There is so much talk about eating seasonally. Why not take that same approach to…
Spooky season is upon us! Why not plan a trip to one of the most haunted places in America next month?
For such a short history, the United States has a lot of history and, more specifically, haunted history. From abandoned prisons to ghostly hotel guests, you don’t have to travel too far if you’re looking for a little fright. Check below for some of my favorite picks!
The Most Haunted Places in America
No list of the most haunted places in America is complete without the most (in)famous of them all – Salem, Massachusetts. Less than an hour from Boston, Salem has become synonymous with all things witches. Both because of the Salem Witch Trials and because of the beloved cult classic, Hocus Pocus.
While the witch trials were more a history lesson about the dangers of mass hysteria, the town has long since embraced its occult reputation and uses the whole month of October to celebrate. Just check their calendar for events and festival dates.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Nestled in the Ozarks of Arkansas, Eureka Springs is a tiny town with a lot of supernatural curiosities and ghostly tales. Stay in 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, which is often nicknamed “America’s Most Haunted Hotel,” and be sure to book one of their ghost tours. Enthusiastic guides will take you around the property and introduce you to all sorts of the hotel’s eternal residents. Be sure to say hi to Jasper, the resident cat and big boss. If you pay attention, though, you might just run into a little ginger tabby named Morris who first came to the hotel in 1979 and hasn’t left.
For the even more intrepid, join in the ghost hunting tour through town and even below ground…
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA
Another place that often tops any list about the most haunted places in America is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Specifically, Eastern State Penitentiary, which looks like a massive fortress in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood. Once the most famous and expensive prison in the country, it was known for jailing inmates like Al Capone or Willie Sutton. The decaying interiors alone are enough to bring a chill down your spine, but visitors have reported ghostly encounters on their tours as well.
To really embrace the spirit during October, join in on their Halloween Nights. The prison hosts five different haunted houses in addition to their historic tours and themed-bars.
We travel folks have been accused of favoring destinations on either coast, so I didn’t want to skip Anoka, Minnesota. This Twin Cities suburb holds the title of “Halloween Capital of the World™” ever since it held one of the first ever Halloween parades in 1920. And I mean Halloween Capital of the World literally; they have it trademarked!
Many cities claim to be America’s Most Haunted City but my money is always on Savannah, Georgia. When I toured the 250-years-old Bonaventure Cemetery, I had the strangest feeling I was being watched and it wasn’t by my cameraman.
They say Savannah is a city built upon its dead. The cemeteries were once at the edge of the young settlement, but as the city grew the dead were moved…or not. And that’s not to mention the many catastrophes that have happened since it was first founded – fires, pirates, yellow fever, the Civil War…
To make the most of a spooky trip, book a tour with Hearse Ghost Tours which, yes, take you around in a hearse. Be sure to stay at the prestigious Kehoe House and you might just get a late night wake-up call courtesy of some hair stroking or children’s laughter!
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
Remember The Shining? As I’m writing this, I know I’ll have nightmares tonight. Can you even say you’ve seen the movie if you hid your face the entire time?
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is the hotel that inspired Steven King to write The Shining, and he actually did stay in room 217. It was enough for him to be the author of the scariest freaking book and movie of all time.
While the events in the movie were all fictitious, the hotel is thought to be haunted by the original owners F.O and Flora Stanley. It’s pretty harmless stuff. Mrs. Stanley has been heard playing the piano, and Mr. Stanley sometimes shows up in the Billiard Room. The cleaning crews hear strange noises etc, etc. All are a far cry from white-faced ghost children appearing in a hallway beckoning you to “come play with us” who then become blood stained massacred corpses. Okay, see? I am definitely not sleeping tonight.
The Stanley understands how important a character the hotel was in the movie.They offer ghost tours, including a night tour for paranormal activity that takes you into an underground tunnel, as well as the most haunted room in the hotel, the Concert Hall.
New Orleans, Louisiana
It should come as a surprise to no one that New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the most haunted places in America. They say a slew of restless spirits wander the streets; many born out of the horrors of slavery, voodoo, and Hurricane Katrina.
There are a number of haunted spots in the French Quarter – some may not even be obvious. From the infamous LaLaurie Mansion, full of tales of sadistic cruelty and torture to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 where Marie Laveau is laid to rest, all you have to do is wander around and keep your eyes and ears open.
St. Augustine, Florida
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine, Florida, has almost 500 years worth of ghosts to haunt its streets. Just stop into the historic district after dark and see what you find at places like The Huguenot Cemetery or Old Jail Museum. Participate in a paranormal investigation into some of the more mysterious deaths that occurred here during its time as an active (and deplorable) jail. Stay in St. Francis Inn and see if you meet the ghosts of an ill-fated love affair. Keep an eye on your belongings – the couple is known to move things around!
The most famous spot, of course, is the St. Augustine Lighthouse. While the 219-step climb offers some truly beautiful views; you may just see the ghosts of the Pittee sisters. Daughters of the man who oversaw the construction of the lighthouse; they died when the cart they were in flipped into the water. Some say they can see them playing hide and seek on a Dark of the Moon Tour.
Only an hour from Kansas City, Atchison, Kansas, is not just your average Midwestern town. Once a huge transportation hub for the U.S.’s westward expansion, some of those early settlers stuck around. Since then, it’s become a hotbed for paranormal activity and has attracted all sorts of ghost hunters.
Book a trolley tour to explore some of the spookiest landmarks like The Sallie House. This house was once home to a physician who failed to save a 6-year-old girl named Sallie as she was suffering from severe abdominal pain. Her ghost has haunted the house ever since — turning violent when a couple tried renting it in the 1990s. If you’re feeling exceptionally brave, stay overnight at your own risk!
San Antonio, Texas
With a history full of multicultural influences and steeped in conflict, it’s no surprise San Antonio, Texas has developed a haunted reputation over the years and is often cited as the state’s most haunted city. Whether you plan to explore downtown or one of the Missions, locals have known about their ghostly neighbors for decades. Start with the Alamo. A symbol of Texas independence, we all learned about the ill-fated Battle of the Alamo where citizens like Davey Crocket lasted 13-days against the Mexican military. Nearly every man died, and they say many of their ghosts still haunt the mission.
If you’re driving head to the haunted railroad tracks by Shane Road. Put your car in park and see if you can feel your car being shoved over the tracks. Keep your ears peeled for La Llorona and stay somewhere like The Emily Morgan Hotel or The Crockett Hotel for even more spooky opportunities.
Trans-Allegheny Asylum, Weston, West Virginia
As the name suggests, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, has a long and harrowing past. Operating from 1864 – 1994 it was only ever meant to hold 250 patients at once, so you know all sorts of neglect and mistreatment reigned when it reached 2,400 patients in the 1950s. Book a ghost or paranormal tour to learn more about the asylum’s ghastly history and to see the ghostly evidence of patients past.
And there you have it – some of the most haunted places in America! Any I need to add to my list? Let me know below!