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Photograph: Shutterstock/Ale VolpiThe Burying Point Cemetery where the Salem Witch Trials took place

10 haunted places in MA that you can visit

When you want to get spooked, these creepy Bay State sites are sure to send shivers up your spine

Written by
Cheryl Fenton
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Massachusetts can lay claim to some of the scariest ghost stories and hauntings ever recorded. From a former Revolutionary War hospital-turned-inn and a mysterious park rumored to host satanic rituals, to a grisly family murder and the horrifying Salem Witch Trials, the shadows of our state’s dark past are never too far. Thrillseekers have plenty to keep them busy, as they explore eerie areas in search of hair-raising spectral sightings and paranormal encounters. We’ve gathered 10 places rooted in the spookiest local lore for you to visit (after you've had your fill of pumpkin picking, apple picking and admiring the fall foliage). Investigate at will, but be warned: These are the homes of the undead; You’re merely a guest.

Recommended: The best things to do in Boston

Most haunted places in Massachusetts

  • Hotels

Everyone knows the sordid tale of Lizzie Borden (and has probably sung the macabre nursery rhyme). But few have committed to staying the night at the haunted family home-turned-Bed and Breakfast. Those who visit the site of the 1892 unsolved murder (Lizzie was accused but acquitted of her parents’ grisly slaying) have heard weeping, whispers and footsteps, and have seen wandering apparitions in Victorian-era clothing. Take a day tour or settle in for the night in the actual room where Abby Borden met her demise.

  • Attractions

Built in 1875 by wealthy furniture mogul Sylvester Knowlton Pierce, this Victorian home is a charming 26-room mansion—until it isn’t. Not for the faint of heart, the entities roaming the halls are “extremely advanced,” or so say hosts of Syfy’s Ghost Hunters and Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. Think voices, apparitions, moving furniture, slamming doors, sudden temperature changes and foul odors. Feeling brave? Rent the house overnight for a potential paranormal meet-and-greet—but you’ll have to sign a waiver first.

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  • Hotels

Of course, America’s oldest continuously operated inn is haunted. Built in 1716 on a majestic, 100-plus-acre property, the Inn drew fame as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry setting. Stay in Rooms 9 or 10 and you might “meet” resident specter Jerusha Howe, a descendant of the original owners and the sister of a former innkeeper, who died of a broken heart after losing her fiancé to the sea. Some say that you can smell her citrus perfume, feel her touch and hear her playing the piano at night. Look for notes tucked inconspicuously throughout the inn by visitors who have witnessed these ghostly experiences— aka the Secret Drawer Society.

  • Hotels

The guest list at this historical inn is a who’s who of paranormal research: Ghost Images Paranormal Investigations, Spirit Encounters Research Team and Ghost Hunters. Built in 1716, it was used during The Revolution’s 1775 North Bridge battle as America’s first war hospital—so its halls have seen quite a past. Visitors tell spirited stories of items flying off shelves, power surges, images in mirrors and sightings of well-dressed women and bloodied soldiers. Rooms 24 and 27 are hot spots, putting the inn on Historic Hotels of America’s list of Top 25 Most Haunted Historic Hotels.

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  • Hotels
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

This iconic Boston hotel is full of opulent, old world décor, historical firsts (it’s the home of the Boston Cream Pie) and haunting tales. The ghost of Harvey Parker, who founded the hotel in 1855, is said to roam its halls, being partial to the 10th floor. Not to be outdone with paranormal occurrences, elevators are always called to the third floor (the floor Charles Dickens occupied and where 19th-century actress Charlotte Cushman died). Guests have seen misty apparitions and have heard rocking chair creaks, as well as friendly whispering in empty hallways.

  • Things to do
  • Allston/Brighton

Originally the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion (Salem-born author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel spawned the name change), this 17th-century Colonial house is rumored to be one of Salem’s most haunted. In a city that was the site of the 1692 Witch Trials, that’s saying something. There are claims of visions of a boy playing near the attic and shadowy silhouettes near the outdoor Gothic-inspired gables. Did Hawthorne’s great grandfather’s role as a witch trial judge cause a curse? We’re not sticking around to find out.

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  • Attractions

You don’t earn the nickname “The Cursed Forest of Massachusetts” for nothing. Not only does this 5,000-acre forest include 25 miles of strolling, hiking and horseback trails, it also boasts a sordid history of documented crimes and tragedies. Think several murders and satanic cult activity, with eye witnesses also reporting UFOs, poltergeists and ghosts. This strange place is part of the famous Bridgewater Triangle, a 200-square mile "vortex" of unexplained paranormal activity located 30 miles south of Boston.

  • Attractions

Local lore believes this 1740 Quaker cemetery is the gateway to another dimension—and not a pleasant one. Set back from the main road and past a stream that some folks think is the mouth of the River Styx, the iron gate serves as the entrance to a secluded graveyard lovingly known as “The Eighth Gate to Hell.” Visitors agree that the other seven gates don’t actually exist, but that doesn’t explain a history of questionable activity—ghostly sightings, strange noises and evidence of satanic rituals conducted on the stone “altar.” Local tip: Coins left on Marmaduke Earle’s gravesite might buy you a conversation with the departed.

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  • Attractions

America’s first major rock tunnel, this 4.75-mile, active railroad passageway in the Northern Berkshires has been dubbed the “Bloody Pit” after the roughly 180 workers who died over its 24-year construction, from 1851 to 1875. One disturbing accident involved an explosion of a 1,000-foot central exhaust shaft, which caused 13 miners to be buried alive and perish. Legend has it, you can still hear their moans. Note: This is still an active freight route, so walking on the tracks is strictly prohibited when you visit.

The city of Salem
Photograph: Courtesy Destination Salem

The city of Salem

When a city is tied to a hysteria heard ’round the world that caused 19 innocent deaths based on accusations of witchcraft, the entire area has a firm grasp on the ghoulish. Whether you choose to visit Salem at peak creepiness during the fall (warning: that’s when the huge crowds come) or during its off-season, there are plenty of haunted places around the Witch City that echo its horrifying past. Check out the Old Burying Point Cemetery (one of the state’s oldest burial grounds), Gallows Hill (the site of these shameful executions), The Joshua Ward House and St. Mary’s Cemetery, to name a few. Salem also has loads of museums and tours, along with Halloween haunted houses, if the real paranormal is just too much for you.

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