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The 10 Most Haunted Places in America

Written by Alexandra Hicks

What better wat to enjoy the scariest time of the year than by exploring a true haunted destination. Check out our list of the top ten!

Are you the kind of person who gets a rush from a good scare? If you love scary movies and other creepy things, then you’ll probably enjoy visiting some haunted destinations in real life too. While we couldn’t include nearly as many spots as we would have liked to, we did manage to round up the top 10 haunted locations in the United States. Check it out and start planning your Halloween road trip!

Paranormal activity 

Ghost stories, or legends of spirits who remain trapped in our world and haunt whatever location or object they attach to, have been around since ancient times. Every culture has some type of paranormal folklore which can include ghosts, witches, demons, creatures, and more. A very popular subset of these tales involve powerful, historical figures like politicians, kings and queens, gangsters, celebrities, and other big names who died untimely deaths.  

The whole concept of a ghost is centered around the ancient idea that a person’s spirit and physical body, or vessel, exist separately from each other, and that the spirit continues “living” in a sense, after the body dies. This idea also gave way to the numerous different funeral rituals we see around the world, which are used to help a person’s spirit move on from this realm so they don’t return to haunt the living.  

Ghosts, also known as specters, are believed to latch on to certain places and objects, things that may have been important to them during life, or something relating to their death. Some of the telltale signs of a haunting are strange noises, flickering lights, strange odors, sudden drop in temperature or cool breeze, displacement of objects, and of course, actually seeing an apparition.  

The very first “ghost story” ever recorded dates back to the first century A.D., when a well-known Roman author and politician, Pliny the Younger, wrote vivid accounts of experiences with a particular spirit in some of his letters. He claimed that the ghost of an elderly man with a long beard was haunting his home in Athens, and he would wander through the house at night rattling a set of chains.  

Haunted destinations in the US 

Below is our list of some of the most haunted destinations in America. You can plan a road trip, or maybe you’re lucky enough to already live close to one of these creepy spots. Either way, it’s worth an adventure this Halloween.  

The White House in Washington, D.C. 

Let’s start with the most famous house in America – the White House. So many people claim to have seen ghosts in the White House, including former presidents Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln. It’s also said that the ghost of Thomas Jefferson plays his violin in the Yellow Oval Room, Andrew Jackson’s laughter can be heard from the Rose Room, and William Henry Harrison haunts the attic. Supposedly there is even a demon cat apparition that appears in the basement before national disasters.  

St. Augustine Lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida 

St Augustine Lighthouse

There is a lot of lore surrounding the St. Augustine lighthouse in northeastern Florida. It has such a reputation that it has even been featured on the show Ghost Hunters. Staff members and visitors report hearing strange sounds, doors mysteriously unlocking and opening, and other strange occurrences. The story has it that past lighthouse keepers, as well as two sisters who died on the property, continue to haunt it to this day. 

R.M.S. Queen Mary in Long Beach, California 

The RMS Queen Mary was a British ocean liner that was in service between 1936 and 1967, and is now permanently docked in Long Beach, California. Interestingly, it ran its last voyage on Halloween of that year. In total, 16 crew members and at least 41 passengers have died on the Queen Mary, either due to “natural causes” or some type of accident. It’s believed that many of those deceased still roam the ship. Several visitors that have booked one of their “Haunted Tours” claim to have encountered one or more of these spirits.   

Indiana State Sanitorium in Rockville, Indiana 

The Indiana State Sanatorium operated as Indiana’s main tuberculosis hospital from 1908 to 1968. It shut down for a few years, then re-opened in 1976 as a nursing home and private mental health facility called the Lee Alan Bryant Health Care Center. It closed very suddenly in 2011, leaving behind hundreds of beds, hospital equipment, patient belongings, even dishes in the kitchen. Between the dark history here, sudden disappearance of people at the hospital, and a secret underground tunnel system that connects various buildings – it’s pretty much a horror movie in the making.  

Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas 

Back porch of the Crescent Hotel

The Crescent Hotel opened back in 1886 and was purchased in 1930 by Norman Baker. Baker posed as a doctor and rebranded the hotel into a faux cancer hospital. Baker – who claimed to be able to cure cancer with an elixir made of brown corn silk, red clover, ground watermelon seeds, peppermint, glycerin, and carbolic acid – is remembered by others in the medical profession as “one of the most ruthless quacks in American history”. Baker himself and several of his patients are said to haunt the hotel, and numerous staff members have noted instances of visitors becoming pale and faint around the same exact spot during the tours, when standing directly above the old morgue.  

LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana 

This fixture in the French Quarter was name after its owner, Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie (yes, the character from American Horror Story: Coven, was inspired by this horrible human). Locals refer to it simply as “the haunted house”. Similar to what was portrayed on AHS, LaLaurie was torturing slaves who she kept chained and starved in the attic. This was exposed when a fire broke out in 1834, started by a slave who was trying to escape LaLaurie’s abuse. Legend has it that the moans of people killed in the home can still be heard to this day, and while the house is privately owned so you can’t just go in and explore, you can check it out as part of the New Orleans Ghost Tour.  

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts 

“Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.” Most of us are familiar with that dark rhyme, that for some reason we all tend to learn during childhood. In total, the real Bordens received only 29 cumulative whacks, not 81 like the rhyme suggests, but still gruesome no less. Horror and gore lovers can spend the night at Lizzie’s old house, which has been transformed into a very unique BNB, and they will even be sleeping in the same room where Abby Borden passed away.  

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Eastern State Penitentiary

The Eastern State Penitentiary was once one of the most expansive prisons in the world. It’s almost 200 years old and infamous for its incredibly harsh punishments and notable inmates, including Alphonse “Scarface” Capone. The prison closed its doors in 1971, but to this day is said to be one of the most haunted places in America, which isn’t hard to imagine given what may have occurred there. Corroborating paranormal experiences have been documented by visitors, staff, guards, and inmates.  

Vulture Gold Mine in Wickenburg, Arizona 

What is now a certifiable ghost town, Wickenburg, Arizona, was once a bustling little hub filled with mines, saloons, and ranches, and it was also a supply point for army posts in the state. It’s the fifth oldest town in Arizona. Local rumors claim the town is now filled with ghosts of deceased miners and other workers, and back in 2010, crew members from the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures were able to record some interesting sights and sounds during a visit.  

Lost Horse Mine Trail in Joshua Tree, CA 

Our second mine on the list, and one that I have visited personally (although I didn’t experience anything paranormal). The Lost Horse Mine trail is a 6.5-mile loop that takes you to the remnants of an old gold mine, one of many in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s believed that the area is haunted by the spirit of a miner who was killed in an accident. While I didn’t notice anything strange, numerous hikers have reported hearing the sound of a pickaxe hitting rocks and feeling a cold breeze despite the desert heat.  

Final thoughts 

If you’re like many of us and enjoy some fun fear, but horror movies just aren’t cutting it anymore, it might be time to take a trip to a real-life haunted destination. The ones on our list are pretty touristy, so if you’re looking for something more secluded and authentic, you’ll have to look up some local lore and find some of the lesser-known haunted locations in your area. If you have any you’d like to add to our list, drop us a line in the comment section below! 

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.