allegedly died after falling down the stairs in the 1800s. While we’ll probably never know the full extent of the property’s supernatural history, the caretakers are dedicated to telling the story of the Ferry Plantation House.
Admission to the Ferry Plantation House will run you $10 per adult and $8 per child. Be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours touring the grounds. Reservations are recommended.
Colonial Life at the Adam Thoroughgood House
Visitors often overlook the humble Adam Thoroughgood House in their tours around Virginia Beach. Those in search of paranormal activity would be smart to visit. The 1791 cottage is rich in both colonial history and ghostly presence. Be on the lookout for a red-haired woman and a man in a brown suit – they’re both said to be fond of moving around furniture and dropping items. Even if you don’t happen upon any particularly spooky activity during your visit, you’ll still learn a lot about life in the late 1700s, and come away with new appreciation for modern living.
Admission to the Adam Thoroughgood House is free, but you’ll want to check the schedule and make plans to take one of the official tours. They happen every 45 minutes Thursdays through Sundays.
Scare Yourself Silly at Nightmare Mansion
If you’re looking for more overtly frightening spooky season experiences, head to Nightmare Mansion at the Oceanfront. It’s the region’s longest running haunted house for a reason; walk at your own pace through narrow hallways and try not to scream at the frights lurking around every corner. The mansion is said to have been built in 1910 by Dr. Morgan and his family. They loved the property so much, neighbors say, that they never left – even after their untimely passing. Today, the home is open to the public and remains just as it was left more than 100 years ago.
While you can take a quick 10 minute tour through the building, the new escape room is especially fun. Because it’s set up quite differently than a traditional escape room, you’ll want to leave the little ones at home for this one!
Weather the Storm at the Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum
True stories are often the most frightening. A look back through Virginia Beach’s history is all it takes to get into a spooky mood. The Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum is dedicated to telling the stories of surfing legends, shipwrecks, and super storms. You’ll be blown away by the stories of heroism and tragedy. Of course, there’s no shortage of ghosts here, either. Staff say they’ve heard creepy footsteps, maniacal laughter, and even spotted disembodied spirits from shipwrecks. Visit them for their annual Ghost Walk in October to visit additional haunted locations along the boardwalk and beach.
Other Spooky Events to Enjoy
Hunt Club Farm Fall Harvest Fair
If you’re still not feeling very scared, head to the Hunt Club Farm Fall Harvest Fair. This annual festival is fun for the whole family – at least while the sun is still up. Pony rides, farm tours, and carnival rides aboung during the day. Once the sun sets, however, the family friendly environment is replaced with terrifying attractions and a cast of creepy characters. Now through October 31st, you can enjoy all that the Hunt Club ghouls have in store.
KOA of Virginia Beach
KOA of Virginia Beach is a great place to set up camp and enjoy the Halloween atmosphere with friends and family. Little ones will enjoy trunk of treat, live music, hay wagon rides, glow in the dark parties, as well as costumes for site decor, pumpkin carving, and costumes. Plan to attend either weekend – the events are happening both October 21-23 and October 28-30. Though not intended to be outright scary, the woods have a spooky vibe that’s unmatched this time of year. It’s a perfect blend of unsettling fun that will delight older kids and keep little ones having fun.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
For more not-so-scary happenings, head to the Virginia Aquarium. On October 28 and 29, they’re hosting a spooky scavenger hunt, complete with trick-or-treating stations manned by costumed characters. It’s the perfect place to bring little ones who are just getting their metaphorical feet wet.
In the mood for something truly frightening? The Wicked 10K is a nightmare – if you dislike running, that is! As Coastal Virginia’s largest Halloween run and post-race costume party, the race is the definition of Halloween fun. The Monster Mile and Mini Monster 1k make the event appealing to the whole family. It’s being held on October 29th.
Something Spooky For Everyone
No matter how you feel about ghosts, witches, and the paranormal, this time of year calls for a little suspension of disbelief. A region’s ghost stories can be incredibly revealing. After all, our local legends reflect the larger anxieties we all feel from time to time. From historical ghosts to modern haunted houses, these events and activities are a way to get our hearts pumping and our adrenaline soaring. Of course, if we also manage to learn a little in the meantime, that’s a win, too!
More Articles From Wander With Alex
- Virginia Beach: A Coastal Community with Creative ViBes
- Entertaining Things to Do in Norfolk, VA During Your Visit
Chelsea DeAngio is a freelance writer based in Greensboro, NC. Inspired by a rootless childhood as a Navy brat, she enjoys traveling every chance she gets. Pop culture often drives her trips. Whether channeling her inner Lady Mary at Highclere Castle in the UK or noshing on nachos at Showgirls filming locations in Vegas, Chelsea is always in search of a little silver screen glitz.