There is something about October that piques our interest in paranormal activities. From storytelling and investigating to fascinating displays, these day trips encourage you to explore the other side of Rochester.
For families with little ones looking for something more sweet than scary, check out the RMSC’s Family Fun Day: Tricks & Treats and enjoy a few fall- and Halloween-themed boat or train rides. Find musical tricks and treats when the RPO OrKIDStra performs Spooky Symphonies on October 29 at Hochstein.
And I’m thrilled to add The Landmark Society Ghost Walk back to the list after a few years on pause.
1. Halloween on Ambush
15 Ambush Lane, Churchville
Avast, me hearties! Look for the 2023 showtime schedule to be nailed down closer to early October. For now, mark your calendar for the two weekends before Halloween when this year’s grand event sets sail with a mighty pirate ship docked at 15 Ambush Lane in Churchville. There’ll be a fine tune of music, dazzling lights, and mystical special effects to bewitch ye.
Halloween on Ambush needs your help to support The Dream Factory of Rochester. This local volunteer organization makes dreams come true for children diagnosed with critical or chronic illnesses. To donate or become an event sponsor for Halloween on Ambush 2023, please visit halloweenonambush.com this very day, ye savvy?
2. GCVM’s Spirits of the Past
Genesee Country Village
October 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 & 29, 2023
From their website: Get ready for a ghoulishly good time! As you depart from the Toll House with your guide, the once familiar and welcoming Historic Village becomes eerie and ominous. Beware – what frightened us in the 19th century may inspire dread today. As you make your way through candle-lit mansions, down cobblestone paths, and through moonlit orchards, beware—what you fear most may lurk right around the next corner. This year’s Spirits of the Past Tours feature the spine-tingling theme of “Fears & Phobias.” What frightened us in the 19th century may still be inspiring dread today… Beware of gravediggers, creepy crawlies, sinister souls, visitors from another world, and more. Brave souls who pass through the Toll House will be guided in groups of 20–22 with a guide and will enter scenes in a variety of historic buildings. But beware—the unexpected experiences may not be limited to just inside the Village’s buildings.
3. Mount Hope Cemetery Walking Tours
Mount Hope Cemetery
Saturday, October 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2023
Undertakers, Wakes, & Tears: Mourning Rituals in 19th Century America
October 7, 2023, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Learn about the Victorians’ complex relationship with death and the socially accepted but somewhat curious rituals and customs used to express their grief.
From the Beyond: Tales of Melancholy, Grief, and Tragedy
October 14, 2023, 11:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Unimaginable circumstances! Unexplained phenomena! Unfortunate events! Unbelievable superstitions! These are just some of what affected Mount Hope Cemetery “residents” during their time among the living.
Escorted tour groups will depart from the north gatehouse every 15 minutes starting at noon, and the last tour group will depart at 1:45 p.m. (8 groups total). Tickets are $15 for members and non-members. Please choose your preferred time slot when purchasing a ticket and arrive to check in at the north gatehouse (at the entrance on Mount Hope Avenue across from Robinson Drive) about 5-10 minutes prior to your ticketed departure time. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
The tour will last approximately 90 minutes. The route includes paved, cobblestone, & unpaved roads, grassy areas, and hills (degree of difficulty = 3 out of 5). This event is not recommended for children younger than 10 years. Please do not bring dogs or other pets.
Parking on cemetery roads is permitted except in front of the north gatehouse, as posted. Within the cemetery, you will likely have to park some distance from the gatehouse and walk back to check-in. You may also find parking in the neighborhoods around the cemetery, such as along Robinson Drive on the other side of Mount Hope Avenue. We expect high attendance for this event, so please allow extra time to find parking.
Fall Foliage at Mount Hope Cemetery
October 21, 2023, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Enjoy the beauty and color of Mount Hope Cemetery’s trees as they prepare for the winter season.
Mischief, Murder, and Mayhem
October 28, 2023, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Meet some permanent residents who bent, broke, or enforced the law or whose lives met an unfortunate or grisly end.
4. Haunted Houses and Hayrides
Various dates, times, locations
Several places offer haunted hayrides during Halloween, ranging from family-friendly to scary-as-h-e-double-hockey-sticks.
Powers Farm Market
Pittsford, the least scary
Daily, Sep 1–Oct 31, 2023
From their website: Our Halloween-themed hayrides are a seasonal favorite. With special effects and spooky surprises, you’ll encounter ghosts, witches, skeletons, graveyards, and more! Although we consider these rides family-friendly, discretion is advised for children.
VerHulst Haunted Hayride
Spencerport, the scariest
Weekends, October 1-30, 2023
From their website: No reservations, first come, first served, not recommended for children aged eight or younger. The experience takes approximately 30 minutes, including the Haunted Corn Maze. There can be long wait times, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Nightmare Manor at South Town Plaza
Weekends beginning September 29, plus October 30–31
Special events also include:
Saturday, October 21, 12 p.m.–3 p.m.: Treat Fest Kids Day. **Tickets available onsite ONLY** Come to experience Nightmare Manor with the lights on and the scary stuff off! We’ll have kid’s activities and fun HALLOWEEN MUSIC! Tickets are $10 for kids 12 and under. Adults are FREE!
Saturday, October 21: RIP Auto Hearse Club. See Rochester’s spookiest rides.
Friday and Saturday, November 3 and 4, 7:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.: Lights OUT! See Rochester’s scariest haunted attraction in The DARK. Walk through the dark hallways of all our themed areas with nothing more than a glow stick. This event will sell out! There are no discounts or group rates for this event.
5. RMSC After Dark: Villain’s Ball
Rochester Museum & Science Center
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Adults 21 and over
From their website: Disguise yourselves as your favorite villains (or as your favorite goons) and join us this spooky season for an enchanting Ball honoring those characters we all love to hate!
6. MAG’s Museum of the Dead
Memorial Art Gallery
Friday, October 27, 2023
Adults 21 and over
From their website: Fall in love with art, fortune tellers, music, monsters, and more! Enjoy a night in the museum with 5,000 years of world art in our collection, party under our enchanting skylight, sit down to hear your fate, treat yourself to food and drink from Brown Hound Downtown (cash only), enjoy a movie, and show off your creative costume—and win prizes! Learn about the most haunted places in ROC from Monroe County Paranormal Investigators, experience a live concert on the only full-size Italian Baroque organ in North America, and more!
7. Spooky Season at The Little
The Little Theatre
From their website: Spooky Season will return in October 2023! From crypts to cryptids, ghouls to ghastly gargoyles, The Little’s Spooky Season is here to fill your October with harrowing, haunting films and events! From classic horror to modern family-friendly fare and international frights to 90s-witchy vibes, we hope you join us to celebrate the most beautiful time of the year in the house of silent shadows!
8. Rolling Hills Asylum
Events all year, amped up in October
RHA has been featured on Ghost Hunters and several other prominent investigation television series. Their website has a year-long events calendar that includes guided and self-guided walking tours, public, private, and group ghost hunts, themed dinners, and special events. Learn more about RHA at The Haunted History Trail of New York.
9. Rochester Candlelight Ghost Walks
Multiple 2023 Dates, Times & Locations in October, downtown Rochester and suburbs
Guided walk themes include Ghosts of Mt. Hope Ave., Jack the Ripper in Rochester, Spirits of Sea Breeze, Lady in White, Phantoms of Fairport, Haunts of Henrietta, and Lilac Legends.
From their website: If you’re looking for REAL ghosts, you’ve come to the right place. Our tours take you through the REAL haunted Rochester, sharing Rochester’s unique history and infamous ghost stories for an unforgettable experience. Experience the first tours in Rochester to interact with the ghosts and let you in on the action!
Find More Ghost Walks
10. Landmark Society Ghost Walk
Returning for its 27th season, The Landmark Society’s Halloween-season walking tour highlights macabre events, personalities, and places in Rochester’s history.
Ghost Walk is a nighttime guided walking tour. Follow lantern-bearing guides down the dark streets of a historic neighborhood and encounter ghosts from Rochester’s past—each with an authentic gory event to relate.
All tours start at the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word at the corner of East Avenue and Goodman Street. The tour is about an hour, with groups leaving every fifteen minutes between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21.
Advance tickets ($22) are strongly encouraged to give you the best choice of tour times and avoid a lengthy wait at the event. Online ticket sales will close at 1 p.m. on each tour day. However, a limited number of tickets will be available for all tours at the door on a first-come, first-served basis for $25.
Self-Guided Paranormal Activities
11. The Skeleton Army
Hopewell [get directions]
Sep. 15–Oct 31, 2023, daily, 3–9:30 p.m.
Head out to Hopewell near Canandaigua for this fantastic Halloween display! Over 200 skeletons (humans, horses, dinosaurs, and dogs!) are marching on the home, heavily defended by trees (think of the Ents from Lord of the Rings). Admission fee is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, and children under five are free.
12. The White Lady’s Castle
Driving on Lake Shore Boulevard, you’ll find a little parking lot across from Lake Ontario, between Log Cabin Road and Zoo Road. Park and look up the hill to this view of the White Lady’s Castle.
Well, not a castle—it was a dining hall for beach-goers, torn down in the 1930’s. Atlas Obscura does a beautiful job of telling the story of the White Lady, her daughter, her vengeance, and her two white ghost dogs.
So take a walk and see if you can find any rumored apparitions of the White Lady searching for her daughter. Rumor also has it that this story inspired the 1988 movie The Lady in White. And don’t forget the White Lady tree!
13. The Fox Sisters
Hydesville, near Newark
You can make a pilgrimage to Hydesville in Wayne County to visit the birthplace of The Fox Sisters and Spiritualism. It was on this site, in the Fox Family cottage, where Kate & Maggie Fox first made contact with the spirit of Charles B. Rosna on March 31, 1848.
Their story has been widely attributed to the beginning of the Spiritualism movement and the creation of Lily Dale, the World’s Largest Center for the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of Spiritualism. Lily Dale was incorporated in 1879. The Fox cottage had been moved to Lily Dale in 1915 piece by piece but burned down in 1955.
TIP: If you’re looking for support with your paranormal activities, CITY News, in an interview with Monroe County Paranormal Investigations, said they are “dedicated to investigating the truth behind the paranormal, and they operate with a healthy sense of skepticism. This isn’t about the spooky and scary, but a look into the real and normal lives of some of Rochester’s paranormal investigators.”
You may also enjoy:
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Come mid-September, we begin to crave all things apple. Apple cider. Apple cider donuts. Apple fritters. Apple pie. And warm fry cakes.
September marks the beginning of fall in Rochester, offering fun seasonal favorites from fry cakes to farm-themed events and activities.
If you’re looking for picturesque autumn scenery, these locations offer stunning fall foliage and unique landscapes.
What are your favorite paranormal activities?
Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.