Americans love to be frightened—for fun, that is. Last year, more than half the country planned to celebrate Halloween, spending to the tune of almost $9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
Here’s a collection of year-round Midwest attractions that range from strange and terrifying to intriguing and fascinating, as well as Southern hotels and a military park with ghoulish histories, all perfect to scare up a bit of Halloween fun for you. Check with each site for any late updates regarding operation hours or tours.
Curiosity Museum, Alton, Illinois
It probably tells you something that this attraction’s former name is The Historic Museum of Torture Devices. Owner Janet Kolar has curated instruments of torture, failed medical inventions, optical illusions, vintage stereoscopic viewers, and more, all housed in the former Mineral Springs Hotel, which is said to be haunted. You’ll even see an eastern European vampire-killing kit (complete with the family’s Slovakian Bible). This place is recommended for guests 18 years and older, and admission is $6 (cash only). curiositymuseumalton.com
Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum, Carthage, Illinois
This local history museum acquired the former Illinois Funeral Directors’ Funeral Customs collection to create a fascinating, if not macabre, look at the mortuary profession. The exhibit includes coffins—one of them a replica of Lincoln’s—a horse-drawn hearse, an assortment of tools, and funeral jewelry and dress. The recreated 1928 preparation room will produce chills. There’s no admission fee. kibbe.wordpress.com