Horror Novels Come To Life: 5 Terrifying Vacation Spots

Explore these spine-chilling locations that inspired the creation of famous horror novels and discover how these authors weaved the history into their stories.

Book Culture Bookish Lifestyle Horror Travel
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, The Shining by Stephen King, and Dracula by Bram Stoker all floating in a pool on innertubes.

Mysterious things that go bump in the night don’t stop just because it’s summer. For all those horror fans who like to read about scary things year round, here are some vacation destinations that inspired famous horror novels.

1. The Exorcist House

You may know about The Exorcist House in Georgetown, Washington where the famous film The Exorcist was shot, but did you know that it’s rumored The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was inspired by the possession of a 14-year-old boy in the 1940s located in Bel-Nor, Missouri? Roland Doe, a pseudonym given to the young boy, was said to have used an Ouija board to contact his departed aunt when he was violently possessed. As Missouri is my home state, the story of Roland Doe was well-known and an hour away from where I grew up. 8435 Roanoke Dr. became a site of horrors where three priests undertook the position of exorcizing the demon from Roland which eventually had to be moved to Alexian Brothers Hospital due to its violent nature.

Front image of The Exorcist House in Georgetown, Washington.
IMAGE VIA ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

While 8435 Roanoke Dr. is not open to the public and Alexian Brothers Hospital is permanently closed, just being near these two places will send shivers up your spine. Long after the exorcism took place, neighbors have reported there are still paranormal activities within the house and some even say the demon that possessed Roland never left.

2. Stanley Hotel

Room for two, please! The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is the known site that inspired Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. After staying a night in the Stanley Hotel, King was inspired by a nightmare he had while he and his wife stayed in room 217. Coincidentally, they were also the only two guests on the property at the time, just like King’s characters from The Shining. The Stanley Hotel has had many mishaps since its opening in 1909 such as a gas explosion and reports of paranormal activity. The hotel allows you to stay in its more “active” rooms on the fourth floor. Let’s just hope we don’t wake up to “REDRUM” written on our door.

Image ofThe Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.
IMAGE VIA THE STANLEY HOTEL

3. Bell Witch

The legend of the Bell Witch extends back to the 1800s when John Bell and his family were haunted by a mysterious shape-shifting witch on the Tennessee frontier. Brent Monahan’s The Bell Witch: An American Haunting recounts the spooky story of the Bell Witch and how this malevolent spirit caused the death of John and swore to return to his children in the future. Today, the Bell Witch is said to reside in a small cave in Adams, Tennessee. The cave is open to the public for tours and paranormal investigations, but you must sign a waiver for this creepy caving adventure.

Inside of the Bell Witch cave
IMAGE VIA HISTORIC BELL WITCH CAVE

4. The Winchester House

While The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is not based on one true story, it is said that Jackson had inspiration from The Winchester House in San Jose, California. Sarah Winchester was the widow of the Winchester firearm tycoon William Wirt Winchester. Sarah’s renovation of the house consisted of creating doors leading to nowhere, walled-off windows, and intricate Gothic and Romanesque designs. Sarah’s sanity was questioned and rumors spread of her creating a house for the other side. While many manors inspired Jackson’s story, the Winchester House is the most chilling of all.

Image of the Winchester House in San Jose, California.
IMAGE VIA WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE

5. Slains Castle

If you are traveling abroad for summer, the Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland is a beautiful but eerie structure that inspired Bram Stoker when writing Dracula. Compared to the Bran Castle in Bran, Romania, which some say is more like the castle in Dracula, the Slains Castle is closer to where Stoker is from making it more likely the castle to provide inspiration. Just a short walk from a village and you’ll see this once magnificent castle and possibly feel someone, or something, watching you as you explore the grounds.

Image of the Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
IMAGE VIA THE CASTLES OF SCOTLAND

There are many different vacation spots for the summer and these five frightening places that inspired horror novels are the perfect place to start. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and holy water.


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