The tours from New England Wicked Scary aren't just a canned recitation of facts—they're a quest to find evidence of another realm. Tour-goers join the investigators as they explore an ever-changing roster of haunted sites in New England, from old barns and cemeteries to haunted homesteads and mansions. They arm themselves with cameras and ghost-hunting equipment, which they use to find beings or spectral figures not visible to the human eye. In addition, the lead investigator, who is sensitive to paranormal vibes, feels out otherworldly presences so guests have a better chance of spotting something extraordinary.
North Ridge Mountain Guides founder Jamie Leahy first fell in love with scaling peaks while tackling the heights of Mount Washington. The Professional Climbing Instructors' Association–certified guru has since defied gravity on inclines of ice and rock around the United States and in Ecuador, summiting peaks of more than 19,000 feet to touch the sky and harvest his crops of clouds by following a simple philosophy: climb hard, climb safe. This mantra guides his approach to teaching the ins and outs of belaying and rappelling and steers the expeditions he leads up the less-traveled routes of Mount Monadnock. He also shares the art of ice climbing with pupils during introductory courses that delve into subjects such as crampon placement, swinging an ice axe, and how to read the ice, which often obscures its messages in Wingdings fonts.
With three haunted houses, a spooky hayride, and a bustling carnival, Witch’s Woods is a Halloween theme park that rises from the mist for only one month a year. Ferried along by a sputtering tractor, Haunted Hayride passengers cower for 20 grueling minutes as they are assailed from all sides by zombies, werewolves, ghouls, and cows trying to nibble the hay. At the end of the ride, three paths lead to additional attractions, including Castle Morbid, in which medieval spirits chase interlopers through the halls and into the depths of the keep, where it becomes increasingly apparent that the weapons that once kept intruders out are now employed to keep them in. Nightmare Mansion is inhabited by a cursed family whose eternal life has left them as withered husks driven insane with rage at visitors who still possess the ability to die. The final path leads to the 3-D Keeper’s Crypt, where the undead shamble and scream as they pursue their prey, and where the walls themselves seem to be closing in.
A creepy carnival awaits survivors with rides, games, and more attractions. The Horror wood Chamber of Chills puts favorite Halloween and horror-movie characters on display, including such icons as Frankenstein, Freddy Krueger, and Mary Shelley’s original version of Shrek. Meanwhile, the Jack O’ Lantern Jamboree displays rows upon rows of professional carved pumpkins, eerily glowing at self-guided passersby.
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Bella Via's licensed pilots maneuver their brightly colored craft through the sky as intimate groups of up to four passengers take in sweeping views of the countryside. The vessel swoops into natural beauty and dips close to the verdant treetops, granting aeronauts newfound views of the canopy and allowing them to eavesdrop on tree-house board meetings. Guests may skim across the mirrored surface of a lake or soar up to 2,000 feet above the earth to tamper with the clouds and embarrass rival meteorologists. Passengers can assist with the setup of balloons prior to takeoff, and a dedicated crew follows the vessel to its landing site to toast disembarking balloonists with an effervescent glass of bubbly and return them to their jealous automobiles.
After years of teaching preschool, Sue Merlino graduated to a new passion in life when she turned her enthusiasm for bicycling and her hometown into a career exploring Concord's history atop a two-wheeler. Her resulting brainchild, Concord Bike Tours, wends through the heavily treed lanes of the city, elucidating the history of notable locations such as the Emerson House, the abodes of lesser-known abolitionists, and the site where Thoreau kissed his first tree. Four regularly run tours take up to 10 bicyclists on 2.5- to 3-hour journeys, with optional sidecars for children younger than 8 provided. Sue and her family will also plot custom trips for clients interested in longer rides, different scenery, or preparing for a Jeopardy! audition.