Most Haunted Places in America: Scariest Places to Visit in Every State

Table of Contents

You don’t need to wait for Halloween to visit a haunted house. There are plenty of sites and ghost towns that are reportedly haunted year-round in America. Every state has its own urban legends and places where only the brave tread (and ghosts are reported to patrol). We’re talking old state hospitals, murder sites, homes with talking dolls, and hotels so disturbing, they’ve served as the setting for some of the most iconic horror movies.

No matter what scares you, your state has a place to freak you out. Whether you want to take a guided tour or a bone-chilling solo walk into the darkness, we’ve got the spots for you. Here’s where you can go to truly embrace the Halloween spirit this year—no costumes required.


Maple Hill Cemetery
Oh, sure, the actual cemetery here is creepy and all, but it’s the playground that’ll really get you. In 1985, somebody decided to open a playground adjacent to Huntsville’s oldest cemetery, presumably to give the children of mourning parents some respite. Instead, it appears that the resident ghosts are the ones enjoying it most. People report seeing orbs of light going down the slide and unoccupied swings moving, accompanied by disembodied giggles. Adding to the eeriness, some locals believe the victims of a rash of child murders in the ’60s were buried nearby, their spirits now having eternal playdates with the cemetery’s official residents. —Andy Kryza


The Alaskan Hotel
The most famous ghost to roam the halls of Alaska’s oldest-operating hotel is that of a gold miner’s wife who lived here while waiting for her husband to return. When he didn’t, she began supporting herself by working as a prostitute—until he did return. Not exactly thrilled with her new career choice, he killed her, and now guests and staff regularly report encounters (no, not like that) with her ghost. —Matt Meltzer

old hospital turned Jerome Grand Hotelold hospital turned Jerome Grand Hotel
Expect spirits of a cat and human-shaped figures to make guest appearances. | FiledIMAGE/Shutterstock


Jerome Grand Hotel
Jerome, Arizona
Located in the scenic hillside town of Jerome—an old gold mining hub once known as the Wickedest City in the West, and today, one of Arizona’s coolest small towns—is the Jerome Grand Hotel, formerly known as the United Verde Hospital. Originally built in 1917 (and rebuilt in 1926 after a mine explosion destroyed the first), the Great Depression caused the hospital to take a serious downturn; by 1950, it had been abandoned entirely. The hospital sat essentially dormant until it reopened as the Jerome Grand in 1996. Much of the building’s original structure and facilities have been restored, and many of its spirits still linger: the specter of a maintenance man found dead in the basement in the 1930s; human-shaped figures that roam the hall; children who run and laugh in the corridors; and even the spirit of a cat who scratches at guests’ doors at night, begging to be let in.

facade of the arlington hotel at sunsetfacade of the arlington hotel at sunset
A great choice… if you’re a ghost. | The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa


The Arlington Hotel
Hot Springs
This grand, century-old hotel is a paragon of ornate luxury, so much so that you’d probably choose to stay a while if you were a ghost, too. History weighs on the place, as well as on your mind (four presidents have stayed here, plus Babe Ruth and Al Capone). Outside, the old-timey lamplights guide your walk through the Downtown spring-fed spas that draw visitors to this resort town. Echoing against stone buildings and set against a backdrop of steep, inky forest, even the burbling fountains sound ghostly and ominous. —Sam Eifling


Turnbull Canyon
California is packed with terrifying places, from cult compounds to famous murder sites, haunted hotels, and mysterious mansions. But none of them come with the promise of a brisk, scenic hike. Turnbull Canyon offers a 4-mile hike through the sprawling Puente Hills. Keep an eye out for sweeping city views—and the ghosts of 29 people who perished here in a plane crash in the ’50s. Oh, and the ghosts of children who, according to (uncorroborated) legend, were taken from a nearby orphanage and used in ritualistic sacrifices. Oh, and the ghost of the teen who found some old electroshock equipment from the canyon’s burnt-down asylum and fried his brain despite the site having no power. Wait, burned-down asylum? UFO sightings? Rumors of multiple cults? No wonder the natives called it “Hutukngna,” or the place of the Devil. So yeah, enjoy that hike. We’re sure it’ll be brisker than you expected. —AK

Stanley HotelStanley Hotel
Not hard to see why this spot inspired ‘The Shining.’ | Glenn Taylor/Shutterstock


The Stanley Hotel
Estes Park
If you’ve read or seen The Shining, you’ll know the feel of this often snowed-on hotel: It’s the location Stephen King based his Overlook Hotel upon. It may not look like the film—unless you watched the 1990s made-for-TV movie version, which was actually shot here—but it holds rumors of haunted rooms and service workers who still wander the grounds. Be warned: There’s a much more sinister danger. The hotel has such an extreme elevation that just walking to your room can drain you, so one stiff drink may have you seeing ghosts. —Brock Wilbur


1754 House
Known as the Evergreen Inn (and later the Curtis House Inn) before reopening as the 1754 House in 2020, Gordon Ramsay once featured Connecticut’s oldest inn on his appropriately-titled reality show Hotel Hell, bringing a paranormal investigator to corroborate what locals and visitors have been claiming for centuries: The joint’s haunted. Ramsay’s unsettling difficulty exiting his room during a five-day stay could have been due to faulty hardware, but try telling that to the guests who’ve reported disembodied voices, mysterious footsteps, and unwelcome, otherworldly bedfellows throughout the inn’s 260-plus-year history. Apparent entities are believed to be the former inn owners, guests, and—perhaps most terrifying for anyone who works there—former employees who clocked in, but never clocked out. —Amber Sutherland-Namako

brick facade of fort delaware brick facade of fort delaware
Take the ferry to Pea Patch Island—If you dare. | Delaware State Parks


Fort Delaware
Delaware City
Civil War prisons were particularly unpleasant places to be incarcerated back in the 1860s, what with the rampant gangrene, amputations, and war-induced psychosis. The spirits of the beleaguered Confederate soldiers interned at this former Union prison are said to haunt the imposing granite-and-brick behemoth, which sits a short ferry ride from Delaware City on Pea Patch Island. During October weekends, you can take an immersive five-hour tour of the fort, where you’ll use ghost-sensing equipment to search for paranormal activity. —MM


Fort East Martello Museum
Key West
Key West’s Fort East Martello Museum is home to the OG macabre Florida Man, Robert the Haunted Doll. The inspiration for Annabelle, Robert was a gift given to the late artist Robert Eugene Otto. As a boy, Otto would blame the doll for all sorts of mischief, but the whole thing morphed from a cute little Calvin & Hobbes riff into something far more sinister. Some say the raggedy, weathered little sailor doll is cursed. He’s reported to change facial expressions from time to time, and some say he’ll let out little giggles. Oh, and some say he’ll cause endless pain and suffering to people who disrespect him by taking his photo—which is difficult because he’s, you know, the centerpiece of an entire museum. —AK

Garden and mausoleum at Oakland CemetaryGarden and mausoleum at Oakland Cemetary
The city’s largest and oldest cemeteries is also one of the state’s most haunted. | ESB Professional/Shutterstock


Oakland Cemetery
Built in 1850, Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery—the city’s oldest, largest cemetery, and among the most haunted places in Georgia—is home to Maynard Jackson, Bobby Jones, and Margaret Mitchell, among many others. The cemetery includes a Confederate branch where visitors insist they’ve seen uniformed soldiers wandering the grounds and even hanging off of trees. Creep in as far as you dare, but be warned: Some have alleged they’ve heard Confederate Army roll call among the tombstones and sworn that their name was called on the list. —Amy Schulman


Waipi’o Valley
Big Island
Hawaii is home to fiery luaus where island dancers welcome you with pounding drums, native chants, and blazing torches—all of which are awesome when those dancers are actually alive. Not so awesome when they’re ghosts of ancient warriors marching through the islands armed to the teeth. But those are the night marchers, legendary spirits who roam the islands in an eternal march to battle. Longtime locals have stories about encountering them, mostly in specific spots throughout the islands. The creepiest is the Waipi’o Valley on the northern shore of Hawaii. Though the park has some of the most scenic lookouts in the state, the drum beats and chants of the night marchers echo especially loudly through the valley when the night marchers decide to join you for a hike.—MM

a castle-like hotela castle-like hotel
Take a peek at the gallows. | Old Idaho Penitentiary


Old Idaho Penitentiary
This prison, built in 1872, was closed for nearly 50 years. Today, it’s a full-stop tourist attraction, not unlike Alcatraz; you can tour the place, see where prisoners were held in solitary, and even get a peek at the gallows from death row. So, yeah, this place is haunted AF, largely by the prisoners who helped build it and ended their life sentences in the very walls they erected. Visitors report voices, a feeling of heaviness, and seeing apparitions, both with their eyes and in photos. With respect to the World’s Largest Potato, you can’t get that kind of experience with other Idaho tourist attractions. —AK


Old Joliet Prison
You know that feeling you get when you find out the previous renter of an apartment was kind of a creep? This gothic, castle-like prison complex was once the (involuntary) home of notorious murderer clown John Wayne Gacy and serial killer Richard Speck. There were riots and slayings, executions and other maladies that made this place midwestern Oz between 1856 and 2002, when it closed and sat abandoned for nearly nearly two decades. It’s now reopened for tours (paranormal or otherwise), and sometimes hosts events like movie screenings (Blues Brothers was famously filmed here). Even without the hauntings, this place would be top-tier creepy. Throw in potential serial-killer specters and you’ve got a recipe for nightmares. —AK


The Haunted Bridge
Indiana is filled with enough haunted inns and estates to pack a whole town, but for a little skin-crawling outside of a big city, head to the sleepy bedroom community of Avon, home to one of the nation’s creepiest-looking haunted bridges. The decrepit-seeming concrete railroad span looks as old as the pyramids, and sports an undeniably sinister air—especially if you drive beneath it at night. If you care to park and poke around, locals say you might encounter the ghost of a weeping woman whose child was killed on the railroad tracks, or a drunken worker who fell into a load of wet construction concrete and was entombed in the bridge itself. But even if you’re just driving through, you’re likely to get chills. —AK

a bed and a crib in an attic spacea bed and a crib in an attic space
This could be your room for the night. | Flickr/Jennifer Kirkland


Villisca Ax Murder House
For a truly one-of-a-kind night away, book in at the Villisca Ax Murder House, the aptly named home where eight people were ax-murdered in their sleep back in 1912. The case is still unsolved, but the main suspect was a traveling minister who was at a nearby church that night and left town early the next morning. Tours and overnight stays are offered in the very rooms that were the scene of a bloody massacre—you’ll probably get the best sleep of your life, right? —AS


Stull Cemetery
Locals know this tiny cemetery in an unincorporated Kansas township as a portal to hell that the devil comes through twice a year. As outlandish as that sounds, the ruins of a nearby church and the bizarre architecture will have you half-believing the rumors. No satanic sightings have been confirmed, and anyone caught trespassing in the private cemetery can face a $1,000 fine. But that only makes it a more appealing dare for the jumpy teens and courageous stoners looking to make the trip. Twice, in my case. —BW


Sauerkraut Cave
Sure, it got its name because it was once used to age sauerkraut, but there’s something far more sinister fermenting here. Sauerkraut Cave earned its legend because it was located beneath the Lakeland Asylum for the Insane, an institution marred by accusations of overcrowding and mistreatment of patients. The cave beneath the now-razed asylum is believed to have been an occasional escape route for inmates, but there are also rumors of bodies being buried there. Strange visions and ghostly voices have been reported by many who have explored it; find it behind the archery range in E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park. Guided tours are offered, but you can use your own judgment. —Kevin Gibson

gate to cemetarygate to cemetary
Among the flowers, you’ll find other artifacts and offerings like polio braces and prosthetic legs. | Kathleen K. Parker/Shutterstock


St. Roch Chapel, Yellow Fever Shrine
New Orleans
In the 19th century, yellow fever swept New Orleans, but Reverend Peter Thevis, the pastor of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, had a plan. He prayed to St. Roch (who is most identified with good health and healing), asking for members of his parish to be shielded from the disease and promised to build a shrine for the saint in gratitude. While 40,000 New Orleanians died, no one in Father Thevis’ community perished. Today, pilgrims still visit the St. Roch Chapel, leaving offerings around the shrine. Among the artifacts: children’s polio braces, crutches, rows of prosthetic legs, plaster feet, false teeth, and fake eyeballs. —AS


Mount Hope Cemetery
You know who grew up in Maine? Stephen King. So it’s no surprise, really, that part of the 1989 Pet Sematary adaptation was shot here. For extra scares, watch the movie before a nighttime stroll through this creepy, 186-year-old cemetery and see if you can find the spot where Gage was buried. On the way, you’ll see some of the first Civil War monuments ever constructed, and grave markers that date back to 1836. If you’re not skeeved enough, Bangor is also the location of King’s house, fronted by wrought-iron gates decorated with bats. Both are part of several Stephen King tours that take you to sites around Bangor that inspired his novels. —MM


Coffin Rock
Near Burkittsville
The Blair Witch Project still pulls tourists to Burkittsville, Maryland. To find where most of the film was shot, though, you need to head into Black Hills Forest about 20 minutes west of town to find Coffin Rock. It’s a large flat rock near a creek in the middle of the woods. It’s where a Maryland search party went missing in 1886 while looking for eight-year-old Robin Weaver. The kid eventually returned to town; the search party did not. A second search party found disemboweled bodies, bound at the hands and feet, on Coffin Rock. Those bodies later vanished when the search party returned with backup help. Local legend attributes all of this to the so-called Blair Witch. You can, of course, retrace those steps in history—just bring a flashlight (and a good pair of running shoes). —Tim Ebner


Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
Fall River
In case you don’t remember the world’s most disturbing nursery rhyme, Lizzie Borden hacked up her parents with an axe back in 1892. And now, you can sleep at the delightful B&B/infamous crime scene where it all happened. On your visit, you’ll stay at the Bordens’ home, eat their last meal (Johnnycakes and eggs), and sleep in the bedroom where the body of Lizzie’s stepmother was found. After a night there, I can attest: This home painstakingly furnished to look exactly as it did on the morning of the murders will creep you right out. The late-Victorian-style property hosts up to 20 overnight guests, one of whom will invariably pull out the house ouija board after the evening guide departs and try to contact Lizzie. I did not sleep a wink. —Camille Dodero

Shipwreck off abandoned coastShipwreck off abandoned coast
If the deserted coast isn’t enough of a sign, maybe the shipwreck off shore is. | John McCormick/Shutterstock


South Manitou Island
16 miles offshore from Lake Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, South Manitou is home to 300-foot sand dunes, deserted shores, and empty campgrounds. And with respect to the abandoned buildings of Detroit and Flint, it’s about as creepy as you can get in Michigan. One legend suggests that a ship of cholera-stricken passengers stopped at the island, and sailors buried them in a mass grave while some were still alive. If that alone doesn’t stir you to set sail to the island, there are two cemeteries, a cedar forest where unbodied voices are often heard, and off the coast is the shipwreck of the SS Francisco Morazan, where a young boy is rumored to have died after an attempt at exploring it on his own. Fair warning to all who seek refuge. —AS


Wabasha Street Caves
St. Paul
Our favorite Minnesota haunt, Forepaugh’s Restaurant, recently closed. Luckily, Minnesota is home to as many haunts as it is lakes. One of the creepiest—and most accessible—is Wabasha Street Caves. This is one of the liveliest places on the list; it’s an underground speakeasy from the ’30s that still hosts weddings and parties so good that the original folks never seem to have left. That apparently includes the ghosts of three gangsters who, in the caves’ bootlegging days, skipped out on their check by getting murdered and buried in the floors. To this day, people report seeing uninvited, very dapper guests roaming the halls, along with the ghost of a bartender and a madame. —AK


University of Mississippi Medical Center
This state loves scary legends—the devil roaming Delta crossroads, ghosts haunting the mansions in Natchez—but a very real site of horror resides here in Jackson. Back in 2014, construction workers developing a parking lot came across a mass grave of about 7,000 former Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum residents from the turn of the 20th century. The asylum closed more than 80 years ago, but it wasn’t uncommon in those days to bury deceased patients together in unmarked graves. Estimating that the cost for outside contractors to remove and rebury the remains would cost an extra $21 million or so, officials decided to let them rest in peace until they can exhume the bodies through university channels and build a historical center where the parking lot would have stood. Until then, it’s one hell of a frightening place to pay your respects to the anonymous thousands of dead. —Andrew Paul

main street general storemain street general store
Main Street USA is not so charming. | briantium/Shutterstock


Main Street
St. Charles
This multicolored main drag looks like the perfect setting for a Midwestern horror movie: charming, peaceful Main Street USA that’s actually haunted by dozens of roaming spirits. The legend dates to 1853 when the old Borromeo Cemetery was moved and a number of the graves they dug up had no bodies in them. Those spirits are rumored to haunt the shops at 700 South Main Street, where objects vanish inexplicably and mysterious cooking smells emerge—as does, apparently, a deep-speaking French voice. The town is also home to a haunted community college, a haunted high school, and a haunted forest. —MM


The Fairweather Inn
Virginia City
If you’ve ever been borderline homicidal because the kids in the next hotel room won’t shut the hell up, steer clear of the Fairweather Inn. The lone hotel in this former gold-mining town is said to be haunted by the ghosts of children who get into all manner of shenanigans. They move your luggage, turn the lights on and off, and generally annoy the bejeezus out of you. The city’s now-closed Bonanza Inn was also said to be haunted—by the ghost of an old nun, who was presumably better-behaved. —MM


Seven Sisters Road
Otoe County
We all get mad at our family members. Most of us get over it and just get them crappy Christmas presents. We do NOT, however, take all seven of our daughters out to separate hills and kill them, as one deranged Nebraska man did over a century ago. The road that runs between the site of each gruesome crime is marked as County Road L on the map, but colloquially, it’s named after the sisters who died there. Cars driving through routinely report headlights going dim, or electrical systems failing completely, leaving their cars stalled in the eerie darkness, with the screams of young women echoing through the hills. —MM

Clown Motel signClown Motel sign
If you’re terrified of clowns, you’ve come to the right place. | melissamn/Shutterstock


The Clown Motel
Long a destination for people who can’t say no to a dare, this old-school motel is home to a collection of 2,000 clown figures and some seriously ghostly vibes (owner Hame Anand told us he’s seen ghosts, but most of them are friendly, if that helps). That’ll happen when you park a decades-old motel next to a dilapidated cemetery in a small town dotted with mining ruins. But hey, there’s a bonus: When Anand bought the motel a couple years ago, he did some renovations to make the rooms more comfortable, so at least you’ll be wetting a very comfortable bed. He also embraced the scariness by converting some rooms into horror themes, in case “clown motel in the middle of the desert” wasn’t creepy enough. —AK

New Hampshire

Omni Mount Washington Resort
Bretton Woods
The tale of Carolyn Stickney sounds like the worst Disney princess story ever: She married the hotel’s founder, who died right before construction was completed. She then remarried into European royalty, but alas, she too passed soon after. She never checked out of Mount Washington, though; she appears in people’s photos as a hazy apparition, floats around the hallways, and is a regular fixture in room 314, apparently her favorite place to challenge the notion of five-star accommodations. The four-poster bed she slept in remains in the room, where you can still hear her voice, some say. —AK

an old, giant tree in a fieldan old, giant tree in a field
This tree is rumored to be the gateway to the depths of hell. | Daniel Case/Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey

The Devil’s Tree
181 Mountain Road, Basking Ridge
Out of context, the tree’s silhouette alone is enough to inspire nightmares: a warped, half-dead oak looming in the middle of a lonely field, with dozens of ax marks lining its trunk. Then, there’s the gruesome history. A purported meeting place for the KKK, notorious suicide site, and rumored gateway to the depths of hell, the Devil’s Tree is infamous among locals and has evolved into a chilling tourist attraction. Legend has it, anyone who harms the tree will suffer swift and violent retribution—so, naturally, it has become a tradition for ballsy teens across the Garden State to pee on its trunk. But do so at your own risk—you might just lose your life (or your manhood) to the tree’s sinister curse. —AS-N

New Mexico

Dawson Cemetery
Ghost towns are a dime a dozen. But Dawson? Dawson’s different. Once a boom town with a wealth of coal, things took a turn in 1913 when an explosion killed 250 or so mine workers. Dawson forged on for ten more years, when another accident claimed 123 workers. Today, all that’s left is a cemetery, which, of course, is considered one of the most haunted places in America. Many report seeing eerie lights—you know, the kind you’d see on the front of mining helmets—floating around the gravestones, while others see dirty specters with very outdated clothing roaming about. —AK

New York

United States Military Academy
West Point
If the Tudor-style architecture and all-around dismal creepiness of this campus don’t give you the heebie-jeebies, then the school’s reported ghost sightings surely will. Back in 1972, cadets claimed to have seen a ghost in an antiquated school uniform roaming around Room 4714 —a room no longer in use. Other ghost stories have made their way into the school’s colloquial chatter, most notably the ghost of former superintendent Colonel Thayer’s Irish maid, Molly, who haunts the basement of Quarters 100, tousling the bedcovers in an otherwise orderly room, and borrowing and moving guests’ possessions. —AS

an enormous, castle-like hotel with a fountainan enormous, castle-like hotel with a fountain
You’ve definitely got some Gilded Age ghosts here. | Flickr/Jennifer Boyer

North Carolina

The Biltmore Estate
The largest private residence in the entire country is, of course, housing some ghosties up in those 135,280 square feet. The former vacation home of George Washington Vanderbilt II is now considered one of the most haunted places in North Carolina. George himself has been spotted chilling in the library, and his late wife Edith wanders around calling out his name. There’s also a headless orange cat roaming the gardens, echoes of laughter and splashing water in the empty pool, and disembodied voices heard throughout the 250 rooms. A day pass to visit the grounds starts at $40, with overnight options available. —KP

North Dakota

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Normally, this time of year the old fort named after Honest Abe would be teeming with teenagers in costumes, as it’s home to a zombie-filled haunted attraction. Particularly haunted is the Custer House, once home of the same general who was slain at Little Big Horn. The general’s wife is said to roam their preserved home in the fort complex in a black dress, slamming doors and showing up to give people chills. Some believe Custer himself roams the grounds too, though others think that the ghosts in blue are other soldiers who never got mortally discharged from duty. The park is still open, so while you won’t find teenagers in masks, you might just come across a widow still waiting for her husband to come home from battle. —AK

Interior of an abandoned libraryInterior of an abandoned library
Faucets dripping with blood? This is a horror movie come to life. | ehrlif/Shutterstock


Ohio State Reformatory
Ohio has its fair share of creepy places, but this massive stone castle is basically hell disguised as Hogwarts. The majestically spired campus housed over 200,000 inmates during its history from 1896-1990. A tour through here on a normal day is grim, but during scare season it transforms into the biggest prison-based haunted attraction in America: Escape From Blood Prison. The cells and hallways are filled with undead inmates and faucets dripping blood, turning the already creepy reformatory into a bona fide nightmare through Halloween, after which it returns to a regular old haunted prison. —MM


The Skirvin Hotel
Oklahoma City
Since opening in 1911, the luxurious Skirvin established itself as a place nobody ever wants to leave. Or maybe can’t. This is a collection of every haunted hotel story all crammed together. There are the ghosts of the original owner’s mistress and his illegitimate child, who still roam the halls with a stroller. You’ll hear eternally crying babies and slamming doors. You might even find yourself groped in a shower. A while back, the hotel proved too creepy for several LA Lakers in town to play the Thunder, who checked out early and found accommodations with fewer handsy ghosts and eternally wailing children. Book your staycation now! Checkout is…maybe never?


Edgefield Hotel
Just outside of Portland, in Troutdale, Oregon, the McMenamins company is known just as well for its peculiarities as it is for its catalog of pubs and breweries. That includes the legendary UFO Fest—an annual two-day celebration of all things extraterrestrial—and the historic Edgefield Hotel. The hotel’s spot on 74 acres of farmland just steps from the Columbia River Gorge may distract you—but keep an eye out. Before it was a beloved weekend getaway, it was the Multnomah County Poor Farm, which once included a hospital wing and jail. During the 1950s before the original site fell into disrepair, the farm treated patients with tuberculosis and mental illnesses, some of whom supposedly still roam the grounds of the now-hotel—and a few of whom are allegedly still buried in unmarked graves on-site.

an old dilapidated room in a penitentiary with a chairan old dilapidated room in a penitentiary with a chair
Ghostly guards: check. | Zack Frank/Shutterstock


Eastern State Penitentiary
Known locally as ESP (already creepy), this 1829 prison originally intended to value reform over punishment. As you can imagine, with an isolated location on 11 acres of land and 30-foot fortress walls, that didn’t exactly work out. Instead, the Eastern State Penitentiary became a real house of horrors and the testing location for a number of “reform” techniques that included paranoia-inducing “panopticon” oversight, now synonymous with a constant threat of surveillance. Reports of shadowy figures, cackling voices, and ghostly guards on patrol have given this joint a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania. And with the mix of wicked pseudoscience, gigantic brutal architecture, and infamous inmates like Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton, it also serves as a perfect staging ground for nighttime haunted tours. —BW

Rhode Island

White Horse Tavern
Like many a campfire tale, this one begins with two drifters. They showed up at the tavern in the 1720s looking for a room. The next day, the owners found one dead by the fireplace and the other completely vanished. A specter now chills by the fireplace, daring people to solve his mysterious death. There have also been encounters with a colonial-looking dude in the upstairs bathroom, and mysterious footsteps all over the place. —AK

South Carolina

Baynard Ruins
The South is crawling with ghosts, especially on former plantations—hoards of evil racist overseers, rightfully damned to roam the grounds for eternity. But unlike the historically preserved plantations offering tours around the region (an entirely different bag of worms), the Baynard Plantation is in ruins. The dilapidation itself is enough to get your stomach in knots, even before the creepiest part: Apparently, if you stick around at night, a freaky funeral procession for namesake William Baynard will pass by. Maybe you’ll hear it. Maybe you’ll see it or feel it. Either way, this place isn’t known for its (living) repeat visitors. —AK

sign reading "trail of the spirits" sica hollow state parksign reading "trail of the spirits" sica hollow state park
Look out for ghostly figures along the “Trail of Spirits.” | Flickr/Angela Smith

South Dakota

Sica Hollow State Park
It takes a special kind of hubris for the State Parks division to make it a recreational area when the name literally means “bad” or “evil” in the Dakota language. Iron deposits at Sica tint the streams red, but it’s not just the blood-colored water that make it so eerie. According to Dakota legend, one winter long ago a stranger named Hand came into the Hollow. He showed no respect for the land and for the traditions of the tribe, who decided to banish him once spring arrived. Hand did not go quietly, and was ultimately destroyed by Thunderer, the messenger of the Great Spirit, whom the Dakota had called upon for help. Though defeated in death, Hand’s evil lingers in the Hollow. People also report hearing drums and seeing figures along the Trail of Spirits. So, um, yeah, enjoy the leaf-peeping. —AK


The Bell Witch Cave
Every kid in Tennessee grows up scared of the Bell Witch, daring each other at sleepovers to say “I hate the Bell Witch” 100 times in front of the bathroom mirror to summon her malevolent spirit. In the early 19th century, “Kate,” the Bell Witch ghost, tormented the Bell family in Adams, Tennessee, residing in a cave behind their property. Besides pinching, pulling hair, and taunting their visitors with strange sounds, she repeatedly tried to choke patriarch John Bell. You can tour the ghostly cave, which has been placed on the National Historic Register, and according to the tour guides, visitors have felt sensations of being pushed, touched, or held down by a heavyweight. The famous haunting even spooked Andrew Jackson when he visited: “By the Eternal, I saw nothing, but I heard enough to convince me that I’d rather fight the British than to deal with this torment they call the Bell Witch.” —Chris Chamberlain

an abandoned, overgrown hospital an abandoned, overgrown hospital
If talking dolls spook you out, steer clear. | Flickr/Nicolas Henderson


Yorktown Memorial Hospital
Old beds, gurneys, mirrors, chairs, and other medical equipment are still inside this decrepit abandoned hospital, where more than 2,000 patients died before it shuttered in 1988. Today, visitors have described inexplicable apparitions, whispers, shadowy figures in the hallways, wheelchairs rolling unpushed, and a particularly terrifying talking doll in the nursery that asks, “Do you love me?” The owner allows for regular tours and paranormal investigations, so go ahead, see for yourself. —Keller Powell


Moon Lake
High Uintas
If you go to a place like Utah’s Mountain Meadows massacre site, you shouldn’t be too surprised when you hear the voices of the 100+ people slain by a militia in the 1850s—it’s right in the name. But imagine you’ve found a great lakeside campsite in one the Uintas Mountains, a serene patch of mountain bliss in a state loaded with natural beauty. Suddenly, you’re confronted by a young, dripping, shivering girl with bluish skin looking for help. Then, as you panic, she suddenly disappears. In broad daylight. The Blue Lake ghost appears at all hours to campers, hikers, and fishers. Some people simply hear her wailing in the woods. Others report her running through campsites at night. And many claim to have seen her first-hand—probably not twice, though. This isn’t a site that’s big with repeat visitors. —AK


Lake Bomoseen State Park
The abandoned town of West Castleton is like Vermont’s answer to the ghost towns of the Old West. Once a big industrial boom town, it’s now empty except for a few ghostly residents that refuse to leave, among them a boatman that’s been spotted rowing across the tranquil lake, leaving no ripples in the water en route to a happy hour at a tavern that will never open. These days, that lake is part of a beautiful state park where the ruins of old industrial operations still stand, meaning you can visit it whenever you please. Just maybe don’t take any unsolicited boat rides. —AK


Bacon’s Castle
There’s no shortage of eerie and sinister places to visit in Virginia—after all, old battlefields are some of the most haunted grounds around. But if it’s a haunted house you’re after, Bacon’s Castle (built in 1665, making it the oldest brick home in the country) is it. People have reported encountering disembodied voices and wails, floating heads, books flying off shelves, rockers rockin’ on their own, and unwanted visitors being pushed around. In addition to regular tours, the castle hosts Haunt Nights with candle-lit ghost hunts. —KP

interior of an abandoned mental hospital interior of an abandoned mental hospital
This old farm was once an asylum—and is said to be haunted by former patients. | Flickr/KWDesigns


Northern State Hospital
The abandoned remains of this old farm was once home to as many as 2,700 patients. The self-sustaining institution ran from 1912 to 1973, complete with a lumber mill, library, greenhouse, bakery, canning facilities, and other amenities. Now it’s essentially a ghost town. Remnants of the buildings are said to be haunted by patients who died during transorbital lobotomies. Some buildings are still in use and off-limits, but you can view the shells of others and an adjacent cemetery at any time. The isolated compound is a short distance off Highway 20—the perfect spot for a late-night Halloween walkabout. —MM

West Virginia

Weston State Hospital
Once crudely known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, this massive gothic facility housed many of West Virginia’s intellectually disabled from 1864 to 1994. Though designed for 250 people, as many as 2,400 patients lived onsite at one point. That kind of overcrowding made for some truly miserable souls, many of whom are purported to still haunt the hospital. Paranormal tours of the main building are offered at all hours (this means flashlight tours). —MM


The Pfister Hotel
The Pfister is among Milwaukee’s finest hotels. Yet many visitors—particularly MLB players—are so creeped out that they’re willing to sacrifice the luxury if it means they don’t have unwanted roommates. So many MLB players have complained about ghostly encounters—strange knocking and pounding noises, TVs turning on and off, their belongings inexplicably moved—that many now refuse to stay there. Of course, you can book yourself a room and hope for apparitions, but if you just want to visit, you won’t look odd sipping on a Bloody Mary in the lobby lounge. —LM

an electric chair in an old abandoned prisonan electric chair in an old abandoned prison
Just wait until you see the “punishment pole.” | Nagel Photography/Shutterstock


Wyoming Frontier Prison
Wyoming’s first state penitentiary was about as miserable as you’d expect a stone prison on a cold, whistling prairie to be. It didn’t have hot water until 1978. It did have something called the “punishment pole,” to which prisoners were handcuffed, then whipped with rubber hoses. It’s been closed since 1981, but guided tours allow you to get up close and personal with the “death house” (which housed inmates on death row), the gas chamber, and offices left exactly as they were. October is the best time to visit, since the prison hosts midnight tours in the days leading up to Halloween. —MM

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Next Post

Opinion | China’s New Civil Religion

Wed Jul 10 , 2024
BEIJING — In the northern suburbs of this city is a small temple to a Chinese folk deity, Lord Guan, a famous warrior deified more than a millennium ago. Renovated five years ago at the government’s expense, the temple is used by a group of retirees who run pilgrimages to […]
Opinion | China’s New Civil Religion

You May Like