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Ghost Stories and the Haunted History of Florida

A chill is rarely in the air in Florida – except when learning about some of the spookiest ghost stories found along its coasts.


Voodoo Doll [Key West]

While his tale was inspiration for the 1988 horror film Child’s Play, in reality, there’s no ghost story, just a curse. Fort East Martello houses this three-foot-tall sailor puppet named Robert the Doll, which legend says was owned by local writer and painter Robert Eugene Otto as a child. Family and friends said they would hear chilling giggles and catch glimpses of the doll running up stairs. Today, visitors of Fort East Martello can view the doll, but beware when taking pictures; cameras have often stopped working when pointed in his direction.

Where to Stay Sunset Key Cottages

Phantoms of the Theatre [Clearwater]

The 1921 Capitol Theatre in Clearwater hosts not only live music performances and comedy acts, but also apparently three ghostly guests. While their haunted histories are unknown, visitors to the 750-seat Mediterranean Revival building have often caught a glimpse of “The Captain” (an old man with a goatee in a blue coat and fisherman’s hat), “Bill” (a man who was supposedly killed on the balcony by tourists), and a young 10-year-old girl (who playfully watches over the theater). Alarms have gone off unexpectedly, orbs have been captured on film, and, if you look carefully, sometimes you’ll catch the chandelier swinging.

Where to Stay Sandpearl Resort

Lost Love [Sarasota]

Before it became the Ringling School of Art and Design in 1931, the Bay Haven Hotel stood in downtown Sarasota. It was home for one ill-fated prostitute. She is believed to have taken her own life after falling in love with a client who would not return her love. Today, she has been spotted running across rooms in her black night gown, heard knocking over furniture, and seen throwing students’ papers.

Where to Stay The Resort at Longboat Key Club | Lido Beach Resort

Crafty Caspers [Naples]

At the corner of 12th Avenue South and Gulfshore Boulevard, you’ll find the headquarters for the Naples Historical Society tucked inside the Historic Palm Cottage. Docents who lead tours of the two-story, tabby mortar dwelling highlight donated artwork but rarely feature the building’s haunted history. It seems its ghostly tenants only show up when their home is undergoing renovations. Workers have cited moved tools and multiple cold spots in hallways.

Where to Stay Edgewater Beach Hotel

Lighting the Way [Jupiter]

One of Jupiter’s most popular tourist attractions, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse has been known to house a few ghostly visitors. Built in 1860, this towering red landmark was supposedly built upon a Native American shell or burial mound, but no evidence was ever found to suggest that’s true. However, some climbing the lighthouse’s steep steps to the tower have reported hearing strange noises and feeling ghostly hands on their shoulders, only to turn around to see no one behind them. Could it be a former lightkeeper?

Where to Stay Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa

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