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The most interesting cemeteries to visit in the United States

Cemeteries are an unexpected way to experience a new place.

It may sound strange, but hear me out. They’re often meticulously maintained, offer beautiful walking paths, and insight into local history. With that in mind, here are a few of the most interesting cemeteries to visit in the United States.

Cities of the Dead – New Orleans

St Louis Cemetery No 1 - New Orleans

The Big Easy is filled with iconic places of rest, and the city’s above-ground tombs are stuff of legend. Both beautiful and haunting, a stroll through a NOLA cemetery is something you won’t soon forget. If you’re staying in the French Quarter, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is an easy walk. It’s the oldest cemetery in town (dating back to 1789), and allegedly houses the remains of voodoo queen Marie Laveau. You have to check out the pure white pyramid that actor Nicolas Cage erected for himself. Cemetery hours run Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Lafayette Cemetery - NOLA

You can check off a few boxes visiting this historic Lafayette Cemetery. Since it’s located in the Garden District, you can take the St. Charles Streetcar from the French Quarter for a city tour. Take your time wandering through this non-denominational, non-segregated cemetery from 1833. Fun fact: Horror writer Anne Rice used to live around the corner, and drew inspiration for the Mayfair Witches and Lestat the vampire’s tombs. The cemetery is open Monday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

After, grab lunch at the historic Commander’s Palace—it’s just kitty corner (or is it katty corner? Guess that depends on where you’re from!). Open since 1880, this is the where fancy people enjoy turtle soup, shrimp & tasso henican– wild Louisiana white shrimp, tasso ham, pickled okra, five-pepper jelly and served with Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc, gumbo and fresh Gulf fish. Don’t come dressed like a schlub—the dress code prohibits shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and ripped jeans. That sounds so southern, doesn’t it?

 

Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington County, VA

Arlington National Cemetery

Located in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., this iconic American cemetery sprawls over 624 rolling acres. Established in 1864, this land serves as the final resting place for Civil War soldiers (and some reinterred soldiers from prior wars), US presidents, politicians, chief justices, notable astronauts and more. Today, the cemetery still conducts between 27 and 30 funerals each weekday.

Arlington National Cemetery

ANC is the perfect place to reflect on American history and the sacrifices made to establish this great country. Visit the enteral flame burning for JFK, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the changing of the guard (which happens every hour on the hour October 1 to March 31; and from April 1 through September 30  another change is added on the half hour).

You may schedule a tour, or if you’re more of a DIY-er, download the ANC Explorer app. This app enables families, visitors and the public to locate gravesites, events or other points of interest throughout the cemetery. It also offers self-guided tours, easy access to general information, and provides the ability to save searched burial records to a mobile device.

Freedom Trail Burying Grounds – Boston, MA

Boston Freedom trail graveyard

As one of one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston is home to many a historic graveyard. One of the best ways to visit a few is by walking the Freedom Trail. This 2.5-mile, red-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites, including museums and meetinghouses, churches, and yes, burying grounds. You can book a guided tour, but the free app tells you everything you want to know and lets you do the walk at your own pace.

boston freedom trail graveyard

You’ll find three cemeteries included on the Freedom Trail. The Granary Burying Ground, which dates back to 1660, has 2,300 markers though it’s estimated over 5,000 people are actually buried here. Pay your respects to John Hancock, Paul Revere, James Otis and Samuel Adams. King’s Chapel Burying Ground and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground also sit along the Freedom Trail.

 

Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Hollywood, CA

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The culture of celebrity lives on for eternity at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hundreds of celebrities permanently call this 64-acre park home. Founded in 1899 by Lankersheim and Van Nuys, visitors pay their respects to stars like Mickey Rooney, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Jr., Peter Lorre, Judy Garland, Cecil B. DeMille, Fay Wray, both Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone, and my personal favorite Mel Blanc—the voice of Bugs Bunny.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

But wait! There’s more! Hollywood Forever also hosts incredible movie nights. Bring a blanket, pillows, low chairs and a picnic (with your own beer and wine if you want!) and enjoy a flick on the Fairbanks Lawn. Films have included Ghostbusters, Night of the Living Dead, Some Like It Hot, and The Princess Bride. The cemetery also hosts concerts at the onsite Masonic Lodge. I love how this place continues to celebrate both the living and the dead.

Do you ever visit cemeteries when you travel, or is that just weird? Share in the comments!

Photos: 1 / 2 / 3

Cemeteries are an unexpected way to experience a new place. Here are a few of the most interesting cemeteries to visit in the United States.

This Post Has 19 Comments
  1. We often visit cemeteries. I have been to Arlington several times and have also been to the Freedom Trail Burying Ground. The cemetery in key West is also above ground, although no doubt not as large as the one in New Orleans. Visiting battlefield cemeteries is always interesting, especially Civil War cemeteries such as Gettysburg. Then there’s the old Burying Ground at Salem, Massachusetts where the 19 hung for being witches are buried. There are many more, and if you find an ancestor in one of these notable cemeteries, it makes it all the more interesting.

  2. Spring Hrove Cemetery in Cincinnati OH. It is on National Register and its absolutely beautiful. You can literally spend an entire day there and not see everything.

  3. My family just completed a tour of West Point which included their cemetery. Much history to be found (buried) here, great stories told by guides, plus WP is situated in one of America’s most beautiful locations

  4. These are all great, but I don’t believe there are “many U.S. presidents” buried in Arlington. I believe there are just two; Taft and Kennedy. Please let me know if I’m incorrect, but most presidents preferred burial in their home states.

  5. Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, IN is a beautiful place. They have wonderful tours. There are so many ornate tombstones, a gothic chapel, and miles of roads to walk or bike.

  6. Yes, we’ve visited cemeteries when we travel! The most interesting was in Paris – Pere Lachaise. Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Frederic Chopin, Marcel Marceau and on and on!

  7. Samantha,
    You’ve definitely hit a nerve with this article. My entire family (and many friends) know of my love of cemeteries. I could walk in one all day, reading the stories on the stones and imagining the lives lived. I’ve visited many you’ve listed here, but have to say my favorite is the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA.

  8. In just one small area of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA, you will find Authors Ridge, where, within 30 feet of each other, lie the remains of Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau,Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and more….

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The Most Interesting Cemeteries To Visit In The United States
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