AAA Travel Tips / Top Thrills and Chills in America

Top Thrills and Chills in America

AAA/Sherry Mims
By AAA Travel Editor Sherry Mims
November 09, 2021
Do you like to experience attractions that provide a scare or a sense of disquiet? Or, do you have a desire to explore the unknown? If so, here’s a list of places to go and things to do with friends or family. Since not everyone believes in the paranormal or wishes to dabble in it, we’ve included a few mysterious places in addition to fun activities for those who nonetheless enjoy so-called “weird” travel.
AAA/Sherry Mims

Get Spooked in Central Florida

When your favorite movie or TV show isn’t delivering nearly enough thrills and chills, there are Orlando theme parks willing to scare you. One of the best known spectacles is Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. With haunted houses and themed performers based on pop cultural moments, you’ll be tasked with trying to keep your head about you—maybe literally in this definitely-not-for-kids spectacle. Other seasonal events might be better for children, such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom® Park in Lake Buena Vista or Legoland Florida Resort’s Brick-or-Treat in nearby Winter Haven.
And if you go to Winter Haven, don’t forget to drive a short distance to Spook Hill in Lake Wales, where you can put your car in neutral and maybe…experience the unknown (or, merely, an optical illusion). Unlike the other Central Florida Halloween events, this is a year-round oddity.
AAA/Inspector 43

Hunt for Paranormal Evidence in Savannah, Ga.

Consider the South, a beautiful and historic region that nevertheless carries scars due to the toll of slavery and inequality. To explore this double-sided legacy, head toward Savannah, Ga., a city that initially had banned slavery before it became heavily involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. With the city’s last-minute reprieve during the Civil War, the remarkably intact Savannah Historic District has become a sought-after destination—one filled with stories of tragedy and triumph.
With so many historic properties, Savannah’s also said to be among the best haunted places in the U.S. Don't miss a ghost-hunting tour from the Sorrel-Weed House, which invites guests to search for evidence using provided instruments, such as thermal imaging cameras and electromagnetic detection devices. Another fun thing to do in Savannah is a “spirits tour,” whereby guests can enjoy a frosty libation while hearing tales about the haunted areas; one good one is the Haunted Pub Crawl offered by Cobblestone Tours. The tour meets at Moon River Brewing Company, a local restaurant and brewery that’s busy but keeps a vacant upstairs due to “paranormal activity.” (Be mindful of pushing by the staircase.) If you’re looking for haunted places in the rest of the country, check out the Nine Spooky Places in the French Quarter or 13 Haunted Places You Can Visit in the U.S.
flickr/David Prasad

Lose Yourself in a Maze

Consider taking a road trip to places like Ohio’s Scenic Route 800 or another region of the country for a time-honored fall festivity, such as exploring a maze. Many communities, ranging from Glendale, Ariz., to Union, W.V., celebrate the season with an “amazing” design planted in a cornfield (as well as other agritourism opportunities like pumpkin patches and apple picking). However, a corn maze is a fun way to test your navigational skills as well as add a genuine frisson of suspense—without too much fear. For a maze that’s a little more confined and eerie, you’ll need to go westward to San Jose, Calif., and visit the Winchester Mystery House, where an heiress once tried to outrun angry spirits by building a labyrinthine home—for 38 years. Consider going on a Friday the 13th Flashlight or Halloween Candlelight tour to see some spaces that aren’t usually open to the public.

Search for Cryptids or Aliens in Mysterious Places

There are more mysterious places in the United States than you might think. From Bigfoot to UFOs, people love to wonder about the unknown. One popular conspiracy theory concerns Roswell, N.M., where an alien craft allegedly crashed in 1947 and then covered up. (The official explanation is that the craft was actually a weather balloon.) Diehard enthusiasts may want to trek to Rachel, N.V., near Area 51, and camp overnight at the Little Aleinn for bragging rights.
Likewise, the search for Bigfoot is ongoing, with claims of sightings throughout North America (minus Hawaii). At times called Sasquatch, Skunk or Swamp Ape (in Florida), this cryptid entered pop culture after an apelike “creature” was filmed walking near Willow Creek, Calif. Though labeled a hoax, visit the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum and decide for yourself.

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