For a family-friendly frightful trip, visit some of Florida’s most haunted places.
Key West’s East Martello Fort, www.kwahs.org, is home to Robert the Doll, owned by artist Robert Eugene Otto in the late 1800s. The doll was blamed for many odd occurrences in Eugene’s life—from frightening young Eugene and locking him in his room to sounds of footsteps and devilish giggling in the attic.
After Eugene died in 1974, Robert the Doll was found in the attic. The new owners’ daughter adopted him, but quickly found herself terrorized by the doll, which moved around the room on its own.
Robert is kept in a glass display case in East Martello Fort under the watchful eye of staff. Visitors report the doll’s facial expressions change and strange sounds have been heard at the fort.
He is thought to be the inspiration for Chucky of movie fame.
For ghost tours in Key West, visit www.keywestghostandmysteriestour.com or www.ghostsandgravestones.com.
Former public enemy No. 1 Ma Barker met her demise at her house in Ocklawaha. She and her son Freddy were both killed in a shootout there in a hail of more than 2,000 bullets. Rumor has it the home—kept like it was in the 1930s—is still visited by her spirit (www.hauntedplaces.org). The town recreates the shootout each January.
Supposedly, the Gulf County Courthouse in Port St. Joe is haunted by the spirits of three people who died there in a shootout July 28, 1987. Visitors have cited the sounds of running footsteps along the catwalk that connects the jail to the courtroom, unexplained elevator activity and lights flashing in the judges’ chambers.
Named by ABC-TV as the “Most Haunted Small Town in the U.S.,” Monticello (www.monticellojeffersonfl.com), proudly wears the moniker. It offers storytelling concerts, ghost walking tours and monthly haunting events. Visit the Monticello Opera House, the Old Jail Museum and historic homes for a combination of history and superstitions.
On the Web
TravelingMom.com, an independent family travel site, offers vacation ideas, tips and insights all year, provided by writers who have been to the places they write about. Regular contributors know about free stuff in every state, can offer the inside skinny on everything Disney and even what to pack in an emergency travel kit for your car.
Gonomad.com, headed by world traveler Max Hartshorne, features travel articles and insight from around the world. Organized by destinations, ways to get around and with sections about women’s travel, outdoor adventure, equestrian travel and world tours, the information is reliable and engaging.
A Purrfect Visit
If you’re a lover of felines, consider a trip to a cat café, which combines coffee shops or café dining with a chance to interact with adoptable cats and kittens. Felines are kept in separate areas from food service. Patrons are encouraged to interact with the cats, even if not considering adopting.
Here are some possibilities for your feline adventure:
- Tallahassee’s Fat Cat Café, www.fatcatcafetally.com.
- Fort Lauderdale’s Good Luck Cat Café (search for the name at www.facebook.com).
- Clermont’s Orlando Cat Café, www.orlandocatcafe.com.
- Tallahassee’s Tally Cat Café, www.tallycatcafe.com.