Every city tells a different story—some more chilling than others. The U.S. has a rich history, often best told through ghost stories, of major events and personal accounts. If you’re feeling inclined to the creepy, this Halloween season (or even beyond), finding haunted places to visit or taking a guided tour is your best chance at experiencing some paranormal activity. Make your next vacation spine-tinglingly unforgettable with a ghoulish getaway. Venture out for city sightseeing, historical ghost tours, and a haunted house or two.
In the mood for a good ghost story? Here are the best spooky places to visit (and where to stay) if you’re hungry for more.
There’s no better place to start than the oldest city in America. St. Augustine is known for its ties to the Fountain of Youth, so it should be no surprise that the supernatural plays a starring role in the area’s day-to-day life. Soak in the sunshine and visit hot spots like Old St. Johns County Jail or dare to follow in Ghost Hunters’ footsteps with a guided tour of St. Augustine Lighthouse. Head up the lighthouse’s spiral staircase for a panoramic view of the water and keep an eye out for the spirits of three young girls—many guests report hearing giggles on the way up.
New Orleans is so in touch with its paranormal roots, ghost tours are commonly on the list of tourist attractions. There’s no shortage of famous haunted spots, including the LaLaurie Mansion, the Old Urusline Convent Museum, and the many “Cities of the Dead,” New Orleans’ notable above-ground cemeteries. Admire the historic architecture on a stroll through the French Quarter, pop into an occult shop or two, and grab a drink at the Old Absinthe House, where you might pull up a chair next to several apparitions, from General Andrew Jackson to Marie Laveau.
Here’s Johnny! Not only is this Colorado city home to Rocky Mountain National Park, but another famous landmark, The Stanley Hotel. In between hitting the hiking trails, horror movie fans can tour the haunted hotel that inspired Stephen King’s The Shining and keep an eye out for spooks and specters. If you visit, check out the film's most haunted bedroom (room 217) and enjoy a “Redrum” cocktail at the dining room bar. Make sure to take photos—one couple captured a picture of two ghostly young girls running down the stairs.
Whether you’re visiting to bask in the stunning southern landscape or sightsee the “most haunted city in America,” Savannah has plenty of tourist attractions to offer. Sit back and relax on a river cruise, dig into homemade peach cobbler, and head out for an evening of paranormal activity. Be sure to tour or sneak a peek of the Sorrel-Weed House, Moon River Brewing Company, and the Kehoe House—a charming and (possibly) haunted bed & breakfast.
Hiking trails through Portland’s Forest Park will lead you to Pittock Mansion, a beautiful (and supposedly haunted) historic landmark. Paranormal reports here include the smell of rose perfume, phantom footsteps throughout the living room, and furniture being moved from room to haunted bedroom. Downtown, you can also take a guided tour to learn more about the storied history of the underground “Shanghai” tunnels. After the tours, make your way to Voodoo Donuts and grab a photo-op of the “Keep Portland Weird” mural. As you can now attest, the city surely does.
Beyond barbecue dinners and cowboy boots, Texas’ wild history lends for bone-chilling ghost stories to hear during your stay. If you’re a fan of architecture, take a trip over to San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest church in Texas, to admire its Gothic Revival design (and nearby food trucks). Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to San Antonio without sightseeing The Alamo, where its rumored phantom soldiers still walk the grounds. Other haunted places to visit in San Antonio are the Majestic Theatre, the King William District, and “Weeping Woman Creek” just outside city limits, where the legendary La Llorna is reported to haunt.
This picturesque mountain town is much more than its fall foliage and ski resorts. While doling out plenty of New England charm, Stowe has some spirited spots worth exploring. The haunted must-see here is Gold Brook Covered Bridge, locally known as “Emily’s Bridge.” The bridge garnered its name after sightings and ghost stories of a girl, Emily, who met an unfortunate end after a plan to elope with her boyfriend failed. Craving more creepy stories? Head to the historic, postcard-ready Brass Lantern Inn, a bed and breakfast established in 1810. Kick back, have a taste of signature Vermont maple syrup with your pancakes, and listen for phantom voices heading back to their rooms, recalling a grand party they’ve just returned from.