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Explore Dallas’ haunted neighborhoods with these DIY date night ideas
4 infamous locations to explore with your — ahem — boo
By Abbie Kopf
September 24, 2023
It’s easy to get your fright-fix during Dallas’ spooky season. But if you want to skip the long lines and exorbitant ticket prices of popular haunted houses or sponsored parties, there are plenty of other ways to scare up a good time.
In almost every Dallas neighborhood, rumors of spirits and inexplicable phenomena abound, and you can easily tailor a date night or weekend getaway to experience them all. We’ve rounded up four ideas to get you started on your ghost-hunting tour across the Big D.
1. Arts District/Downtown Dallas
Winspear Opera House
Though the Winspear Opera House hosts big-name entertainers and touring shows, some of its most intriguing performances may happen backstage. The theater’s “ghost light” — a standard safety measure that increases visibility in dark theaters — is also said to illuminate performing spirits who can’t resist one last curtain call. Join for a First Saturday tour or follow the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s calendar to enjoy a show and experience this staple of theater lore.
The Adolphus Hotel
After a day at the theater, check into the storied Adolphus Hotel, originally opened in 1912 by Anheuser-Busch cofounder Adolphus Busch. One of the most iconic upscale high-rises in downtown Dallas, the elaborate, gilded exterior gives way to upscale eateries, a stunning pool and — according to guests — a viscerally creepy vibe at times.
Reports include accounts of phantom music reminiscent of the many big-band performances hosted in the ‘20s and ‘30s, disembodied screams and haunted elevators, perhaps due to several gruesome deaths that have occurred within the shafts. Grab a room and hunker down ‘til morning. You may want to sleep with one eye open.
2. Lower Greenville/East Dallas
Originally opened in a former pool hall, Snuffer’s has maintained its no-frills fare and curious occurrences since 1978. Staff there report glasses shattering out of nowhere, children’s echoing giggles, mysterious shadows climbing the walls and other mischievous ghost shenanigans — which haven’t stopped patrons from bellying up to the bar to try signature dishes like Snuffer’s gooey cheddar fries. Reportedly, the ghosts are friendly, and we can confirm the burgers are divine — plan a visit to see for yourself.
White Rock Lake
Move further east and enjoy a scenic fall walk around White Rock Lake. You may encounter “The Lady of the Lake,” an apparition who dons all-white clothing and appears to be drenched from — allegedly — a deadly dip in the water. Reports say the ghost asks motorists for a ride home, only to disappear once invited into the vehicle. Or, wander over to Flag Pole Hill, where motorists say spirits have ever-so-subtly encouraged them to leave by launching rocks at passing vehicles.
3. The Cedars/Deep Ellum
The Millermore Mansion at Dallas Heritage Village
This Civil War-era mansion originally housed a misanthropic family who kept to themselves — which caused suspicion among neighbors. What went on inside the house inspired plenty of rumors about dark deeds, and it’s believed that two of owner William Brown Miller’s three wives passed away within the mansion’s walls. Though the structure eventually fell into disrepair, those who have restored and visited its grounds since swear they experience apparitions and full-body chills that cut through even the hottest Texas heat.
Sons of Hermann Hall
After a visit to the infamous mansion, grab a beer at the oldest bar in Dallas, Sons of Herman Hall, which was originally a community gathering place and bowling alley. It later became a concert and events venue, and still draws communities of all kinds – allegedly even the formerly alive. Visitors and staff report eerie flashes of light, and have heard tables and chairs being scooted about. One group swears they saw a couple dressed in Victorian garb enter the venue, walk up the stairs and disappear forever. Catch some music or track down the vanishing couple this fall.
4. Oak Cliff/South Dallas
Coombs Creek Trail
Locals say a young girl was riding her bicycle along the Coombs Creek trestle when she was tragically struck by a train. Her spirit is said to have remained there ever since. According to legend, you’ll know she’s near when you hear the sound of a phantom bicycle bell. Visit the scenic route along Kessler Parkway for idyllic bridges and plenty of greenery, but beware of oncoming cyclists, real or imagined.
Though all cemeteries are likely epicenters for otherworldly activity, historic Oakland Cemetery offers a decidedly haunted aesthetic, with sizable crypts, chipped headstones, gorgeous gardens and plenty of sculptures dotting 47 acres. Though the cemetery’s condition deteriorated over the years, new efforts to preserve the historic site are underway, preserving the resting place of numerous Dallas luminaries. Take a stroll and explore the grounds, absorbing the ghostly ambiance while enjoying the stunning grounds.
Going on your own tour? Tag @Localite and tell us where you’re going and what you’ve found. And sign up for the Localite newsletter, compiled for you to enjoy where you live.
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Is Atlanta the chili capital of the Southeast?
We explore the phenomenon and tell you where to find new classics in Atlanta.
Like many cities across the United States, fall is the peak event season for Atlanta. Families enjoy haunted houses, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, art fairs and more, but there is a signature event that sets the Greater Atlanta area apart from other cities: The chili cook-off.
Though the Texas-born stew is common in parts of the South, Southwest, Midwest and Northeast, Atlanta has helped popularize — and change — chili culture in the Southeast and beyond.
Arguably one of the city’s most anticipated autumn events, The Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook-Off and Bluegrass Festival draws more than 30,000 total guests each year. In fact, for the last 13 years, Stomp and Chomp has seen a 20%+ rise in attendance year-over-year. The event began in 2003 by locals to preserve the parks and other public areas of Cabbagetown, Atlanta’s first National Landmark Historic District, but has since transformed into an unofficial rite-of-fall-passage for Atlantans.
Chomp and Stomp isn’t the only chili game in town. The Atlanta Chili Cook Off in Dunwoody features 50+ competitors, from home cooks to restaurants and caterers. The Suwanee Chili Cook-Off & Music Festival is a newcomer celebrating its second year of operation and is certified by the International Chili Society — meaning winners will be eligible to compete at the World Champion Chili Cook-Off. And, in restaurants and bars across Greater Atlanta, you’ll find chili on the menu, with variations that bring the heat and change the game.
The spread (and enthusiastic attendance) of events like these is interesting for a region that hasn’t traditionally been known for its historic chili roots.
How chili spread across the U.S.
The earliest accounts of chili are unsurprisingly from Texas, beginning with cowboys and carried westward by gold miners on the trail to California in the late 19th century. One written account from a “forty-niner” (the moniker for someone seeking gold) describes combining chunks of beef with chili peppers, seasonings and a thickening agent to make the stew that we know today as chili. Thus, chili’s roots extend from Texas through New Mexico and all the way to California, following the dining traditions of pioneers on the trail.
Chili was then exported to the Midwest by way of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where the dish became a trend du jour in places like Cincinnati and parts of Missouri. These regions popularized “chili parlors” which spread across parts of the U.S. in the mid-1900s, where novel approaches and ingredients diverted from traditional Texas red chili.
Later, parts of the Southeast contributed to modern chili adaptations. Louisiana chilis may substitute sausage in place of beef, or integrate Cajun spices, for instance. Kentucky chili adds spaghetti noodles into the mix à la Cincinnati’s infamous Skyline Chili. (A discussion for another time.)
Yet the Southeast region, as a whole, can’t compare to Atlanta’s mainstream embrace of chili, with spirited competitions, tens of thousands of fans and widespread chili options at restaurants and bars throughout the Greater Atlanta area.
Atlanta is creating signature iterations of the classic dish
One of the easiest routes for finding a bowl of chili in the Atlanta area? Follow the chili champions.
The 2022 Chomp and Stomp winners in the restaurant category all have barbecue and burger ties, with the number one prize going to Grindhouse Killer Burgers, whose signature sandwiches begin with premium beef — the cornerstone to any great burger or bowl of chili. Peek at the chili description on its restaurant menu and you’ll see a familiar combo with a twist: Combined with ground beef and brisket, they’ve added chorizo, which brings another level of spice and an extra dimension of flavor.
Souper Jenny is another reigning chili queen who has won several titles thanks to her family recipe, which diverts from traditional chili by using turkey as the primary meat. The satisfying bowl combines brown sugar with a generous dose of chili powder, balancing the “sweet and heat” for a flavorful spice that won’t overwhelm your senses.
Over at Park 82 Restaurant, Executive Chef Aaron Jones has won multiple awards for his chili recipe, including taking the title at The Atlanta Chili Cook Off in 2022 and 2021. You can stop by the restaurant and order “Aaron’s Famous Chili” notable for its fried chili peppers, providing an extra kick.
For vegans and vegetarians, finding a delicious bowl in Atlanta is surprisingly easy. Slutty Vegan’s Hawt Toddy, for instance, is a decadent meal in itself, loaded with bean, peppers, Impossible Pork and a savory mix that has “Sluttified” chili in the best way possible.
Go out and a grab a bowl for yourself
If you find yourself wanting to get in on the Atlanta chili craze this fall, make sure to patronize one of the restaurants or above, and attend one of the many chili cook-offs where you can experience the novel interpretations of a dish that’s nearly as old as the United States — but making strides right here in ATL.
Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook-Off and Bluegrass Festival
Nov. 4, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Purchase of spoon required to taste, $15
Atlanta Chili Cook Off
Brook Run Park
Tickets start at $15
Suwanee Chili Cook-Off & Music Festival
Nov. 11, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Suwanee Town Center Park
Ticket prices TBA
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9 weird, wild and unique fall events in Atlanta
If you’re all about finding a new favorite this fall, look no further.
The fall season in Atlanta is magical as the trees turn golden and the air feels crisp after a few months of scorching heat. Many head to the mountains, from Blue Ridge to Ellijay, for apple picking and other quintessential fall fun, but the Greater Atlanta area will be bustling with festivals and events. Popular classics abound, but if you’re looking to experience something new, check out some of Atlanta’s unique fall activities.
The Ghastly Dreadfuls at the Center for Puppetry Arts
(Oct. 11 – 28)
This long-running Atlanta tradition features different spooky stories each year, presented in different styles of puppetry, from marionette to shadow puppets. Ask any of the attendees who come back year after year — it’s a Halloween event that everyone should experience at least once. Equal parts ominous and silly, the group describes the show as “an old-school cocktail of death and humor.” If you’ve been looking to shake up your fall calendar, this is the ticket. (Admission starts at $22; includes entry into the Worlds of Puppetry Museum)
The Highland Games & Scottish Festival
(Oct. 21 – 22)
Find your tartan and head out to the Highland Games & Scottish Festival in Stone Mountain Park. The festival includes lively pipe bands, Scottish athletics, competitions for piping and drumming, Highland dancing contests, Scottish harping and more. You can also enjoy delicious Scottish food and drinks, clan tents and vendors selling unique British Isles goods. (Tickets start at $22.50)
Atlanta Streets Alive
(Oct. 22 & Nov. 12)
Exciting news: Atlanta Streets Alive is returning as a monthly event for the fall of 2023! Three miles of Peachtree St (from Mitchell St SW in downtown Atlanta to 15th St NE in Midtown) will be closed to traffic for four hours on these Sundays. It provides the perfect opportunity for you and your friends to walk, run, stroll, bike, scoot or rollerblade on the open street. Join ATLDOT in creating a more sustainable and pedestrian-friendly experience by eliminating cars from the equation for an afternoon. (No ticket required)
Join the spooky, quirky and bizarre celebrations in Little Five Points this Halloween, with live music, food, drinks, a Halloween market place, 3D haunted house and a fantastical parade on Sunday. Ready to be spooked even more? Sign up for the clairvoyant tour guide on a mile-long, 90-minute walk through Little Five Points’ historic and eerie landmarks. (No ticket required; clairvoyant ghost tour tickets start at $25)
Anime Weekend Atlanta
(Oct. 26 – 29)
The largest anime convention in the Southeast returns, and first-timers may find themselves immersed in what feels like another universe. The four-day weekend is packed with events, including a cosplay contest, exhibits, swap meets, screenings and special musical guests and famed voice actors. Attend the Starlight Idol Festival, visit the expansive Manga library or purchase a meal at the Kuma Kuma Maid Café. (Tickets start at $95)
(Oct. 28 – 29)
This year’s ONE Musicfest at Piedmont Park features big names like Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson and Megan Thee Stallion. The festival will take place over two days and include a special Hip Hop 50 stage in honor of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary. (One-day tickets start at $169)
Book Festival of the MJCCA
(Oct. 28 – Nov. 19)
For 32 years, the MJCCA’s book festival has brought Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, big-name celebs and more, creating one of the most extensive, impressive literary lineups in the Southeast. This year, hear from celebs like
Uncle Jesse John Stamos and Henry Winkler or take part in meet-and-greets, book signings and community readings from bestselling authors and emerging talent. Peruse the whole list — there are more than 40 authors to choose from! (Paid events start at $13)
Chomp and Stomp
The Chomp and Stomp festival is the fall season event in Atlanta. Cabbagetown, Atlanta’s first National Landmark Historic District, has a rich history and adds to the charm of this festival. This one-day event allows visitors to sample dozens of different types of chili. The festival starts early in the morning with the Romp & Stomp 5k Run, followed by a highly competitive chili cook-off between teams and local restaurants, and ends with live bluegrass music. (No ticket required; chili “sampling” spoons start at $10)
Atlanta Comedy Film Festival
Enjoy hilarious screenplays, short films and other works of art by local and comedy filmmakers. The festival is one of the featured events from Cinema Life, a film collective that operates festivals focused on independent filmmakers and their projects. Held at the Wild Heaven West End Brewery and Gardens, you can even enjoy a beer and a laugh. Just make sure to leave the kids at home: Due to the adult nature of the content, the event is 18+ only. (Tickets start at $15)
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