20 Most Haunted Places in America

These days, it seems like every historic U.S. city has a ghost tour to feed our appetite for real-life paranormal thrills. The most intrepid travelers plan an entire trip around the possibility of a spine-tingling encounter. Tragic past events have allegedly caused spirits to linger in hotels, restaurants, parks, and airports, but even if you don’t see or hear anything at these haunted places, you’ll have a memorable time learning about the area’s dark history.

“Haunted locations can often seem like cliches, even to those uninvolved in the field. And who can blame them – a creepy old mansion, a derelict asylum, a tattered hospital. Most anyone in the general public could guess at their histories and come out at least half accurate. What intrigues me are the stories that nobody could possibly conceive; the locations none of us saw coming,” said Conner Gossel, paranormal investigator and historian, in an interview with Travel + Leisure. To Gossel, it’s those unique narratives that make a haunted place really stand out.

Discover 20 of the most haunted places in America, where you can get properly spooked and maybe return home with your own supernatural tale.

Meet the Expert

Conner Gossel is the history buff and paranormal investigator behind the Haunted Historian podcast and Instagram account, which tell the stories behind some of the world’s spookiest places.

New Orleans

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With dozens of reportedly haunted places, New Orleans is one of the country’s most haunted cities. By paranormal standards, NOLA has it all: churches haunted by the spirits of former priests, former hospitals visited by soldiers who died but never truly passed on, and homes filled with ghosts of previous residents — not to mention the vampire stories. The city also has its share of notable ghosts, including that of William Faulkner, which is sometimes spotted at the author’s former home-turned-bookstore, Faulkner House Books. Old Absinthe House, open since the early 1800s, is supposedly haunted by Voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau, Andrew Jackson, and pirate Jean Lafitte, among others. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is another paranormal hot spot, said to have hundreds of ghosts.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

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South of Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island draws sun seekers to its less-busy stretch of sand. However, there’s a darker side. The town has more than its fair share of ghost stories, the most famous being of the Gray Man. Said to appear on the beach before devastating storms, the apparition sometimes approaches people and warns them to flee. It’s believed that if you encounter this spectral beachcomber, you’ll be spared from the wrath of the incoming hurricane.

To complete your ghost-hunting itinerary, stay at The Pelican Inn, said to be haunted by its former owner who was also a former Confederate soldier. At All Saints Church, where some graves date from the 18th century, you can pay your respects to Alice Flagg, a young broken-hearted girl whose ghost is known to wander about town and in the marshes. Visitors often leave a token on her grave to make a wish.


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A disastrous fire, a notorious serial killer, and mob history all contributed to Chicago’s reputation as a haunted destination. The Iroquois Theater was the site of a fire that killed hundreds in 1903, and some say the alley behind the theater is still haunted by those unfortunate patrons. H. H. Holmes, the country’s first serial killer, murdered dozens (if not hundreds) of women in his infamous “Murder Castle.” The building is long gone and the site is now occupied by a post office, where some workers still report odd experiences in the building’s basement. The site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, often attributed to Al Capone, reportedly has some residual paranormal energy, too. These are just a few of the many haunted sites in the Windy City — check out a ghost tour for more.

Pine Barrens, New Jersey

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In South Jersey, the Pine Barrens is a nature reserve notorious as the home of the Jersey Devil. The legendary creature is said to be a demon with bat wings and hooves, born to a local woman in the 18th century. Over the past few hundred years, stories have periodically surfaced about its attacks on livestock and people. In addition to being stalked by this shadowy monster, the area is considered one of the most haunted places in America because of its abandoned factories and towns. It was also the location of a 1928 plane crash that killed a Mexican pilot on his way from New York City to Mexico City. His ghost is said to wander the crash site.

Savannah, Georgia

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Savannah, Georgia, is often ranked among the most haunted cities in the U.S. Historic homes, inns, and restaurants are rumored to house the spirits of former residents and visitors. In fact, those looking for a thoroughly spooky weekend in Savannah can opt to stay at an allegedly haunted hotel and eat at restaurants still frequented by spirits that never fully left the earthly realm. Moon River Brewing Company is known as the most haunted place in town, featured on both Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. Guests have reported seeing a lady in white on the stairs and spirits have been known to mess with the staff.

The Pirates’ House, now a family-friendly restaurant, was once a boarding house popular among sailors. Some were reputedly kidnapped from its basement, and their spirits are thought to visit the restaurant today. Finally, The Marshall House is known as one of the most haunted hotels in the U.S., thanks to its history as a hospital during the Civil War and yellow fever epidemics. Guests have reported seeing apparitions in the hallways and hearing ghost children running down the halls at night, among other mysterious happenings.

“A haunted destination that often flies under the radar in Savannah is The Graveface Museum,” said Gossel. “The building houses artifacts of the occult, the personal belongings of serial killers, and a one-of-a-kind journey through all things spiritual and morbid. It’s the only location I’ve encountered in my 11 years of investigating whose energy almost caused me to become sick and lose consciousness. The owner is incredibly kind and nonchalant about the paranormal activity inside; including the apparition of a man with no legs who is often seen floating down the stairs.”

The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

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This famous ship is not just a historic landmark, it’s also the most haunted hotel in America. The ocean liner sailed for three decades from the 1930s until the ’60s before retiring. Now permanently docked in Long Beach, California, it welcomes both daytime and overnight visitors. The hotel capitalizes on its spooky vibes by offering ghost tours that highlight the many spine-tingling tales of onboard happenings, from spectral stateroom visitors to mysterious figures in the engine and boiler rooms. One of the creepiest sights is the first class swimming pool, which remains empty due to California laws, and is one of the areas where the most sightings have been reported.

St. Augustine, Florida

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Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is a hotbed of ghost activity. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is supposedly haunted by girls who drowned there in the 1870s. Visitors have also reported paranormal experiences at Castle Warden, a Moorish-style home built in the 1880s that now houses the first permanent Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, established in 1950. The city has several other haunted locations; you can explore the darker side of St. Augustine on a ghost tour — some even bring along EMF meters to track paranormal activity.

Shoshone Ice Caves, Idaho

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In the backcountry of Idaho, 16 miles north of Shoshone, the state’s longest lava tube is a four-and-a-half-mile-long cave. When the site was discovered in the 1880s, the caves were full of natural ice, and thanks to a restoration effort to replenish it after overexploitation, you can see the icy phenomenon during a guided tour. In addition to the attraction’s interesting history and geology, there have been reports of paranormal activity. Visitors have heard footsteps and voices in the darkness, and some say it’s the ghost of a bear or even a Shoshone princess who was buried in the caves centuries ago.

Portland, Oregon

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Portland, Oregon, might be best known for its incredible craft beer scene and artsy vibes, but the city is also one of the best destinations for ghost hunters. The Shanghai Tunnels are perhaps the most notoriously haunted site in the city — in the late 1800s, the city was a major international port, and underground tunnels were created to transport (often illegal) goods across Portland. According to local lore, residents hanging out in bars were kidnapped and taken through the tunnels to waiting ships, never to be seen again. Some say the victims’ souls still haunt the bars above ground.

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

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Instantly recognizable by devoted horror fans, the Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel “The Shining,” which was later adapted into one of the most iconic horror films of all time. Although the movie actually filmed the exterior shots of the fictional Overlook Hotel at the Timberland Hotel in Oregon, the events of the novel were inspired by King’s actual visit to the Stanley Hotel. The author stayed in Room 217 with his wife and the couple were the hotel’s only guests.

Besides being the inspiration for a story that would induce millions of nightmares around the world, the hotel has its own haunting tales that have nothing to do with King or Kubrick, which you can learn about on the night tour. These include a former housekeeper who likes to unpack people’s luggage and has a dislike of unmarried couples and Paul, a ghost that haunts the concert hall, where visitors have heard a voice yelling “get out” late at night.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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Areas where historic tragedies took place are often considered paranormal hot spots, and the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle is regarded as one of the world’s most haunted places. Some report seeing the ghosts of soldiers on the battlefield. The local inns and a nearby farm are also believed to be haunted. Visitors can take a ghost tour to learn more about the history of Gettysburg and the tragic spirits said to still wander these grounds.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles

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With a storied past combining Hollywood legends and broken dreams, it’s hardly surprising L.A. has its share of paranormal activity, especially at iconic homes and hotels. One of the most notorious sites is the Hollywood Roosevelt, where Marilyn Monroe was a long-term resident. According to guests staying in her favorite room, Suite 1200, the tragic star sometimes appears in the mirror as a ghostly figure — but she’s not the only A-List phantom. Guests have sensed the presence of Carole Lombard, Errol Flynn, and Montgomery Clift. There are also non-celebrity ghosts, like Caroline, a small child who plays and roams the halls of the hotel looking for her mother, and a man in a tuxedo who hangs around the ballroom.

Washington, D.C.

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The U.S. capital has seen its fair share of history, so it makes sense that Washington, D.C. is the setting for several ghost stories. In fact, many say the White House is one of the most haunted houses in the U.S. President Lincoln’s ghost has been spotted in the Lincoln Bedroom; President William Henry Harrison, who died in the official residence, is said to have returned in the afterlife; and first ladies Dolley Madison and Abigail Adams supposedly still linger, tending to the home. D.C. ghost tours take visitors through other allegedly haunted locations, including the National Building Museum, the Congressional Cemetery, and official government buildings.

USS Lexington, Corpus Christi, Texas

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This aircraft carrier saw action in the Pacific during World War II, but now sits in Corpus Christi Bay. Since it opened as a museum in the 1990s, staff and visitors have reported strange noises and sightings of uniform-clad ghosts — which is hardly surprising given the vessel’s many battles and lost lives. Every October, the ship hosts a haunted house event that includes actors and a ghost tour where you can hear more about these onboard paranormal encounters.

San Francisco

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Prominent landmarks with dark histories make San Francisco one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. China Camp State Park, the USS Hornet, and the Mare Island Naval Shipyard are all said to be haunted, but the number one phantom hot spot has to be Alcatraz. It’s widely believed there are a few ghosts lurking in the infamous island prison. The spirit of Al Capone is perhaps the most notorious, and some say you can still hear him playing his favorite banjo tunes.

The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

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One of the main attractions in Asheville, North Carolina, the enormous Biltmore Estate is still owned by the famously wealthy Vanderbilt family, who owe their fortune to their 19th-century shipping and railroad empire. The mansion, which was completed in 1895, holds the title of the largest privately owned house in the country at nearly 179,000 square feet. Many believe some of the family’s ancestors still haunt the halls and rooms, such as the ghost of Edith Vanderbilt who can sometimes be heard calling out for her husband George, whose ghost is also said to hang around his study.

Salem, Massachusetts

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Best known for the witch trials that resulted in the execution of 19 people, Salem, Massachusetts, has a long-standing reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. Some say the ghosts of those killed during the trials linger to this day — Lyceum Hall (now Turner’s Seafood) is allegedly haunted by the first victim of the trials, Bridget Bishop, and Howard Street Cemetery is haunted by Giles Corey, who was tortured to death after being accused of witchcraft. Learn more about Salem’s spooky side on one of the many ghost tours offered.

Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland

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As the site of over 3,500 deaths from both sides, you can count on some lingering souls on this Civil War battlefield. The most haunted location in Antietam is Sunken Road, also known as Bloody Lane. It was here that the soldiers faced off at close range with advanced weapons and the bodies piled up. Visitors along this trail have reported eerie occurrences like the smell of gunpowder or the sight of men in uniform who vanish into thin air. There have also been reports of strange experiences at Burnside’s Bridge, where many of the bodies were buried.

San Antonio, Texas

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In San Antonio, the Battle of the Alamo led to thousands of casualties, and Alamo visitors and employees have reported seeing the ghosts of soldiers and hearing mysterious rally cries. The nearby Emily Morgan Hotel is one of the country’s most haunted hotels, too. The property was once a hospital, and some guests report seeing the apparition of a woman in white in the halls.

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii

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If you’re just landing in Honolulu, ghosts are probably the last thing on your mind. Despite the buzz of excitement from incoming tourists, the airport is said to be haunted by a ghost dubbed the “Lady in Waiting.” According to the legend, she was jilted by her fiancé, who took off on an international flight, and shortly after she took her own life. Now, she is spotted all over the airport milling around the gates, hoping for his return. Other ghostly reports at the airport include toilets that flush on their own and “the choking ghost,” who tends to sit on the chests of sleeping passengers, leaving them waking up gasping for air.

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