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Why is it that some of us love all things spooky? Speaking from our own experience, we learn so much about the history of a town and its people by taking ghost tours and visiting cemeteries, so we recommend both when traveling! The creepy factor puts a spin on education. We asked other travel bloggers to join us in sharing their favorite spooky places to visit in the United States, and boy, did we get some great, eerie submissions!
DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will make a commission with no change in price for you.
Louisiana | neworleans.com
New Orleans, Louisiana is one of our favorite places to visit in the USA. It’s a whole cultural experience, from the food to the music, that we just can’t get enough of! Though you may associate New Orleans mostly with Mardi Gras, it’s a place full of haunted buildings and creepy stories.
For example, the LaLaurie mansion (pictured above) is a popular stop on New Orleans’ ghost tours. Delphine LaLaurie once tortured and killed her slaves in her home on this site, which was burned in 1834. For almost 200 years, claims have been made that the current home is cursed and haunted because of the death and suffering caused by LaLaurie.
LaLaurie is buried in New Orleans Cemetery No. 1, but its most infamous resident is the Voodoo queen, Mary Laveau. Because of the high water table in the New Orleans area, the tombs are all above ground. Tours are available of the cemetery, but it is closed to the public otherwise because of vandalism.
Head over to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, one of the oldest structures in the French Quarter, and you just may see the ghost of pirate John Lafitte himself! Visit Lafitte’s and several other haunted bars on a haunted pub crawl.
From haunted buildings to Voodoo magic and vampire stories, New Orleans has no shortages when it comes to spooky!
The Exorcist Steps
Georgetown, Washington DC
Address: Corner of Prospect Street and 36th Street NW
Contributed by Charles McCool of McCool Travel
Perhaps the scariest movie ever made is The Exorcist, and visitors from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Georgetown in Washington DC to walk up and down its iconic staircase. While walking The Exorcist steps, I have spoken with visitors from Asia, South America, Europe, and all over the USA.
I suggest walking The Exorcist steps up and down at least once. To head UP The Exorcist steps, park in the gas station where M Street meets Canal Road. Hopefully you will luck out and score one of the free parking spots. To walk DOWN The Exorcist steps, park as close as you can to 36th Street and Prospect Street. The house from The Exorcist is to your left at the top of the steps and across the street is The Tombs, featured in other popular films; it was the inspiration for St Elmo’s Fire.
The magnificent gothic buildings of Georgetown University are only a few minutes walk away from the top of The Exorcist Steps, and make sure you find the Jesuit Cemetery, somewhat spooky at dusk or when dark and most definitely on Halloween.
Other things to do in Georgetown include visiting the DC embassies, seeing the colorful row houses and cobblestone streets, amazing shopping and dining, and exploring wonderful DC nature and the Potomac River waterfront.
See Related: 41 Things to Do in Washington, DC
Florida | visitstaugustine.com
Contributed by Amy Gilbride of The Florida Travel Girl
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the nation and with that also comes a fascinating history and a few ghost stories. Walking through the cobblestone streets and seeing all the historic houses, you can’t help but feel a little spookiness in the air!
Even better though is to take one of the ghost tours offered around town. The most popular is the ghost and gravestone trolley tour. Here you get to visit the Old Jail and learn about some gruesome deaths, as well as tour abandoned buildings and cemeteries. If you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of the well-known ghost of Elizabeth, a child who died of yellow fever and haunts the old city gates.
This is just one of the many local ghost tours offered. My favorite is actually the Lighthouse and Maritime Museum ghost tour. This tower is a sight to see any time of day, but at night you can climb up the steps while hearing the eerie stories of past lighthouse keepers.
Pro Tip: To make the most of your visit, I recommend staying the weekend at one of the downtown beds and breakfasts. This makes it easy to walk around and visit the excellent local restaurants and bars. Some of these historic inns are rumored to have ghosts as well, so it’s the perfect way to feel the spookiness your whole trip!
Massachusetts | salem.org
Contributed by Jamie Italiane of The Daily Adventures of Me
Salem, Massachusetts is known as Witch City, USA, so you know it’s spooky. In reality, the town has many witches but is also historically significant for being the site of the witch trials and hysteria in the 1600s. It is also a beautiful colonial town on the shore of Massachusetts.
If you visit in October, you will be rewarded with beautiful New England foliage and tons of activities. We live about two hours away, so visit often, but my favorite ghost tour I have been on was in Salem. The tour guide, Kenneth, of Salem Sinister Stories has something ethereal about him and is a born story-teller. He is also telling stories in a place where they come alive. Unlike many ghost tours that just seem to be telling theatrical stories, Salem’s are rooted in true history.
There are many places that are haunted here- most notably the Old Burying Point. Many accused witches and people with rolls in the trial are buried there. You can hear a child’s ghostly moan in the back corner of the cemetery. In true New England spirit, there is even a haunted Dunkin Donuts in town! It hasn’t happened yet, but there has been talk for years about making the haunted Jonathan Corbin House into an Inn. Would you be brave enough to sleep the night in a haunted house?
There are so many stories in this town- true, historic, and downright scary!
Read on for more about the best way to spend a weekend in Salem, Massachusetts.
Seattle, Washington | undergroundtour.com
Address: 614 1st Avenue
Seattle is known for quirky sites like the Fremont Troll and the ever-entertaining (and oddly-shaped) Museum of Pop Culture, but it definitely has a spooky side as well. Head underground with Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour to learn about the (partly sordid) history of Seattle, its original plumbing, and a ghost story or two.
Going underground in Seattle takes visitors to the original level of the city. Mud and rain were once a huge problem for the citizens, and the original buildings that were all made of wood burned in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. When deciding to build back, it was decided that the everything would move up a level.
This helped with the plumbing issues that the people had faced as well. The toilets flowed backwards, sometimes creating fountains when flushed.
Tour guides may touch on spooky stories, like one about a bank teller that was mentioned to us. Our guide proceeded to turn off the lights, leaving us in complete darkness, but many of our fellow tourists couldn’t handle the spookiness. If you’re wanting maximum spookage, check out one of the underground tours that are conducted via flashlight only.
Mission Dolores Cemetery
San Francisco, California | missiondolores.org
Address: 3321 16th Street
Contributed by Carol Guttery of California Crossings
Mission Dolores was founded in 1776 and is the oldest intact building in San Francisco. The Mission was part of a string of 21 Spanish churches running north/south throughout the state. The San Francisco site still houses an active Catholic church as well as the historical Mission Dolores Cemetery.
The Mission held fast during the gold rush, when the city spread south into the neighborhood that is now known as The Mission. The buildings survived the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. And today, the building complex stands firm against the gentrification happening in the neighborhood.
But that’s not what makes it spooky.
But what should add a real shiver to your bones is knowing that over 5,000 native Ohlone perished during the colonization of San Francisco. They were buried on the grounds of a mission that they themselves built. The establishment of the missions had a devastating effect on California’s native populations. They were enslaved, ill treated and vulnerable to imported diseases, which destroyed their native way of life.
The perimeter of the graveyard features what you might recognize as typical headstones marking the city’s Spanish founders. In the center is a native reed house and plants which present an homage to the many anonymous Ohlone who were buried there.
Natchez, Mississippi | charboneaudistillery.com
Address: 613 Jefferson Street
King’s Tavern, built somewhere around 1789, is the oldest building in Natchez, and one of the oldest buildings in Mississippi. It also has a reputation of being one of the most haunted places in the country.
Three bodies were found in the tavern’s walls during renovations, one female and two male. Stories say that they were the owner’s mistress and the two men that killed her. People claim that poor Madeline’s spirit roams the tavern to this day.
During our visit in 2015, we only had one small unexplained event happen (an employee walked over to straighten a terribly crooked framed photo on the wall when it was totally level when we were looking at it moments before), but the employees were happy to share stories with us. Like the fact that they have video of a small refrigerator opening all on its own! Apparently, Madeline is pretty mischievous!
If you enjoy visiting cemeteries, the Natchez City Cemetery has several unusual tombstones, so check it out while you’re in the area!
Mississippi | visitvicksburg.com
If you’re looking for the most haunted city in Mississippi, you’ll want to head straight to Vicksburg. Steeped in history, Vicksburg saw battles between Native Americans and European settlers as well as the Civil War.
The Vicksburg National Military Park is located on the actual battlefields where thousands of Civil War soldiers lost their lives. Today, visitors claim to smell gun powder, hear screams and cannon blasts, as well as see apparitions.
The most haunted house in Mississippi also happens to be located in Vicksburg. McRaven House was built before Mississippi was even a state, way back in 1797, with additions built in 1836 and 1849. Tours are available to learn about the way of life in pre-Civil War times, but the most popular tours are of the paranormal variety. From haunted tours to ghost investigations, McRaven is sure to thrill visitors with its longtime inhabitants.
Fancy staying in a haunted house? Book a stay at historic McNutt House, now a bed and breakfast. Tours are available if you don’t have the nerve to stay the night, but an overnight stay may be the best time to meet the ghostly residents.
Birmingham, Alabama | Book a stay
Address: 2021 Park Place
Contributed by Heather Trimm of Alabama Bucket List
For one of the spookiest places to visit in the United States, the Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama has a seriously spooky reputation and is considered somewhat of a haunted house in Alabama!
The hotel, funded by Major Tutwiler, originally opened in 1914 to a very affluent clientele visiting Birmingham. Unfortunately, it met its demise in favor of First Alabama Bank in the 1970s. It was over a decade later before the new location opened in another Tutwiler-family owned building just a few blocks away in the mid-1980s.
Since that opening, there have been strange occurrences in the hotel. The most notable is the 1995 story of the hotel’s once-bartender. The manager called him in one morning to explain a table set with a several-course dinner complete with candles and wine.
Dumbfounded, the bartender had no explanation other than he had tried to turn the lights off many times for the previous five nights and would always return later in the evening each of those five nights to find they had turned themselves back on.
The bartender proceeded to clean up the mess and yet continued to arrive to future tables set with elaborate dinners and drinks. They concluded that it was the ghost of Major Tutwiler still ruling his roost. Management began informing the ghost that if he was going to make a mess enjoying his dinner to please clean up after himself!
After this, there were no more messes left to be cleaned. And it’s even rumored that when management closes up for the night, they leave the lights on and even pre-heat the ovens for Major Tutwiler!
Georgia | visitsavannah.com
Contributed by Lisa Shehan of Wanderlust with Lisa
Savannah, Georgia is considered to be one of America’s most haunted cities and it’s easy to see. Beneath all of the charm of the city is a dark past filled with murders, pirates, and general civil unrest. Many ghosts still linger around the city today.
There are numerous places you can visit to experience spooky paranormal activities. For instance, the Marshall House is a hotel that was turned into a hospital three different times for wars and plagues. Patients who died in the hospital continue to live in the hotel today as ghosts. Another haunted place is the Moon River Brewery. Visitors have witnessed a woman at the top of the stairs throwing beer bottles and playing tricks on the staff.
Personally, I prefer taking a tour so I can really hear the true ghost stories of each location. There are TONS of ghost tours available within Savannah – some are your traditional walking ghost tours, some are hearse tours, but my all time favorite ghost tour is a haunted Savannah pub crawl. You’ll get a chance to visit 2-3 haunted bars (and time to order drinks at each) before heading on to the next place. In between bars, you’ll learn more about the ghost history in Savannah!
For more fun things to do in Georgia in the fall, check out this blog post!
Eastern State Penitentiary
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | easternstate.org
Address: 2027 Fairmount Avenue
Contributed by Derek and Mike of Robe Trotting
Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the most interesting and scary Philadelphia historical sites. The giant former prison that takes up an entire square block in Philly’s Fairmount neighborhood. The site was opened in 1829 and remained operational until 1971. Throughout its tenure, the penitentiary held notorious criminals like American mobster Al Capone. You can even visit his cell inside the building.
The former prison is an imposing sight with high, thick walls and an entrance resembling a medieval castle. Eastern State Penitentiary is also one of the most haunted places in America and each autumn it’s converted to a spooky haunted prison. Each October, costumed performers fill each cell block and the prison grounds entertain and scare guests at the Terror Behind the Walls event.
Visitors to Philadelphia can visit Eastern State Penitentiary all year long with daily guided tours and self-guided experiences with audio guides. There are frequent special events like paranormal tours and candlelight sunset tours where the real spookiness of the site is on display.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning a visit to Philadelphia this fall and want to experience the frightening haunted prison and Terror Behind the Walls event, book ahead online. Parking can be tricky in the area, so taking public transportation can also save you some time.
Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Hudson Valley, New York | hudsonvalley.org
Address: 525 S Riverside Avenue
Contributed by James Ian of Travel Collecting
From September to November, the 18th-century Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, NY is transformed into the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. This is one of the highlights of fall in the Hudson Valley and kids and adults alike will love it!
More than 7,000 jack o’ lanterns are hand-carved, lit and arranged in elaborate designs. Visitors wander around the grounds, past the displays, which are accompanied by synchronized lighting and appropriately spooky music. The elaborate tableaux are absolutely incredible.
An enormous spider looms over her web created of carved pumpkins, a 25-foot-tall Jack O’Lantern Statue of Liberty stand proudly holding a pumpkin lantern, a pumpkin windmill spins even on windless nights, a carousel twirls around to eerie music, and much more. Bats swoop, coffins creak, skeletons spook and skulls leer; all made from carved pumpkins, of course.
You can take your photo next to a pumpkin picture of your zodiac sign, travel under the sea, marvel at a fire truck mid-rescue… The list goes on. There is even a Museum of Pumpkin Art where famous works of art like the Mona Lisa are recreated from carved pumpkins!
Pro Tip: I recommend buying your tickets early, as it does sell out. With the timed entry, it is not overcrowded at any time, and advance reservations are required. Although they are not available this year (2020), there is also usually seasonal food and drink like hot chocolate and apple cider for sale to warm chilly bones.
For even more autumn fun in the Hudson Valley, consider a fall foliage helicopter tour!
Long Beach, California | queenmary.com
Address: 1126 Queens Hwy
Text contributed by Nicole Sunderland of Bucket List Lists
One of the spookiest places to visit in the USA is hands down The Queen Mary. Located in the water in Long Beach, California, The Queen Mary has had many uses over the course of its life, but is currently operated as a floating hotel.
The vessel was only in use for 31 years before landing in Long Beach for retirement. When the ship first set sail in 1936, it was a luxury liner used by the wealthy for travel. 1939 was the last time this luxurious ship would sail as a luxury liner for many years to come.
As World War II came, the ship transitioned and became a way to transfer troops from New York. Then in 1947 The Queen Mary began sailing as a cruise ship again.
Now docked in Long Beach, the vessel is a floating hotel, attraction and offers restaurants. If you have been on the ship, it is scary. You can see apparitions, hear voices, lights flicker, and if you are brave enough, you can stay the night in the most haunted room: B340!
Others have mentioned seeing kids and a lady in white on the ship. The Queen Mary is one of the top 10 most haunted places in America and should not be missed if you are in for a good scare.
Winchester Mystery House
San Jose, California | winchestermysteryhouse.com
Contributed by Allison Green of California Crossroads
One of the most interesting spooky places in America is the Winchester Mystery House, located in San Jose, California. It’s a National Landmark in California for its bizarre architecture and even stranger history, and it’s said to be one of the most haunted places in California.
The house was built by the eccentric widow, Sarah Winchester, who was the heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune. After her husband passed away, she sought out a medium, who gave her an eerie warning: that all the bad things that had happened to her in her life were the result of malevolent ghosts killed by Winchester rifles, and that she would soon be next… unless she built a home for the spirits who haunted her and never stopped building.
She would take those words to be true, quite literally to her dying day. For the next 38 years until she passed away, Sarah Winchester employed a full-time team of construction workers to build new rooms to her house… literally 24 hours a day, every single day of the year. The result is a massive mansion with some 160-odd rooms.
But that’s not the oddest thing about the mansion: its layout is absolutely bizarre, almost like a maze, with staircases leading to nowhere, doors opening to dead-end walls, doors opening to nowhere, and skylights in the floor, rooms with 13 windows (she was obsessed with the number 13)… the list of oddities goes on and on. Some say this was because of the slapdash planning style she had with no formal blueprint, but many people think she built the house with a strange layout to confuse the ghosts and keep them from finding her in the house.
Memphis, Tennessee | orpheum-memphis.com
Address: 203 S Main Street
A visit to Memphis’ Orpheum Theatre is usually an annual event for us; an opportunity to see a traveling Broadway show not too far from our home in north Mississippi. The most recent show we saw was the hit Hamilton, with a packed house, of course.
Though the seats were all taken, there may have been one extra audience member, not of the living. The Orpheum is said to be the home of a ghost: twelve-year-old Mary. Stories say that she was injured in a vehicle or trolley incident in the 1920’s and was brought inside the theater where she died. She is mainly seen by performers, though she has disrupted no shows. Ghosts need entertainment, too, okay?
There may be as many as six ghosts who call the Orpheum Theater home. Doors are said to open and close with a bang, and lights flicker. The Orpheum is a beautiful, historic theater with enormous chandeliers and golf leaf on the walls. It’s no wonder ghosts want to stay in this gorgeous place with such great shows!
Pro Tip: To learn more about The Orpheum Theater and other haunted locations in Memphis, book a haunted walking tour. See a show at The Orpheum or book a tour through the theater’s website if you’d like to see inside!
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this spooktacular post!
DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will make a commission with no change in price for you.
What is your favorite spooky or haunted place in the USA? Have you visited any of the places on this list? Have you had any paranormal experiences? Will you be planning a future trips to visit creepy locations? Let us know in the comments below!