Aug. 13, 2010— -- Many consider Friday the 13th an unlucky or spooky day. But others believe the day brings good luck. Either way, the pseudo-holiday -- really, just a day in the calendar -- has become a bit of a marketing ploy, especially in the travel world.
And since we have a Friday the 13th right in the middle of summer this year, why not take advantage of these weekend getaway deals?
And in case you were wondering, there is a technical term for a fear of Friday the 13th: Friggatriskaidekaphobia. Now you know.
So without further delay, here are 13 ways to celebrate Friday the 13th.
Stay at a Spooky Hotel
Guests have reported hearing children playing or giggling in the third floor hallway. (From 1920 until 1954, the hotel was a private Knox School for Girls). Voices have been heard in the Glimmerglass Room, apparitions have been seen walking hand-in-hand in period clothing, staff have heard their names being called from unseen sources, and a security officer has heard people walking above him on the third floor.
Of all the experiences reported, nothing seems in any way malevolent, just very, very longtime guests enjoying their stay at hotel.
To help add to the creepiness, the hotel organizes the Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tour, which operates every day at 8 p.m.
Haunted New Orleans and Voodoo
New Orleans has it all for the tourist looking for a little bit of scare: ghosts, vampires, above-ground cemeteries and spooky back alleys.
To get a feel for this city's occult past, consider the Haunted History Tours. The tour guides dress in gothic costumes and there's even a stop at a haunted bar for refreshments.
After your tour, head to the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum , which covers all the mysteries, the secrets, the history and folklore of rituals, zombies, of gris-gris, of voodoo queens and all that jazz. It puts all the voodoo magic together in one place in the heart of the French Quarter.
It's said that no one really grows up in New Orleans without voodoo. In the case of Charles Massicot Gandolfo, the museum's founder, this was all the more intensified by the tales from his grandmother that her great-grandfather had been raised in New Orleans by a voodoo queen. An artist with a passion for all the history and romance of New Orleans, he created the Voodoo Museum to share his fascination with that world.
Museum of Oddities and Superstitions
Ripley's Believe It or Not in New York's Times Square is a showplace for all sorts of oddities.
First off, to ensure your dead relatives don't haunt you, check out a decorative Widow's Finger Necklace from Papua New Guinea. Women cut off their fingers to honor and appease the spirit of each dead male relative and add each one to their necklace (note, many elderly women have no fingers from engaging in this practice over time).
To vanquish enemy spirits, consider a shrunken head from the Jivaro tribe of Ecuador -- believed to harness the spirit of your enemy and make him serve you.
And finally, to solicit a favor from the gods, there is a Tibetan Skull Bowl: a human skull completely lined inside with silver, used by Tibetan Buddhist monks to drink/eat from to ensure the gods looked favorably upon them.
Ripley's also tries to answer other questions for guests, such as: Why is the number 13 considered unlucky? And why is it bad luck to walk under a ladder or break a mirror? Even wonder why do we throw salt over our shoulder after we spill some or why do we say "bless you" when someone sneezes?
Guests will learn why black cats and owls are believed to be unlucky, and why four-leaf clovers, horseshoes and rabbit's feet are considered lucky.
At the Hyatt Regency Newport, in Rhode Island, luck is on your side. The hotel is hosting Friday the 13th-themed arts and crafts sessions where kids create Lucky Charm Bracelets with trinkets like horseshoes, four-leaf clovers and the number "7".
Additionally, the hotel staff will deliver Lucky Charm Bars (similar to a Rice Krispie treat, but featuring Lucky Charms) to every guest room with a "13" in the room number. The sweet treats are served with a ribbon and a note wishing its guests extra luck on the superstitious day.
Half Price at a Bat Cave
The Royal Ontario Museum's Bat Cave is a spooky spot filled with 20 bat specimens and more than 800 models, as well as spiders, cockroaches and various other creepy crawlies.
Originally opened in 1988, the Bat Cave is based on the real St. Clair cave in Jamaica.
Those brave enough to enter will encounter realistic twists and turns in the dimly lit cave, while learning all about some of nature's most fascinating and misunderstood creatures.
To celebrate the 13th, the cave is offering half price admission today from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Hotel Behind Stephen King's The Shining
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., inspired Stephen King to write the story for "The Shining." A friend of his once told a Maine newspaper that King "conceived the basic idea for the novel" after staying in the empty hotel (in room No. 217) on the night before it closed for an extended period.
Some parts of "The Shining" mini-series were filmed there, but it was not used for the movie.
That doesn't mean that guest can't get the full "Shining" experience. The hotel shows the uncut R-rated version of the movie -- on a continuous loop -- on guest room televisions. It also offers a historic ghost tour.
Of course, trying to book room No. 217 is a challenge; it is almost always occupied.
$13 Hotel Rooms for 13 Quick-Dialing Travelers
This one might not win for the best offer, but it sure is creative.
The first 13 people with speedy fingers can snag a room at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Florida, for tonight only. Not much help if you are in California or Iowa. But if you happen to be in the Orlando area and are one of the first 13 people to call the resort at 13:13 (better known as 1:13 p.m.) then you can get the $13 rate.
"While some people fear the day brings bad luck, we wanted to bring some good luck to some very lucky people -- if they need to change their routine, come here to Gaylord Palms," said Johann Krieger, the hotel's general manager.
The "Lucky 13" room promotion does not include tax, a resort fee or parking.
Haunted Hidden Spot in Scotland
Hidden beneath the Royal Mile lies Edinburgh's deepest secret: a warren of hidden "closes" where real people lived, worked and died. For centuries they have lain forgotten and abandoned.
Called Mary King's Close, the underground area is thought to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland. On a tour, urban myths and legends are examined, from the famous Satan's Invisible World written in 1685, right through to sightings since it opened to tourists in 2003.
Many have felt ghosts brush past their back in the Close, and during the tour you'll hear firsthand evidence of reputed ghostly communications on the Close.
In Key West, Fla., guests can discover the mystery of absinthe at the lobby bar of the Casa Marina Resort, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Serving Lucid, the first genuine absinthe imported into the U.S. after its 95-year ban, it is the only bar in Key West to carry absinthe, tributing famed author and former Key West resident Ernest Hemingway.
Guests can experience absinthe served in the traditional drip fashion, with or without a sugar cube. Ice cold water kept in an ornate bartop chalice is slowly dripped into a glass of absinthe after passing through a sugar cube poised atop a slotted silver spoon. The result is a frosted, jade-colored cocktail as mysterious at Friday the 13th.
Absinthe, a high-alcohol content drink, has gained a reputation over the years as a mind-altering, potentially hallucinogenic beverage.
A Witch in Jamaica
Jamaica has a legend about Annie Palmer, the White Witch, who ruled with cruelty and met a violent death.
Palmer has been dead for more than a hundred years and is still be remembered for her reign as a ruthless mistress to countless slaves and a murderous wife to her three husbands. People say that Palmer's ghost still appears around Great House, a 200-year-old mansion three miles from Montego Bay.
Although the Great House fell into ruins after Annie was murdered in 1831, the late American industrialist and developer John Rollins and his widow, Michelle, restored it to its original splendor at a cost of more than $2.5 million. Today it stands as one of the most striking architectural restorations of the 20th century, providing an unusual focus on a colorful aspect of Jamaican history
Guests can take the 45 minute tour which is offered daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A Friendly Lighthouse Ghost
Lighthouses and ghost stories go hand in hand, largely due to the isolation, rugged conditions and disasters at sea associated with them. One such tale surrounds Pacific Grove's Point Pinos Lighthouse in California where Emily Fish became keeper in 1893.
Kicking off visits with piano recitals and exotic tea parties backed with a killer ocean view, the "socialite light keeper" ruled the roost until poor health required a replacement in 1914. Today, her apparition is believed to be all the more present and wanders the second-floor rooms, moving objects and leaving behind the scent of perfume and a swishing noise reminiscent of the long skirts of the day.
The Point Sur State Historic Park and Lighthouse in Big Sur is another scary stop, listed among the top 10 haunted lighthouses in America. Many apparitions call this outback lighthouse home, including the spirit of the teenage daughter who died there of tuberculosis in 1900.
The Luck of the Irish
The luck of the Irish is world famous but the on-site genealogist at The Lodge at Doonbeg in Ireland's County Clare uses more than just luck to help people find their long lost Irish.
On site genealogists at Doonbeg research guests' Irish ancestry and even help coordinate visits to villages where their ancestors once lived. This program was prompted due to increased interest from resort guests at Doonbeg, who were of Irish descent and curious to learn more about their family's Irish legacy during their visit. And if you don't have any luck uncovering your Irish roots, you can always try your luck on the world-class golf course.
Coffin Factory Visit
The Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Ontario is the site of the once industrious Cataract Coffin Factory. Story has it proprietor Abraham Mortimer dedicated every waking hour to surveying the progress of his domain. At night, he was tormented by young hooligans who taunted the eccentric old man.
Mortimer would chase the riffraff from their pranks and dares. They always laughed at his threats, until one fateful night Mortimer confronted a rowdy group of thrill-seekers. In the ensuing struggle, a stack of solid oak coffins overturned, and Mortimer was crushed to death.
The guilty ran off and were never apprehended for their part in the gruesome murder. Soon after the funeral, Mortimer's coffin was found unearthed and empty. To this day it is said, he walks the halls for revenge on those who dare trespass on his beloved and now abandoned factory, now turned into a tourist attraction.